David Jackson Ambrose, Larry Benjamin, and Stephanie Heck

Saturday, September 3rd 2022

5:30 PM

Join us for a very special evening with three local luminaries! We’re celebrating David Jackson Ambrose’s new novel, Unlawful DISorder and Benjamin’s Lambda Literary award-winning Excellent Sons. David Jackson Ambrose and Larry Benjamin will be discussing their work with facilitator/MC Stephanie Heck. It’s going to be a special night!

Saturday, September 3rd

6 PM

Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room

345 S. 12th Street

About Unlawful DISOrder

Bowie Long has been in treatment for his mental health disorder since he was eighteen years old.  But the experts can’t give him a diagnosis.  Is it bipolar disorder?  Or schizophrenia?  Or maybe it’s schizo-affective disorder.  He also has a gambling compulsion.  But when he encounters the police, his fate moves beyond the control of treatment facilities and into the hands of the prison industrial complex, which eats the Black and the mentally ill, overcrowding American prison cells with bodies they are ill equipped to handle.

Once Bowie’s actions are perceived as criminal, he no longer has the right to choose his own treatment.

Along the way, Bowie explores a relationship with another Black man who encourages him to question a system that refuses to listen to him when he claims his medical regimen is causing adverse effects and who encourages him to find his own voice, free from the stigma of mental illness. But he faces another barrier: the shimmer that follows him and whispers vile things.  Is this shimmer real, or is it a manifestation of his chemically altered mind?

Kirkus: “Bowie is a memorable protagonist, and Ambrose elegantly brings this sympathetic and deeply troubled man to life. Magdalene is a brilliant villain, whom the author portrays as just as psychologically complex as her son….a breathless read, effectively capturing the messiness of mental health and the maddening bureaucracy of the system in place to treat mental illness. It also demonstrates how traumas and living conditions can exacerbate one another”
ABOUT Excellent SonsWinner of the 34th Lambda Literary Award (Gay Romance). Tristan and Max are a pair of Asian-American high school students who find themselves unexpectedly in love in post-Columbine America.
Tristan works to balance what it means to be an excellent son, with its prescribed expectations and attendant demands, with his growing desire for independence and his deepening feelings for Max. While Max, after years of hopelessness, feels himself come alive at Tristan’s touch, he tries desperately to forge a path forward that centers his identity and allows him to fully express his feelings for Tristan.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
David Jackson Ambrose has an MFA in Creative Writing from Temple University, an MA in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph’s University, and a BA in Africana Studies from The University of Pennsylvania. His debut novel, State of the Nation, was a 2018 Lambda Literary
Award finalist in the Gay Fiction category. His second novel, A Blind Eye (NineStar Press) was named by Lambda Literary as one of April 2021’s most anticipated books. He has over twenty years’ experience working in social services.
Stephanie Heck is a licensed psychologist in private practice in NW Philadelphia.  With over 30 years of scholarship and experience in the mental health field, Dr. Heck has a deep appreciation for human complexity and the many social systems and personal factors that shape human behavior.  She views psychotherapy as a wisdom-based, depth-oriented relational process that aims to help people to become more honest (with themselves and each other), to come to terms with their personal past, and, ultimately, to find the freedom to live a gratifying and truthful life.  In addition to her practice of psychology, Dr. Heck is an ICF-certified executive advisor on the teaching faculty of Teleos Leadership Institute. She also produces and co-hosts talk shows We’re All Crazy and The Everyday Feminist on G-town Radio 92.9FM, a community radio station in Germantown (both shows are available as podcasts on all major platforms).  She is a graduate of Vassar College (1995) and Penn State University (2003) and is the proud mother of two bright, thoughtful, socially-aware teenage sons.  You can visit her online at www.drheck.net.
Bronx-born wordsmith Larry Benjamin is the author of the gay novels Excellent Sons: A Love Story in Three Acts, which is a 2022 Lambda Literary Award winner in the Gay Romance category, and a 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist “Unbroken,” which was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist, and a 2014 IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) Gold medalist and “The Sun, the Earth & the Moon,” and “In His Eyes.” He is also the author the allegorical novella “Vampire Rising.”