And It Came to Pass by Laura Stone: Blog Tour, Exclusive Interview, Excerpt, Review and Giveaway

Adam Young is a devout Mormon whose life is all planned out, by both his strict father and his church. He follows the path they’ve established for him, goes off to his mission in Barcelona, Spain, and realizes that his life may not follow the trajectory already chosen for him.

His mission companion, Brandon Christensen, is a handsome, enthusiastic practitioner on the surface. But as their mission progresses, they both realize they have major questions about their faith… and substantial feelings for one another.

Book title: And It Came to Pass
Author: Laura Stone

Stand Alone

Pages/Words: 222 pages / 67,300 words
Cover: Cover Photography by T.I. Stills Photography

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Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Laura Stone, author of And It Came to Pass.

Hi Laura, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Oh, thank you so much for hosting my book tour and giving me this opportunity to talk about these boys whom I love so much with you and your readers.

  • Tell us about your book.

And It Came to Pass has been a labor of love for almost ten years. I realized a dear cousin of mine was never going to come out of the closet, which is his right. It was the reason behind why not that compelled me to put pen to paper. I wrote a short story about someone similar who was able to finally express their natural feelings of love for the same-sex, and then later turned it into this novel. The story follows Adam Young, a super devout kid in the Mormon Church, who is going through the motions. He doesn’t like to look too closely at who he really is, because it doesn’t jive with who he’s supposed to be. At least, not who his ham-fisted father, Gerald, expects him to be. (And if I may… if a certain uncle of mine sees himself as Gerald Young, then that’s between him and his Lord.)

Adam does as he’s expected and heads out for his LDS mission and over time realizes that he’s both gay and in love with his mission companion. This is hugely taboo in the Mormon Church, being gay. Well, missionaries aren’t allowed to date or even flirt—not even via letter!—while serving, so this is a double whammy in a way.

  • How difficult was it to get into the main character’s head?

This is maybe the most personal I’ve gotten in my writing. I, too, was raised a devout member of the Mormon Church and had always planned on going on a mission myself. Being female, it’s not expected like it is for male members, however, and was ultimately discouraged from serving for the sake of getting married and having children straight-away. My bishop said it was time for me to get my “Mrs” degree. You can’t see me, but I’m rolling my eyes.

I also identified with the confusion Adam feels over his—what the Mormon church refers to as—same-sex attraction. It took me years to understand that the feelings I had for particular women in my life were feelings of attraction and desire.  I also have several friends who came out while serving missions or just after returning, and did my best to honor those experiences and emotions.

  • Is this book a standalone or do you plan on visiting it again?

I tend to prefer writing standalones. I’ll leave the series-writing to those authors better suited for such a monumental task!

  • Why did you choose to write M/M stories?

It’s important for me to write LGBT-focused stories because it’s been so difficult my entire life to find them, to find stories where the queer character isn’t punished for the sake of being queer. As the saying goes, “representation matters,” and in this case, I wanted to reflect relationships that I see in my everyday life. Being LGBTQ doesn’t always mean atheism, and it doesn’t always mean having to abandon faith and spirituality.

It’s important to me to be respectful of those who are being true to themselves and how that falls out for them. I have plenty of LGBT friends and couples who live happy, fulfilled, and spiritual lives. I wanted to that message of positivity out in the world, especially for any LGBTQ Mormons who might read this. There is a sense of hopelessness washing over them, and the sad truth is that Utah—predominantly Mormon—leads the nation in LGBTQ suicide, particularly with teens.

Again, representation matters. In some cases, it can save lives.

  • Where do you find your inspiration?

The world around me! I love to people-watch, love to imagine what their lives are like and then go from there. There’s a line from an L.M. Montgomery book, I think it’s the Emily of New Moon series, where a neighbor tells them to watch out, or the protagonist, who is an aspiring author, will “put you in a book.” I guess that has always stuck with me! (But I do try not to make it a threat. …except in the case of that one uncle, grr.)

I hope your readers will take a chance on Adam’s journey to self-discovery and love. I must admit that the ending chokes me up, and I wrote the darn book! Thank you again for hosting me!

As Christensen walked behind Adam to switch on the clippers, Adam shivered, closed his eyes and tried to stop the repetitive battle between thoughts of how this was wrong versus how desperately he wanted Christensen to get on with it. He wanted something to happen.
All thoughts were driven out when Christensen laid a strong, firm hand between his shoulder blades to hold Adam still while he worked. Everything, every thought and feeling, and heck, the very universe was centered on those minuscule points of contact between Christensen’s hand and Adam’s bared skin. Adam chanced a look after a while but shut his eyes again when he was confronted with his companion squatting directly in front of him, squinting at Adam’s sideburns to ensure they were the same length. Christensen’s breath moved over Adam’s lips, they were so close. He kept his eyes screwed shut; his heart beat a wild tattoo in his aching chest.

Christensen’s hand suddenly cupped the side of Adam’s neck, and, at the shocking sensation of a thumb sweeping softly over Adam’s pulse point, he let out a tiny gasp.
“Oh, my gosh,” Christensen said, his voice worried. “Did I nick you?”
“Hmm? Oh, no, no, sorry. It’s fine. You’re fine.”
Christensen laughed. His voice was still soft as he teased, “Oh! So, you’re just afraid I’m doing a bad job?”
“N-no?”
“Then relax. You look like you expect me to punch you.” He patted Adam’s shoulder and gave him a squeeze. “Just need to taper this bit in the back and you’re all done.”
Christensen rubbed the palm of his hand over Adam’s head to dislodge any hairs. The friction centered itself in Adam’s skull, radiated in sensual ripples down his spine, then settled low with a pulse to match Adam’s heartbeat when Christensen leaned over to blow a few pale blond strays off the backs of his ears. Adam’s skin stippled with goose bumps. Was he imagining it? Was Christensen making an extra effort to get things just right, making sure every possible stray hair was carefully blown away or brushed off his neck and shoulders with the flat of his hand, merely in order to keep touching Adam? Or did Adam just hope so?

I’m seriously not sure what to say about this book, so I am going to make this short and sweet (hopefully!). Wow, what a book!

The author speaks in the notes about how she grew up Mormon in Utah until she chose to separate herself from the church, and her knowledge of the Mormon church, its teachings, mission trips, and what can happen when two men fall in love is incredible. As a reader, you will learn a ton about the Mormon church and its leaders, however, I never once felt as if I was taking a class on what can happen, as I have seen in other books that touch on subjects not well known to the average reader.

The love between these two characters grew, out of a love for their God first, and then as friends, and finally lovers. It was in no way insta-love. They respected each other, as well as their team of missionaries. I appreciated that they asked each other (and others) tough questions about the teachings, and their interpretations. And despite what the leaders thought after they were discovered, they respected their mission, treating the locals as important people, even when they chose to turn away from their teachings.

This was such a beautifully written story. (And that cover is just so amazing, it said so much about the book.) It took two men who cared enough about their love of God and others to try to find a way to live with their choices of taking a mission, and found that they could love each other and still love God.

**Small spoiler** If I had one thing I would have liked to see was how the two men were able to re-incorporate their spirituality into their lives after they returned home. I loved that they had their HEA, but wanted to see if they would be bringing that back into their lives. (It was touched on ever so briefly, but more as an aside.)

4.5 pieces of eye candy

 

Laura Stone, a descendant of pioneer polygamists from the early days of the Mormon Church and a former Gospel Doctrine teacher, now keeps busy as a media blogger, ghostwriter and novelist when she’s not raising her youngest child.

While the majority of her family still lives in Utah, she resides in Texas because it’s where the good tamales are. Her first novel, The Bones of You, was published by Interlude Press in 2014 and was named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Her second novel,  Bitter Springs, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.

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And It Came to Pass will be published by Interlude Press on May 18, 2017. Connect with author Laura Stone at laura-stone.com; on Twitter @StoneyBoBoney; and on Facebook at facebook.com/9LauraStone.


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