Today I welcome Roberta Blablanski to Queering Up Your Bookshelf to talk about inspiration through positive feedback, spreading positivity on social media, and representing asexual characters in nuanced ways without a “cure” narrative.
Roberta Blablanski (she/her) hails from The Big Easy: New Orleans, Louisiana. She draws inspiration from her colorful hometown and her former life as a college radio DJ. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days searching for the world’s best Bloody Mary and avoiding people she went to high school with. Her normal habitat is curled up in bed with a good book and a cup of coffee.
Roberta developed a love of books at an early age, spending her summers at the library. Years later, after watching the American version of the television show Queer as Folk, she began searching for books featuring queer characters finding love. Most recently, she began writing queer love stories of her own, drawing from her own personal experiences and creating characters and story lines as vibrant as her ever-changing hair color.
FIND ROBERTA ONLINE:
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2335875533219973/
What is your writing origin story?
I never fancied myself as someone who could be a writer. From the moment I could read, my nose was stuck in a book. I was content being a reader and losing myself in the characters and worlds others created. In February of 2018, I was on a search for a funny amnesia story with LGBTQ+ elements. I kept coming up short, so I decided to try to write it myself for fun. As I completed a chapter, I would send to a friend whom I met through the queer online writing community. She encouraged me and provided amazing feedback. The result is far from the initial goal and needs a lot of work, but it was a great experience. The story has good bones and I’m hoping to tackle it and whip it into shape at some point.
What inspires your writing and how do you keep that inspiration alive?
For me, inspiration comes from all over. It could be lyrics to a song, a commercial, a random person, a meme, a conversation…My mind is constantly thinking what if this happened instead?
What does representation mean to you and how does it feature in your writing?
To me, representation means seeing the positive inclusion of characters and people across the sexuality and gender spectrum in books, mainstream media, and every day life. People, especially young people, need to see themselves represented so they know they are not alone.
In my writing, I include queer characters and show them experiencing the ups and downs of life. Normalization is important. Generally, no one bats an eye at MF pairings in books. I want all other pairings to be as accepted.
How do asexual characters feature in your writing and how much of your own experience do you tend to write into your characters?
My project for NaNoWriMo last year was my first attempt at writing an asexual character. It was also my first year participating in NaNo, and I was wholly unprepared…which is probably why I barely managed 10k words. I do have plans to revisit this manuscript upon completion of my current project to flesh it out into a proper story. The asexual character is based very closely to my own experiences, except this character gets a different HEA.
The characters in my other stories, while may not share my sexuality, do have certain aspects of my personality, whether it be changing hair colors, or social anxiety, or a love for the tv show ALF. I also tend to base the family members of my characters on my own family.
Any tips for authors who want to ensure they include positive representation of asexual characters?
There is no “magic cure” for asexuality. Asexuality isn’t a condition or disease that needs curing. To imply such is to equate asexual people with being defective, and we are not. I think that’s the biggest point to keep in mind when writing an asexual character. Asexual people need to be shown as regular people who have relationships just like everyone else.
What are some of your favorite tropes and how do you subvert them?
I love the fake relationship trope! I haven’t tried writing it because there are many other writers who have done a fantastic job. I think it’s a trope I prefer to read rather than write.
What was your favorite part of writing RETURN TO SENDER?
I absolutely loved writing the scenes that take place in the 1980s. It’s my favorite decade and I got to relive bits of my childhood. A close runner up is the letters and journal entries written by one of the characters.
Tell us about #LovePirates and what inspired it?
The Love Pirates hashtag was created by Malini, another friend I met through the Twitter writing community. It started off as random playful tweets and evolved into a movement of sorts to promote positivity (love), support, and respect. There’s so much negativity in the world, and we want people to know that they can find a safe space with us. Malini designed our Twitter banners, we do pirate-themed #FollowFriday, and we post random pirate memes and gifs. We “recruit” new Love Pirates all the time, and anyone is welcome to “join”.
What is one of your favorite scenes or characters that you have written recently?
I wrote a scene based off the tv show The Dating Game, and I had a blast coming up with silly, innuendo-laced responses to questions such as “What is your idea of a perfect date?”.
What are you currently working on? What’s next for you?
My latest project is titled is Addiction, and it’s the story of the effects of one MC’s drug addiction on his relationship with his fiancé. It’s full of angst but does have lighter moments like The Dating Game scene. I’m hoping to self-publish in August.
Then next is my asexual F/F college romance that I am determined to finish. Writing an own voices story is something I’m really looking forward to.