A warm welcome to Mia Kerick whose YA novel, Inclination, is released today.
Hello, Lily and thank you for welcoming me to your blog on my Inclination blog tour. You asked me if I have a philosophy that underpins my life and I can definitely say yes. I will explain.
The philosophy that underpins my life…
When I wrote The Red Sheet I did a great deal of research about Mahatma Gandhi. His words of wisdom and his courageous life philosophy spoke to me. I often referred to his humble philosophies as I wrote that book. And in Inclination, principles similar to Gandhi’s speak to Anthony, although he hears them through the words of Jesus Christ.
Where there is love there is life. To me, this says it all, because I interpret this statement to cover so much essential ground. Where there is love, there is peace. And a peaceful world allows for life to go on. When you love or feel loved, you feel alive—euphoric and content, which allows you to live life to its fullest. And love is what it takes to carry us through the hardest moments in our life. Love is a reason, a purpose, an endpoint, and a path to get there. In Inclination, Anthony is motivated to continue plodding through his struggles because of the love he feels in his life. His love of God, his family, and his friends provide him with the joy of life, as well as with a reason to hope when his outlook is bleak.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. This quotation requires you to live in the way in which you envision the world to be at its best. You cannot merely think about the changes you wish to see—you need to actually BE THEM. In Inclination, this is hard for Anthony to do as he is a thinker, a writer, a listener, and a truly cerebral person. He needs to stand up and act on his beliefs in order to make positive change occur for himself, as well as for others. He needs to step out of the safety of his comfort zone and be the change. These words of Gandhi are similar to this message of Jesus Christ. So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17) And this: My dear children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and in truth. (I John 3:18) Anthony knows that he must stand up and act in the interest of the good of mankind.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness Is The Attribute of the Strong. Forgiveness may well be an attribute of the strong, but it is a gift, as much as for the one who offers forgiveness as for the one forgiven. It is a balm on the wound of the injury done to you. Gandhi’s attitude toward forgiveness again brings to mind the words of Jesus. Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22) In Inclination, Anthony is called on to be forgiving of himself, as well as of people he has long considered to be his friends. He also has need of forgiveness, which is freely given.
For many people, standing alone is about the most intimidating thing they can be asked to do. Gandhi knows that finding the courage to stand alone in the interest of doing the right thing is very difficult but must be done. And as far as Inclination goes, Anthony knows that Jesus had to stand by himself when he was crucified and died for the world’s sins. And Anthony must stand alone at various times throughout his struggle with accepting his sexual orientation. There are times when it is necessary to stand alone in order to start off on the right path.
I love and believe in the above statement because it speaks to the very essence of goodness. We can look at it in terms of a country’s greatness, and we can also think of this quotation in terms of an individual’s greatness. If I am strong and powerful, I should not be judged by how I relate to those who are like me—those who can benefit me if I benefit them. I should be judged by how I treat those who can never even hope to pay me back, because that is the true spirit of selflessness and goodness. Anthony knows that Christ lived a life of selfless service, never once wondering how or if he would be rewarded. Anthony wants to live as Christ did, a life of life of service and giving. This ties into the following quotation, which is what both Christ and Gandhi believe we should all attempt to achieve.
There are times when the research I do for a book profoundly affects me. The research into Gandhi’s philosophy for The Red Sheet, as well as my searching into the words of Jesus Christ for Inclination, both qualify. In these two humble, wise, and virtuous men, I found similar inspiration and life principles I can strive for.
MANY THANKS FOR SHARING WITH US, MIA.
Inclination by Mia Kerick
Publisher: YoungDudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris
Length: 70, 000 words
Genres: Young Adult, Gay, Romance, Christian, Spiritual, Contemporary
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?
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.
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, 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.
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