A warm welcome to author Alina Popescu joining us today here at Love Bytes to talk about her new release Dawn to Dusk.
Welcome Alina 🙂
Welcome to Communist Romania! Here’s a Sneak Peek of What It Was Like
It’s almost impossible to write the story of a Romanian character born in the ‘80s and not touch on the Communist history of our country. To be honest, I didn’t really try. Given certain current trends, a reminder of how bad it actually was might be needed. So Edi, main character in Dawn to Dusk will sometimes remember how life before the Revolution was like. Or how he was waiting for terrorists in his grandma’s back yard, armed with his toy machine gun and a bow he’d made. If you think that sounds unlikely… *hides behind her keyboard* Yup, that is exactly what I was doing in December and January, 1989, when the Revolution happened. There were shots fired at revolutionaries twenty kilometers from where I was.
So, in Communist Romania it was super cold, food wasn’t that easy to find, or too varied, there was loads of queuing and everything meaty was replaced with soy. Cause it was cheap to make and no one dared complain. If you’re wondering why soy-based products took forever to become popular in Romania, that’s why. We all associated soy with the Communist dictatorship trying to trick us that we were really eating meat. Let’s not even talk about what they did to my beloved god, coffee! And the queuing? The lack of everything pushed people to simply queue whenever they saw others doing it without even knowing what the store was selling. If it was edible, they bought it.
As a kid, I loved cartoons. I loved them so much, I made sure that every Sunday I was there for the thirty minutes or cartoons we got. Mostly Tom and Jerry. Yup, you read that right, thirty minutes a week. Of course we appreciated every second. And tears where involved every time they skipped the cartoons for some bullshit public address by the beloved father. Yup, the dictators were the parents of the nation. We had pictures of them displayed proudly in our kindergarten. In every room. We also went to kindergarten or school six days a week. Sunday was the only free day. We were all supposed to work hard. Yeah, it sucked as badly as you imagine.
The one thing that I miss about Communism? Some of the food and desserts I used to eat. See, because they replaced everything with cheaper options, it tasted differently than whatever I can make now. A sort of semolina was mixed with the cheese filling of pastry (cause they couldn’t just use cheese alone, what was that bourgeois waste of good food?). I remember the plum dumplings made of the same semolina (traditional recipes of Slavic origin involve flour), the chocolate (it was bad, but rare enough), the Cip Cip candy (they were these tiny beds, multicolored and sort of spicy), or the pleasure of eating oranges just a few times a year, always around Christmas. I’d add the Polar ice cream and the ROM rum chocolate, but they’ve remade those, so I don’t miss them anymore.
Another thing that was super huge when I was a kid was collecting Turbo chewing gum “surprises.” That’s what we called the poorly made little pictures packed inside the gum wrapping. Those with cars were the best, in my opinion. I didn’t care that much about the football players. Yes, soccer for my American friends.
At a glance, it seems that what was missing the most was the ability to actually have fun as a kid. No cartoons, not that many types of toys (no Capitalist Barbie dolls!), and poor quality in a lot of products. That was just the surface. Once you dug deeper (luckily, I wasn’t old enough), you were told what to do, how to behave, what to think, and what to say. And if you stepped out of line, the Securitate (political police of sorts) would have paid you a visit. Or several. Or asked you to pay them a few visits per week so that they could interrogate you for hours. And that was the best case scenario.
And being a struggling writer? Forget about it! If you spent too much time at home, writing, the police might have paid you a visit. Or even arrested you for being unemployed. One of my favorite Romanian writers had to deal with that when he was very young. Yup, not working was a big offense in Romania, unless you were a housewife. Being anything but straight? Well, that was supposed to be kept super quiet. Like don’t tell anyone, that kind of quiet. The family unit was very important to the Communist Party. To this day, I have no idea how my parents managed to wait until they were in their thirties to have me. I mean, with all those visits from party reps asking when they were going to have kids, and why they didn’t have a couple already? It was scary. And did I mention condoms and any form of contraception were almost impossible to find?
To be honest, as I was writing Dawn to Dusk, I did wonder how deep into this I should go. Or how much of the bad I should show. In the end, I decided I couldn’t gloss it over. Not the period, not the really dark and devastating things that were happening and I had no idea about until much later, not the effect it had on my older relatives. It’s a piece of not so far down memory lane history. And the sexy men should more than ease the ride for you. At least I hope they do!
Title: Dawn to Dusk
Series: Lover’s Journey, Book One
Author: Alina Popescu
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary
Length: Novel (over 50000 words)
That first encounter with Robert in rural Romania at eleven. A summer spent together in the same setting a year later. Their first text exchange in high school. The first sexual experience. The first heartbreak—the second and third and fourth chance. The point of total breakdown and the despair of failing. More love than anyone could have warned him about.
No matter how much time passes, no matter how different their paths, every meeting brings Edi and Robert closer together. Those stolen moments shine brighter than any. Yet loving Robert is not easy, not when Edi wants to be true to himself and is met with dishonesty. Or when Robert keeps parading new conquests and ignores Edi more often than not.
Edi has always loved Robert, but he must decide if his journey leads to or away from his childhood friend. Is it true love or is Edi just unable to let go?
When the cake and chat was over, it was pitch black. I went outside anyway, hoping I’d catch a glimpse of Robert. There was no one outside though. It was late, I knew that. Yet I still felt disappointed. They could have waited, right?
I jumped at the touch of something on my hair and turned to face an almost invisible, but definitely smirking Robert. Fuck me, he looked hot! He’d grown into a drop-dead-gorgeous young man over the past three years. Or maybe that was the moonlight. Hopefully I could do a better job at breathing in the daylight.
“What’s up, squirt? Mommy finally leave you outside to play?”
His voice sounded a lot deeper. Mine had changed too, but he sounded like a grown up. “I’m taller than you, idiot!”
Robert squeezed out from behind the fence and came outside. He stopped a breath away from me and looked up into my eyes. Yes, up, like I used to only three years ago! “Yup, you’re a giant now. Must be all those meals you shove down your throat.”
I chuckled and shrugged. “Not my fault they don’t give you enough food.”
I was surprised just how easy it was to fall back into the same old banter, pushing and shoving each other, teasing and making fun. It felt as if there hadn’t been this gaping hole of three years where I’d agonized whether I’d ever see him again.
“So, high school boy now?” Robert asked and nudged me with a bump of his shoulder.
“Yeah, all prestigious high school and shit. And you? What uni did you go to?”
“Law. Private one,” he said, winking. Unlike other places, private universities didn’t have the best reputation in Romania. You could get in easily if you had the money, they didn’t really care as long as they made money out of you. Sure, some programs were better than others, and if you wanted to, you could become great at your future job.
These universities had two major bonuses: high-end tech and plenty of resources, not the crammed, dusty libraries and outdated computer rooms of state universities for one, and really easy entrance procedures to sweeten the deal. I guessed Robert just hadn’t wanted to bother with the pressure of the exams, because I knew he’d been in the top tier of his class all through high school.
Prizes: 1 x $10 WIP Gift Card, 1 x $5 WIP Gift Card, 1 x ecopy of Br0th3rly (Famous on the Inernet, Book One).
Writer, traveler, and coffee addict, Alina Popescu has been in love with books all her life. She started writing when she was ten and she has always been drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural realm. Born and raised in Romania, she finds her inspiration in books of all genres, in movies, and the occasional manga comic book. She is a proud geek who needs her fast Internet and gadgets more than she needs air.
Site & Blog: http://alina-popescu.com