Hello! This is Sarah Brooks, author of The Beginning of Us. Thank you for joining me on my blog tour this week!
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Every comment you make on this blog tour enters you in a drawing 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.
The Beginning of Us is utterly true . . . and it’s fiction. I spend quite a bit of my writing time in the space between genres, so I’m comfortable with the fact that my supposedly “fictional” novella contains more truth than some of my essays. I don’t mean that my protagonist’s experiences are actually mine, thinly veiled. In fact, my college life was the opposite: my college professors were all twenty or more years older than I was, and I had no awareness that I was lesbian until five years after I had married my sweet, good college boyfriend.
But this novella is true. If a woman as passionate and unique and intelligent as Eliza had exploded into my college world, I would have discovered who I was at 22 instead of 28 (and I would have saved that sweet, good man I married some trouble). In real life, my graduate school professor, eight years my senior, was my Eliza . . . but we were both married to men and she had small children, and so it was much more complicated and heart-wrenching to act on our love for each other. It took a tremendous toll on us both, but especially on her. Just five years after we moved in together, she became ill and died suddenly.
I’ve spent the past two and a half years writing primarily about my grief, about loss and death. However, one night last year, I caught myself wondering how our story would have turned out if we had met earlier in our lives. What if we had met in college? The thought made me laugh at first. My partner, East coast city girl that she was, would never have taken a teaching job at a college in Iowa. Even if she had, she wouldn’t have chosen to spend time with a student like me – the too-serious straight-arrow farm girl that I was then.
However, the more I imagined us meeting for the first time in that magical atmosphere of college, the more I loved to consider it. Then I started writing it, and the story came so easily, it was as if I’d actually lived it. Tara is far more daring than I ever was, more willing to embrace her new identity, both at the Iowa City bar and in Eliza’s living room. And Eliza is far more afraid than my partner ever was. Tara and Eliza are not us, and yet their story is another version of the beginning of us.
The college setting is real, though Green River and Grace College are invented names for a town and college that actually exist in the northeast corner of Iowa. Unfortunately, I invented the amazing lesbian bar Tara and her friends visit in Iowa City. I wish such a place existed.
What is real and what is invented blurs in the midst of the growing passion between Eliza and Tara. Their love is real. I’ve lived that kind of love. And in fiction, I got to give it a happy ending. . .
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.
Be sure to stop back later today for B.’s review of The Beginning of Us.