Blog Tour Stop, Guest Post & Contest: The Beginning of Us by Sarah Brooks

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Hello! This is Sarah Brooks, author of The Beginning of Us. Thank you for joining me on my blog tour this week!

Every comment you make on this blog tour enters you in a DRAWING for a $25 Amazon gift card! Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on February 2nd, and the winner will be announced on February 3rd. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

As I release The Beginning of Us to the rest of the world to read, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about responsibility – about the responsibility of a writer to readers, about the responsibility of a writer to her own personal stories. I’ll explain.

When I’m not writing or parenting, I’m a middle school English and social studies teacher. Actually, that’s what I do with the majority of my time, since that’s what enables me to pay rent and buy groceries. About a month ago in my writing class, I knelt beside a 7th grader who was struggling to decide the next events in the novel she was writing. Her protagonist was a girl who had just discovered she was lesbian, and her family didn’t approve. I started to list possible next scenes: she could run away, she could harm herself, she could find solace in a supportive friend or relative, she could turn to some creative outlet for support. . .

Only later did I realize I’d been irresponsible in that conversation, that while I was right that such a protagonist could choose to take any of those next steps, my 7th grade student needed to most seriously dwell on the positive ones. I found her in the hallway the next day: About your novel, I said, I think your readers will need the hope of her moving in a positive direction. The girl nodded, giving me a half smile. No fiction is ever all fiction.

This interaction got me thinking about the responsibility writers have to their readers (and yes, about the responsibility writing teachers have to their students). In particular, about the responsibility a lesbian writer has to her readers. So many of the early lesbian books – The Well of Loneliness, for example – ended tragically, and lesbian characters in classic fiction have often been portrayed as bitter man-haters or monsters or both. For a lesbian to develop a healthy self-image, she needs stories that reveal her sexual orientation as normal and good. Above all, she needs reassurance that happy endings – or at least happy-endings-for-now – are possible.

The Beginning of Us holds up this responsibility. As a protagonist, Tara is a confident girl academically . . . but she is completely naïve about lesbian existence (she doesn’t even fully understand that one of her closest friends, Trace Waller, is lesbian, just because she’s never been aware enough to notice). As she discovers the possibilities of being with a woman, she discovers even more about who she is. Although her family expresses dismay at her revelation that she’s lesbian, dismissing it as “a phase”, Tara becomes increasingly aware that this is who she has been meant to be all along. The Beginning of Us reassures readers that lesbianism is not only normal; it’s a possible route to happiness in this life.

I could have written a far darker story. In fact, the story in The Beginning of Us has a shadow side, a different direction the characters could have moved. Tara’s desperation could have turned to self-harm, or even to suicide. One of the homophobic students on the campus could have happened upon Tara and Eliza kissing, and could have hurt them. Tara could have reacted to her attraction to Eliza with self-loathing that could have pushed her into a faster courtship with her boyfriend Jacob, which would have trapped all of them in tragedy.

These are all aspects of lesbian stories, too. In a heterosexist society, they are too often reality. So what is a lesbian writer’s responsibility to her readers? To offer more of the too-familiar tragedy? Or to insist – stubbornly – that joy and hope are part of lesbian existence, too?

I can – and do – write dark stories. Maybe I’m even better at writing tragedy as a result of some of my personal experiences. But what if writing stories like The Beginning of Us is as much a responsibility to myself as it is to my readers? I need to remember happiness is still a possibility. Sometimes, I forget, and it is fiction that often reminds me to keep peering into the distance with some optimism.

Go to http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-beginning-of-us to read Tara and Eliza’s story.


usTitle: The Beginning of Us by Sarah Brooks
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, F/F, Romance
Length: 120 pages/Word Count: 31,100

Summary:

Eliza, where are you? I’m listening, watching, waiting for you. I need you. How dare you run away? Where’s the courage, the fearlessness I fell in love with?

I don’t know what else to do but write. It’s dark in my dorm room, and the wind rattles the panes of my window, and I’m supposed to be driving to my parents’ right now for winter break, but I can’t feel my arms or my legs, and my chest aches because I don’t know where you’ve gone. Or why.

I know I shouldn’t have fallen in love with my professor. But you inspired me when you stood in front of the class, telling us to find our authentic selves. And I did—with you. How could I know that you would be so afraid of this, of us? That you’d be so terrified of . . . yourself? Wherever you are, Eliza, hear me—and come back to me.

Love (yes, I’ll write that word, Professor), Your Tara

Click HERE to purchase.


Author Bio

Sarah Brooks was born and raised on a farm in Iowa, traveled through Europe and Central America, and lived in Alaska for a decade before she moved to Colorado to live near her family. When she’s not writing late at night, she raises her beautiful, sassy six-year-old daughter Mitike; teaches middle schoolers how to love writing and reading; and hikes in the mountains.
Sarah holds English and religion majors from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa; an MAT from the University of Alaska Southeast; and (nearly — in one more semester) an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University in Boulder.

Published mostly as an essayist (in Sinister Wisdom, Room, The English Journal, and Iris Brown, among other places), Sarah writes the lesbian fiction she wishes she could read.

Author Links: Website * Blog * Email


Contest

Every comment you make on this blog tour enters you in a DRAWING for a $25 Amazon gift card! Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on February 2nd, and the winner will be announced on February 3rd. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

Follow the rest of the tour HERE.

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7 Comments

Filed under Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Blog

7 Responses to Blog Tour Stop, Guest Post & Contest: The Beginning of Us by Sarah Brooks

  1. Thommie

    Oh, this feels like it’s packing quite an emotional punch, and sound so very enticing.

  2. Timitra

    I’ve never read f/f before, thanks for the heads up on this one.

  3. Deb P

    Sounds interesting, will add to readers list. Thanks.

  4. SHELLEY S

    GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR BOOK AND THANKS FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

  5. H.B.

    Congrats on the new publication. Thank you for the giveaway =)

  6. Sarah Brooks

    Thank you, Kathy, for featuring me and my book on your blog today! I appreciate it. And thank you to your readers for stopping in today!