With my second book, Certainly, Possibly, You coming out in just over a month (hello! here is a pre-order link, you can order it in print, eBook bundle, or both together), things are getting busy behind the scenes. Lots and lots to do, my popkins. There’s a virtual book tour coming up, I might plan a launch party, there’s baking to be done, another book to write – oh, and I have a full-time job as well.
I have been living on takeout, toast, and tinned soup, the Three Tees of Feeding Your Busy Writer. Washed down with tea, both iced and hot. I love a good alliteration, don’t you?
At any rate, the point is: book. Incoming. Rather imminently.
When I wrote Definitely, Maybe, Yours, the initial drafts (originally published as fanfic) didn’t really feature Sarita Sengupta, who in the book series is the Sucre Coeur bakery’s lead decorator. She was there, sometimes, mentioned in passing, but most of what would become her role in the book was originally the province of a character named Natasha. In the second installment of the fanfic, Sarita got a whopping four lines of dialogue, all fired off in one paragraph, right at the end of the story.
Not an auspicious start as a fictional character.
Still, the brief scene I had given her stuck in my head. I could see her so clearly – small, bird-thin, prone to excitability, dry sass, and pluck. She was a lesbian, a college student, Bengali. She had long, thick, curly hair and large, dark eyes. Before I knew what was happening, she was in my head 24/7 and I wanted her in the book series. I wanted her to be Craig’s friend, I wanted her to be a whiz-kid dessert decorator, and as time went on, I really, really wanted to give her a love story of her own. BUT.
I had never written f/f before. Ever. People think that’s a bit odd, I know, given that I am a woman with a distinct preference for women. And I do read f/f, although (now that I think about it) not terribly contemporary f/f. Still, I read it. But write? No.
It took a lot to get me started, because it felt like I was opening up a window into my own life and experiences. It’s not necessarily true that I was doing that with this book, but I think when you produce art that can reflect an aspect of your life, sometimes people believe that it is what you are doing. And certainly I had done it before, in the character of Alex from Definitely, when I gave him emotional PTSD and anxiety.
So Certainly was going to be a book that whether I liked it or not, was personal in a way that Definitely was not and could never have been. And I wasn’t sure about putting that out there.
Still, there were more pros to writing it than there were cons. I mean, for starters: I wanted to. Which was a big one. Then, there’s the fact that there’s just not as much f/f literature – romantic or otherwise – as there is m/m or m/f. And this was a happy story, two gals falling for each other, living their lives and having fun, and nobody dies. The sort of everyday queer female love story I would have loved to have read much earlier in my life. There’s drama, there’s family interaction and love, there’s work, there’s a Netflix pajama party, there’s just…everything. If I had a story like that in me, then, well, why not put it out there? Put my droplet in the bucket, as it were.
That all pretty neatly outweighed my discomfort with feeling like I was preparing to expose a part of myself to the world.
So here it is, or nearly, at least. Certainly was, in the end, a book I enjoyed writing, one that I think in many ways is very more like a rom-com than Definitely. I got to write some fun, sweet, sometimes silly, sometimes fierce ladies with strength and softness to them (ladies, plural – we’ll talk about Maritza later). I surrounded them with friends (Natasha, by the way, did after all become a presence in the books as well) and family, with work and school and dancing. They have love and complications and just, I mean. They have lives, and they live them, and they happen to be a lesbian and a bisexual woman (really – we’ll talk more about Maritza later) exploring a relationship to go along with all of that.
And it all started with four quick lines in one paragraph near the end of a fanfic.