We’re so pleased to have author Natasha Washington joining us today on the tour for her Contemporary New Adult novel, Calling Calling Calling Me. Natasha is chatting with us about the story’s setting today, and there’s also a giveaway, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget for entry details.
Writing about San Francisco
When I left my hometown of Washington, D.C. for San Francisco, it was the boldest thing I had ever done. I knew hardly anyone there, and the city had long seemed magical and foreign to me, with its hills and ocean views, its towering, intricately decorated Victorians, and its reputation for embracing the weird, the queer, and the artistic.
I wanted to write about San Francisco because it is a magical place. It’s also a difficult place to live – expensive, exclusive, not an easy city to settle down in. But the way that it encourages people to live for the now is perfect for young people, who aren’t thinking about how they’ll buy a house or send their kids to school. I spent so much time in San Francisco walking its streets, marveling at its distinct neighborhoods, the cheerful, rainbow-streaked Castro, the murals of the Mission, the stark beauty of Ocean Beach and the fog that descends every day, cloaking the city in mist. It’s a city of contradictions, sunny and gray all at once.
In Calling Calling Calling Me, Patrick is new to San Francisco, and this allows him to fall in love with it. Josh, who grew up in San Francisco, has a different set of associations with the city, but by showing Patrick around, he’s able to see how amazing a place it is. How could you not marvel at a city where you can take a trolley to the beach? In the book, the city is a metaphor for the way the world opens up for Patrick, as wide as the ocean views from the highest of hills.
It was also important to me to write about San Francisco as a city with a rich queer history. Josh and Patrick are able to be open about who they are because of the legacy of activists who fought prejudice and hatred, and I wanted that to be a background presence in this story, whether it’s them visiting Harvey’s, a tribute to San Francisco’s gay icon Harvey Milk, or Josh educating himself about queer history because of his older mentor Benny, who remembers a time when things were not so tolerant.
To me writing about San Francisco also meant placing the city in the context of places that are not San Francisco, and that meant including Patrick’s hometown of Fresno in this story. I worried that I was a bit unfair to Fresno, which is not a terrible place, but it’s more that it is terrible for Patrick, who doesn’t fit in and feels trapped there. Because of California’s reputation as a liberal state, people often don’t realize that a good portion of the state is fairly conservative, including much of the largely rural Central Valley. San Francisco has long been a destination for runaways from all over the country, and though Patrick’s obviously not a runaway, he’s motivated by similar reasons – wanting to be in a city where he can be accepted, loved, and understood for who he is.
This book is, in many ways, my love letter to San Francisco. I think it is a changing city, for better or for worse, but the beautiful thing about cities is that they are always changing and transforming. It still maintains much of its magic, whether that be in the form of its gorgeous views or its great bookstores and coffee shops and food and art, a haven for those who feel they don’t fit elsewhere, looking for a place to spread their wings.
About the Book
Title: Calling Calling Calling Me
Author: Natasha Washington
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Subgenre: Contemporary Queer Romance/New Adult
Tropes/Themes: college romance, first time, fish out of water
Blurb: Patrick Mahoney has one goal in mind: get out of his native Fresno and find freedom in the rainbow and glitter-painted streets of San Francisco. As a college freshman, he’s sure he’ll finally have the chance to be himself, away from the judgmental eyes of his conservative hometown.
Josh Dirda’s never wanted to be tied down before, preferring the emotional ease of the one night stand. But when Patrick moves into the apartment that Josh shares with three friends, Josh is caught up in Patrick’s sly wit and quietly creative spirit. As Patrick’s self-appointed tour guide, Josh can be Patrick’s introduction to the city he loves. But after a drunken Halloween hook-up crosses lines, Patrick and Josh must reckon with their true feelings—and decide whether they can let go of the ghosts that haunt them.
About the Author
Natasha Washington lives in Philadelphia, where she writes queer love stories in both YA (as Sonia Belasco) and romance. She has spent much of her professional life working with young people as a mentor, tutor, or therapist. When not writing, she is likely cooking, taking long, meandering walks, or listening to dance music or 90s hip-hop.