What: Carrie La Seur discusses “The Weight of an Infinite Sky”

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Paulina Springs Books, 252 W. Hood Ave., Sisters

Cost: Free

Contact: 541-549-0866 or paulinasprings.com

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sunriver Books & Music, 57100 Beaver Drive, Building 25-C

Cost: free (registration requested)

Contact: 541-593-2525 or sunriverbooks.com

William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” might not be the most obvious inspiration for a story about Montana ranchers, but the Bard’s tragic play was one of the major influences on Carrie La Seur’s second novel, “The Weight of an Infinite Sky.”

La Seur was thinking about “Hamlet” when she began writing her novel about family legacies and expectations. She had also recently read Margaret Atwood’s “Hag-Seed,” a contemporary retelling of “The Tempest.”

“In addition, one of my favorite novels is Jane Smiley’s ‘A Thousand Acres,’ which reimagines ‘King Lear’ in Iowa, so I was interested in that approach,” said Le Seur. “But the ending wasn’t going to be everyone bloody on the floor like ‘Hamlet’ — these people had more hope.”

La Seur will discuss “The Weight of an Infinite Sky” at events in Central Oregon on Friday and Saturday.

The family drama focuses on Anthony Fry, who has returned from New York to his family ranch near Billings, Montana, after a failed attempt to pursue his acting dreams on Broadway and the unexpected death of his father.

The evocative Big Sky Country setting takes the place of Denmark, while the possible relationship brewing between Anthony’s mother and uncle, questions about whether his father was murdered and his ongoing struggle to reconcile family expectations with his own hopes for the future, all echo plots and themes in “Hamlet.”

However, La Seur’s moving explorations of family and home, grasp of the underlying rural and urban divisions and descriptions of contemporary Western life give the novel a distinct voice.

“I started drawing on people I’ve known who’ve sort of limped back home without being able to make it in the outside world,” La Seur said. “There’s a sense of shame in that, but also a perverse sense of pride and an atmosphere of ‘this is our place’ that’s difficult to explain to people from other places.”

La Seur boomeranged back to Montana in 2009 after living there for several years as a child. Her father’s military career moved the family to various locations around the country. She then went to college and worked on the East Coast and in Great Britain and Australia before returning to Montana to be closer to family and give her children a more rooted existence than she had growing up.

After the critical success of her first novel, “The Home Place,” in 2014, La Seur felt additional pressure while working on “The Weight of an Infinite Sky.”

“It was less because of the weight of expectation and more because of the things I thought I knew and the things I realized I didn’t know,” La Seur explained.

She went through “at least” six full drafts, changing the lead character from a woman to a man along the way. The genre also evolved from a murder mystery into a family drama as she jettisoned a lot of the setup, focused more on the present interactions between the characters and fleshed out the secondary characters and their motivations.

“It was incredibly difficult,” La Seur recalled. “At one point, I even suggested to my agent that I just leave this manuscript and move onto the idea I had for my third book, but she saw something in this one and encouraged me to stick with it.”

It wasn’t until the author took leave in 2016 from her job as an attorney and focused on her writing full time that she was finally able to get her second novel to a point that it felt whole and had a natural narrative arc. “The Weight of an Infinite Sky” was released Jan. 16.

Thankfully, La Seur has found writing her third novel a somewhat less frustrating process than her second. It’s loosely based on the life of 20th-century Minnesota writer and labor activist Meridel Le Sueur. La Seur initially became interested in Meridel and read her books because people would often ask if the two were related, despite the different spellings of their last names.

“It’s been incredibly fun, and it’s way too long,” said La Seur of her third manuscript. “I’ve given my agent a draft but keep thinking of things I want to add in. I’m still kind of obsessed with it,” she said laughing.

La Seur anticipates her third novel will be released in 2019.