I started writing Autumn Leaves in November 2010, after the idea had been forming for a couple of months. At that time, I was engaged. I am now married here in my new home in Québec, Canada.
With one revelation, her world will shift forever.
“Rebecca has everything she ever dreamed of in life: a family, a beautiful home and good friends. When Callie moves into the house across the street, Rebecca is quick to welcome the young writer into the tightly-knit community of Autumn Leaves. She has no idea that Callie will confront her with a truth about herself she might not be ready to face.
All Callie wanted was to flee the big city and finish her latest book in peace, but life in the small town comes with unexpected temptation and danger.”
Meanwhile, Prop. 8 and DOMA have made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and earlier, marriage equality won at the ballot box in several states in the US. I have followed the discussion for some time now, and there are a few questions that leave me bewildered: Why are equal rights even still up for discussion? Why do people need to have a relative or friend come out to them for them to understand what’s at stake? Who are the people that have changed their minds in the past few years, and how can we open hearts and minds?
With Rebecca, one of the two main characters in Autumn Leaves, and the sequel Winter Storm, I have tried to come up with answers to at least some of those questions.
For most of her life, Rebecca has lived in a bubble. Things have turned out according to plan–she is married to a good guy, mother of two girls, surrounded by what seems to be an unbreakable, loyal circle of friends. She doesn’t want to hurt anybody, but she also wants to avoid conflict at any cost. At some point, she can’t reconcile both any longer.
There are cracks in the perfect façade even before Callie comes to town, but their friendship forces Rebecca to take a look at her own preconceived notions even before deeper affection comes into play. She learns that her friends’ opinions and beliefs are various shades of grey, not nearly as unified as she’d thought them to be. She also learns that you can harm people with the best of intentions, or silence, and that your own evolution doesn’t magically make everyone around you evolve too.
Rebecca, at the beginning of the story, is the least self-aware main character I’ve ever created. We haven’t always seen eye to eye. I find it frustrating in real life when people need to be personally affected before they can move forward, but that’s the way change often works.
Of course, not everyone will, like Rebecca, fall in love along with the life lessons–this is for the sake of drama and fiction.
However, fiction does have an impact. I have heard it from readers who are new to LGBT fiction–not because they think it’s terrible, but because they weren’t much aware of it or wouldn’t know where to look. It can start a conversation we wouldn’t have otherwise and enables us to learn about one another.
Another related theme in this series is faith, and I’m well aware that it can be a very touchy subject. Rebecca holds on to her spirituality through all trials and doubts. However, she is unprepared for people who will use it as a mantle for prejudice.
Evolution is the main theme as reflected in the change of the season–how it can happen as long as someone keeps an open mind and heart, and how doing away with long-held myths leads to conversation and, eventually, clarity.
In this particular story, it also leads to love.
For the giveaway, I’ll give a commenter an e-copy (pdf or epub) of Autumn Leaves, the first book in my series.
Barbara Winkes grew up in a small town in Germany where she spent most of her (writing) life. A trained psychologist and trauma counselor, she has worked in rehabilitation with elderly people. Life took an unexpected turn when she fell in love and got married to a French-Canadian language teacher, and moved across the Atlantic. While the immigration was in progress, the opportunity to write full time arose which led to a publishing contract less than a year later.
Barbara thinks that there aren’t enough lesbian love stories with a happy ending, so she decided to contribute some.
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