Crystal’s House of Queers is an emotionally-charged romance novel that explores real world issues that young people face when discovering and unveiling their sexual identity. Why was this an important book for you to write?
All of my books are centered around important issues affecting girls and women. It has become very clear to me that despite all the progress we have made during the last several decades, we still live in a patriarchal world. According to polls, more than half of our youngest Generation Z do not define themselves as strictly heterosexual. More and more sources of entertainment reflect this change. This generation is more tolerant and accepting of all differences. However, hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are on the rise. Many of the same hate groups (primarily men) that decry the rise of non-white individuals in our country also hate gays. As the younger generation embraces a variety of sexual lifestyles, there will inevitably be more confrontation. I have known too many people who have been persecuted for their differences. We don’t need more hate in the world.
I appreciated the authenticity of your characters. What were some sources that inspired your character development?
I have known many teens like Crystal and JD, who despite their traditional academic challenges, discovered and shared other talents, including in art, music, dance, and athletics. Their needs are no more special than mine or yours. Real people are complex. Most have experienced some level of trauma in their lives. Many have difficulty coping, but most discover some resilience. I want my characters to reflect these truths.
What were some ideas that were important for you to convey in this book?
One common theme in all my books is the need for open, frank discussion of difficult topics. So much pain is caused by secrecy. Too frequently, teens and younger are forced to deal with guilt and fears and desires by themselves because adults won’t create comfortable environments where anything, anything, can be discussed. I have had readers of my latest book complain about two women kissing in front of their teenage girls. Why? Because tradition says sexuality must be private. Which has caused and continues to cause all kinds of problems for both the kids and the parents.
Another big idea in my books is the need for forgiveness, especially between parents and their children. Another is fighting for yourself and others when it is necessary. The girls in this book don’t put up with abuse or threats.
And the biggest idea in this book is the need to provide a safe place for LGBTQ individuals, where they can express themselves without fear.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is about a teenage girl in 1968 who rebels against the feminine role she is expected to play by her parents, her school, and her society. So many of the problems during this year—The Vietnam War, assassinations, student rebellions, etc—were caused by toxic masculinity. The main character, Tracy, cannot force herself to date boys. At times, she thinks she should have been a boy. She escapes her conservative parents and constant arguments about the war, civil rights, and her brother, Spencer—who wonders if he is gay—disguised as a boy for a two-week period at a wilderness camp just outside Denali Park, Alaska, where she meets other strong women, including Jackie, who chops wood and plays guitar.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Brooke Skipstone, Crystal's House of Queers, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, lesbian romance, lgbt, lgbtq, literature, love story, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, writer, writing
Crystal’s House Of Queers by Brooke Skipstone is a charismatic LGBTQ romance novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Crystal is a young woman who has survived a tragic childhood. She soon discovers that she likes women when she starts having dreams about her close friend Haley. Although the story goes into details about Crystal’s sexual attraction to Haley, the author focuses more on the underlying love that she possesses for her. I love that Crystal values Haley for more than her looks unlike Haley’s former jerk of a boyfriend Dyaln.
Brooke Skipstone shines a light on the many personal struggles that come with finding sexual identity and coming to terms with liking someone of the same sex. Crystal is an authentic, but fictional, representation of real world issues. She struggled with maintaining a friendship with her crush, which I feel is by far the toughest scenario in this story. Telling someone you love them with so much fear in the back of your brain takes a lot of strength. This also includes telling family and friends that you have feelings for others of the same sex. All of this is told in such a compelling and impassioned way that makes your heart ache and soar with all the highs and lows.
What I enjoyed the most about reading this observant novel is witnessing Crystal slowly begin to become more confident in herself. She is a great representation of lesbian love in fiction. I also enjoyed the setting of the plot and the merging of other LGBTQ characters. The intensity of the character’s emotions kept me engaged and wanting to read more. I would recommend Crystal’s House Of Queers to anyone looking for an emotional yet invigorating lesbian romance novel.
Pages: 313 | ASIN: B091MDH28L
Posted in Book Reviews
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Brooke Skipstone, Crystal's House of Queers, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, lgbt, lgbtq, literature, love story, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, urban fantasy, writer, writing
Someone To Kiss My Scars is a wonderful amalgam of coming of age, mystery, science fiction, and love story. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that change as you wrote?
The character of Jazz was the impetus for this story—passionate about science, trying to find a way to deal with her childhood trauma and her ineffectual mother, forced to grow up much too fast in a world where body shaming is the norm. She has every reason to be depressed, to have no interests, to be bored with life and the world. Yet she has an unflappable spirit and a burning need to find some happiness in her life. I have always been fascinated with the nature of memory and consciousness. Where do they exist? How can two people who have experienced the same event remember it differently? Can ions passing across a synaptic gap hold memories? What if they actually exist outside the body and the brain is a receiver? These are all legitimate questions that many respected scientists have pondered. The experiment which Jazz conducts in the story where she trains worms, amputates their heads, and then discovers that the worms still retain their memories is an actual famous experiment performed years ago and redone more recently. So the idea that Hunter can capture the memories of others is a direct result of the ideas behind that experiment.
Hunter is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Hunter lost everything—his mother, his memories, his younger brother, his purpose. He lives with a seemingly disinterested father who offers no emotional support. He writes stories of imaginary worlds until his brain is invaded by salacious, cruel stories about people he’s never met. Where do they come from? Who can he tell? Jazz befriends him, both dying from loneliness, and their relationship grows. Jazz serves as his guide, trying to explain his visions. Once Hunter realizes that he can remove a painful memory and that so many kids have suffered horribly, he grows into a fighter, someone who will accept any burden to relieve others of their pain. He faces his dark past, which would destroy most anyone else, and channels his pain into the desire to rid others of their pain.
This novel explores abuse in many different forms. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Too many people believe the experiences depicted in this book are rare and should not be depicted. In fact, more kids and teens suffer from abuse than most realize. I have seen the effects of every kind of abuse against a teen and the lingering harm such events cause throughout their lives. In my experience, most kids suffer some kind of abuse from others or themselves. Their stories need to be told. When some complain that such stories should be muted, that writers who use them sensationalize relatively rare events to drive a story, I have trouble stifling my anger. Too many people chose to ignore reality and believe that focusing on stories without sexual content will keep teens from engaging in sex. The most difficult job today is being a teenager.
One of the main themes is the love between Jazz and Hunter. They know EVERYTHING about each other yet they still love. Hunter has seen Jazz’s darkest days and deeds and finds his heart still filled with love for her. As Hunter says, “People start to heal when someone cares enough to accept their suffering. They finish healing when they kiss someone else’s scars.” Redemption comes only when someone tries to help another.
What is the next project you are working on?
I am currently writing the sequel to Some Laneys Died, but I also have plans to write a sequel to Someone To Kiss My Scars. I also have ideas for two other books dealing with racial conflict. Too much to do and not enough time to do it.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, Brooke Skipstone, ebook, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, Someone To Kiss My Scars, story, teen fiction, writer, writing, young adult
Some Laneys Died is a science fiction story that explores what happens when we experience different universes created by our choices. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I’m very interested in the weirdness of quantum physics, including the fact that a particle (an electron or photon) can be in many positions at the same time, a photon can act as a wave and particle, and the possibility that multiple universes exists. I decided to translate some of this weirdness from the micro level to the macro level. If subatomic particles from different universes can interact, then why can’t versions of ourselves do the same? Like my first novel Someone To Kiss My Scars where I imagined memory existing outside the brain, I imagine a world in Some Laneys Died where consciousness can be shifted to an alternate self. The main character can “skip” to an alternate self by seeing through that self’s eyes and mind. The Many Worlds Theory served as inspiration, wherein a quantum particle spins one direction in one universe and another direction in another universe.
The story is an exploration of choice and consequences. What were some themes you wanted to focus on when writing the story?
I have always been fascinated (and troubled) by the impact of seemingly small choices on one’s life, how some which seem so inconsequential at the time can, in retrospect, make all the difference between joy and pain. Laney learns that some version of herself makes every choice no matter what she chooses, so maybe each decision isn’t so crucial after all. The story is about a broken family that finds some salvation. It’s about forgiveness and redemption. Also, the magical bond of sisters, even between those who don’t know each other. There is also much evil in the story, horrible evil that preys on young girls and women and the lasting impact this evil has on their lives. Yet love can overcome the pain.
The book was really entertaining. What was one scene from the book that you enjoyed writing?
Mainly the action scenes. Perhaps my favorite is when Laney is driving with a drunk, angry boy in his truck after he tried to assault her. She wants him to drive her home, but he hits a deer and spins off the road, tumbling down into a ditch. Laney is upside down, held in her seat by the belt, watching her blood drip onto her broken phone. She tries to imagine herself back in her bedroom, before she made the choice to meet the boy outside her house at 2 am. She grabs onto that girl’s mind and environment and just before she blacks out in the truck, she feels her phone vibrate in her back pocket as she sits in her chair, slumped over her computer. Her father is calling her back after three years of no communication. That’s the first time she skips between worlds. I still get chills every time I read that scene.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The book I am currently writing is the sequel to Some Laneys Died, entitled (for now) All the Other Laneys. In the first book, Laney was able to skip to other universes. In the second, people drop into her world, including other versions of herself and her friends. As well as Caden, the boy who murdered her at least twice, the boy she captured and put into prison. Yet there he is standing on the other side of the river in the first scene watching Laney and her sister Bailee. What happens when you meet another version of yourself? Can both exist in the same universe?
Someone to Kiss My Scars by Brooke Skipstone defies standard categorization as it is a wonderful amalgam of coming of age, mystery, science fiction, and love story. I would say it is suitable for mature teens, and add that I, as an adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed Someone to Kiss My Scars and never felt it was juvenile while reading it. In fact, the introduction from Skipstone made me a little bit nervous – did I want to read about sexual abuse, depression, and suicide, given that 2020 has already been a challenging year? But, as Skipstone poignantly says, the novel not should be read by “anyone who desires to remain in the dark despite being in a position to shine light.” Having loved and lost family members and friends to depression, I felt incredibly moved by Skipstone’s goal in creating this deeply thoughtful novel, and am so glad I continued reading Someone to Kiss My Scars.
The novel centers on teenage Hunter Williams, who recently moved to rural Alaska, and his only friend in town, Jazz. Mysteriously, Hunter cannot seem to remember much of his life before he and his father moved to Alaska a year ago. He’s been told his mother and brother died in an accident, but everything is blurry to him, with haunting memories coming in sporadic glimpses. Hunter is a voracious writer, though, with a seemingly supernatural ability to write incredibly detailed stories that, impossibly, seem to recreate the memories of those around him. As Hunter and Jazz begin to understand more about his special writing ability and how it impacts those around him, they are faced with a decision: should they share his power and use it for good or is it better to keep it a secret?
Someone to Kiss My Scars is incredibly hard to read at times because of its heavy subject matter, but I found the hardship to be eye-opening and beautiful. The pains that Skipstone describes felt unfathomable to me, but I know that the experiences described have happened to many people, and, as Skipstone cites, abuse, depression, and trauma are exceedingly common in Alaska. I was engrossed fully in the plot and raced through the chapters, often staying up late to find out what happened next.
I was not expecting to love Someone to Kiss My Scars as much as I did, and I am thankful for Skipstone for her work in creating this novel. It is highly unusual to read a book and feel like the book has changed you for the better, but that is how I felt after reading it. Someone to Kiss My Scars opened my worldview to the experiences not only of those living in rural Alaska, but also to the pains of depression and abuse which are prevalent but rarely discussed. I would highly recommend this novel to any reader, and assure you that even though the subject matter is heavy, the novel is ultimately one of hope and forgiveness that will encourage you to believe in the good in the world.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B07X4JLY22
Tags: abuse, author, book, book review, bookblogger, Brooke Skipstone, contemporary, depression, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, Someone To Kiss My Scars, story, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult
Some Laneys Died by Brooke Skipstone is a truly wonderful science fiction thriller that explores alternate realities based on the choices Laney makes. The book follows Delaney West the books main protagonist as she delves into the world of quantum physics. Occurrences that happen across different realities leak into her own reality making her doubt her sanity. The story narrates Delaney West’s quest to understand these strange ordeals as best as she can. The book is sure to keep readers turning pages from the very beginning. The story is set in the town of Austin, Texas and is narrated from the point of view of a normal high school student facing not so normal problems.
The approach used by the author to make the books main protagonist a normal high school girl has proved key in making the book as riveting as it is. The author expertly uses vivid description in the narration of this story, while only rarely going into excess. This has aided greatly in giving the intended audience a general feel of the story and also in character development in general. Apart from this the author has also used direct speech to further develop the story and engage the audience as the story unfolds. These stylistic devices have proved effective in making the book the wonderful read that it is. In addition to this, the author seeks to speak on certain issues that affect the everyday human being. While this book is a sci-fi exploration of alternate universe theory, like all good science fiction Brooke Skipstone uses this as a vehicle to tell a human story that explores issues of family breakups and sexual assault.
This story takes a deep dive into the minds of its characters, focusing on character development in a story that is character-centric. The author writing style is punctuated by witty and clever storytelling that ensured the story was continuously entertaining. Lovers of sci-fi thrillers will find this book hard to put down as it is quite an interesting read.
Pages: 306 | ASIN: B08BWLSD6F
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, Brooke Skipstone, discipline, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, Some Laneys Died, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing, young adult