Mia Kerick – Clean
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Pages: 289 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult, Romance
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris
High school senior Lanny Keating has it all. A three-sport athlete at Lauserville High School looking at a college football scholarship, with a supportive family, stellar grades, boy band good looks… until the fateful day when it all falls apart.
Seventeen-year-old Trevor Ladd has always been a publicly declared zero and the high school bad-boy. Abandoned by his mother and sexually abused by his legal guardian, Trevor sets his sights on mere survival.
Lanny seeks out Trevor’s companionship to avoid his shattered home life. Unwilling to share their personal experiences of pain, the boys explore ways to escape, leading them into sexual experimentation, and the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol. Their mutual suffering creates a lasting bond of friendship and love.
When the time finally comes to get clean and sober, or flunk out of high school, only one of the boys will graduate, while the other spirals downward into addiction.
Will Lanny and Trevor find the strength to battle their demons of mind-altering substances as well as emotional vulnerability?
Clean takes the reader on a gritty trip into the real and raw world of teenage substance abuse.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Mia Kerick author of Clean.
Hi Mia, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hello. Thank you very much for welcoming me to your blog today. I am thrilled to be here in promotion of my new release, Clean.
Describe your book to us.
Clean is the story of two teenage boys who, for various reasons, experience a feeling of complete isolation in the world. Unable to face their problems, they search for an escape, and together find release in the world of drugs and alcohol. Trevor and Lanny soon hit rock bottom, partying constantly, and one boy makes a decision to stop using, and the other boy spirals downward into addiction. This is the edgy YA fiction illustrating how they are saved, by themselves and each other.
Have you ever read something that made you think differently about your genre? Can you tell us what it was?
Reading such books as The Persian Boy by Mary Renault, Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, Cry To Heaven by Anne Rice, Captive Prince by CS Pacat, Lord of the White Hell and The Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale, Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune, The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara, The God Eaters by Jesse Hajicek, and Two Spirits: A Life with the Navajo by Walter W. Williams (there are many more) taught me that gay romance doesn’t have to be a simple romantic story told in contemporary language but that gay fiction and romance can be deep and abstract, with a literary edge. It can be significant and meaningful and artistic, reaching beyond storytelling. (I will admit, however, that I love to read current contemporary gay romance stories.)
Tell us about your character’s family life?
Lanny Keating’s family was the perfect American dream. Mom, Dad, sister and brother—encouraging and communicative, with home-cooked meals and football games and stellar grades and good jobs—until it all fell apart thanks to a serious accidental injury of a family member. Then, we as readers learn that the seemingly idyllic family life is quick to fracture under such pressure.
Trevor has no family life to speak of. Abandoned by his mother and not knowing his birth father, he lives with an abusive guardian. For much of the book, Trevor has no one to trust.
Compare yourself to your main character.
I share several characteristics with Lanny. We are both people-pleasers. In fact, having the approval of those we care for is almost mandatory. In school we were involved and decent students, maybe not true academics, but willing to do more than the bare minimum. And we both seek escape when the going gets tough, though I would escape into the arms of boyfriends and writing romantic stories, Lanny found his escape in drugs and alcohol.
What are your current projects?
I am currently working on two novels with transgender themes. One is a YA, that deals with the MTF transition of a high school senior, and the other, a New Adult about a very broken pansexual man and his love affair with a transgender man he meets on a lonely island. I have set aside the YA novel several times, as the research can be, at times, daunting.
Trevor wouldn’t even look at me when I walked over to the gas station this morning to say hi. And Jimmy’s Fuel Stop is like three miles from my house so it took a major effort to walk there, especially since I’ve been feeling like total crap lately. Another one of my shaky human bonds bites the dust. I need to go out and get myself a cat.
“Can’t you see I’m working, Keating?” That was all he said. But I’ve always been good at reading between the lines. I could tell what he was thinking as he stood beside the gas pumps, totally caught up in not looking at me. “Take a hike before you get me fired, loser. Some of us got goals in life….” So I took off before he had a chance to make me feel like I shouldn’t have ever made an appearance on the planet earth. But I still know it would have been better had I never been born…maybe Joelle would still be okay.
It’s Saturday afternoon and nobody’s home. Mom and Dad are probably off at the park with Joelle, sloshing through the wet snow together so she gets her daily exercise. Or maybe they took her to the make- your-own-sundae-place to improve her fine motor skills by sprinkling sweet toppings on big scoops of ice cream. I’m in Mom and Dad’s bathroom, bent in half with my head stuck in the closet, searching the cluttered shelves for anything that will get me high enough to escape. And I mean anything.
That’s when I see the cough syrup. The bottle in front is almost new, and there’s an older bottle of a different brand right behind it, little more than halfway full. Seeing these medicine bottles reminds me of something Chad suggested about a week or two ago— that we should try robo-tripping. He told me that if we drink enough cough syrup, the DXM in it would get us high in a “super blissful, tingling-body-parts way,” which sounded pretty decent to me then and still does now. Not completely surprised I remembered Chad’s exact description of a DXM high, I thank God for this dextromethorphan stuff that suppresses nasty coughs, because it looks like I’m going to find my much-needed buzz after all.
Pleased that I don’t have to resort to sniffing glue from the tube on my father’s basement workbench or huffing my mother’s hairspray—and believe me I came close—I snatch the bottles with a shaky hand. They’re both sticky with the syrup that dripped down the side last time one of the Keating’s had a major head cold accompanied by a hacking cough. Licking my fingers provides me with a hint of the cherry flavor I’m probably going to be barfing up later tonight. But I don’t care. I can’t get through a single day without some help, and by that I don’t mean help from my human friends, seeing as I have none left.
The walk to the shed seems longer than ever. It’s an effort to so much as put one foot in front of the other. I haven’t eaten anything for a full day; I’m sure that’s why I feel like such crap. And it’s not like I want to think about this stuff, but I can’t stop myself. The “stuff” I don’t want to think about is really people. The people I have hurt so much lately because of my bad habits.
This list starts with my little sister Joelle, who I told to “stuff a sock in it” when she asked me to read that goddamned book about a kid going to school—for the zillionth time! “School’s not all it’s cracked up to be, Jo. Stop being so damned excited about it! Those kids are gonna tear you to pieces and won’t even wait until you turn your back to do it!” It hurts too much to remember the expression on her face right after I told her that, so instead I stare beyond the leafless trees into the gray sky and think about my parents.
I’ve hurt Mom and Dad a lot too, because they know I’m sick, they just don’t know exactly what’s wrong with me. And I’m not sure how much they care. Their plates are too full already with Joelle’s problems, I guess.
I glance down at the two bottles of cough medicine dangling from between my fingers and remember Chrissy and Robyn, who I use like toilet paper. They can do way better than me in the study-buddy department.
I trip over a root that crosses my path and fall to my knees, but just as quickly drag myself back to my feet. A stray root isn’t enough to stop me from getting to where I’m going.
I’m almost at the shed now, and I can’t avoid thinking about him any longer. Trevor hates me. He never calls anymore, never asks me to go to the shed to drink some beer and fool around. He just looks at me in the hallway at school with angry disgusted eyes, and tells me every chance he gets “you’re fucking up your life and I’m not gonna let you fuck up mine.”
Trevor Ladd…the ultimate untouchable. If I could’ve made somebody like him want to be with me, I would’ve surely been able to win my parents back. Well, no such luck. I’m more of a zero to Trevor than I ever was…and Mom and Dad still don’t care.
Blew my entire life sky high. Which is where I’ll be soon, if all goes according to plan. I lift each bottle of sticky sweet cough medicine to my lips and kiss them, one by one.
Just the sight of the tiny, beat-up brown shed fills me with an indescribable sense of relief, probably like the feeling of coming home after years at sea. As soon as I push open the door, I see that Trevor isn’t here and I’m illogically disappointed. But Trevor can’t save me from myself. He did his duty; he tried to get me clean, and he got clean in the process.
Way to go, Trevor.
Alone in a frigid shed in the middle of the woods, I’m more than eager to suck down a couple bottles of cough medicine so I can be somewhere else…someone else. A vision of Landon Keating forms in my mind—not Lanny, the student, or Lanny, the athlete, or Lanny, the son and brother—but the near-future version of me when I’m “simultaneously mellow and stimulated,” if the online experiences I’ve read about taking DXM are accurate. Sad truth is, I’ll take just plain disoriented. Any effect will be fine if it whisks me away.
I drop down to the cold floor and without ceremony open one of the small bottles. The cough medicine goes down more easily than I thought.
Cherry-berry-sweet-thick-burning-soothing- pleasure-pain. It doesn’t take too long.
Itchy as hell…belly’s on fire….
“Read to me, Lanny…read it again!
”Can’t feel my legs at all….
“Wishes don’t wash dishes, son.”
Can’t stop barfing…. So sick….
“Take a hike, Keating—you filthy, no-good, loser boozer-druggie!”
Blew it with Trevor…blew it with everybody.
Can’t breathe…need a breath….
Gonna die here alone.
Buy the Book:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to CoolDudes Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Where to find the author:
Website (& Blog): www.miakerick.com
Clean Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CleanbyMiaKerick
Mia Kerick Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Mia-KerickAuthor-231404220346244/
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