The Novel Approach welcomes Keira Andrews on the A Way Home blog tour. Keira shares some pics, telling us who she had in mind as character inspirations while writing the books, and she’s also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of any book from her backlist, winner’s choice! (**Excl. A Way Home**)
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED
When I read, I always imagine the story playing out like a movie in my mind. I even cast actors for the roles, and sometimes I’ll pause and imagine the layout of a room and decorate it so I can see it very clearly. This might be why I’m such a slow reader! I guess I like to see every detail.
The first book I can remember casting was Dark Angel by V.C. Andrews. The mysterious and dreamy Uncle Troy was 21 Jump Street-era Johnny Depp in my young mind. Those cheekbones! (And lord, that poufy ’80s hair!)
When I write, I also cast the characters with actors. For my gay Amish trilogy, I had three specific actors in mind when I created roles. In my head, Isaac is Dylan O’Brien, from Teen Wolf and the movie The Maze Runner.
For Isaac’s lover David, I imagined Torrance Coombs, who stars on Reign.
I also named Isaac’s brother Aaron after actor Aaron Tveit, my favorite Broadway performer (and start of the TV show Graceland). He has the voice—and face—of an angel.
How about you? Do you imagine actors in your head when you read? What do you think of my choices for Isaac, David and Aaron?
Isaac and David never thought they’d go back to the Amish world. But when Isaac’s younger brother is stricken with cancer, they don’t hesitate to return. Their relationship is on the rocks after insecurity and fear drove a wedge between them in San Francisco, and David is determined to make things right. Yet if they thought navigating “English” life was confusing, being back in Zebulon is even more complicated.
Their families are desperate to bring them back into the fold, and pressure from the community builds. Isaac and David yearn for a future together, but each day it becomes harder to hide the truth about who they really are. They’re caught between two worlds, and if they’re not careful it could tear them further apart.
Can Isaac and David make their way back to each other—and find a place to call home?
This is the final chapter in a trilogy of forbidden Amish love.
Excerpt: “Do I look okay?”
As Isaac glanced at Aaron, he stepped in a pile of slush that soaked straight through his sneaker. It was the end of April, but the vestiges of winter still clung to northern Minnesota, and melting snowbanks dotted the hospital parking lot. Aaron stopped and smoothed a hand down his jacket. It was a nice raincoat—the color of red wine, fitted with buttons down the front—but they both knew it didn’t matter.
Still, Isaac nodded. “You look great.”
Aaron tried to smile. “Thanks.” He pushed back a lock of blond hair that had crept over his forehead, and pushed a button to lock the doors on the salt-stained sedan he’d rented at the airport.
The truth was that Aaron could be wearing his fanciest suit, but the only way to please their parents was if he donned plain clothes again—clothes that followed the rules of the Ordnung down to the very last detail. Isaac wasn’t wearing Amish clothes either, and he realized it would be the first time his parents would see him in English jeans and a hoodie. His green raincoat was thin, and he shivered, wishing he had gloves.
Maybe he should have changed into his Amish clothes after all. Mother and Father would hate to see him like this, but he’d wanted to…what? Make a statement, he supposed. But what was he really saying? Was it brave to spit in his parents’ faces and turn his back on his heritage? Or cruel?
Isaac tugged at his sleeves and scuffed his rubber toe across the wet concrete. Driving from Minneapolis had taken longer than he’d expected, and it would be dark soon. If he asked Aaron to go back to June’s now so he could change, the nurses might not even let him see Nathan by the time they returned.
They stood by the car, breath clouding the damp, wintry air, and stared at the gray and beige concrete block that was the hospital. The glass doors of the emergency room swished open and shut as a nurse in blue scrubs came out. She lit a cigarette as she walked away from the door, joining a man in a wheelchair with a metal pole holding a plastic bag towering over him. The nurse exhaled a cloud of smoke and rubbed her arms.
“I guess we should go inside.” Aaron stared at the doors with hunched shoulders.
Neither of them moved. They’d been so desperate to get to Minnesota after the nurse had called. Mother and Father refused to come on the line, and she could only tell them so much. Nathan had cancer. He probably needed some kind of transplant. Could they be tested?
Now, standing in the slushy parking lot of the hospital under a gray slate sky, Isaac felt just as far away as he had in San Francisco. Nathan has cancer. The terror that his brother would die before Isaac could see him again had driven him here as though he were a horse kicked by a merciless rider. Not being able to speak to Nathan or their parents had been torture.
Yet now that he and Aaron had arrived, Isaac’s stomach churned. A vision of blood soaking into the fresh white snow filled his mind, and David’s voice echoed.
“I must repent or my mother will die. Everyone I love will pay for my sins. You need to stay far away from me.”
Isaac swallowed hard over a swell of emotion. They’d come so far together, but somehow not far enough. David hadn’t answered his calls and texts about Nathan. Why hadn’t he? The ache to have David by his side burned hollowly in Isaac’s chest. Isaac had been so afraid not to come back to Minnesota straight away, and now he couldn’t face actually going inside. He itched to clutch David’s hand and feel his warm, solid strength.
“David’s coming tomorrow.”
Isaac blinked at his brother, his pulse jumping. Was I talking out loud? “What?”
Aaron held up his phone. “Jen’s taking him to the airport first thing. The redeye was booked, but he’ll be in Minneapolis by early afternoon.”
The surge of sweet relief was tempered by dark tendrils of disappointment and hurt. He wished he could scrub his brain and erase the image of David in that place. The image of Clark touching him. Kissing him. Kissing his David! Isaac’s mind whirled uselessly. “Oh.”
Aaron’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? That’s it? Okay, tell me what happened. I know you don’t want to, but before we go in there and deal with all…that, we need to deal with this. Spill it. What did you guys fight about?”
Sighing, Isaac jammed his hands in his coat pockets. His face flushed, and he wasn’t sure if it was with anger or embarrassment. “He kissed someone else,” Isaac mumbled. He hated even saying the ugly words.
“What?” Aaron’s jaw opened and closed. “Are you serious? Of course you’re serious—forget I said that. What happened?”
Isaac kept his gaze on a scattering of rock salt. “I saw them kissing at the dance club. David didn’t think I’d be there, but I got a fake ID. I was going to surprise him.” He laughed hollowly. “Didn’t turn out how I expected.”
“I… Wow. I really can’t believe this. It doesn’t seem like David at all. He’s so in love with you. I mean, when he looks at you little cartoon hearts spring out of his eyes.”
“Really? You think so?” Isaac blinked rapidly to fight impending tears, and breathed carefully. “Then why? I guess Clark has something I don’t,” he muttered.
“Clark?” Isaac nodded, and Aaron pressed his lips together. “I can’t believe this. I’m going to kill him. Both of them! What did David say?”
“He said Clark kissed him like I saw, and that he tried to get away from him, but Clark followed. I saw them go into the bathroom together. David says nothing happened. ” Isaac inhaled through the wave of nausea. “But I know what people do in there.”
Aaron’s gaze narrowed. “Wait—David says nothing really happened?”
“I want to believe him, but…I can’t get it out of my head, seeing them together. It makes me so angry and…sick. Sick to my stomach. I should have known. I heard Clark say that he was going to get David into bed the first night we met him.”
Jaw clenched, Aaron shook his head. “Well, that I can certainly believe. I love Clark, but he can be a selfish ass sometimes. But David? I don’t know. He’s never struck me as a liar, Isaac.”
“But we lied to our families and everyone we knew for months. We’re still lying to them.” He jabbed his finger toward the hospital. “I’m going to go in there and lie. Because it’s bad enough I betrayed God and my community by leaving. But if they found out who I really am? It would be over for good. No visiting. No letters. Nothing.”
Aaron sighed. “Isaac, when was the last time you got a letter? The only way they’ll ever let you back in their lives is if you repent your evil, worldly ways, come home, and join the church. Whether or not they know you’re gay won’t really matter in the end. Yes, you’re right—if they find out, they’ll turn away from you. Right now you’re not shunned like I am, but you’ll never have a real relationship with them. Not unless you go back and do everything they want. Give up everything you have. Everything you are.”
It was all true, but Isaac still shook his head. “I can’t tell them the truth. They can’t ever know.”
“I’m not suggesting you should march in there and come out.” Aaron took Isaac’s shoulders gently. “Just that you should think about how far you’re willing to go to keep that shred of hope alive. How much of yourself you’re willing to give up, and for what? Maybe a letter or two a year if you’re lucky?”
“It’s better than nothing,” Isaac whispered.
Aaron smiled sadly. “Maybe. And yes, you’re right that you and David have lied about who you are, and the truth of your relationship. But don’t hold that against him now. It’s not fair. Hear him out. Has he ever lied to you before?”
“No. I don’t know. I don’t think so. How am I supposed to know?” That was what dug into him the most with sharp, angry edges—that he wasn’t sure of anything now. Had David lied to him in the past? Isaac’s heart said no, but maybe he was fooling himself?
“I know you’re hurt and angry, and you have every right to be. Just don’t make any big decisions right now. Whatever happens in the end, I support you, but don’t give up on your relationship with David without really talking with him. He’s a good person. You both are. You can work through this. I know you can.”
He nodded. Part of him wanted to tell Aaron that David had apparently been lying about drinking as well, but the words wouldn’t come. He didn’t have a clue what to think about that. About any of it. He wanted so desperately to believe David had never wanted anything to happen with Clark, but he didn’t want to be…what was the word Chris had used? A chump. It was as though Isaac’s feeling were a big pot of stew inside him, stirring and stirring and stirring. It wouldn’t be long until it all overflowed.
In his pocket, his phone buzzed. Heart in his throat, Isaac pulled it out and read the words on the screen.
I will be there soon. I love you.
He exhaled shakily, the jagged edge of his panic dulling as warmth flowed through him. As hurt as he was, he knew David truly loved him. If that made him a chump, so be it. There was so much he wanted to say, but it would have to wait. It was better to talk in person, especially since David barely knew how to use his phone even after months.
“I guess we really should get in there.” Aaron blew out a long breath. “It’s easy to give you advice, but not so easy to take it myself. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. They might not even look at me, let alone talk to me. God, it’s been so long. Almost ten years now. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Seeing them again, it’s…terrifying. But exciting too.”
Isaac squeezed Aaron’s arm. “I’m here. We’ll do it together.”
On the other side of the lot, a large delivery truck rumbled away, revealing a horse and covered buggy hitched to a light post. Isaac’s heart skipped a beat as he recognized old Roy right away. He thought of dear Silver, and hoped he’d see her again soon. Looking at the buggy, it hit home—Mother and Father were really inside, and so was Nathan. His little brother was in there, lying in a bed not knowing if he’d live or die, and here Isaac was worrying about himself.
Without another word, they hurried across the lot, almost in a run by the time the glass doors swooshed open to admit them to whatever might wait inside.
Copyright © Keira Andrews
About the Author: After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”