Book Name: Inclination
Release Date: February 25, 2015
Author Name: Mia Kerick
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.
Inclination touches on a very tricky subject. One reviewer comments ‘ What Mia has written is very, very close to what pretty much every gay Christian youth has felt and gone through. I would actually recommend this book to every youth pastor out there so they can understand what some of the kids under their care are going through.”
Can you talk about the research put into this book – did you interview kids, youth pastors, etc. to get such a close grip on the subject? Did you use the personal experience of someone you know? What are your thoughts on that reviewers suggestion about youth pastors reading this so they are better equipped to handle young gay Christians?
I put more research into Inclination than I did on any other book, with the possible exception of Intervention, which dealt with the sexual abuse of a child. And my research took various different forms, which I will outline for you here.
But before I tell you about my research, I would like to explain my rational for doing the deep scriptural research that I conducted and presented in Inclination. This research was, in fact, very personal to my own Christian experience. You see, I am a very black or white type of person. What a person does is either right or wrong; a person is either good or bad, he/she follows the rules or does not. For this reason, I stopped practicing Catholicism. (And for the record, I believe in God, and in the messages of Jesus.) I was unable to follow all the rules of the church as perfectly as I wanted to. And believe me, I tried. In fact, I tried for years and years, but I just couldn’t make it to church every week, and I couldn’t have twelve kids, which I would most certainly have if I didn’t use birth control. And I broke other rules too. So I simply stopped being Catholic. In my black or white mind, I was doing “Catholic” wrong, so I wouldn’t do it at all. But I never stopped believing.
During the course of my years-long struggle, I tried out various other churches in my area that were not Catholic. But my Catholic family made their discomfort with these attempts well known. And, besides, these churches didn’t feel “real” to me, as I grew up believing that the Catholic Church was the true church. At one point, I made an appointment with a priest to discuss the use of birth control devices. He was a good man and we had a rather “read between the lines” conversation about the “elephant in the room.” In retrospect, I believe that he was trying to encourage me to be flexible with the rules, without actually coming out and saying it. But I am a concrete learner. I couldn’t find a way to make the ambiguities work in my Catholic experience.
By telling you my personal experience with the Catholic Church, that I incidentally still love and respect but know is not exactly right for me, I am informing you of my first real research on this book. I lived the struggle myself. But I couldn’t help but ask myself this: My struggle with following rules all revolves around my free choice to follow the rules—what if I had no choice in the matter? What if I was born a way that made the rules impossible for me to follow? This question, which I had in mind because I am a writer of LGBT romance novels, inspired me to do specific research on scripture and how it has long been interpreted, and how it can be interpreted differently.
Like I said, I am very black or white. Perhaps there are many shades of gray in life, but I have trouble accepting them. To write Inclination, I needed proof that same-sex love and intimacy is not condemned in scripture. In fact, all I could think about was a teenager who ardently believes in the words of the Bible reading my book and saying, “What Mia Kerick wrote doesn’t prove anything. I am still an abomination.” So I looked for proof enough to ease my detail-oriented mind. And I knew I would present this proof in Inclination to ease the mind of the critical reader.
My formal research started with ordering books on Amazon. I ordered Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian, Gay Conversations with God, by James Alexander Langeaux, Bible Gender Sexuality by James Brownson, The Bible’s Yes To Same Sex Marriage, several Bibles, and more. And I read. Then I went online and found websites and networks that support gay Christians, and I read. I made myself aware of both sides of the argument in regard to supposed Biblical condemnation of homosexuality. I read each side with an open mind, or as open a mind as I could have. The Gay Christian Network was particularly helpful in this area, because they allow both sides of the argument to exist respectfully on their website. And I ultimately came to believe that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior. It condemns too much lust and inhospitality and selfishness and greed. But it does not condemn same sex love or intimacy when in a monogamous, committed relationship.
Next, I wanted to get a more personal, close-up view on the struggle that extremely religious gay and lesbian teens endure, and so I ordered DVDs of interviews with LGBT teens who were in the midst of their struggle, and I watched them. The torment and pain that I saw in those kids made me cry. It was devastating, because in order to be who they believed God wanted them to be, which was their most important goal, they believed they could not have intimacy in their lives. Not ever. And they struggled with this. Some rebelled and became overly sexual beings. Others justified the situation to themselves as best they could, and planned to live unfulfilled lives. Still others became depressed, and more than a few attempted to take their lives. Many actually wanted to go to the “ex-gay” camps, because they would do anything to be “fixed” so that they would not be condemned and isolated. But not one of them said that their efforts led to a change in their sexual orientation. From what I could see, their efforts led only to further pain.
Some of the “research” I did wasn’t research at all—it was just me asking common sense questions of myself. Do I really believe that God would create a person in a way that He did not want the person to be? Do I believe that God, our loving Father, would intentionally set up a person for a life of trial and temptation? From what I know of Jesus, is He a man who would condemn a person for loving another? And then my final question, What are the most important commandments? Love God. Love each other. There you go… I had formed my opinion.
To the best of my knowledge, in many churches, changes in rules which lead to changes in attitudes must come from higher up in the church hierarchy. For example, in the Catholic Church, changes in religious law must be Vatican-approved. Anthony knew that no matter how kindly his parish priest behaved on the topic of same-sex relationships, he would never be able to get married in the church. He would never be able to attend church openly with his husband and children. Anthony could look the other way at the rules, especially if his open-minded parish priest was willing to also do this, but Catholic law still SAME-SEX INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS ARE SINFUL. So, there is only so much youth pastors can do in the way of accepting homosexual behavior in the church. Nonetheless, youth pastors should strive to read Inclination. If they have the ability to make changes so that same-sex relationships are honored in their place of worship, the story of Anthony’s struggle in Inclination might lead them to strive for these changes. And even if the pastor or priest does not have the power to make the official change in church law, there can be a change in attitude that leads to less pain and struggle, such as Anthony endured at the hands of his worship leader.
In conclusion, my research has eased my mind in terms of my own rule-following nature. Mainly, though, this is not because the scripture proved that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior, but because of what I believe now to be the true spirit of Christianity, which is to love God and to love one another selflessly. I really do believe that this is what Jesus Christ was after, and I actually think it may be harder to achieve than following rules. Furthermore, in Inclination, Anthony says that he used to think of non-Christians as having missed the boat in their journey to God. He then admitted, that maybe there are more than one boats. Maybe this is a shade of gray, but somewhere in the creating of Inclination I became free to make this change.
Where to find the author:
Publisher: Young Dudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris
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?
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Romance, Young Adult, Christian, Spiritual
I’ll pass on the Kool-Aid, thank you
It sounds like a joke, but it’s all true. Every student who volunteers his or her time on a weekly basis at an animal shelter, a hospital, or a home for the elderly receives a free lunch on the last Monday of the month, putting to rest the veracity (got that word on the last SAT practice test I took at my desk in my bedroom the other day) of the old idiom, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And as I spend every Sunday afternoon patting and playing with cats at the Centerton Humane Society, I qualify. If nothing else, it gives Mom a day off from making me lunch.
“It was so disgusting.”
I drop down into my usual seat in the cafeteria beside Laz, my tray with the bowl of free macaroni and cheese, a slice of bread, and milk, sliding onto the lunch table in front of me. “The mac and cheese?” I ask. “Last time I had it the stuff wasn’t too bad.” It’s not one of Mom’s gourmet lunches, but it gets the job done.
“No, Anthony.” Emma Gillis rolls her eyes and swallows her bite of free mac and cheese she earned by reading classics to the elderly on Saturday mornings at the New Horizons Elderly Center. She gulps in a breath and informs me with her usual haughtiness, “I was telling everybody about these two old men I read to last Saturday who think they are some kind of couple. They actually kissed each other.” She fake-gags.
“I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw that!”
For my own personal reasons, I gasp, while everybody else snickers.
“Those old dudes must be losing it, as in, they could have Alzheimer’s or something, and they forgot that dudes belong with ladies, not other dudes.” I glance over at Lazarus, who abruptly stops babbling to suck down the first of three cartons of chocolate milk. “But seriously, that’s messed up.” Laz wrinkles his nose in distaste and runs his hands through his shaggy dark hair, before moving on to carton number two.
I’m basically frozen, my hand still hovering over the slice of wheat bread on the corner of my tray, my mouth hanging open. I might even be drooling.
“It’s not their fault, Emma.” Elizabeth-the-devout always takes the case of the underdog. It’s how she’s wired. “They’re just sick in their minds.” She sends Emma a you-ought-to-be-ashamed-of yourself sort of frown. “We, as Catholics, are called to compassion.”
Everyday single day at lunch since freshman year, I’ve sat with the kids from the Our Way youth group. In fact, the other kids in my grade have long referred to our lunch table as “Our Way to Survive Cafeteria Food”, which somewhere along the line got shortened to the “OWSCF Table”, which eventually morphed into “awe-scoff”. I have always felt safe and secure sitting at the awe-scoff table. These are the kids I’ve prayed with three times a week at Our Way, and the ones who I was confirmed with in ninth grade. I’ve collected toys for the poor with these kids—in fact, for three years running we’ve made sure that no child in Wedgewood missed out on having a small stack of Christmas gifts, and that brings about some major bonding. We’ve shared weekends camping in the Maine woods, singing and holding hands and sometimes crying when the Spirit moved us.
This is my safe spot at school, like my tiny room is my alone spot at home.
“If you ask me, all fags deserve to die for going against Christ and everything that’s natural. They should be forced to drink poison Kool-Aid, like those cultists had to do down in Jonestown…’member that?” Is that Rinaldo Vera who just suggested mass murder as the “final solution” to the gay problem?
Sweet, passive Rinaldo—the gentle giant. Um, not so much.
“I saw a TV movie called the Jonestown Massacre.”
“I caught that too…those people were warped.”
The conversation drifts away from the vileness of homosexuality, toward the disturbing personal stories of the few survivors of the Jim Jones Cult Kool-Aid Massacre. But I’ve heard more than enough, in terms of stuff that pertains to me.
Feeling as if I’m going to lose what little lunch I ate, I jump up off my chair and race toward the boys’ room in the hall near the cafeteria.
Maybe there really is no such thing as a free lunch.
Pages or Words: 70,000 words
Tour Dates/Tour Stops:
Rafflecopter Prize: One of three copies from Mia’s extensive backlist