As part of the Courage in Patience book tour, I had the pleasure of interviewing author Beth Fehlbaum. See us talk about her new trilogy, Courage, Hope, and Truth in Patience. Also listed below is the official media kit and giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift card, as well as a signed copy of The Patience Trilogy!
1. Tell us about your book. What is it about?
The Patience Trilogy: Courage in Patience (Book 1), Hope in Patience (Book 2), and Truth in Patience (Book 3) are the arc of fifteen-year-old Ashley’s journey to recovery from the childhood sexual abuse that was perpetrated by her stepfather from the time Ashley is eight. Child Protective Services removes Ashley from her abusive home and places her with David, Ashley’s biological father she has never known, and his wife and son, in a small town so different from the metro area Ashley is from.
But The Patience Trilogy books are so much more than that: they are the story of how family is more than blood, and friendship is about more than surface relationships. Through the teens Ashley meets through her stepmother’s English class, she grows to see that life is messy for everyone. That realization pulls her out of herself and inspires her to reach out.
2. Your book series speaks of courage and facing your demons. How do you think this series will help those who are going through personal issues?
I know for a fact that The Patience Trilogy helps others. Besides being an engaging, heart-pounding story, the books are also used by caseworkers, psychologists, and therapists as a way of reaching their clients/patients. Teachers and librarians have contacted me and told me of specific students they recommend my books for, because the message of hope and healing is so powerful.
3. You yourself have had a difficult past with addiction and a traumatic childhood. Did writing this series trigger some old habits from your past, or were you able to pull through?
I used food as a drug for years, and when I was in therapy to recover from childhood sexual abuse, I worked to learn to manage my emotions without eating through them. I still struggle at times, as do most people with Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D.). Food is, of course, not like something one can give up completely. I wrote about a character with B.E.D. in Big Fat Disaster. I had regained about half the weight I lost when I was in therapy, and I found myself dealing with the same self-loathing I’d felt for years. I had to ask myself what I thought I was doing: why was I going back to self-hatred after working so hard to overcome it? And that led me to the question: what is our worth? Who are we under our outsides, and why do we judge ourselves as worthless, or allow others to color our acceptance of ourselves? That’s how Colby Denton, the protagonist of Big Fat Disaster, was born.
Writing The Patience Trilogy began as a therapeutic assignment. I had been in therapy for about a year and I was sharing my poetry and short stories with my therapist. I was writing as a way of processing the intense grief and pain I was feeling because when I went into recovery, my mom turned her back on me completely. (My stepfather was my perpetrator.) One day, my doctor suggested that I try writing a novel. It took a few months to be able to pull myself OUT of myself, and Ashley Asher stepped forward and became the vessel for the story.
While The Patience Trilogy is not autobiographical, I drew on some of my experiences while writing it. This had the opposite effect of triggering a binge or overwhelming pain; if anything, seeing the experience through someone else’s eyes and using that to talk frankly about what it felt like helped me take a step back and be able to move past feelings of shame that I had lived with for decades. I used to wake up every morning feeling as if I had done something horrible; that I was unlovable. Writing the story as if someone else experienced it was healing.
Let me be clear: recovery from childhood sexual abuse is not something one should undertake without the guidance of an experienced mental health professional. Writing as bibliotherapy is powerful, but the journey I went on was too scary to go on by myself.
4. How is this book series different from your past works? Or do they intertwine with each other?
Courage in Patience is actually my first book. Hope in Patience is the second, and Truth in Patience is the third. Courage and Hope were initially published by other companies that, unfortunately, went out of business, and I regained my rights to the books. Truth in Patience was never published before now, although it was written and ready for publication as early as 2011. All three books were released together by Steady On Books, March 29, 2016.
My fourth book, Big Fat Disaster, is, like The Patience Trilogy, set in a small East Texas town, Piney Creek, which is near Patience, the fictional small town that is the “Patience” in the book titles. My books intertwine in the sense that the Dr. Matt character is in all of them. In fact, Colby and her mother see Ashley and her stepmom, Beverly, when they are all in Dr. Matt’s waiting room. It’s kind of an “Easter egg” that people who have read all my books will recognize.
5. You're a member of RAINN (Rape , Abuse, Incest National Network) Speakers’ Bureau. How has working with them helped shape this series, and what you wanted the story to be?
The order is actually reversed: I became a member of the RAINN Speakers’ Bureau after my books were published. I recommend RAINN as a resource for victims who want to heal into survivors, and because I believe so strongly in RAINN’s work, I applied to be part of their Speakers’ Bureau. I want to be of service any time they need me.
6. Any new projects you're working on, outside of being an author?
As an author, I am beginning to co-write a non-fiction companion to The Patience Trilogy, with the real-life “Dr. Matt”: my now-former therapist, Matt. He’s a writer in his own right, having published books and articles over the span of his thirty-plus-year career. He’s retired now, and we’ve decided to collaborate on a book that will be for people on the journey to recovery and their helpers, too.
Outside of being an author, I am a high school English teacher. I am doing some training this summer and also researching the positive impact that teachers can have on their students’ learning by creating strong relationships with them. A colleague and I will be presenting a workshop called “I’m Listening” to teachers in our district, in August.
7. Any last words to give to our readers about you?
I am living proof that a person can be mentally broken and overcome trauma to emerge a stronger person. I would tell anyone who has gone through what I have, “You are worth the work it takes to heal your life.”
Courage in Patience
(The Patience Trilogy #1)
Publication date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Courage to endure.
Courage to survive.
Courage to overcome.
Tenacious 14-year-old Ashley Asher claws her way back to normalcy after enduring six years of an unimaginable Hell. Uprooted from her negligent and selfish mother, Ashley finds solace in the safety of her father’s home. Building a relationship with her stepmother, she’s finally able to open up and confront the past that haunts her.
With the help of her stepmom, therapist, and a group of troubled adolescents, Ashley battles her demons, struggling to find the normal teenage life she’s always wanted. Can Ashley find the strength and courage to overcome the horrors of her past while fighting for the future she so deserves?
In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is a high school English-Language Arts teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading.
Beth is a featured author on the 2015-2016 Spirit of Texas Reading List- High School for the Kirkus Starred Reviewed Big Fat Disaster (Merit Press/F+W Media, March 2014) and The Patience Trilogy: Courage (1), Hope (2), and Truth (3) (Steady On Books, April 2016).
Beth is a member of the RAINN (Rape , Abuse, Incest National Network) Speakers’ Bureau. She has a following in the young adult literature world and also among survivors of sexual abuse because of her work with victims’ advocacy groups.
She has been the keynote speaker at the National Crime Victims’ Week Commemoration Ceremony at the Hall of State in Dallas, Texas and a presenter for Greater Texas Community Partners, where she addressed a group of social workers and foster children on the subject of “Hope.”
Beth is in-demand as a panelist, having presented/appeared at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, the American Library Association’s annual conference, YALSA, and N.C.T.E./ALAN, and she is a member of The Author’s Guild.
She is a survivor of a traumatic childhood, like Ashley in The Patience Trilogy, and the day-to-day manager of an eating disorder much like Colby’s in Big Fat Disaster. These life experiences give her a unique perspective, and she writes her characters’ stories in a way meant to inspire hope.
Beth lives with her family in the woods of East Texas.
You can find Beth online at http:www.bethfehlbaumbooks.com, http://www.uncommonya.com, on Facebook, and on https://twitter.com/bethfehlbaum.
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Thanks for reading! :) ♥