This blog first appeared for Women and Words, January 22, 2017 (Womenwords.org)
I was brought up an orthodox Jew so we had rules about everything. You could eat a chicken if its neck was slit but not wrung; on the Sabbath you could read a book but not play the piano, write or switch on a light; you were expected to attend services every Saturday, but only if you could walk to get there. I never minded all these rules and regulations because I loved my Judaism. In fact, I planned on going to seminary and becoming a Rabbi’s wife. But life has a way of bringing about surprises and instead of becoming a Rabbi’s wife, I ended up making out with one(true story).
You might be wondering what any of this has to do with lesbian fiction. One of the issues my new suspense novel, Devoted, deals with is what happens when long-held beliefs clash with adult reality. Ashley Glynn suspects her beloved sister, Lizzie, was poisoned and she’s determined to find out who did it. But unraveling the mystery of her sister’s death forces her to face the conflict between her religious beliefs and long-suppressed sexual desires.
Devoted is a mystery novel that will keep you on your toes, whether or not you have any interest in faith issues. (You can read the first chapter here.)Early reviews have described it as “a page-turner” with “strong writing and great character development.” It’s in the same genre as my previous novel, Along Came the Rain, which has been described variously as a psychological whodunit, a cozy mystery, and domestic noir.
In Devoted, Ashley is dealing with the loss of her sister. In my own life my beloved Mum died just a few weeks prior to Devoted’s release. Judaism has very specific guidelines about mourning. I’ve spent my adult life sifting through the hundreds of religious rules I learned as a child, figuring out which ones I still want to keep. Despite my ambivalence about certain aspects of my religion, going through the Jewish rituals of mourning and shiva was incredibly comforting in a time of sorrow.
This blog will publish two days after The Unthinkable. Whatever our belief systems and whatever the loss, finding rituals of comfort is something we all need in challenging times. What rituals help you take comfort? Let me know – and don’t forget to check out Devoted.