Welcome to the blog tour for HOLD by Rachel Davidson Leigh! This YA novel has it all: theater, romance, mystery, and superpowers! So we’re thrilled to have Rachel on the blog today to talk about writing LGBTQ+ stories, her current projects, and more.
There’s something for everyone in Hold, so embrace your inner high school theater geek and check it out! Plus you don’t want to miss our interview with Rachel, and don’t forget to check the end of the post for an awesome giveaway!
Hold, by Rachel Davidson Leigh
Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: October 20, 2016
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. 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.
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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.
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.
Why did you choose to write LGBTQ stories?
LGBTQ fiction is hugely hugely important for me personally, for the larger community, and the characters themselves. I’m bi, and I’ve always been surrounded (and supported) by an incredible cadre of queer friends. Even before I could define where I belonged, I knew that felt at home around people who either identified as queer or who made LGBTQ rights a priority in their lives. Hold includes characters who explicitly identify as gay, bi, queer, and asexual, in part because these characters were always inspired by the incredible people who’ve gotten me through the toughest moments in my life.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I actually have two answers to that question. If you think of inspiration as the moment when the story came to life, it began with an image. 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.
I also lost a sibling, under similar circumstances, when I was about the same age as Luke. In Hold, he walks through some of the same places I remember, but he transforms them into something entirely new. I know some of the emotions he deals with and a lot of the reactions he comes to expect from those around him, but we rarely react the same way. Where I would have gone right, he goes left, and this time I get to follow in his wake.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing all my life. I started making up my own stories and illustrating them with my mom when I was about four. That being said, I didn’t always think that I could write a novel. For a long time, I didn’t know if I had what it took to create my own little universe. That changed when I found fandom and fanfiction. That’s the community that convinced me that maybe I could be a part of that world. It wasn’t that I learned I was spectacularly talented or special, but rather that I learned how much I cared about telling stories. I realized that I could and would put in the work to turn a fantasy into something real.
What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on more LGBTQ YA. I think that’s going to be my home for a long time. There are two novels currently in the works. The next novel centers on two former best friends, Natalie and Noel, forced to compete for the same math scholarship. The situation would be fine if they didn’t have to travel together, or stay together, or anything else that comes with a road trip with Natalie’s parents. or deal with the fact that Noel’s had a soul-killing crush on Natalie for months.
Off topic: What secret talents do you have?
I don’t know if this counts as a secret talent, but when I was a kid I had a face painting business. I started when I was about nine; I set up a table at craft fairs and outdoor concerts like that was a normal thing to do in third grade. It was fun, and I actually got pretty good. By the time I entered middle school, and lost interest, I could do some elaborate designs and had started getting hired to do the makeup design for some children’s theater companies. Recently, I actually picked it up again for a few charity events and, apparently, face painting is like riding a bicycle; once you know how to turn someone into a leopard, you get to keep that knowledge for life.
I can also still remember bizarre details from plays I was in during elementary, middle, and high school. I might not be able to tell you what I had for lunch this morning, but I can tell you the sound cues for a peer education play that I did sophomore year. Thanks brain, that information is going to come in handy.
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.
Find her online at racheldavidsonleigh.com.
To celebrate the release of Hold, we have a fantastic giveaway for you! The GRAND PRIZE winner will receive a $25 Interlude Press gift card as well as a multi-format eBook copy of Hold. Additionally, five winners will receive eBook copies of Hold!
To enter, just click on the image below!
And don’t forget to take a look back at the previous tour stops!