Semi-autobiographical novel explores nuances of mental health, addiction, and suicide
MONTPELIER, VT – Teaching Excellence Award recipient, Gail Marlene Schwartz, gracefully navigates difficult topics in her sapphic, Jewish adult novel “Falling Through the Night” (Demeter Press, Feb. 25th, 2024). Inspired by Schwartz’s personal experiences (immigration, anxiety, and a close friend’s suicide), “Falling Through the Night” is a romantic, funny coming-of-age story that explores the complicated journey of healing trauma and learning how to love.
Audrey Meyerwitz, an introverted 30-something adoptee with anxiety, wants nothing more than to fall in love and create a healthy family, but the path to romance isn’t simple. Audrey’s life has been packed with sleepless nights, psychiatrists, and a string of nightmare ex-girlfriends. Determined to ensure that her future is a step in a healthier direction, Audrey lets her best friend Jessica, a recovering alcoholic, sign her up for a queer online dating app. What ensues is Audrey’s scary first step toward her lifelong dream: a strong, loving family.
When Audrey falls for Denise, a French Canadian from Montreal, she finds herself immigrating to Canada and building a new life in Quebec, where she finds community in a collection of queer friends and, eventually, embarks on her dream of starting a family. But when she unearths a secret about her adoptive mother, she must re-evaluate everything she understood about her place in the world.
Funny, honest, and profound, “Falling Through the Night” is a stirring story about cultivating healthy love from profound alienation: accepting both gains and losses, taking off the blinders of fantasy, and embracing the messiness that defines human nature and imperfect families.
Advanced praise for “Falling Through the Night”
“Falling Through the Night” is a breathtaking debut novel. Audrey is thoroughly relatable as a person dealing with mental health issues who is also full of talent, courage, creativity, and love. A page turner, the book engaged me as both a human with my own struggles but also as a therapist who understands the complexities of early childhood trauma and all the pain involved in healing. Audrey’s immigration to Quebec was a wonderful opportunity to experience that culture and the particularities of a young queer artist fumbling and learning as she adapts. A wonderful portrayal of a woman doing the personal work we all need to do to grow. Inspiring, engaging, and ultimately incredibly hopeful.”
–Glo Harris, therapist and corporate coach
“The winning combination of Schwartz’s beautifully crafted prose and attention to detail allows the reader to journey with Audrey across two countries in her quest for a new family and a better life. “Falling Through the Night” shines a light on the ups and downs of anxiety disorder, and spins a story where the LGBTQ protagonist learns to recognize and accept herself, but so does everyone else.”
–Lori Shwydky, Publisher, Rebel Mountain Press
“Falling Through the Night” is a moving look at the ways in which anxiety and family issues intersect. The book is one part magical romance and two parts unflinching account of a queer woman’s messy journey. Audrey’s path is to create a healthy family despite and because of a past shaped by lies and haunted by a mother she never knew. The book could be described as a page-turning beach read, as we are privy to the whirlwind, sweet, and romantic lesbian love story at the heart of this book. But [“Falling Through the Night”] is so much more than that—it is also a deep dive into family, friendship, addiction, and mental health, at times leaving the reader breathless with all the complexity and beauty that is life.”
–Dr. Jennifer Marlow, author and Professor of English, College of St. Rose
“Falling Through The Night”
Gail Marlene Schwartz | February 25, 2024 | Demeter Press | Women’s Fiction & LGBTQ+
Paperback | 978-1-77258-486-8 | $22.95
EBook | ISBN | $11.95
Gail Marlene Schwartz is a dual citizen, a relationship artist, and an above-average pianist. She is co-author of the books My Sister’s Girlfriend and The Loudest Bark (Rebel Mountain Press) and co-editor of the forthcoming essay collection, Boyhood Reimagined: Stories of Queer Moms Raising Sons (Motina Books). She is a founding editor of Hotch Potch Literature and Art, a collaborative online magazine, and also a freelance editor, writing coach, and writing instructor at the Community College of Vermont. Gail lives in Montpelier, Vermont with her partner, Erin; she spends every other weekend in Montreal with her best friend, Lucie, and their teenage son, Alexi. You can read more about her at gailmarleneschwartz.com.
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In an interview, Gail Marlene Schwartz can discuss:
- Her personal journey with mental health, anxiety, and losing a friend to suicide
- How Audrey’s story takes inspiration from Gail’s own relationship with her ex and her experience with immigration
- Gail’s reflections on how to cope with tumultuous familial relationships
- The ways in which classification and labeling of mental illnesses can be helpful and harmful, respectively
- The importance of chosen family and how the LGBTQ+ community as a whole has redefined what it means to create your family
- The positive impacts of having more LGBTQ+ representation in popular media
- The complex decision to put a child up for adoption or to adopt a child, and the trauma and joy that can come with those decisions
An Interview with
Gail Marlene Schwartz
1. You’ve previously mentioned that this book is semi-autobiographical. What parts of your experiences have you woven into your main character, Audrey? Where do you and Audrey differ?
Like Audrey, I’m an anxiety sufferer; I also fell in love with a woman from Montreal and immigrated. I had a twin pregnancy and one twin had Down Syndrome, and he went home with an adoptive family. But unlike me, Audrey is adopted with a terrific relationship with her mom, and she grew up with a psychiatric disability and identity. She’s an introvert and a visual artist, and had a lot more support in her childhood than I did.
2. This book heavily discusses mental health, specifically anxiety. What do you see as the most important thing in understanding anxiety?
My anxiety connects me with unmet needs; it’s a signal to stop and tune in and attend to myself. Only when I stopped seeing it as a disease and something to be gotten rid of did I actually begin to work with it and to heal. I also believe that cultural, political, social, environmental, and economic alienation can play a huge role in anxiety. I don’t see it as a personal problem, even if it’s an intensely personal experience.
3. Why is the chosen family such an important theme in this novel, specifically from a queer lens?
Family is the oldest and strongest mainstream social structure that we have in the U.S., and when we aren’t partnered or close to our families of origin, life can be very lonely. Chosen family was my salvation. Not only did I find people who loved me for myself, but those same people helped teach me new and healthier ways of being in relationship. Chosen family is how and why I grew up. Most straight people I know don’t consider crafting social alternatives when partnership or biological family fails; it’s a beautiful phenomenon LGBTQ people have to share.
4. Why did you choose to write a novel discussing more difficult topics such as mental health, addiction, and suicide?
My artistic practice is about going into the deepest truths of human experience, especially the difficult ones that are hard to talk about. I’m interested in how artists can shift calcified and outdated ways of understanding social problems through storytelling. These are also my experiences, and it’s a joy to create something out of struggle because it helps me feel like the hardship had meaning; what I lived serves my readers and their journeys.
5. What do you hope readers will take away from your work?
I want readers to know that even “successful” people who publish books can be a mess. I want them to walk away with hope that these struggles don’t have to mean failure, that hard stuff can be woven into the meaning and work of their lives. I want readers to laugh at the funny parts and feel uplifted. I want the book to be a mirror for their courage and the courage of those close to them. If my work is a tiny part of changing the conversation about mental health, I will die a happy woman.
A former award-winning journalist with national exposure, Marissa now oversees the day-to-day operation of the Books Forward author branding and book marketing firm, along with our indie publishing support sister company Books Fluent.
Born and bred in Louisiana, currently living in New Orleans, she has lived and developed a strong base for our company and authors in Chicago and Nashville. Her journalism work has appeared in USA Today, National Geographic and other major publications. She is now interviewed by media on best practices for book marketing.