Earlier today Tori reviewed the January 1st release, Color of Grace by A.M. Arthur. We are happy to have A.M. here today to talk about her inspiration for her book.
A GUY FALLS IN A HOLE…..
As the Christmas holiday season draws to a close, it’s time to turn our eye to the coming New Year and all of the promise it brings. We’ve stuffed ourselves on turkey and cookies and pies, and because of that many of us will make resolutions to lose ten pounds. Or to be nicer. Or to write that book we’ve wanted to write for ten years. Or to go visit great-Aunt Alice more often. Nice, simple resolutions that we won’t feel too guilty about blowing off once spring rolls around.
How many of us are making heartfelt, life-changing resolutions that we plan on keeping year-round? Show of hands?
Barrett McCall, the hero of my upcoming Samhain release COLOR OF GRACE , makes that sort of resolution one cold, desperate New Year’s Eve. He’s pushed to a point in his life where he must change his party-going ways or he’ll have nothing. He’s along ago fallen into that metaphorical pit, and that night he finds the strength to climb back out again. And stay out.
A year and a half later, just as Barrett is settling into his quiet, empty new life, the poor soul trips right over Schuyler Rhodes and the emotional pit he’s fallen into. Actually, it’s a pit Schuyler dug, jumped into, and has been wallowing in for over a decade—and he’s pretty happy right where he is. Until Barrett reaches an understanding hand into that pit and offers him a way out. Schuyler just has to choose to take it.
COLOR OF GRACE is about emotional healing. Grace is defined in many ways. For Barrett and Schuyler, grace is about mercy and pardoning one for a perceived sin. Or in both of their cases, actual committed sins. Grace is also forgiveness—forgiveness of oneself and forgiveness of others.
The theme of this story came from one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite television shows, “The West Wing.” The episode is the season two Christmas show ep “Noel,” and it is an outstanding hour of television. Josh Lyman finally addresses his PTSD from being shot by a sniper in the season two opener. As he’s leaving the White House on Christmas Eve, he has a short conversation with Leo McGarry, a recovering alcoholic and father-figure to Josh.
The exchange is touching, but no more so than the story Leo tells about the guy who falls into a hole. Check it out:
Leo: The friend says “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out.”
Variations of this story have been told and re-told, but it’s this particular conversation that stands out to me as the most excellent. And it’s what I think of when I examine the relationship between Barrett and Schuyler. Barrett’s been down in that hole, and he knows how to get Schuyler back out. It’s up to Schuyler to accept help, or wallow forever, and you can find out what his decision is on New Year’s Day.
Here’s a brief snippet to tide you over until then:
[Schuyler] lifted his bottle in a mock toast, then downed the rest of the warm, flat liquid. It was only his second of the night, and he desperately wanted a few more. He’d have to wait until he dropped Dixie off at home to go have them, alone in his own apartment across town.
He put the empty bottle down with a solid plunk, aware of Barrett watching him with the expression of a man stuck between distaste for the drinking and wanting one for himself. Barrett didn’t guard his emotions well—or he was insanely easy for Schuyler to read. Still, he wasn’t confident enough in his guess to simply blurt it out. “Would you like one?” he asked instead, pointing at the bottle.
“No, thanks, I gave it up,” Barrett said.
“New Year’s resolution?” A stupid joke, since it was the end of May, but Barrett’s raised eyebrow suggested he wasn’t far off the mark.
“Something like that.”
Curious now, Schuyler couldn’t stop from asking, “How long have you been sober?”
Barrett’s face shuttered. “Seventeen months, three weeks, four days. So don’t worry, I won’t be disturbing your aunt with any wild parties.”
He startled. “That wasn’t why I asked.”
“So you’re just nosy, then?”
“It’s a personality flaw.”
“Pretty damned big one.”
Schuyler wasn’t entirely sure how he’d lost track of the conversation. “I apologize if I got too personal. It’s none of my business.”
“Good, and you’re forgiven. I get it. She’s your family, Schuyler, and you barely know me. You’re entitled to be protective.”
“There’s a fine line between protective and rude.”
“Too true. Try not to cross it so often.”
Schuyler laughed, and it felt good. He hadn’t laughed all weekend, and the sound came out like it had been trapped in there forever, waiting for release. He felt immediately guilty for his mirth and shoved it away. For a little while, he’d forgotten what day it was.
COLOR OF GRACE releases from Samhain Publishing January 1, 2013, and it’s the second book in the Cost of Repairs series. You can find more information about me and my books at my blog (http://amarthur.blogspot.com/) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AM_Arthur).