Sarah Brooks Joins us to Talk About The Beginning of Us ~ Blog Tour

We would like to thank Sarah Brooks for joining us today to talk about her latest release, The Beginning of Us.  Beverley reviewed this title hereTheBeginningOfUs_500x750.

Hello!  This is Sarah Brooks, author of The Beginning of Us.  Thank you for joining me on my blog tour this week!

Every comment you make on this blog tour enters you in a RAWING for a $25 Amazon gift card!  Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on February 2nd, and the winner will be announced on February 3rd.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.  

Q:  The two main characters, Tara and Eliza, in The Beginning of Us, seem completely surprised by the possibilities of a lesbian life.  Explain?

A:  Well, Eliza’s aware of it. She went to college on the East Coast, attended graduate school in England.  Although we never hear about it, she must know other lesbians.  She hints that she’s always been too absorbed by her studies to ever consider whether she’s lesbian, and her family is clearly old money, concerned about appearances.

Q:  What about Tara?  She’s a senior in college, but all of this – including the revelation about one of her closest friends, Trace – seems new to her.

A:  Remember she attends a conservative, small college in rural Iowa, and remember she grew up on a farm.  She’s not completely ignorant – she knows Rapsca and Sandra are together – but she’s never been forced to consider lesbianism seriously.  Without realizing it, Tara’s been indoctrinated to believe the only real life path for a woman is to find a man to marry.

Q:  And meeting Eliza reveals this whole other possible life to her?

A:  Yes.  Readers who’ve grown up in open, accepting environments where it’s easy to live as lesbians will probably find Tara’s ignorance a bit baffling at first. . .but this is a reality for so many girls in the world.  So many lesbian girls have to confront negative reactions from their families, threats, abuse.  Tara’s family dismisses her newfound identity as “a phase,” but other girls encounter far worse.

Q:  You grew up in Iowa.  Were you as naïve as Tara? 

A:  I was as naïve as Tara when I was in college, though I was more intellectually involved in the issue.  In 1997, when I was a sophomore in college, the Lutheran church was actively debating Biblical support for and against homosexuality, and my Lutheran college entered into the fray with a campus forum similar to the one I depict in my book.   It was horrible . . . and it made me realize that I wanted more fodder for debate.  A couple years later, I wrote my senior paper proving the Biblical passages people use to oppose homosexuality do not describe the consensual, loving relationship between adults that we mean in our contemporary society.

Q:  The fact that you even needed to prove that shows the context you grew up in.

A:  Exactly.  That’s why Tara’s so unaware that being a lesbian could be a real possibility for her.  Not only has she been taught she’s supposed to find a husband, but she’s been taught being gay is wrong, against the Bible.  You know, Adrienne Rich argued in the 1970s that lesbians needed to assert their existence (in their writing and in their living) for all women, to educate all women about the possibility – and to show them that the lesbian possibility is good.

Q:  That’s what lesbian fiction can do.

A:  Exactly.

Q:  So. . . Tara’s family doesn’t react well when she comes out to them.  They don’t disown her, but they dismiss her, telling her she’s in a “phase”.  Is this how your family reacted when you came out?

A:  Not at all!  My family was amazing.  I was past college – 28, in graduate school – and I was married to a man when I realized I was lesbian.  This made everything complicated, but every member of my family embraced me and loved me fully through it all, including my 92-year-old grandmother.

Q:  Why did you choose to have Tara’s family react negatively, then?

A:  I needed to push her back to the college, so she and Eliza could interact again, and her family’s rejection at Thanksgiving gave her that push.

Q:  You’re a middle school teacher in Colorado.  Do you think it’s easier for a GLBT kid to grow up in Colorado than in Iowa?

A:  Like any state, it depends where a kid lives in Colorado.  I live in Boulder, where people are incredibly open and accepting about GLBT identities and issues.  I have a few middle school students who are either questioning or out, and their families are unequivocally supportive.  However, I know a kid living in Colorado Springs or Pueblo will have a very different experience.  The same is true about Iowa.  Some places are more open and tolerant than others.

Q:  Did you write this book specifically for people just discovering their sexual orientation?

A:  Definitely.  I came out in 2005, which wasn’t long ago . . . but Brokeback Mountain was just making headlines in the movie theaters that summer, and WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes had just come out publicly.  The major churches were debating whether it was a sin to be with the same sex or not.  I was terrified.  When I searched for books, movies, I could only find a few . . . but those few were immensely comforting.  I wasn’t the only one.  Other women had loved women, too.

Q:  One more question:  why did you decide to have Tara fall in love with her professor?  Why not another student?

A:  It increases the tension of the story.  They’re not just entering into the scary realm of sexual orientation awareness; they’re also dealing with a college policy about a student and professor engaging in a relationship.

Go to http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-beginning-of-us to read Tara and Eliza’s story.

About The Beginning of Us:

Eliza, where are you? I’m listening, watching, waiting for you. I need you. How dare you run away? Where’s the courage, the fearlessness I fell in love with?

I don’t know what else to do but write. It’s dark in my dorm room, and the wind rattles the panes of my window, and I’m supposed to be driving to my parents’ right now for winter break, but I can’t feel my arms or my legs, and my chest aches because I don’t know where you’ve gone. Or why.

I know I shouldn’t have fallen in love with my professor. But you inspired me when you stood in front of the class, telling us to find our authentic selves. And I did—with you. How could I know that you would be so afraid of this, of us? That you’d be so terrified of . . . yourself? Wherever you are, Eliza, hear me—and come back to me.

Love (yes, I’ll write that word, Professor), Your Tara

About the Author

Sarah Brooks was born and raised on a farm in Iowa, traveled through Europe and Central America, and lived in Alaska for a decade before she moved to Colorado to live near her family.  When she’s not writing late at night, she raises her beautiful, sassy six-year-old daughter Mitike; teaches middle schoolers how to love writing and reading; and hikes in the mountains.

Sarah holds English and religion majors from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa; an MAT from the University of Alaska Southeast; and (nearly — in one more semester) an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University in Boulder.
Published mostly as an essayist (in Sinister Wisdom, Room, The English Journal, and Iris Brown, among other places), Sarah writes the lesbian fiction she wishes she could read.

Connect with Sarah:

Blog: theboulderlesbian.blogspot.com
Website: http://sarahbrooks.webstarts.com/
Email: msbrooks127@gmail.com

Giveaway

Every comment you make on this blog tour enters you in a RAWING for a $25 Amazon gift card!  Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on February 2nd, and the winner will be announced on February 3rd.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.  

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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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6 thoughts on “Sarah Brooks Joins us to Talk About The Beginning of Us ~ Blog Tour

  1. I’ve been interested in trying a f/f story – this looks like a great one to start with. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

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