Virtual Blog Tour ~ Hold by Rachel Davidson Leigh ~ (Author Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway)
Book title: Hold
Author: Rachel Davidson Leigh
Pages/Words: 236 pages / 68,000 words
Cover: Cover design by C.B. Messer
Categories: LGBTQ-YA, magical realism, contemporary, romance
Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. But when a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands. Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.
If he were a better person, he would have made Eddie stop. If he were in a movie, Luke would have said “stop” really quietly, and Eddie would have listened, because that’s how movies worked. Luke scowled. Real life needs better editing. He scooted off the desk, stuffed his sketchpad into his backpack and walked into Eddie standing perfectly static outside the doorway.
He wasn’t the only one. He’d dotted the hallway with statues in a picture so silent he could hear his shoes clip against the floor.
Luke hadn’t just stopped Eddie. He’d stopped everything and he hadn’t felt himself try. When Eddie had walked out the door, Luke had wanted him to stop and listen, but his demented mind had only managed one thing. He slid out into the hall with his back flat against the wall and his bag clenched against his stomach.
It had been less than a minute since Eddie picked up his bag. Luke couldn’t have counted to one thousand in his head, and Eddie had already turned into someone new. The sad boy from their stage had disappeared. He had his back to the door and one hand in the air, as he turned toward a cluster of students in track pants and T-shirts. The whole group stood across the hallway with their mouths open and smiling, and, in the middle, a pretty girl stood on her tiptoes to wave back. Luke stepped closer to see her face. She glowed as if she made energy in her fingertips. Her skin was darker than Eddie’s, and she had her hair piled into a ponytail that spilled from the back of her head in a high, elegant pouf. Three years at this school, and Luke couldn’t have picked her out of a lineup, but she already knew Eddie. Luke had frozen the moment when her face lit up with joy. She was so happy to see him, and he—
Luke circled around to see Eddie’s face, and he was beaming back at the girl. In the seconds it took him to step away from the classroom door, he’d been remade. Luke peered into Eddie’s happy eyes and wanted to interrogate their shine.
How? He thought. How did you learn to be everyone at the same time?
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Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Rachel Davidson Leigh author of Hold
Hi Rachel, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
RDL: Hi! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I’m Rachel, and my hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and pairing readers with their perfect books. My debut novel, Hold, is a story about grief, identity, and transformation. After his sister’s death, Lucas Aday can hardly drag himself back to school. He couldn’t possibly prepare himself to stop time or to fall for the only other boy who doesn’t stop moving.
BBJ: What inspired this series?
RDL: There’s actually two answers to that question! If you think of inspiration as the moment when the story came to life, it began with an image. That how most of my projects start, actually. I see a scene that won’t let me go, and then I go try to figure out what’s going on. In this case, I saw the moment when Luke first stops time. It’s his first day back at school and he’s been turned emotionally inside out by everything that’s changed while he was gone, so he ducks into a classroom, throws his backpack against a wall, and the backpack never lands. I first saw that moment, when Luke’s bag hangs in the air above his head, and he runs his hand underneath it as if looking for invisible strings.
BBJ: What are your favorite qualities about each of these main characters?
RDL: Oh, what a great question. There’s so much I adore about all four of them. I love Luke’s stubbornness and the depth of his feeling. Marcos is Luke’s long-time best friend, and I love his mind. It moves at these fantastic right angles and it took all I had just to keep up. Dee is Luke’s other best friend and the older sister of the little jerk that won’t leave him alone. I admire her loyalty. When the world’s coming to an end, she’s the one you’d want to have at your side. And then there’s Eddie. He’s the new boy who leaves Luke wrong-footed on his first day back, and who seems to have a never-ending list of secrets. I don’t want to give too much away, but I love Eddie’s priorities. He knows himself and he is strikingly dedicated to his own truth.
BBJ: Do any of your friends or family members ever end up between the pages of your books?
RDL: This is actually the second answer to your first question. I also lost a sibling, under similar circumstances, when I was about the same age as Luke. So, in many ways, my family is all over this book. There are moments in Luke’s life that are drawn almost verbatim from my own experience, and yet it reads nothing like a memoir. Luke walks through some of the same places I remember, but he transforms them into something entirely new. His perspective is so separate from mine and his parents are so, radically, different from my own, that I often forgot how many parts of his story we share. Where I would have gone right, he goes left, and this time I get to follow in his wake.
BBJ: What is your favorite genre to read?
RDL: I teach English literature, so I read pretty widely for fun, but I really love young adult fiction with a foundation in realism and a spark of fantasy. I also enjoy full-on fantasy and scifi, but I think my favorite genre would be considered magical or heightened realism. I don’t think the latter is a real thing, but I love novels that feel like a Baz Luhrmann movie. If you can make a day in school feel like an epic, mythic adventure, then I will stay with you until the end.
BBJ: Have you ever gone to a convention? If so, how was it? If not, do you think it’s something you’d like to do in the future?
RDL: Yes! I just attended my first Dragon*Con and it was unbelievable! I spent most of the time dazed and confused, but the audiences blew me away. I had the opportunity to be on three panels, and if I could go back and hang out with the folks in those panel rooms for a few hours every month, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
About the Author
Rachel Davidson Leigh is a teacher, a writer and an avid fan of young adult LGBTQ fiction. Her hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and playing matchmaker with book recommendations. Currently, she lives in Wisconsin with her family and two neurotic little dogs. Hold is her debut novel. Her short story “Beautiful Monsters” was featured in Summer Love, a collection of short stories published by Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press.
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Hold will be published by Duet Books on October 20, 2016. Connect with author Rachel Davidson Leigh at racheldavidsonleigh.com; on Twitter @rdavidsonleigh; and on Facebook at facebook.com/rdavidsonleigh/