"So there are people who don’t want to touch it because they assume it is a slam on religion, which I don’t think it is. And there are other people who don’t want to touch it because they think that it is Christian fiction out to convert people. It is hard being in the position of being rejected for being too Christian and too anti-Christian at the same time."

— author Laura Lee on the novel Angel, quoted in a recent interview with I Love Romantic Fiction

It had me asking myself many questions about religion and delving deeper into my beliefs. This is a very interesting book, written from a viewpoint I have never thought of. It is definitely a page-turner, as I just had to know what was going to happen next.

"My goal with the book was literary not political."

— Laura Lee on the novel Angel in an interview with I Love Romantic Fiction

Why You Should Read It: the love story between Ian and Paul is so real and vivid that you can’t help rooting for them. They are two lost souls who desperately need someone to love who will love them in return; they also need someone who will allow each to be himself with no limitations. Their tentative forays into friendship and then love are awkward and telling.  They show that any sort of relationship requires time and trust for it to evolve. The fact that the protagonist is a minister who happens to fall in love with another man in no way makes this feel like commentary on the church, religion as a whole, or homosexuality.  In fact the budding romance between minister and gay man humanizes the ministry and gives some understanding into the stress of being the guiding force in a congregation. Ian is a bright spot. He oozes confidence and charm, enjoying the pleasures that life has to offer and forcing Paul to lighten up. He’s also gorgeous and larger than life.

The writing is superb with an easy flowing storyline that reads beautifully and effortlessly. The dialogue is fantastic, especially the religious conversations between the believer, Paul, and Ian who is most definitely searching for answers to the meaning of life.

What You Might Hate: the fact that this story shows a gay relationship between a member of the clergy and another man might be off putting if you have a deep rooted faith. Even if you don’t, a gay relationship in and of itself might turn you off.  The male lead, Paul, is in no way dreamy. He’s a middle aged, balding widow with a lot of stress and a bit of a depression. Ian is a recovering drug addict who can’t stick with anything when the going gets tough. The realism of their relationship might leave you wanting something more upbeat. 

Interviewing in 140 Characters or Less

In case you missed it, this is a transcript of the “twitterview” I did yesterday.  This visual version was prepared by Novel Publicity.  I did want to point out that a couple of my answers, which were across two tweets, were combined in this transcript and a few of the questions and answers were omitted. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

On the question of whether aspiring writers should look for an agent or try to find a publisher directly I replied:

Initially, I just sent proposals using Writer’s Market. My biggest seller (85,000 copies) sold that way. After that, got an agent

Once you have a track record you can get an agent. Yes, it is a Catch-22.

Upsides and downsides to working with agents. They get you things you won’t on your own, and it is good to have someone in it w/ U. (I ran out of characters on this tweet.)

But if your agent doesn’t like a proposal and you really believe in it, don’t take it as the last word.

—-

Also after the end of the official twitter view I answered a question about whether there will be more from the characters in Angel.  (Short answer: Maybe.)

And I added on the question about the inspiration for the character of Ian:

A bit more on the inspiration for the character Ian, see the third question in this interview: http://bit.ly/ukwTv6

"What did you write? 50 Shades of Pray?"

— a friend’s comment when I complained about having to alternately try to persuade potential reviewers that my book Angel is not A. a preaching book trying to convert people or B. erotica.

What Does Writing LGBT Literature Mean to Me?

Blog Hop"You wrote a novel?  That is so exciting.  What is it about?"

It’s an experience that I, as a straight person, hadn’t really faced before but one that has since become familiar. 

It’s that moment when you look at the person making friendly conversation, asking you about your life, and you stop and size her up.  How do you imagine she is going to react?  Do you know her to be a conservative Christian?  Will she think of you differently after you respond?  If you work with her, might her feelings about your response affect how she views you as a client? 

My book is about a Christian minister who falls in love with another man.  It’s about how his faith and relationship with his congregation evolve as a result.

Do I say this directly or do I speak around it?  “It’s a bout a minister and his relationship with his congregation.”  “It was inspired by a trip I took to the mountains.”

Coming out.

No, I can’t claim to know what it is like to have this come up about everything: your weekend plans, your family situation, “Who is that person who brought you lunch?”  But writing LGBT literature, that is to say, writing one book about gay and bisexual characters, has given me a small taste.

Before I wrote the book, I had the luxury of holding but not voicing my opinion when it was not convenient, of keeping quiet and letting people assume I agreed with whatever they believed.  Like most luxuries, it came at a high price: fear and inauthenticity.

I have friends who have reacted with— let’s call it surprise at the topic of my book. They love me anyway.  My worries were unfounded. That realization spills over into many areas of my life.  Trying to avoid offending anyone is a great way to avoid saying anything worth expressing.

I have a theory that social change happens not when the first trail blazers take a stand— as important as they are.  The change really happens when average people stop nodding in agreement to things they don’t believe.  I do think we’ve reached a point in history where a lot of people have stopped nodding.

I read a poem once with the title “Unlearning Not to Speak.”  That is what writing lgbt literature has been for me, a process of unlearning not to speak.

Q&A With Writer Laura Lee

w3sidecar:

One thing I discovered in publishing a novel is that the more creatively fulfilling a project is, the more it means to you, the more emotionally difficult the process will be.  

Read More

"Most Christian denominations are not out there with the Westboro Baptist Church or marching against same-sex marriage rights. They’re in this conflicted place. They change slowly. They don’t want to alienate older parishoners who have always believed homosexuality was a sin, and yet they don’t want to turn away younger people, the majority of whom have a different view. The dynamic of trying to please both groups is much more nuanced and interesting. The cable news networks do a good job of creating dramatic stories of clashes between the extremes. That story has been well told… I didn’t want to paint organized religion as being made up of bigots with pitch forks. I wanted to show what draws people to church, what good it does for people, and what problems there are with it. People have called the book a slam on organized religion and also a deeply religious book. That it can be interpreted both of those ways tells me that I probably got the balance right. Anytime people try to come together in community you will have conflicts. Yet community life is vitally important…

People want to ask “is the church good or bad,” but I think that question is too simple. The church is made up of people. People bring everything that makes them human into the church, which means it is a combination of art and transcendent beauty and compassion and support and also prejudice and status worries and gossip. Does the cross stand for resurrection and rebirth, or is it a symbol used by people who want assurance that they are moral and perhaps more moral and upstanding than others? It can mean inclusiveness– as Jesus upset authorities by associating with the unclean– or it can mean exclusiveness as in “only those who believe in Jesus go to heaven.” It is all of that and many other things. I didn’t want to tell the reader what they should make of all of that. I simply wanted to present the story and to be sure the depiction of religious community life was truthful and then let the reader decide what it means. That’s why some people think Angel is slam on the church and some see it as a heart-felt expression of true faith."

— interview with author Laura Lee on Fighting Monkey Press

Review of the novel Angel by Laura Lee: Fighting Monkey Press

This is a love story.  Written with the depth and insight of  The Prisoner’s Wife by asha bandele or Written on the Body by Jeannette Winterson, Angel is a surprising piece of literature…

Angel is an exploration of faith, an exploration of the nature of love, and forces the reader to think about the difference between private and public identity.  I have to admit, this one made me cry a number of times.  The raw emotions, the lyrical writing and the unadulterated adoration Paul felt for Ian was overwhelming at times…

Angel is a book that needs to be read a few times.  It should be essential reading for Gender Studies and Seminary in dealing with issues of Sexuality. It’s deep, it’s thoughtful, its beautiful and evocative.  Angel challenges the reader to look at themselves, their lives and re-examine their preconceived notions.

Most of all though Angel is a love story.  And you should read it.

(Source: fightingmonkeypress.com)