Today, I’m welcoming A.M. Leibowitz to the blog, an author I admire more and more as I learn more about them and their writing career. For those new to your body of work, could you take a moment an introduce yourself, A.M.?
Sure. I’m a forty-something former school nurse, married and a mom of two amazing teenagers. I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old, but I’ve only been published since 2014. I started out as a blogger writing about parenting and liberal Christianity. I’m ferociously bisexual and protective of all bi/pan+ identities. As for gender, well, I usually just say queer. But for the very curious, gender fluid probably hits it best.
When I first began browsing your site when you offered to host an interview for The Tale of a Faerie Knight, I was incredibly excited to discover that you write Christian LGBTQIA fiction. How much of your faith influences you characters’ individual journeys? You’ve had a very colorful spiritual walk, from what I understand.
When I left fundamentalist Christianity, I was pretty angry. A lot of my work from those days is sarcastic and reflects that rage. But the work I’m most proud of—and maybe isn’t even my best writing—has all been my attempt to reconcile devout faith with deep hurt and doubt. I’m learning to embrace being from an interfaith family, to keep the liturgy I love in my Lutheran church alongside the Jewish culture and identity with which I grew up. Similarly, I’m learning to embrace spirituality alongside questioning.
What sort of thing would you like to see more of in religious LGBTQIA fiction? Issues tackled, themes, tropes, etc.
I want to see LGBTQIA people of all different faiths for whom it’s just another part of them, like any other aspect of their identity. But also, I’d like to see LGBTQIA people wrestling with moral issues beyond “is it okay to be gay.” For example, one thing I’m currently working on (with my kids as consultants) is a YA about the ethics of activism. Devout faith can lead one to be a rules-follower or a rules-breaker and how to choose which one in a given situation.
What sort of thing would you like to see more of in LGBTQIA fiction over all?
I simply want to see everything as being one part of a person’s life. I do like romance, and I actually love coming out stories and such. But sometimes I want to read about, say, a hospital staff member facing a serious issue with a patient’s suspicious death, and maybe she goes home to her girlfriend at the end of the day for love and support. I’d also like to see less of cisgender gay and bi men being kind of the “default queer.”
Your collection of works is quite diverse in terms of length and themes. What convinces you to write one piece as flash fiction while another becomes a full novel? What draws you to so many different types of story lines?
Sometimes length depends on whether it’s a call for submission, something for my publisher, or a piece for my blog. Aside from that, it may sound like a cliché, but I think the characters and plot dictate what length works. Storylines are often drawn from suggestions by my kids or things I’ve experienced. I like all kinds of people and all kinds of stories, so I don’t want to limit myself to a single kind of thing.
Your blog varies in the type of posted content as well, which has been fun to explore. What’s your favorite type of thing to post. Rainbow Snippets, Author Interviews, Reviews, or the more question-based posts? Maybe something different?
By far my favorite is the author interviews! I’ve gotten to meet all kinds of fascinating writers.
Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I’m writing the last book (for now) in my Notes from Boston series, called Minuet. From there, I’m going back to my first love, literary fiction. I have a bunch of old projects that I’m playing around with. And of course, I’m working on some things with help from my teens.
If you could spend a day with one of your books’ cast of characters, which cast would you want to hang out with and why?
I’d pick Passing on Faith. I love Micah and Cat, and I miss writing about them. But the rest of that group was quirky and fun, and they live in this amazing rainbow-friendly town. Who wouldn’t want to hang out there?
If you could spend a day with someone else’s cast of characters, what cast would you pick and why?
That’s an easy one—Debbie McGowan’s Hiding Behind the Couch series. I’ve been half in love with that cast since the first time I picked up one of the books. Deb and I have a running joke that I only read them for the main character (Josh), but it’s not strictly true. I love all of them as though they were my own old friends.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, but I’ll take either!
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Very much a night owl.
If you could visit one ancient civilization, which one would you visit?
Ancient Israel, probably during the Persian period. Those are my people!
Thank you so much for joining me, A.M. It’s been a pleasure! Can’t wait to see what’s coming from you next.
For those of you interested in A.M.’s work or connected with them, check out the links below.