Promo & Giveaway: The Big Empty by Loren C. Steffy

THE BIG EMPTY

by
LOREN C. STEFFY
Genre: Western / Rural Fiction / Small Town
Date of Publication: May 25, 2021
Number of Pages: 304 pages 
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When Trace Malloy and Blaine Witherspoon collide on a desolate West Texas highway, their fender bender sets the tone for escalating clashes that will determine the future of the town of Conquistador.
Malloy, a ranch manager and lifelong cowboy, knows that his occupation—and his community—are dying. He wants new- millennium opportunities for his son, even though he himself failed to summon the courage to leave familiar touchstones behind.
Witherspoon, an ambitious, Lexus-driving techie, offers a solution. He moves to Conquistador to build and run a state-of-the-art semiconductor plant that will bring prestige and high-paying technology jobs to revive the town—and advance his own career.
What neither man anticipates is the power the “Big Empty” will wield over their plans. The flat, endless expanse of dusty plain is as much a character in the conflict as are the locals struggling to subsist in this timeworn backwater and the high-tech transplants hell-bent on conquering it. While Malloy grapples with the flaws of his ancestors and his growing ambivalence toward the chip plant, Witherspoon falls prey to construction snafus, corporate backstabbing, and financial fraud. As they each confront personal fears, they find themselves united in the search for their own version of purpose in a uniquely untamable Texas landscape.
PRAISE FOR THE BIG EMPTY:
“The Big Empty” captures a moment when Big Tech seemingly promised everything. By turns funny and painful, Steffy’s story builds like an accelerating freight train, reaching a fast-paced climax.”
The Epoch Times
“Like the titular land itself, Steffy’s novel is uncompromising in spotlighting the strains that the drive toward material achievement puts on the individual in the face of nature’s whims.”
Southern Review of Books
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GuestPost

LIFE IMITATING ART IMITATING LIFE –

OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT

GUEST POST BY LOREN STEFFY

Originally published July, 2021, on the author’s blog

Perhaps I should have used a rocket company instead of a semiconductor manufacturing plant.

I found myself thinking that earlier this month, as all eyes were on West Texas for the launch of billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket.

I started writing my novel, The Big Empty, almost 20 years ago, and the idea of a rocket factory in West Texas would have seemed even more over the top than a chip plant. Besides, I knew what chip factories were like. I had toured several of them, and I covered the semiconductor industry.

While my brother is in the private space business, the idea of making the outside company moving into the tiny town of Conquistador an aerospace firm never occurred to me.

At any rate, all this came rushing back to me with the Blue Origin launch, in part because of some excellent reporting by my old paper, the Houston Chronicle. Andrea Leinfelder has a thoroughly reported series on the impact of the private space on small-town Texas. She takes a deep look at both Boca Chica, Space X’s launch site in far south Texas, and Van Horn. The Van Horn piece, in particular, sounds eerily familiar:

This town, like a thousand other rural communities, has seen agriculture diminish and infrastructure deteriorate. Its local improvements often depend on grants. And with Blue Origin’s higher-paid workforce, the town no longer qualifies for citywide grants reserved for low- to moderate-income communities. Residents talk about the tight housing market and problem-plagued water system.

Still, people are excited to see what comes next, with the possibility that Van Horn will become a major launch site for space travelers.

Those were many of the same ideas I tried to capture in The Big Empty. It was what I saw first-hand in the late 1990s when, as I described in my recent guest essay for the Chronicle, I found myself on a sprawling West Texas cattle ranch to cover a tech story.

I’ve always been fascinated with how people live in different environments. When I visit a new place, I like to see what life is like for the residents. I’ve found myself driving through neighborhoods in the interior of Maui and walking through the residential streets of Riyadh (against the “advice” of my government handlers).

Of course, the issues facing small towns in Texas — and across the country — have been going on for decades. But with the Blue Origin launch in Van Horn, I was struck by the old idea of life imitating art (not that I’m ascribing the “art” tag to my book, but you get the point).

In a way, it’s happening again. I’ve been working on a sequel to The Big Empty, which could be described as “a billionaire comes to town.”

Sound familiar?

Loren C. Steffy is the author of five nonfiction books. He is a writer at large for Texas Monthly, and his work has appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. He has previously worked for news organizations including Bloomberg and the Houston Chronicle, and he is a managing director for 30 Point Strategies, where he leads the 30 Point Press publishing imprint. His is a frequent guest on radio and television programs and is the co-host of the Rational Middle podcast. The Big Empty is his first novel. Steffy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. He lives in Wimberley, Texas, with his wife, three dogs and an ungrateful cat.
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
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11/15/21

Author Video

Chapter
Break Book Blog

11/15/21

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

11/15/21

BONUS Promo

LSBBT Blog

11/16/21

Review

The Book’s Delight

11/16/21

BONUS Promo

Hall Ways Blog

11/17/21

Excerpt

All the Ups and Downs

11/17/21

Guest Post

The
Page Unbound

11/18/21

Review

The Plain-Spoken Pen

11/19/21

Review

Jennie
Reads

11/19/21

Excerpt

Book Fidelity

11/20/21

Review

It’s Not All Gravy

11/21/21

Deleted Scene

Forgotten
Winds

11/22/21

Review

Rainy Days with Amanda

11/22/21

Guest Post

Missus Gonzo

11/23/21

Playlist

The Clueless Gent

11/24/21

Review

Bibliotica

11/24/21

Review

Reading
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