Getting Political w/ Laura Lascarso + Giveaway

April 25, 2017

 Getting Political with Laura Lascarso

 

Oftentimes readers ask, what inspired you to write this story? Usually, I can point to exact experiences, current events, and other creative works that inspired a story for me. In the case of THE BRAVEST THING, it was a poem, a television show, and a tragedy.

The poem is “Trevor” by Ocean Vuong, a deeply personal account of a love affair between two teens, one of whom is struggling with his sexuality in the face of an unaccepting father-figure. I loved the intimacy and honesty of this poem, and it made me want to translate into story-form the stakes and risks associated with coming out in a community that doesn’t approve, and the bonds we form with friends and lovers that must sometimes supplement or supplant the love and support we would otherwise receive from our families.

The television show is Friday Night Lights (Texas Forever). FNL covered a wide range of sensitive subjects, including racism, addiction, sexual assault, and poverty, but it didn’t touch on homophobia, which is a shame because it’s an important conversation, and FNL could have given the topic wide and diverse exposure. Similar to FNL, I wanted to recreate the small-town Texas vibe, the almost godlike status of football players, and the conflicts that occur when you have to break away from the herd to stand up for what’s right.

The third inspiration for me was more accurately a motivation. I was at the very early stages of drafting THE BRAVEST THING when the Pulse shooting occurred. I don’t think mainstream America has given this tragedy the gravitas it deserved. Nor do I think enough discussion has been had about the ways in which toxic masculinity saturates every aspect of our lives, from the way our children are conditioned at an early age to act a certain way to how we as a society idolize athletes and celebrities at the expense of accountability.

The Pulse massacre galvanized my commitment to exploring the roots of homophobia, and in particular, how hate crimes affect already vulnerable individuals, for instance, those struggling with addiction and recovering from abuse. I also wanted to show why a victim might choose to let a hate crime go unreported, as are two-thirds of hate crimes in the U.S.

Some authors prefer to keep politics out of their writing. For me, all of my writing is political. Part of the reason I chose early on in my career to write for young adult audiences is because I am actively trying to change hearts and minds. While THE BRAVEST THING deals with heavy topics that may be more appropriate for older audiences, I would say that these are precisely the conversations we need to be having with teens while they are still forming their opinions on the world. (Adults should be having these conversations as well, so please don’t think I mean for them to be excluded.)

Because the main characters in THE BRAVEST THING are teens, it would have been a hard sell in the adult mainstream market. On the other hand, mainstream YA publishing would not have touched it, not necessarily because of the violence, but because of its graphic depictions of gay sex. This too was a deliberate choice on my part because young people (and adults) of all sexual orientations should be offered the opportunity to read and learn about a variety of sexual experiences, so that two men kissing doesn’t shock or offend, but is met with a shrug or a sigh and maybe even a, “isn’t that romantic?”

So my final sentiment is to say I’m grateful to Dreamspinner Press for being so supportive of my creative works, so wonderful to work with, and offering me a platform to publish stories that are outside of mainstream so that I might find my readers, and they might find me as well.

I hope you’ll give THE BRAVEST THING a try. If you have any questions about the story, please feel free to email me at lauralascarso(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thank you for your patronage!

 

Check out The Bravest Thing today!

 

The Bravest Thing by Laura Lascarso

Dreamspinner Press eBook
Dreamspinner Press Paperback
Amazon

Blurb:

High school junior Berlin Webber is about to reap the fruits of his hard work and land a football scholarship—if he can keep his sexuality a secret from his best friend, Trent, and their homophobic coach. Then Hiroku Hayashi swerves into the high school parking lot on his tricked-out motorcycle like some sexy comic book villain, and Berlin knows he doesn’t stand a chance.

Hiroku is fleeing his sophisticated urban scene to recover from drug addiction and an abusive relationship when he arrives in Berlin’s small Texas ranch town. Initially sarcastic and aloof, Hiroku finds in Berlin a steady, supportive friend who soon becomes more. As Hiroku and Berlin’s romance blossoms, they take greater risks to be together. But when a horrific act of violence tears them apart, they both must look bigotry in the face. While Berlin has always turned to his faith for strength, Hiroku dives into increasingly dangerous ways of coping, pushing them in opposite directions just when they need each other most.

Two very different young men search for the bravery to be true to themselves, the courage to heal, and the strength to go on when things seem darkest. But is it enough to bring them back together?

Laura Lascarso

About Laura Lascarso:

Laura Lascarso aims to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of stories to heal and transform a society. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Her debut novel, Counting Backwards (Simon & Schuster 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for young adult literature.

For social critiques, writer puns, and Parks and Rec gifs, follow her on Twitter @lauralascarso

Facebook: /lascarso
Twitter: @lauralascarso
Web: lauralascarso.com

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