Jack and Emma and Pete and Iris

Two weeks ago, I had the Windows 10 OS refreshed on my laptop because it had been acting up for some reason, and one of the fun (read: not fun) things about getting my laptop fixed at the shop was the process of backing up my files. which I had to do by myself. Not all of my files have been downloaded into the refreshed laptop–yet–but when I went through all of my files, I found a picture that I had used on this very blog.

It was–God, should I even say it?–the picture of the oppa who inspired #CrushFic. And that manuscript wasn’t even the only one he’d inspired.

Okay, fine, so somebody else did inspire the manuscript in question, but I thought oppa would be cute and funny and charming enough to play the role of the main character/love interest in the story, should a film adaptation be done. And by then I’d been crushing on him for years, even enduring some of the least savory entries on his filmography. In fact, my crush on him is so enduring that it has outlived some of my most potent story-inspiring infatuations, which…really.

(Please don’t look through this blog to find out which entry/manuscript it was; I’m already embarrassed as it is that I stole that picture from Teh Interwebz.)

But going back to oppa… It’s amazing that I’d forgotten about that earlier manuscript when I was casting #CrushFic in my head. And because I’m not prepared to approach #CrushFic yet, I’m reminded that I’m not ready to approach that old story, either.

I’m not saying that I can’t do it, because maybe I would, in the future. But the fact that both of these manuscripts were interracial romances set in practically the same location in the United States gave me pause.

Remember when I said that writing #CrushFic was a healing process for me? Don’t get me wrong–it was, and still is. But somehow deep inside of me, I knew that it didn’t have to be a book. As much as I loved drawing on my experiences to write it, I also realized that they weren’t enough to flesh out who Jack and Emma were as characters in a living context. Same thing with the proto-#CrushFic–I loved Pete and Iris, but they were more like conduits than characters, made even more annoying by a flimsy plot. (Let it also be known that this manuscript was written one year before I joined #romanceclass–oh, has the world changed since then.)

But the biggest realization that occurred to me when I started considering what happened with these two manuscripts was that none of these characters came to life the way my Filipino characters did. None of these American settings were as alive to me as Manila was, especially in the six years that I had lived in Quezon City. I won’t lie, I wasn’t the happiest person when I lived there, but compared to the other times that I lived overseas I had never paid so much attention to the way I lived as I did when I was in QC.

And so, I’m considering more stories about the city, maybe one or two about my home town. Places where I can feel my heart beating, my joy growing. Those are stories for another time.

As for my American characters…I can imagine Jack kissing Emma in the kitchen while Pete takes Iris to their favorite high school make-out spot so they could watch the stars. And never the twain shall meet.

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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