If you’ve been around my blog long enough, you’ll know I love A. M. Leibowitz, so I’ll let it just sit at that as you read this awesome interview!
Young Love, Old Hearts: Interview with contributing author A. M. Leibowitz
What was your inspiration for “The Artist as an Old Man”?
Probably the fact that I’m turning 40 later this year.
No kidding. That’s it?
Well, partly. I think that I have a different perspective on aging than many people. Not a better one, just different. I’m actually really excited to turn 40! I was thinking about what it would be like to be with someone twenty years younger (geez, that’s half my age!) and how that would look in another 40 years. I liked the idea of showing a May-December couple where one partner was experiencing the effects of old age.
The story isn’t just about that, though.
Right. My other inspiration was a recent conversation about an incident with my grandfather where he was supposed to be interviewed by someone from local public television, I think.
So is it based on a true story?
Not really. The events of the story are unique and, to my knowledge, have never occurred.
Was Aaron inspired by your grandfather?
A bit, especially that he’s an artist making mosaics (my grandfather made his living in ceramics) and Aaron’s love of learning. Otherwise, he has a bit of several people in him who have had a profound impact on my life.
Aaron is Jewish. Was there a reason for that?
Well, I mean, I come from a mixed Jewish/Christian background, so I like to explore both those sides of my family’s heritage. Other than that, I just like writing people of faith, regardless of what form that takes. Aaron came to me as a fully-formed character. He simply is who he is.
Were the juxtapositions of prison camps, war, and disease intentional?
To an extent. They were never meant as comparisons to one another—it was more about the commonality of loss and grief. Some things were purposeful, however, such as Aaron’s remembrance plaque in his studio. We sometimes ignore the fact that Nazi death camps weren’t limited to rounding up Jews, and we also forget that there are intersections in people’s identities. It’s really important to understand that men who lived through what Kenny and Aaron did have a vastly different perspective than Millennials or even Gen Xers like myself.
This is definitely not your usual more light-hearted kind of story.
Nope. I tend to like to incorporate both humor and hurt, but this one came out more as heartache.
So you weren’t talking about a zombie apocalypse toward the end, when Aaron reveals his mosaic.
Er…no. But true story: I had several beta readers, and some of them really were confused about what the references to death meant and thought it was something dystopian or supernatural.
Yes. I promise this is not horror or science fiction; all historical references are to real things. I’d thought I had provided plenty of information about the era in which it’s set (mid-1980s), including mentions of twentieth century wars, music videos, and a Kodak Disc camera. Apparently that all wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to change too much, so I threw in a line where Kenny references the year. Hopefully readers will get it.
Would you consider Kenny and Aaron to have had “insta-love” or to have moved too fast?
It could be read that way, but I’ll leave that up to readers. I can’t say too much without spoilers except that these were two men who needed each other, and it happened to lead to more.
On a parallel subject, did you mean to imply they hooked up and didn’t use condoms? That’s really unlike you.
Ha! Yeah, I have a bit of a reputation. Since the sex isn’t graphic, readers can assume whatever they want, but context and history should be taken into account. In my mind, no, they probably didn’t, but what might be more important for readers (if they even notice or care) is to think about why they wouldn’t have, especially given their conversation beforehand. I will tell you that absolutely nothing in this story is accidental.
Your characters like to make appearances in your other work. Will we see Aaron or Kenny again?
You never know. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see if they pop up somewhere.
The negotiation had been scheduled for three p.m. on Wednesday. Mr. Rubenstein’s neighborhood was a bit challenging to navigate, and Kenny arrived at two minutes past the hour. He knocked on Mr. Rubenstein’s door, his stomach in knots at meeting the artist himself.
When the door opened, Kenny was met by a short, muscular man with dark hair, graying at the temples. He looked far younger than his fifty-three years. He had a long, sloping nose and John Lennon-style glasses. His face dissolved into a deep scowl, and Kenny sucked in his breath, stepping back a few paces.
“You’re late,” Mr. Rubenstein snarled. “Come back tomorrow, and if you show up on time, I’ll consider letting you in.”
He slammed the door, leaving Kenny standing on the stoop, staring. Malcolm was going to kill him, and then he was going to fire him. He might bring him back from the dead just to do it all over again. Kenny gripped his hair in his hands. Nothing for it but to go home and call Malcolm. At least Mr. Rubenstein had left room for him to try again.
Which ended up being exactly what Malcolm told Kenny to do, right after he threatened to not only fire him but put him on the three a.m. trucker shift. Malcolm didn’t explain how Kenny could do that if he were fired. Not in the mood for either outcome, Kenny promised to be on time the next afternoon.
- A. M. Leibowitz is a spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing romantic plot twists and happy-for-now endings. Hir published fiction includes hir first novel, Lower Education, as well as a number of short works, and hir stories have been included in several anthologies. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, and hir family at amleibowitz.com.
Find me on the Internet:
Web site: http://amleibowitz.com
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00OIC158W (A. M. Leibowitz)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyunchained (@amyunchained)
Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case
Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen
Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.
Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon
Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.
A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith
Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.
Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.
When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.
That December by Lela E. Buis
Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.
The Arrangement by Helena Maeve
When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.
New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen
Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.
The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz
1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.
Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese
Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.
Say You Do by Kassandra Lea
Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.
About the Publisher
Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.
“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.