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
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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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Cat knew exactly where to go. He’d seen what he wanted there when they’d been displayed in the window a couple of months ago. The bell over the door tinkled as he entered the tattoo and piercing shop.
At the sound, the owner emerged from the back. “Well, hey!” he said. “How’re you doing?”
Cat gave him a bright smile. “Doing fine.”
The owner jumped. “You weren’t so talkative last time I saw you.”
“Things change. Listen, do you still have the hemp rosaries with the hand-painted beads?”
“Sure do.” The owner motioned Cat over to the case. “What are you looking for?”
David wasn’t Catholic, nor was he part of any other tradition which used prayer beads, but it hardly mattered. Cat scanned the various offerings then pointed to one at the end of the row.
“That one,” he said.
The owner wrapped it up for Cat. “Interesting choice,” he remarked.
“Oh, it’s not for me. It’s a gift.” Cat smiled.
“Ah,” the owner replied with a wink. “I see.”
“But I’ll also take…that one.” He pointed to another one, quite different from the first. The one he picked for himself had rose-colored stones and a detailed pewter crucifix. “I need to replace my old one.” He pulled it out of his pocket. “Can you put this medallion on it for me?”
“Sure can,” the owner replied. He glanced at it and laughed. “Philomena?”
“Patron Saint of blood disorders,” Cat said. “I have hemophilia.” It might have been the first time Cat hadn’t felt as though he should explain or excuse himself when he said it.
Once Cat was out of the store, he took the rosary he’d bought for David out of its paper to examine it more carefully. It was made of black hemp cord, and instead of beads, it was knotted. The cross was hand carved from soapstone, and there was an oval pendant of Agatha, Patron Saint of nurses. Cat ran his finger over it, imagining David’s hands touching where his had. He slid the rosary back into its bag, pocketed it, and walked the short distance back to the cafe for his shift.
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.
Tell us a bit about your cultural, ethnic, religious, and/or spiritual background and how it informs your writing. I come from a mixed background—Jewish/Italian. Those are both very strong cultures, from traditions to food to faith. Neither of my parents was religious when I was growing up, and I got caught up in fundamentalist evangelicalism to compensate. I’m no longer part of that world. I am now a Christian by choice, but I also honor my Jewish ethnicity and continue to practice customs learned in childhood.
What cultural value do you see in storytelling? It’s how we make sense of our histories, develop our values, and pass them on to the next generation. Ideally, that’s an ongoing and dynamic process rather than becoming stale and stuck in the past rehashing values which no longer fit.
How do you hope your writing influences other people? I hope most of all for people to learn they are not alone, they are not wrong, and they are not broken.
- As a kid, were you a Goody-Goody or a Wild Child? Goody-Goody
- In school, were you more academic, artsy, or athletic? Academic and artsy
If you could have any career (other than writer), what would it be? I’d go back to nursing