Please join us in welcoming Brandon Witt to Sinfully as he celebrates the release of his latest novel Under a Sky of Ash.
A Word from Brandon Witt
When you’re writing a book, you’re never sure which of your characters people will connect to. I used to think I knew, then a book would come out and readers would fall in love with someone completely different than I’d expected. I quit trying to predict which person would steal the show.
In Under a Sky of Ash, I was fairly certain the drag queen ManDonna would be everyone’s favorite. She was only supposed to have a couple scenes in the book, but then she showed up and took over, in everyway possible. I’ve never had so much fun writing a character in my life. She’s hilarious! (I feel like I can say that without implying that I’m hilarious, even though I wrote her. I swear she didn’t come from me. There must be a ghost of a long-dead drag queen living in my house and I accidentally channeled her, as I was shocked at half of the things she said.) Now that the book has been out for a bit, my suspicion that she would be a favorite is confirmed.
There’s another character that people keep bringing up, and I didn’t expect people to fall in love with him. I thought they might feel sorry for him or even be uncomfortable, but never saw him stealing the show.
The book begins from Isaiah’s perspective (he’s one of our lovers). It’s a flashback from when he was twelve and experiencing his first kiss with a boy, RJ. RJ’s father catches them, freaks out, assaults Isaiah, and ends up causing a traumatic brain injury to RJ.
Twenty years later, Isaiah is still visiting RJ. However, RJ now lives in a group home. RJ speaks very little, is easily frightened, loves routine, and spends most of his time coloring. You get the sense that RJ understand a bit more than he can communicate, but you’re never fully certain of how much he remembers of the traumatic event or to what extent he grasps the implications of his disability or his current living situation.
A lot of people assume that RJ’s character was crafted after my fifteen years working as a special education teacher. However, that’s not quite accurate. I worked with students with emotional disabilities—think lots of anger, outburst, uncontrolled emotions, etc. And, there is a character like that in this novel, Aaron. But, he’s a different story. RJ actually comes from one of my mother’s sisters. Mom is the youngest of five, and when her sister was around six or seven an event happened that left her with a traumatic brain injury. This was sixty years ago now, and I wonder what might be different for my aunt had resources we have today been available to her then. As a kid, I didn’t like going to visit my mom’s side of the family. Except for this aunt, who lived at home at that point and would later move to a group home. She would have been in her late 30’s to mid 40’s and she and I would sit together and color. To me, she was just a big kid. She was the same as me. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized the truth about her. The times I’ve seen her as an adult have left me wondering how much she understands about her past and about the impact her disability has had on her life. I think it’s more than we hope. In one way, it is easier to picture a person with such severe disabilities as nothing more than a large child, one that is unaware of the pain of life and their situation. In reality, I think that is most often a lie we tell to make ourselves feel better. It was a conversation my editor and I went back and for with, and I credit her challenging me to not take the easy way out with RJ. The risk paid off, as people seem to be loving RJ and I couldn’t be happier that people are connecting to him!
Thanks for spending a little time with me to learn about a couple characters from Under a Sky of Ash. I hope you get to chance to read the book and will let know which characters speak to you!
Under a Sky of Ash
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 21 March 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
More than a decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.
Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.
Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.
Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.
::: DEBRA’S REVIEW :::
Connect with Brandon Witt
Brandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he is more than likely in front of his computer, nose inches from the screen, fingers pounding they keys. When he manages to tear himself away from his writing addiction, he passionately take on the role of a special education teacher during the daylight hours.
Brandon Witt is gifting to two lucky readers an eBook from his backlist catalogue. Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.