YES! THE DAY IS FINALLY HERE!
Today, Sweetest Taboo by Eva Márquez is officially out :)
The lovely Eva has kindly provided me with a copy of her book, which I already reviewed here on the blog. You can see my full review HERE.
I'm so excited about this release because is a great book and it truely deserves an opportunity from all of you out there.
And as part of the release party I'm having on my blog I bring you a special interview with Eva and also a surprised.
Just a quick fact, Sweetest Taboo is about the relationship between a student and her teacher, there's a lot more in the story but I want you to read it. .
Today I bring you a letter from the teacher involved in this controversial subject. Tom (the teacher of the story) wrote a short letter explaining his side of the story. You should read it because is amazing :)
FIND THE BOOK:
ABOUT EVA MÁRQUEZ.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa with her young daughter.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT EVA AND HER BOOK:
ME: If you have to describe Sweetest Taboo in just one sentence what would you say?
EVA: Sweetest Taboo is a controversial story about how a teacher and student can keep their romance a secret, even under intense scrutiny, and manage to fall madly in love.
ME: Why you decided to write Sweetest Taboo? And what was your inspiration for writing it?
EVA: I grew up as an immigrant in a lower-to-middle class Southern California suburb. So I tapped into that experience in ‘Sweetest Taboo’, which chronicles the love affair between a young Hispanic schoolgirl and her much older, married teacher. I drew from my experiences growing up to develop several plot ideas. Romantic experiences are universal. Provocative, illicit and risqué contexts do not take away from the experience of love, and that’s what this debut book sets out to communicate.
I was also intrigued by the news of one of my former teachers being convicted of [sexual] misconduct with a minor. Since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by similar stories making the news, but like many people, wondered about how these relationships originate and how they flourish under the radar. In Sweetest Taboo, I got to unravel one of these clandestine relationships, one exciting page at a time.
ME: How long did it take you to write Sweetest Taboo?
EVA: Once I outlined the story, which took me about two weeks, I dedicated all of my free to time to writing. All in all, Sweetest Taboo took me approximately 6 months to write. Keep in mind, though, that I was working full-time and living in Nigeria at the time, so I dedicated evenings and weekends to the book. I must admit that the writing of the book was the easy part, whereas the editing was the more complicated and time-consuming aspect. It took me years to massage the original draft to a point where I was comfortable sharing it with an editor for professional editing.
ME: Did you ever feel uncomfortable with the controversies in your book as you were writing and developing the plots?
EVA: Not at all! Some of the best books I have read, and those I have enjoyed the most, are fiction BUT they delve into controversial topics (i.e. arranged marriages, under-age ‘selling’ of girls, sex work, homosexuality, child abuse, etc.). Perhaps I am most intrigued by controversial topics because of the controversy around them and the strong opinions that we see in the news, on television and on social media outlets. For instance, this whole ‘Chick Fil-A’ issue and homosexuality is very intriguing because people have strong opinions about it.
What I enjoy the most, is understanding more about the social act that is considered ‘controversial’ and understanding it as a cultural or human condition or learning why that ‘act’ exists in our society, or how it unfolds. That is exactly what I tried to do with ‘Sweetest Taboo’. I wanted to delve deeply into a controversial topic we have seen on the news quite a bit and that hit close to home in my high school (years after I graduated) and unearth just how these relationships can develop, how they can blossom into something beautiful in the face of such opposition and scrutiny. In ‘Sweetest Taboo’, I made every attempt to present the perspective of a young teen completely ‘in crush’ with her coach and develop that relationship as I sincerely believed it had the potential to unfold. I never felt uncomfortable about the direction in which the story was taking, especially since I was working off of a very detailed and pre-conceived outline.
ME: Do you believe that true love could exist in this type of situation?
EVA: Some people may not think 'true love' is possible or even sustainable for any amount of time, regardless of who is involved. I, however, believe that it really depends on the individuals who are in the relationship. Things such as age, maturity, communication skills, combined with trust play a huge part in any relationship, and I suspect that maturity and communication really are the key ingredients. There have been a few stories in the news regarding student/teacher relationships that have appeared to be based on true love, as sordid as the circumstances may have been. The LeTourneau case comes to mind, a woman who was impregnated by one of her sixth grade students, went to prison for seven years, and maintained an emotional relationship with the boy until she was released from prison, only to marry him years later and have a second child!
I would imagine the problem with sustaining a relationship of this type is the secrecy involved. The teacher could never speak of it to anyone for fear of arrest and incarceration, how terrible that must feel to have a secret such as this, never to be able to share his or her love with anyone. Then there is the student who would most likely confide in someone they thought they could trust with their secret. Once that happens, and I am sure this is how most relationships of this type are exposed...the cat is out of the bag. The relationships that are exposed turn into media events where the teacher is usually prosecuted and the student is portrayed as a victim, regardless of age or circumstance. I realize these relationships are illegal and uncommon, but I do believe some could work if they are truly based on love and mutual respect.
ME: Your bio includes extensive travel. Have you witnessed similar situations in other countries that contributed to your book?
EVA: Yes and no. Every country is completely different and I can’t make a blanket statement about my travels. But, I have lived in countries where it was customary for an uncle or older relative to deflower his niece/s as they came of age; another country where grown men raped infants because they thought they would be cured of AIDS; and places where young girls have at least one or two ‘sugar daddies’ who serve to support their material needs (i.e. school fees, books, supplies, clothing, food and shelter, etc.). Some of Isabel’s maturity and level-headedness was inspired by young women I met in places like Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho. Although the story is strictly about a Hispanic teenager in a Los Angeles suburb, there are elements interwoven in the story that were inspired by my international travel and experiences.
ME: Have you ever had a crush on a teacher?
EVA: all throughout high school I harbored not-so-secret crushes on several of my male teachers. Although I know it would be totally wrong, and I would have never had the courage to pursue any of them, it would have been exhilarating to have been able to kiss one of them.
ME: Do you know someone who had an affair with a teacher?
EVA: Yes and no. I know of people in my high school who were seeing some of the teachers at school. In fact, one of them actually married one of our teachers after she graduated! However, I did not ‘know’ them as friends or acquaintances, rather, I knew of them, knew who they were, and heard the rumors. The only one story that can be somewhat verified is of the girl who married one of our teachers after graduating. As for the others, they were rumors and I will likely never know if there was any truth to those rumors.
ME: What do you want readers to know about your books/s and writing?
EVA: Because my books deal with controversial topics, cross and intersect genres and do not fit into neat little boxes, I ask my readers to be prepared for the journey. My novels are not for everyone and those who are disturbed and bothered by stories that push the envelope or challenge societal norms would likely not find my literary work appealing. So in essence, this is a bit of a warning to potential readers and/or followers. I do not intend on writing for all audiences, as that is almost impossible to do. What I can and have committed myself to doing is writing about what I know, writing about my own contexts, environments and experiences and pushing those to the limits to create controversial stories that inspire people to perhaps think out of the box.
To my future readers and followers I also say, thank you! For every reader and follower I have, I am that much more enthused to write and develop characters that challenge our existing comfort levels and perceptions. I would also ask any future readers or followers to contact me if they have any questions about anything I have written, or about my future work. Many of my ideas for character development and plots come from discussions I have with friends, colleagues or people I’ve met casually at a lounge, bar or book store!
ME: What can you tell us about the next book? What is going to be about?
EVA: Although Sweetest Taboo was intended to be a stand-alone novel, I realized that there was so much more to tell. Tainted Love is the sequel to Sweetest Taboo, which will be released on March 5, 2013. I’m busy finalizing Tainted Love, which is Book 2 of the Sweetest Taboo Saga. In a few weeks I will seek input from readers by way of polls/contests that will inform the final cover art for Tainted Love and a lucky winner will also have the privilege of naming one of the main characters in Book 2. Readers can expect to pick up where they left off and find out what happened to Isabel and Tom’s relationship. Complex and somewhat disturbing revelations, controversy, and definitely some tears are in store for readers!
Thanks Eva for such a wonderful interview!
Letter for readers from TOM STEVENS.
I suppose many of you might have comments or even unanswered questions that you would like to ask me, given the opportunity to do so. With that said, I would like to take this brief moment in time to at least try to partly explain “my side of the story”, and what my thoughts were as to the decisions I made so many years ago.
I would like to start by saying, you don’t always have a choice with whom you truly fall in love with. For those of you who would like to argue the point, well, all I can say is…have you really ever been in LOVE? I am not talking infatuation, dependency, or that you have been with someone for such a long time you are “used” to them and you wouldn’t know how to live without them in your life. I am talking about the type of love that you KNOW, that you FEEL in every fiber of your soul, a feeling of comfort, of being “at home” in the arms of that person, knowing if you never saw them again, you would continue to love them unconditionally with all of your heart for the rest of your life? This is how I felt about Isabel, don’t ask me why…because I can not explain, it is just how it was, how it is, and how I feel.
The first time I saw Isabel from afar, I felt a connection. I don’t know why I should have felt anything at all, as she was just one of thousands of students I have seen on campus over the years. But there was something there, I know, you may be saying “but she was only 15”. I didn’t look at Isabel as an “age” or anything else, I just felt a connection of some sort…it was that simple. I didn’t see her until the following year on the swim team, where as you have read, I got to know her quite well. I NEVER set out to seduce her; it was quite the opposite as she flirted and made relentless advances by being near me every chance she could. Eventually things happened (against my better judgment I might add) as we got to know each other, as we fell in love with each other, and as we dreamed of a life together.
I will always say that Isabel was never a “school girl”, she was never an “age”, and she was never anyone I pursued. She just appeared in my life at that particular moment in time, and while the relationship that developed between us was strong, it only became stronger as time went on. To you, the reader, know that I love Isabel with all of my heart, with all of my soul, and with every fiber of my being. It can and will never be any other way for me. This I know.
~ Tom Stevens