March 15, 2017
Hi there. I’m Cy Blanca, and I have no idea what I’m doing. But before we get into that, I must extend a huge thank-you to the Dreamspinner Press family. Thank you for taking a chance on me. When I say I have no idea what I’m doing, that’s 64089% the truth. I’ve spent all my adult writing life (that is post high school) writing editorials and reviews for other people. Fiction is new territory for me, and for DSP to give me a chance really means so much. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Now with all the gushy stuff out of the way….
Seeing as this is a house that publishes stories of m/m love, I wanted to write about something we can all relate to on at least living vicariously through these characters: romance. I’m not going to wax philosophical (though this early in the morning I’m sure I could come up with some things to say that are both overblown and somewhat space-age-y, but let’s not). What I really want to focus on is the ways in which romance manifest themselves in this story, what it means to my two characters—because romance is probably the main reason why their relationship has worked for so long.
Curtis Ramírez is a poet. Period. His love of words is more than just an appreciation for language. It suffuses everything he does, everything he says. Words have become stitched into his DNA. Just breathing, walking, tasting is poetry. There’s no greater expression of that poetry than when he’s around his lover, Antony James. Antony has a less abstract approach to life, but romance is no less part of his character. He’s brash and unshy, but there’s a softness to him that speaks to Curt, an intangible silkiness that forces Curt to act.
When I was writing these two characters, I put so much of who I am into their creation. I’m more Curt than Antony, what with his love affair with language and his affinity for all things pretty and decadent. However, Antony and I both share a love of really good food and soft kisses, and we both need to feel reassured that they’re safe with the people around them from time to time. Both men are fiercely protective of each other and the people they care about. With that in mind, I had to set about creating a romance that was believable but maybe just a little bit fantastic in scope.
I draw much of my inspiration from music. In fact, most everything I write has a melody in it, something that physically moved me and gave me the emotional weight I needed for each scene. Considering just how in love the two of them are with each other, the music I listened to had to evoke this sense of abundant romance. There was a lot of D’Angelo, Van Hunt, and as I referenced in the story itself, Najubes. All of these artists in their own way know how to bring out the sensuality in the very air they breathe. Scenes that were playful and flirtatious had hints of Amel Larrieux and Van Hunt, while the rawer, more sexual situations were Maxwell, Nujabes, and Anderson .Paak. I wonder what everyone else listens to to create that candlelight and champagne mood between their boys—or with their own significant others. One can never have too much baby-makin’ music.
As much as I wanted the physical feel of my story to come from music, the more tender moments I drew on my experience in college. I got my degree in English writing with a focus on poetry. I can’t even hide it. Curt is most definitely a product of my experiences, while Antony is sort of an augmentation of my personality—maybe bordering on id territory….
When it came to fleshing out a story between them, it all started with a scene. I knew my guys were going to be completely involved with each other. With that—especially in a school setting—comes certain… complications. They want and need to be around each other, especially Curt—he is a poet after all. That idea, the image of needing a moment to reconnect physically, was the first image in my head when I decided to write about my birthplace, Topeka, KS. From there the story of these two men came to me.
Two gorgeous black men in love and incapable of hiding it. Oh, the places they went in my head before I settled where they finally went (not too far, in the end. They are teachers at a primary school after all). That makes me wonder, where are some of the most interesting places people have become… needy? You know, that tense feeling where you just need to touch something? Mine is fairly innocuous, I’m afraid—a friend’s bedroom while there was a party going on in the living room…
But, hey, we can’t all be as adventurous as Curt and Antony, right?
Thank you all for letting me blather on. Thank you again to the amazing DSP family. You all have just made my first experience with a published piece of work so memorable and really fun!
If you’d like to get in touch with me, see exactly how nuts I am:
K-music Twitter: @mindlesscy (if you want to spazz about Korean music with me)
Check out A Teacher and a Poet today!
Shawnee County, Kansas, might not be the most accepting place for a gay couple, but boyfriends Antony James and Curtis Ramírez have made it their home. Both of them work at Pauline Central Primary School, and while Antony is content teaching, Curt would rather pursue his passion: poetry. He plans to resign, but he doesn’t get the chance.
Working together has its risks, and when a student witnesses Antony and Curt sneaking a kiss in the workroom, they’re reprimanded. The school board’s punishment is mild, but some members of the community aren’t willing to let the indiscretion go. That small mistake could cost Antony and Curt their home—or it could remind them that home is in the heart, and as long as they stay strong in their love, they’ll always have a place to belong.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
Cy Blanca has enjoyed words since she was in elementary school. They hold magic powers for her, and she loves playing with them to see just what they can do. She got her degree in English poetry, but she’s been doing mostly editorial work for online magazines YAM Magazine, Rock ’N Seoul, and SeoulBeats (yeah… she loves Korean music and gets to interview folks and write about it). She’s exceptionally blessed to actually be able to do exactly what she went to school for, and fiction is a new avenue she’s trying to explore. Hopefully she can make some magic happen with the words she’s been in love with since she was in elementary school.
She’d love to hear from people who want to know a bit more about her, or just want to become homies.