Hello, and thank you very much for hosting me on your blog today in my promotion of my new release, Clean. Clean is an edgy LGBTQ YA that addresses the issue of substance abuse among teenagers. It is also a book that is edgy because of the unconventional writing style, stream of consciousness, that I used as I wrote the character, Trevor’s, narrative voice.
Lisa: Hi, Mia, welcome back to The Novel Approach. It’s always a pleasure to have you stop by for a visit.
Since we’ve just flipped the calendar to a New Year, how about if we start out by letting readers know what you have in the works for 2016?
Mia: Well, I ended 2015 with Clean, my YA LGBTQ romance that deals with teenage substance abuse. My first release for 2016 is being published under a new “collection” called Mia Kerick Adult on Valentine’s Day, by CoolDudes Publishing. Although I have written adult books before, I decided that the time has come to designate which are my adult ones, and which are my YA. I have a symbol I will use that says Mia Kerick Adult Fiction (attached below), which lets the reader know that the heat will be very hot and there might be other concepts not necessarily designed for teens.
My Valentine’s Day release is a New Adult romance called The Art of Hero Worship, about two young men who meet under life-threatening circumstances, and although they have never before considered themselves gay, fall in love.
Lisa: What do you like in particular about writing Young Adult/New Adult romance?
Mia: I think I like that the characters are experiencing a lot of firsts and everything is so raw to them. Love, pain, fear, anger, jealousy—it all is new and they have no bag of tricks to turn to for how to deal with these experiences. So they react emotionally and are so incredibly real and themselves. There is a beauty to self-discovery.
Lisa: Of all the characters you’ve written, whose story has resonated deepest with you and had the longest lasting effect on you?
Mia: Hmmm…. An interesting question, so I’m going to close my eyes….
I write lots of tragic characters who are broken by the world. But this year I wrote a character, Chance César, in my YA romantic comedy, Love Spell, who refuses to allow the world to damage him. Now don’t get me wrong, Chance is dealing with some tough stuff—being unsure of his gender identity, constant bullying, parental neglect—as he’s frequently beat up and insulted by kids at school at work, and horribly so. But his resilient attitude in life forces people to notice and respect him. Maybe they don’t like him, but this is not of great concern to Chance. Chance is outlandish and hysterical and very, very brassy. But he is so real to me, and he makes me laugh when a little part of me wants to cry at his pain. Chance is bittersweet, that way.
Lisa: Why do you think that is?
Mia: I think I explained it very well above, but I will add that all of us know the fear of being considered the “weird kid” and we know the pain of being excluded and the compelling need to fit in. Chance experiences these fears and desires, too, but his strength of character will not allow him to comply with societal expectations. In a way, he is the underdog that I root for.
Lisa: Of all the romantic tropes, do you have a favorite or two to write? What makes them your fave?
Mia: I love it when a bad boy’s tender heart is revealed. The tortured hero is my personal favorite character to read and write. It fascinates me to explore the soft side of a hard person.
I also like friends to lovers novels. The transformation is to me, so intimate and awkward, and so much rides on its success.
I like it when a couple falls so deeply in love that their sexualities, races, backgrounds, etc. do not matter at all. They are so in love with what is inside each other’s hearts and souls that they cannot even see what’s on the outside.
Lisa: Let’s turn the topic to your latest novel, Clean. You tackle the subject of teenage substance abuse, which, I’m sure, gave you no small amount of dramatic material to work with. What sort of research went into writing this book?
Mia: Living with teenagers who deal with the existence of substances in their lives, is a sort of research that I’ve lived. Personal experience, and experiences by friends and family, also provide first-hand knowledge. But I certainly had to research to get the large and small details correct. I researched Alcoholics Anonymous and rehabs for teens, online drug sites that explain the effects of different drugs, medical journals that detail the process of addiction. I read many personal statements of alcoholics and drug addicts, written by both adults and teenagers. I read a great deal about withdrawal, listened to pop songs about addiction and recovery, researched famous books and quotations about this, as well.
Lisa: From an emotional standpoint, what was the most difficult thing about writing Lanny and Trevor’s story?
Mia: Trevor has been being sexually abused by his guardian since he was abandoned by his mother at the age of twelve. I had to get the research right, portray the character realistically, while keeping in mind that Clean is designed for a teenage audience. So my writing had to be real and raw, without presenting detailed concepts that are more designed for an adult audience than a teen one.
This was a difficult balance to achieve.
Lisa: On the opposite side of the coin, what was the most emotionally satisfying thing about writing their story?
Mia: Clean is a story of hope. No matter how hard you fall, with a little help from family and friends and in many cases a twelve-step program like AA, you can get up again, and stand tall on your own two feet.
Lisa: Would you like to share an excerpt from the book with readers?
Mia: I used a stream of consciousness style literary device to illustrate Trevor’s thinking style. So, this may appear to include run-on sentences, but it is purposeful!
Excerpt: My head’s pounding and I can’t go to school cuz of the bruises on the side of my head. They’ve swollen up into lumps somebody’d notice for sure and in trying to “rescue poor Trevor from his abusive home life” the kindly teachers would report me to the Department of Youth Services and I’d get shipped off to some group home where I’d have to deal with the same shit Carl dishes out but I wouldn’t get to come and go as I please anymore. Shit I’m not even sure I could keep my wheels if I lived in a group home and that’s not gonna work for me…and then there’s Lanny.
I’d probably never hook up with him again and that’s a no-can-do for me. No can do.
Now my head’s spinning around and around with too many thoughts added to the pain cuz it hurts real bad. I can’t get my shit under control—got mixed feelings—and want out of this hellhole so bad but I can’t handle the empty feeling I get when I think of no more car and no more Lanny. Past time to get outta bed need to stop dwelling on shit that can’t be fixed.
Want a shower. I’ll feel better when I’m clean.
Lisa: Thanks so much for joining us, Mia. Would you like to tell readers where they can find you on the internet?
Blurb: High school senior Lanny Keating has it all. A three-sport athlete at Lauserville High School looking at a college football scholarship, with a supportive family, stellar grades, boy band good looks… until the fateful day when it all falls apart.
Seventeen-year-old Trevor Ladd has always been a publicly declared zero and the high school badboy. Abandoned by his mother and sexually abused by his legal guardian, Trevor sets his sights on mere survival.
Lanny seeks out Trevor’s companionship to avoid his shattered home life. Unwilling to share their personal experiences of pain, the boys explore ways to escape, leading them into sexual experimentation, and the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol. Their mutual suffering creates a lasting bond of friendship and love.
When the time finally comes to get clean and sober, or flunk out of high school, only one of the boys will graduate, while the other spirals downward into addiction.
Will Lanny and Trevor find the strength to battle their demons of mind-altering substances as well as emotional vulnerability?
Clean takes the reader on a gritty trip into the real and raw world of teenage substance abuse.
Buy Link: Amazon
Ms. Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five non-pedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-three years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it’s a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. As a teen, Mia filled spiral- bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big- hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping.
She is thankful to CoolDudes Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.
Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality, which is now the law of the land in the United States—woot! woot! Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.