Haunted by the last question their mother ever asked them, the Greyson brothers struggle to cope with their grief and adjust to life after tragedy.
Semi-popular sixteen-year-old Liam spends his nights performing as the lead singer of his high school indie alternative/rock band, Liam and the Landmarks. But something happened to Liam four years ago at his friend’s house – a secret Liam will take to his grave. But in small towns like Summit, Colorado, secrets always seem to find their way out.
Twenty-four-year-old Ezra thought that he could cure his grief when he left Summit behind for a prestigious art school in Chicago, but things only got worse. Now a college dropout working at a gas station mini mart, he turns to alcohol, prescription painkillers, and meaningless one-night stands. But Ezra can’t run forever – life always catches up with you.
With abrasively honest dual-perspective narratives, Every Bright and Broken Thing illustrates the unbreakable bond between brothers and the power in coming home.
DJS: Your novels are contemporary and gritty. What drives you to write about the issues you do?
BMcB: Some of it is personal experience; a lot of the issues I write about are things that myself or others I know have faced. Depression, self-harm, mental illness, sexual abuse and assault, domestic violence, addiction, etc…
But some of it is also that there’s a severe lack in the YA market – specifically the Christian YA market – of stories that deal with these things. I can’t name even five Christian YA Contemporary novels that could be comparable to, say, the stories John Green, Amber Smith, or Stephen Chbosky write. The Christian Fiction industry seems to think YA Fantasy novels are the only kind worth publishing. I disagree. I doubt I can fill this gap completely by myself, but maybe I can encourage other Christian authors of YA Contemporary to share their stories, too – THEN we’ll fill the gap!
DJS: What has been the most gratifying about writing realistic Christian fiction for young people?
BMcB: Hearing the stories of how my books have given people a new view of themselves, of the value of life, of faith and hope, and most importantly of Jesus. Hearing all those stories has been the highlight of this experience.
DJS: Liam and Ezra go through some pretty harrowing times before they begin their healing journey in Every Bright and Broken Thing. Will you write any more of their story?
BMcB: I don’t have any new stories simmering for Liam and Ezra right now. But I have a short story or novella I may or may not be planning to carry on Lincoln’s story. But anything is possible. If a good idea comes, I won’t say no to revisiting my boys in Summit.
DJS: Every Bright and Broken Thing is the story of two brothers dealing with loss and how they react. In a few sentences, what would you say to those who want to support families going through grief?
BMcB: Hold onto them and don’t let go. I remember a time when I was far away from the Lord and was getting into some bad stuff, but my parents refused to let go. Some parents will kind of back off and say, “oh, well they’re adults now. They have to make their own choices.” But my parents weren’t about to let me go. They held on for months and months. I literally would not be alive today if it weren’t for the fierce, fighting kind of love my parents have for me.
In Every Bright, we see Mr. Greyson grapple with his own suffering and even come to realize how he allowed his grief to cause him to not hold onto his sons like he should. Mr. Greyson had to determine once again that he was going to hold onto his boys. In that, we see a father who was broken become strong again.
So, if you know someone who is suffering, hold on and don’t let go. Sometimes that means telling them the hard truth. Sometimes that just means listening and letting them cry on your shoulder. Whatever the case, hold on and don’t let go.
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today, Brian. Keep writing. I expect great things to come from your work.