The Novel Approach welcomes Mia Kerick on the Inclination blog tour. For her visit, I asked Mia this question:
Religion is a divisive topic that, in one way or another, always seems to be in the forefront of social issues in the LGBT community. Why did you want to take on such a weighty subject in a Young Adult book, and what would you say is the primary message you hope readers will take away from Inclination?
Check out what Mia has to say on the subject, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of three e-books from Mia’s backlist.
Mia: Raised a strict Catholic, I struggled since childhood with the rules-oriented nature of my religion. But knowing the rules, and living by them are two different stories. I have long struggled with the nature of the rules in Christianity, but only recently have I thought to examine the intentions behind these rules. And this struggle began when I was a teen, as many major life tend to issues show themselves at this time, which is in short why I addressed a weighty topic like this in a YA novel. And as a teen and a young adult, my major source of stress in this rules-following arena was, like Anthony, in regard to sexuality. Not in regard to my orientation, but in regard to my thoughts and actions.
In preparing to write Inclination, which had a working title of His Way, I did A LOT of research about same-sex behavior, and scriptural passages regarding this, found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, so my remarks will focus on Gay Christianity, rather than on other religions. This is not meant to exclude other religions from the discussion; however, I only want to speak about the specific topic I studied.I will repeat, I did A LOT of research. Maybe too much. This led to my first few drafts of Inclination sounding a little textbook-ish—Christian doctrine textbook, if you know what I mean. In respect to LGBT Christianity, I learned much of the pertinent Biblical passages from many different sources that pointed out both sides of the issue. My kitchen island workspace much resembled David’s chaotic kitchen table in the novel.A research project that matters more that an A grade or pat on your head from your parents because you did a good job… for David, and for myself, to some extent, this was a research paper about salvation.
In the course of my research, I watched a video where gay and lesbian Christian teens (not actors) were interviewed about their lives as homosexuals in Christian churches. What I saw made me cry. These kids LOVED GOD more than I can put into words, but they suffered as if they were evil sinners, or destined to be sinners, if they acted on their orientations. These teens were desperate, guilty, heartbroken. Many were trying to be something they were not—heterosexual. They wanted to be straight. They prayed that they could and would be changed, but to no avail. Others had given up on Christianity because they just couldn’t manage to stifle their true sexuality. Some prepared themselves to live a life alone, with no intimate companion. Others attempted to take their own lives.
I asked myself, how can I NOT address this subject as a Young Adult novel?
So, what message would I like readers to come away with after reading Inclination? The big picture message I hope readers take is that God loves gay Christians. But that is a big picture, and I realize that many Christians look to the Bible for the specifics. So, I hope readers will read with an open mind through David’s basic explanations to Anthony of very detailed scriptural analysis. I hope readers will see that the Bible is subject to human interpretation. And that it is not illogical to interpret that the intention of the Scripture is not as simple as “you shall not lie with a man as with a woman,” but that it is referring to a behavior far more complicated. And for those as detail-obsessed as I can be, that even when you get down to the nitty-gritty of the scripture, you will be able to see that there is a way of understanding the “clobber passages” (the passages that seem to condemn homosexuality) that is not at all anti-gay, but is instead, anti-excessive lustfulness, anti-selfishness, anti-inhospitality. And that readers will trust in what they know of Jesus—that he is not even slightly obsessed by the rules but instead by the essence of Christianity, which is love.
Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Anthony Duck-Young Del Vecchio is a nice Catholic boy with a very big problem. It’s not the challenge of fitting in as the lone adopted South Korean in a close-knit family of Italian-Americans. Nor is it being the one introverted son in a family jam-packed with gregarious daughters. Anthony’s problem is far more serious—he is the only gay kid in Our Way, his church’s youth group. As a high school junior, Anthony has finally come to accept his sexual orientation, but he struggles to determine if a gay man can live as a faithful Christian. And as he faces his dilemma, there are complications. After confiding his gayness to his intolerant adult youth group leader, he’s asked to find a new organization with which to worship. He’s beaten up in the church parking lot by a fanatical teen. His former best pal bullies him in the locker room. His Catholic friends even stage an intervention to lead him back to the “right path.” Meanwhile, Anthony develops romantic feelings for David Gandy, an emo, out and proud junior at his high school, who seems to have all the answers about how someone can be gay and Christian, too.
Will Anthony be able to balance his family, friends and new feelings for David with his changing beliefs about his faith so he can live a satisfying life and not risk his soul in the process?
Author Bio: Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. 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 Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, Cool Dudes, 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. 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.