As some of you may know, I love supporting other writers. This thing we do, this imagining of worlds and people, this daring to write their stories, this grueling effort to make those stories the very best they can be….it’s a long process, and most of the work is invisible, when seen from the outside in. The pay….well, at the best, let’s call it wildly variable. So independent writers can use any little nudge we can get.
Today, I’m turning my chaotically lovely little online home over to my friend A.M. Leibowitz. I’ve known them for several years through the WIPpet Wednesday blog hop, and that’s where I first fell in love with Cat, who remains one of my favorite characters. I’m so looking forward to learning more about his early life….
Anyway, take it away, A.M….the space is yours!
Title: Walking by Faith
Author: A.M. Leibowitz
Publisher: Supposed Crimes, LLC
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Length: 261 pages
Categories/tags: LGBT literature, Christian fiction, bisexual, genderqueer, romance, contemporary, disability
For Becket “Cat” Rowland, falling in love has never been easy. The summer he meets Micah Forbes, the intensity of his feelings brings back all the memories of eight years earlier.
Following a brutal attack that left him nearly dead, Cat is a mess inside and out. To cope with the trauma and with his view of himself that he’s nothing but an empty shell, he’s taken three vows: simplicity, chastity, and silence. His once colorful, trendy, and often feminine wardrobe has been replaced with jeans and t-shirts, and he’s sworn off men. He locks himself away from the world, using the memorized prayers of his childhood as his only speech.
Cat is lost to himself and everyone around him until another hospitalization introduces him to nurse David Simms. David takes Cat’s silence in stride, caring for him without pushing and slowly building Cat’s trust.
Outside the hospital, Cat discovers he has more in common with David than he knew, and they begin to build a friendship. As it slowly grows into love, David reveals his own need for someone to take him as he is. Cat begins to let go of his vows one by one, only holding onto the silence.
Despite how far he’s come, Cat’s increasingly severe panic attacks threaten to undo everything David has helped him build. Cat’s only hope is to break the final vow and tell the truth about the night of his attack. When David fails to keep a promise he made to be there for him, Cat has to stand on his own and prove to himself he’s strong enough to survive.
Prequel to Passing on Faith.
About the Author:
A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.
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At last the therapist spoke. “Why don’t we start with why you’re here,” she suggested.
My parents think I’m broken. They think I’m a fragile little boy who needs them to guard me. He wasn’t going to confirm for this therapist that he did, in fact, agree with them. He’d probably agreed with them for at least ten years, maybe longer, but he simply hadn’t known the word. The summer after his eleventh birthday, he’d overheard his mother say it when talking to his father and realized it was the term he’d been looking for. That was the year he’d had a reaction to his meds which put him in the hospital.
Out loud, he said, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
She pursed her lips and scrawled something. “Maybe you’d like to tell me something about yourself instead.”
Hell, no. “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“All right,” she said. “Help me understand a little better. Your mother says you’ve taken some vows. Would you like to explain them to me?”
He paused. Maybe if he was rude enough, that would get her to stop. He barked at her, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner,” and he flipped her the bird.
She didn’t even flinch. Cat couldn’t decide if that made him proud of her or disappointed. He’d been able to upset the first therapist with his attitude, and the second one declared she couldn’t help him even though he’d said absolutely nothing to her. This one clearly wasn’t going for his usual methods; she would take some work.
What inspired you to write this story?
People kept telling me how much they loved Cat in Passing on Faith, so I wanted to tell his story. But I didn’t want to simply re-tread his romance with Micah from his perspective. This was sparked by a quote in PoF where Cat’s sister says he’s in “shut-down mode” and won’t talk to her. I wondered why not.
Is there a character you feel especially connected to? Why?
To Cat, of course, although he is really only one aspect of my inner self. His questions and mental dialog about his gender mirror my own. But I also feel linked to Cat’s mom, as a parent myself.
What was the hardest part of writing this?
Getting the emotions just right. It is really hard to show the kind of gender dysphoria both Cat and I experience, and I also sometimes find it hard to pour feelings out on the page—as though I’m revealing too much of myself in them.
Tell us a little about any upcoming projects.
I’m working on several things: The next part of my Notes from Boston series; a young adult coming of age novel; and the last part of Cat and Micah’s story, Keeping the Faith. I’m always busy working on something.
Who has had the biggest influence on your life? My family, including my kids.
Which author(s) have inspired your writing? Elizabeth Berg. She is my favorite author. I kind of want to be her.
Tell us about your favorite literary character(s). Well, that’s a tough one! I don’t think I could pick one. That’s like asking who my favorite human being is. Every character, if they are written well, has a deep effect on me. But if you want to know who I’m most like, personality-wise I’m very similar to John Wheelwright in A Prayer for Owen Meany. I always related to him easily.
Reusable or disposable grocery bags? Some of each
Musical theater or rock concert? Musical theater
What’s your favorite food? Spaghetti with homemade sauce & meatballs