Title: COPPER LILIES
Author: Bradon Nave
Genre: NA Coming of Age
Date of Publication: February 9, 2016
Complacent and bored with her life in rural Oklahoma, Nora leaves her bigoted father and all she’s ever known to pursue a new life in San Francisco. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Nora, a registered nurse, believes she can be an asset to the community. Bunking in a tiny apartment with a longtime friend, Nora secures a job within a large hospital and begins volunteer work for an organization that cares for those afflicted with the disease.
She is soon faced with the horrors of AIDS—a reality she wasn’t quite prepared for…
Just as the courageous group of caregivers and volunteers have their emotional strength depleted to the point of no return, the group rallies together and pushes forward, remembering their mission—if they aren’t there for these people, who will be?
Nora wasn’t expecting to find him here, to “fall in love among the ashes…”
Along her journey, she meets a diverse community of lionhearted survivors. And then there’s Donald, another volunteer who fights alongside those with dwindling hope. Nora and Donald grow closer as the war on HIV rages around them.
They watch their friends waste to nothing, yet no answers are being offered. The only comfort is the solace they find in each other. After months of hardships, another crippling loss shakes the foundation of Nora’s faith.
Their struggle is not only about HIV/AIDS—but about how the nation responds, and the humanistic choice to be unsung heroes.
“A beautifully written reminder that draws attention to a chronic disease that still needs to be fought on the front lines as stigma/judgment remain.” -Amy Nelson, MPH, CHES HIV/AIDS Educator
I was lucky I had him. I didn’t move to San
Francisco in search of love. I would frown upon
someone for falling in love among ashes. Perhaps I
wasn’t actively seeking love; rather, longevity. It
seemed nothing was solidified; nothing was
guaranteed to return a smile the following day. Even
if it were not my pain, per se, to simply witness the
pain of loss from afar was enough to plummet my
ailing psyche back into the pit it was attempting to
crawl out of. Donald was my rope. A thin rope at first,
but our threads were growing in number. I had to be
sure I didn’t hang myself.
After spending the rest of the day together, Donald
and I ended our day’s adventure in the confinements
of his bedroom. He laid me down on his bed, gently
kissing my neck, and I knew without a doubt that the
interaction would go no further than heated kissing
and clothed entanglement. I made that abundantly
clear prior to his closing of the bedroom door. There
would be no raunchy stories for Gwen to salivate over
the following morning. I didn’t feel dirty, and for
once the oppression of guilt momentarily subsided. I
was allowed to find mild pleasure without feeling
disgraceful or distasteful.
His touch brought a rush similar to the feeling I’d
experienced on country Oklahoma roads with local
high school all-stars a few years prior, but there was
something much more. The physical effects he had on
my body were coupled with the idea that he might be
something solid. That he might be there day after day.
That he might not fade away.
"You’re beautiful," he whispered.
"You’re hairy," I replied hastily, evoking a
chuckle. "You’re beautiful too."
"Beautiful?" He momentarily halted the tongue
massage on my neck.
"Handsome. Hairy and handsome."
"And a distraction?"
The question caught me off guard. Initially I
assumed he’d be little more than that, a distraction. A
distraction from everything going on around me.
Gradually, I had accepted the idea that exploring
realms beyond friendship and preoccupation with this
gentleman was something I could be okay with. "No.
Yes and no. What am I?"
"A girl," he said playfully, scanning my face for
"You’re not just a distraction. Something to take
my mind off of Buddies and the hospital, yes; but I
"I like you. But you’re my escape. Sometimes I
feel like there’s no escape. I can either close my eyes
and see their faces, see Toby’s face, or I can see
yours. I miss him. Maybe I miss him too much."
His eyes were dry yet flooded with pain. There was
no way the average farm boy from rural Texas could
digest losing one of his closest friends in such a short
period of time. Had he been back home and his buddy
been killed in an accident, Donald would have had
monumental support and guidance throughout the
grief process. Here, everyone had a Toby, a Logan, all
of our friends were losing friends. Attempting to share
feelings with our social group would only add turmoil
to their grief-stricken lives.
"I can be that. I’d like to be that," I muttered as I
The passion left our fingertips quicker than it
mounted in them. He ran the tip of his index finger
under my eye, tracing it to my earlobe. It was as if we
bottled the explosive emotions for another night and
took comfort in companionship. I wasn’t trying to be
a hero, but I certainly wasn’t trying to write a love
story either. At this point, I was comfortable moving
through this experience with this person and allowing
myself a temporary reprieve from my constant over
analyzing—whatever happens, happens—just let it be,
and it will be.
- Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always liked writing, but honestly never imagined I’d be published by a reputable publisher. I didn’t begin writing seriously until 2013, after my wife encouraged me to write my first novel.
2. Who are some of your influences?
Some of the powerhouses…Stephen King, James Patterson, John Green…but I love work by Richard Van Camp, and by my own friends, Carissa Lynch, D.A. Roach and many others I’ve met and read along the way. When some of your favorite new authors are also your legit new friends…it’s an awesome feeling.
3. Who are some of your favorite authors and/or favorite books?
I’ve read ‘The Lesser Blessed’ about fifty times…but I won’t go so far as to say that I have a favorite book. My library is pretty diverse. I have an entire room full of hardcovers and paperbacks in every genre. I have WAY too many author friends to announce a favorite author;
4. Do you listen to music while you write?
I have a playlist for every manuscript I’m working on. Each playlist consists of songs that I have literally imagined my characters jamming out to. When I’m writing, I’ll listen to that playlist to help me connect.
5. Do you have a designated writing space? What does it look like?
We have a home office but I don’t usually lock myself away. Writing isn’t my primary occupation so when I’m home and my family is awake I like to spend time with them. When they’re in bed and I’m free I’ll write…but it’s usually at the kitchen table.
6. Some writers have rituals they have to do while they are writing. Do you have any? If so, what are they?
I drink massive amounts of coffee and water but I think that’s more necessity than ritualistic.
7. Can you tell us something about your writing process? Do you have a schedule, word count goals, etc.?
I write. There is no schedule and I like it that way. Sometimes my job in organ recovery requires me to work 90+ hours a week. Needless to say, I don’t write that week. My wife and children are always top priority. I make time to write but I also make sure the process as a whole is enjoyable rather than a task. I see so many of my friends constantly on social media and trying different approaches to reach readers and it seems so exhausting. I understand it’s all entirely necessary but I also know my boundaries and my goals as an author. I will be a NYT Bestselling author someday, and I’m certain the right readers will help me get there regardless of how many ads I place on Facebook and Twitter.
8. Are you working on something new? Can you tell us about it?
YES! My series, Before we Fractured will wrap up early next year. I just received word from my publisher, Limitless Publishing, that edits will begin sometime in January. I’m also taking part in a thriller anthology, 13, also published by Limitless. It releases in October. And lastly, my WIP was inspired by my career as an organ recovery coordinator and extensively deals with the aftermath of teen suicide and the life-giving gift of organ donation…all wrapped up in a complicated love story with highly dysfunctional dynamics.
9. Where do your inspiration and ideas come from?
I’m inspired by reality. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to read about zombies, vampires and apocalyptic scenarios, but when I sit in front of my PC or when I’m jotting notes, it’s because I’m inspired by life…emotion…and people.
Recently a dear friend and I decided we would give a shot at collaborating on an NA fantasy work. I’m excited to start actually working on the project, but my enthusiasm is for the character and plot development and building the emotion of the story, not because it’s a fantasy.
10. What is your advice for aspiring authors?
Be persistent. If it happens overnight, great, but chances are it’s going to take some time and that’s okay.
There are SO many nasty, hateful people in the industry just aching for you to give them the time of day…don’t. If you can’t take something constructive from their criticism then dust it off. Be confident in your ability to tell your story. I read so many FB posts from author friends with hurt feelings over hurtful comments. Please focus on the positive and absorb as much feedback and advice from peers as possible. Remember, there are SO many awesome and motivational people in the industry too. Use their encouragement as a resource.
Be true to yourself. If you have a certain style…your style…and it’s something that you’re proud of, then stick to it. I recently had a new editor attempt to critique my style. Beyond her grammatical corrections, I found the majority of her suggestions subjective and felt they would have dumbed the story down quite a bit. I had no problem telling her no. It’s your story.
Have fun! Writing should be fun. There are so many rules, so no one is going to notice if you break a few on occasion if it benefits your story;) But seriously, if it’s not fun then it’s not worth it, so find that happy balance.
- Anything to add before you go?
Just a quick thank you to anyone reading this. I’m sure there’s something much more interesting out there. Thank you for the support!
Bradon Nave was born and raised in rural Oklahoma. He attended a small country school during junior high and high school, and graduated with only three people in his class. After graduate school, he decided to devote his spare time to his passion of writing.Bradon currently lives in Piedmont, Oklahoma, with his wife and two young children.
When he’s not writing, he loves running, being with friends and family, and being outdoors.
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