Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Taboo Tens Day Seven: C. Zampa!

Greetings readers! Welcome to another guest interview here at Michael's. I am pleased to have C.Zampa on the blog today. A new friend of mine and awesome writer!

I'm really looking forward to reading the book at right, Candy G. Please enjoy the virtual sit down and excerpt/blurb at the end!


MM: How long have you been writing?

CZ: Seriously writing, about three years.

MM: What made you decide that you wanted to put yourself out there to publish?

CZ: Vanity. Not really, just kidding. To be honest, it never did occur to me that I could be published. Friends pushed me.

MM: Before you started, had you done any fanfiction? If so, what fandom?

CZ: Oh, this is so embarrassing. Yes, I did. In high school (you didn’t know fanfiction went back so far, did you?), a pal of mine and I wrote romances with The Monkees and Dark Shadows characters. A few years ago, though, I tried it again, with a combo of Russell Crowe and Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs), and another writing pal and I penned romances together using Rudolph Valentino.

MM: Are you in agreement that writing fanfiction is a great way to practice ones craft, why or why not?

CZ: Oh, yes. Some people with the writing bug might never take that first step if not for being able to write their fantasies and scenarios of stars and fiction heroes.

MM: What is your favorite subgenre to write?

CZ: Noir.

MM: Is there one that you haven’t tried that you see yourself doing in the future?

CZ: Oh, yes! I want to do a shapeshifter story.

MM: Would you ever write a hetero romance? Why or why not?

CZ: Yes, most certainly. Because I am hetero and, although I love m/m romance passionately, I also relish writing about romance between men and women. I see a little snobbery out there among a few m/m writers toward m/m authors who DO write het as well. Romance is romance in my eyes. It does not discriminate.

MM: What is your opinion on the “chicks with dicks” analogy? In your opinion, is it wrong for your males to be emotional or romantic?

CZ: I have no problem at all with “chicks with dicks”. I do NOT like the term itself, but, on the same token, I adore the men who the term refers to, if that makes sense. Hey, in real life, many real men DO cry. So why not in fiction? Characters just have to be who they are. The hero of my book cries often. I think a reader fondly referred to him as Alpha/Beta.

MM: Your first published book?

CZ: Candy G.

MM: I’m of the opinion that erotica doesn’t have to be real all the time to make a good story, what are your thoughts?

CZ: I agree with you totally! Part of the pure joy of erotica in the first place, in my mind, is that it IS a good deal of fantasy, not realism.

MM: Who are the authors that you look up to?

CZ: Oh, wow. That is a tough one. There are so many. Tops for me are James Ellroy, running neck and neck with Mary Renault. Two opposite ends of the spectrum, but still.

MM: What books are you reading at the moment? Its okay to give a fellow author a plug!

CZ: I just finished Match Maker by Alan Chin (fabulous book), and I’m reading The Persian Boy by Mary Renault.

MM: What are you working on now?

CZ: That I’m keeping that close to the vest. It IS m/m, though.

MM: When creating your characters, do you have models in mind or are they totally fictional?

CZ: For Candy G, I did have models in mind. Candy was the Hispanic actor, Eduardo Yanez, as far as looks. But his persona was patterned after a co-worker whom I’ve known for a long time. In my current WIP, the main hero is a vague vision in my head, a ‘feeling’ more so than a ‘look’. Does that even make sense?

MM: If you write gay romance or erotica, just how descriptive are your in their sex scenes?

CZ: In Candy G, they are pretty descriptive; but I hope I’ve done them delicately enough to not be ‘in-your-face’ graphics, but sensual. I’m not sure I’d normally paint a sex scene explicitly, but the character is a man who uses sex as an expression of everything—happiness, sadness, anger, confusion. So, for him, the more descriptive scenes seemed to fit. To me, sex is sublime, it’s a gift of nature to people to share love, not only to pro-create. And it troubles me to see some who feel it has no place in a romance novel. How it CANNOT have a place in romance writing is my question.

MM: As a gay fiction writer, do you feel that the trend is changing where it is becoming more mainstream?

CZ: I think it is becoming more popular, but it irritates me that it is still so isolated, especially in books stores. Because some of the writers of gay fiction are masters in talent, and their stories are as good—often better—than much of mainstream fiction.

MM: What is your opinion as to why publishers only want to group all manlove stories under erotica? Do you feel this is a hindrance to our genre?

CZ: That is a good question, and I have no idea why they want to group it so. For one thing, ‘erotica’ implies sex. And I’ve seen many, many m/m novels which include NO sex, yet are still tossed into the ‘erotica’ category. I’m going to pretend that it’s not still a hold-over to archaic thoughts that same-sex relationships are immoral. But manlove fiction seems to be on the increase in reader interest, so hopefully the categorization is becoming less and less of an obstacle. And my wish is that, in time, it WILL be considered mainstream. Which, after all, it really is.

MM: Do you think it’s time for publishers to begin calling gay fiction/erotica what it is instead of m/m? Why or why not?

CZ: I, personally, don’t have trouble with it being called ‘m/m’. Technically, that is what it is. And ‘gay fiction’ is fine, too. But to lump it all in as erotica is still a mystery to me.

MM: Recently, a writer sabotaged her career by answering a bad review on a blog. How would you have handled this and do you think authors should answer their reviews?

CZ: It depends. To answer a review argumentatively…NO. Just…no. A ‘thank you’ is fine, I think, and lets the reviewer know that the author DID see the review, a courtesy for the time it took to read the book and do the review. But I would never challenge a review. Oh, I wanted badly to do just that—to defend myself in a particular review—but, no matter how badly I wanted to vindicate myself, I would never fight back at a review.

MM: As a fellow fem in the genre, what is your stance on the difference between male and female gay writers?

CZ: Just as in any genre, I think there are excellent female writers of gay fiction as well as male writers. I do think, however, there are some female gay fiction authors who write the genre because they want to be on the trendy bandwagon. I read a comment once by a female author who said she was going to ‘dabble’ in m/m fiction. I don’t know why, but I resented that. It sounded like a ‘whim’, and I did not like the whimsical approach to the genre.

MM: What are your thoughts on the fact that some gay male writers discriminate against women?

CZ: Speaking of my own experience, I’ve met with nothing but respect from the gay male writers I know. But, for those who do discriminate? I think, as more female gay fiction authors prove they can handle the genre with respect—that they have chosen to write it because they love it—that slight tide of discrimination might ebb.

MM: What is the major difference between male and female writers?

CZ: Males have cocks, females have boobs. That’s about it. LOL. Can I say that? But, seriously, I’ve seen some writers whose writing indistinguishable between female and male. I know they say women are more emotional writers, but I see just as many men who are, too.

MM: Great answer! I read a blog about gay fiction writer’s losing their imagination because they are writing the same subjects repeatedly, what are your thoughts? http//www.reviewsbyjessewave.com/?p=42883

CZ: Well, I hate to say it, but there may be some truth to that. Many of the themes DO seem to ring repetitive. I’d rather not state WHICH subjects, as it would sound critical. And who knows? I may, one day, just use a tried-and-true subject myself.

MM: What is it about gay fiction and or romance that pleasures you to write it?

CZ: I’ve been asking myself that for a long time. And I don’t really know that I can put my finger on it. All I know is that I’d written a het novel which featured two gay males as secondary characters. The more I wrote them, the more I loved them, and I found myself aroused by their interaction. More on a sensual level than strictly sex. Something about the intimacy between to men is so natural. I took the two gay characters and began a story for them, and have been writing m/m ever since.

Fun questions pick at least 3
MM: Name one celeb that you wish was gay and why?

CZ: Thyago Alves, from the Italian film, David’s Birthday. He was gay in this film, so beautiful, and I’d to imagine he really was, as his scenes with the other man were so sensual.
MM: Name two male celebs that you’d like to see in a hot make out session?

CZ: Oh, I love this question! It would have to be my idol, Alessandro Gassman, and the previously mentioned Thyago Alves.

MM: Your favorite gay tv show or movie?

CZ: His Secret Life.

MM: Do you feel that celebs who are gay or bi should come out the closet?

CZ: It’s their lives, their decisions.

MM: For the men in your books, commando or underwear?

CZ: Candy? Commando.

MM: Favorite character in one of your books?

CZ: In a WIP, Enrico DiPaolo.

MM: The character you identify with?

CZ: Candy G. In fact, someone even told me, after reading him, that they could see I obviously have a little ‘badness’ in me. And I do, it’s just repressed and rarely obvious to anyone.
Candy Gonzalez, attorney for the most dangerous drug lord in San Antonio, is dubbed Mas Chignon (the baddest) by the community when he walks away from the infamous crook. But those closest to Candy know the formidable lawyer is really an old fashioned romantic with a poetic soul, whose glock shares the glove compartment with his boyhood teddy bear. When he crosses paths with gorgeous, street-wise Carlos Alvarez, Candy is sure he’s met his ideal man, and the revered Mas Chignon is brought to his lovesick knees.
Drawn to the enigmatic Candy’s’ good looks and power, Carlos becomes the attorney’s lover and falls for the beautiful, gentle man behind the Mas Chignon persona. Both men harbor secrets—Candy’s past and Carlos’ present. When their truths are revealed, the one tie that binds them could be the test that strengthens their love or the knife that severs it.
Even amidst the crowded nightlife on the riverwalk, people trained admiring gazes on Carlos. How could they not? Clad—much dressier than usual—in white linen pants and a black silk shirt that highlighted his glistening platinum hair, he was stunning. In a rare act of grudging capitulation, only to make me happy, he’d allowed me to buy the outfit, and I’d chosen well.
His extraordinary appearance combined with the romantic atmosphere—twinkling lights and mariachi music wafting on the gentle evening breeze—brought a swell to my chest, not to mention my cock. I, like the admiring passersby, couldn’t take my eyes from him. My Carlos, an elegant, dark panther prowling the San Antonio night scene.
The last time I’d been to the riverwalk had been with Jorge. Remembering that had been the night Carlos returned to my life, the date that marked this anniversary, the thought sparked an inward grin. Maybe Jesse was right. Maybe it was silly to celebrate the occasion. I didn’t care. I was happy.
The waiter seated us near the river’s edge, and Carlos eased into his chair, carefully placing a Walmart sack he’d been carrying on the table. He stared dreamily into the reflection of hundreds of lights dancing off the gently moving water.
I stared at Carlos.
Sensing he was being watched, he raised his gaze to me. He should have been used to my admiring him, but he blushed anyway. “You’re making me self-conscious. You know I don’t like dressing up.”
My fingers toyed along the thin line of grout between the tabletop tiles. “I’m sorry. You look very good, chico.”
He tugged at the cuff of the shirt. “All dolled up, I feel so—”
“It pleases me.” The sincerity, the pleasure in my voice surprised me. “You’re so beautiful. My heart is happy tonight, bebé.”
Apparently it touched him. A tender smile filled his eyes, and he rested his elbows on the table, propping his chin on clasped hands. “You look pretty fucking good yourself, Candy.”
“Thank you.”
“You draw so much attention wherever you go.” He glanced around the busy sidewalk, the restaurant’s multicolored lights sparkling in his dark eyes. Returning his focus to me, he said, “That makes me proud.”
“If anybody’s looking, it’s at you, mi amor.”
“Sure. Whatever.” He blushed again.
Leaning forward, I murmured, “Can you not see how beautiful you are?” Every detail of his face, his body, which I’d memorized since I’d first seen him, sent wonderful palpitations to my heart and warmth to my groin. “All day, every day, all I can see, whether you’re with me or not, is your face in my mind. And then all I can think of is touching you, making love to you. Me vuelves loco. You make me crazy.”
The smoldering brown gaze pierced me, roamed every inch of my face. “How crazy?”
Burning up under the intensity of his stare, I pulled back in the chair. “Crazy enough to think about forgetting dinner and… well…. There’s all the time in the world.”
Excitement flashed in his eyes, and he picked up the sack. “I have something for you.” He slid his hand into the bag and pulled out a CD. Holding it to his lips for a moment, he handed it to me, and the happiness in his face, so simple and boyish, melted my heart.
La Paloma. He’d bought a new La Paloma CD. Love swept through me, bringing tears to my eyes.
“Bebé.” My fingers lovingly brushed over the case. “Thank you, mi querido. After my baby-ass tantrum, breaking the other one, I don’t deserve this.”
Tucking his chin, he winked over the rim of his glass. “No, you don’t.” He paused as the waitress placed menus in our hands.
The very pretty girl, her hands clasped behind her back, rested a genial—though somewhat coy—smile on Carlos and asked what we wanted to drink. I told her two Coronas. Nodding and throwing another bold, appreciative glance at my lover, the young lady thanked us and sauntered away.
Carlos hadn’t seemed to notice the flirty employee. He picked up the conversation where he’d left off. “Like I said, you don’t deserve a new CD. But you’re the only man who’s ever played music for me when he fucked me.”
I laughed hard. “Ah, chico, I think you’re trying to be romantic. But you make me sound very pathetic.” Funny thing, though. Carlos, in sharp contrast to his streetwise persona, was the most romantic man I’d ever known. His drawings, his poetic talk, just his pure sensuality. Everything about him painted a picture of beauty, idyllic eroticism.
Fire blazed behind his wide eyes, and he lurched to touch my hand. “No. No. I… I love that you play your… song for me.”
“Thank you, then, bebé, for La Paloma.” I laid the CD on the table. “I can play it every night for you now,” I playfully threatened.
His tongue swiped, languorous, seductive, across his bottom lip. “And that means you have to fuck me every night.”
The little tease. The silky touch of his finger sent pleasure coursing through my veins like a powerful opiate. “You think you can stand being fucked every night, chico?”
A brow shot up. “I’d give it my best shot.”
The cute waitress returned to place our beers on the table and take our orders. At the sight of Carlos’s hand on mine, the sex in both our eyes, she cooled considerably as she listened to our selections. When she headed back to the interior of the restaurant, I sucked in a deep breath and pulled the jeweler’s box from my pocket.
“I have something for you, chico.” Reaching across the table, I handed the box to him. How clumsy I felt. Romance ruled my heart but never showed itself very well in my actions. I felt I was too old-world for a contemporary man such as Carlos. Just as his fingers touched the lid to open it, I blurted, “You’ll probably laugh, Carlos. It’s… it’s…. You might think it’s silly.”
Upon opening the box, his hand shot to his chest, and he swallowed hard. “Candy….”
“It is silly, isn’t it?”
“Oh, no, no.” His mouth gaped open, and he brushed a hand through his hair. Shaking his head slowly, he whispered, “It’s… it’s… a dove. It’s the most—”
“Listen, you don’t have to—”
Carlos bounded from his chair and cornered the table so fast I didn’t have time to react. With his arms wrapped around my neck, he pulled me close, and I breathed in his spicy, earthy scent.
“You like it, then?” I wanted to cry, I was so happy that he was pleased.
Pulling back, his arms still circling my neck, he sighed. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life, Candy.” His voice, so low, caressing, whispered close to my ear, “I love you so fucking much, Candelario Gonzalez. I love you so goddamn much.”
The sidewalk was crowded with customers, and they surely gawked at us, but I didn’t care. Love for Carlos gushed from my heart, and all I wanted to do, needed to do, was hold him, touch his lips. Although the thoughts that swirled in my soul were passionate and lyrical, the words that spilled from my mouth were idiotic. “So I don’t need to take it back? Well, it was custom made, and—”
“I love it, cariño.” Oblivious to curious gazes, he pressed his lips, which tasted of salty tears, to mine. “I love it so much.” He straightened and leaned back against the table.
“Then you’ll wear it for me tonight?” I rested my hand on his waist.
“I’ll wear it for you tonight.” Hunger darkened his eyes, softened his voice. “Let’s eat fast, then, so we can—”
“Nah, chico.”
“No?” He cocked his head to the side.
“Nah. I reserved a room at Mansion Del Rio.”
Excitement sparked in his eyes. “Ah.”
My sexual juices were stirring, my cock swelling, at the vision of making love to Carlos high above the river with the nightlife pulsing below us. “Would you like that?”
Squinting, he eyed me. “Can I order a banana split from room service in the middle of the night?”
How could he turn even the word banana split into an aphrodisiac? Dios, how my dick ached.
“You can order anything you want in the middle of the night.”
“Can I order you to fuck me in the middle of the night?”
“You can.” Resisting the urge to pull him onto my lap, I growled, “But by the middle of the night, mi amor, you may be begging me to stop fucking you.”
For a moment our gazes locked, and we said nothing, fucking each other with our gazes. As though coming out of a trance, he lowered to his haunches, resting his hand on the table to steady himself. “Put it in now.”
“Put… what… in now?” My mind lagged behind his, still writhing with him on an imaginary bed.
“The earring.” He reached to remove a silver stud from his earlobe. “I want you to put it on me.” Laying the discarded earring on the table, he snorted. “Sort of like getting engaged.”
“Getting engaged, eh?” I pulled the diamond dove out of the box, removed the back from the post, and bent to insert the earring. Each time I touched Carlos was like the first time, and the light stubble on his cheek, his smooth skin against my fingers, sent shivers through me. “You realize, bebé, in my old-fashioned world, that means I own you.”
As I put the earring on his lobe, he nuzzled into my hand and purred, “You already own me, Más Chingon.” His hand covered mine.
Wow! HOT! OMG, I cannot wait to read that book! I love the sensuality and the sexuality in that scene. Plus, the storyline is thick! Woohoo! Great job for C's first book.
Hope you enjoyed that very much. Go out and buy her book! ;)
We'll see you tomorrow for Wow Wednesday!
Until then...


C. Zampa said...

Thank you for having me here today! This has been such a fun, thought-provoking interview! Learned somee things about myself!

Sarah Ballance said...

Great interview, Zampa! It amazes me how much I still learn about you after years of daily interaction, LOL. CANDY G is a fantastic book - congrats again!

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Sarah! LOL! All that prodding, and the secrets just began to spill! LOL!
Thanks for visiting!

Cassie Exline said...

Excellent, thought-provoking questions and awesome answers. Enjoyed the interview.

Rawiya said...

Hey C, thx for the interview. I really enjoyed it! :) TY for visiting Sarah

C. Zampa said...

Cassie, she DOES put the thought-provoking questions out there, doesn't she? I truly enjoyed the interview!
And thanks for visiting!

Karenna Colcroft said...

Great interview, Carol!

Tina Donahue said...

Great interview and excerpt. Congrats on your flourishing career. :)

Lucia said...

Great interview! I understand your opnion about gay books in book stores. I was in one today and I thought the same thing: there are enough great authors of gay books, why isn't even one book from them in here?! Loved the excerpt too, romantic and hot at the same time :)

Rawiya said...

Wow, thank you everyone for stopping in! :)

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Karenna! Thanks!

Raine Delight said...

Loved knowing more about you Zampa. Congrats on your first book. Looks to be a wonderful read.

C. Zampa said...

Hi, Tina! And thank you!

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Lucia...Oh, I love your name, by the way!
Yes, it is a shame! If they are there AT ALL, they're in the Social section, which is a mystery to me, or some other isolated, hard-to-find area. And there are SO many of them, it shouldn't BE that way.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you for visiting, Raine! This was such a fun interview!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

You wrote a story with the Monkeys and Dark Shadows? Really? That just amazed me. I loved it as a matter of fact. I wish you all the best. Loved your interview.

C. Zampa said...

Yes, we did write fan fic with the Monkees and Dark Shadows. LOL...My friend wrote, of course, Davey Jones and I wrote Peter.
She used Barnabas Collins and I used Quentin Collins. How embarrassing! LOL....But they were the 'hotties' of my high school days! LOL.

Thank you for visiting, Sarah M.!

Rawiya said...

Thx everyone for the kudos...


It was fun!

She said...

Good interview. I agree with you that a person can get stale writing the same thing. I get stale reading the same thing. That's why I read most genres. I like when I see authors trying different genres. It gives a freshness to their writing plus gives me more books to choose.

C. Zampa said...

Thanks, She, for visiting! Yes, I love variety in genres, too! Both reading and writing!

Thanks, Rawiya, for having me today. It has been a total blast!

Marie Rose Dufour said...

Great interview C! I thought that you gave interesting and thought provoking answers about being a female writing gay erotica, but most importantly being a writer. Loved the excerpt!

Tara Lain said...

Congratulations! The book sounds fantastic. I am drooling. My kind of boy. : )

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

That proves we are close in age, CZ, as I loved the Monkees and Dark Shadows back in the day myself! I crushed on Barnabas very badly, in fact! Did you ever read the novels? I adored them!

Book stores need to be shown that they are losing money by not putting more gay titles on the shelves, especially in these hard times, when Waldenbooks and Borders have bitten the dust. Barnes & Nobles, I fear, is too conservative. They don't even carry yaoi. Someone else needs to fill the niche, someone with the balls to carry our books, and to provide access to e-books as well, maybe make them loadable right there at the store. New marketing strategies are called for, but the publishers also have to step up and be more careful with what they publish, quality-wise. Some of the stuff that gets published gives a bad name to the rest.

Great blog, CZ, Candy G looks awesome! Thanks for sharing!

C. Zampa said...

Hi, Tara!!! Thank you! Yeah, I luvs me the Latinos, too!
Thanks for visiting!

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Julie! Good to see you! I'm breathing a sigh of relief, knowing I'm not the ONLY one who fangirled over the Monkees and Dark Shadows! Oh, and I loved Barnabas. My buddy got first pick and SHE got to write him...wouldn't even switch off with me! LOL!

And, yes, marketing strategies DO need to change in the book stores. I don't know what century they operate under, but things have changed and they need to as well!

Janice said...

Hi Carol,

Wonderful interview and a great except. Good luck with your release and I wish you many sales.


C. Zampa said...

hey, there, Janice!
Thank you for stopping by!