Today I’m excited to welcome fellow author A.M. Leibowitz to my Scribbles Page. They’ve been published for the last four years and have twelve works to their name. Today we’re going to talk a little about their most recent work Keeping the Faith (Book #3 in the Faithfully Yours Series.)
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
I’m a lifelong New Yorker, married to a former Bostonian. We have the requisite two kids, a cat, and a dog, plus a super cute little house about a fifteen-minute drive from Lake Ontario. I’ve been writing since I was 8 or 9, but only published since 2014. This is my “raised a family, starting over” work; I used to be a public school nurse.
I was looking through your library of works and you have several books that deal with faith (in some form or another) what drives you to talk about faith in your writing? Do you find that people gravitate towards these stories? What kind of reception have they had?
I was raised interfaith (one Jewish parent and one former evangelical parent). As a teen, I got sucked into a cult-like church and more or less gave up my Jewish identity as well as staying closeted for years. My spouse and I stuck it out for a long time, but when I was finally ready to come out, I couldn’t stay—I wasn’t welcome, and change from the inside proved impossible. We left, and I was angry and feeling so trapped by spending years trying to be the right kind of WifeMommy. Interestingly, it was LGBTQ people of faith who welcomed me first. I write a lot about faith to both channel the hurt and also to hold it in tension with the outpouring of love from those LGBTQ believers who cared for me.
For whatever reason, these stories seem to resonate. I commonly hear, “I don’t read the religious ones, but this one was good.” I think it’s because I allow characters to express both deep faith and deep pain at the hands of religion, and I don’t offer simple answers.
In your bio you mention you are a ‘feminine-leaning genderqueer bisexual person’ and you prefer the pronouns they/them considering that some in our society are still at odds with such designations are you finding it easier now to be your true self or do you still have a hard time especially with people’s lack of understanding?
Well, I’m publicly out, and my friends are pretty cool with things. But I’m not too open about it when I’m volunteering at my kids’ school. It’s less a lack of acceptance and more that it’s tiring to constantly have to explain. My kids themselves are awesome and have no trouble with this, and the same is true for most of my relatives. I’m lucky enough to come from a family of hippies and artists, and I live in a bit of a liberal bubble.
That is great. It’s nice to see that you have so much support. So, I want to switch gears here. Please, tell us about your latest story. What are you currently writing?
I’m working on the last part of my Notes from Boston series, and I’m writing a road trip novel. Because everyone has to do that at least once, right? Anyway, it’s loosely based on the story of Joseph (of Technicolor Dreamcoat fame, not Mary’s husband).
That sounds like it a lot of fun. And yes, I think a ‘road trip’ novel is a requirement. One I haven’t filled yet. So what is something you wish people would understand about your writing and your writing style?
That I don’t write romance! Okay, yes, there’s often a relationship. But I like to put that in the midst of other things happening. The one time I actually wrote a romance, it was terrible. Or I think it was, anyway.
(Chuckles) Oh I hear that. Romance that scares the heck out of me to write I always worry I’m making it sound to perfect and fake. So when your’e not writing or spending time with your family what do you enjoy doing?
I’m a classically-trained violinist with a local community orchestra.
Stop! Okay that is so cool. I love music and the idea that you can play the violin is amazing. Congratulations on that.
(Laughs) Thanks it’s pretty cool. Also, this year, I also started taking an Irish step dance class. My son’s a dancer, and he’s been after me to try it out for years. I finally took the plunge.
Wow. Nice. You mentioned that most of your stories take place in the New York area (which I think is cool I do the same thing with my writing, placing in my neck of the words) when you do need or choose to use another location how much research do you do on the area you’re writing about? Or do you just wing it?
For my Boston-based series, I just asked my spouse. He grew up there. Though I will admit to researching train routes and times. For a couple of stories, I didn’t specify a place, which was hard. The road trip novel I mentioned above takes place all along I-90, and that’s required the most research. I’ve only traveled about halfway myself. Hm, maybe I should go on a trip myself.
Travel is the best. I highly recommend it.
I’m curious what is your favorite genre to write?
Contemporary general fiction, with just a splash of other genres. I’m looking to get back to my original love, which is literary fiction.
Very cool. Like all authors harsh reviews suck. How do you deal with negative reviews?
I figure they’re not for me. Reviews are for other readers. Who knows? Maybe a bad review will convince someone to try it anyway. The only times a review made me mad were when one reader had important details of the story wrong and when another reader inserted her personal opinion of bisexuals. I bit my tongue both times; it’s not my place to comment. Fortunately, other readers stepped in.
That is always tough. I find it’s best to just leave it be, as you’ve said. Still I want to reach out and smack them… but I don’t.
Moving on let’s talk about your latest book. If you could which character would you like to sit down with and have a cup of coffee with? And why?
Oh, goodness. From the book I’m writing, I’d love to hang out with Amelia. She’s briefly appeared in the other Boston books, and she kicks butt. From my last published book, I want to sit down with Micah. He and I are kindred spirits, and I mostly just want to tell him it’ll all be okay.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Maybe a little life advice: It’s never too late to start something new or figure things out about yourself. I may not have understood myself or known I wanted to write when I was in my teens or twenties, but I know those things now. In some ways, I envy my kids’ having the freedom to develop organically. But in other ways, I think it’s okay that it took me so long. It’s good to learn and grow at every stage of life.
Nicely said. I agree 100%. I’m so glad you were able to stop by.
Thank you for having me!
About Keeping the Faith (Faithfully Yours #3):
It’s been three years since Micah’s young spouse, Cat, passed away. In the process of cleaning his house, Micah discovers a series of letters Cat hid before he died, in which he made one request: that Micah empty his life of Cat as a way of moving on. Micah has been able to work through his sorrow, but he’s unable to fulfill Cat’s last wish. He can’t see a way past his loneliness despite all the caring people around him.
Enter two new friendships. Jude, Micah’s vivacious new coworker, brings joy back into his life. Chris, the new minister at Cat’s former church, intrigues Micah, from his musings on theology to his work as a trans advocate and activist. Through them, Micah becomes involved in teaching creative writing at the town’s new community center. Using Cat’s detailed letters, he fictionalizes their love story. In doing so, he at last begins to sort through his complicated grief. With a little help from family and friends, Micah will need to open his heart to love completely again.
Click here to buy the book.
Check out the rest of the series here click on the image to buy:
About A. M. Leibowitz:
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.