So, enough people have read--and enjoyed-- Tart and Sweet that I realized, "Hey--I never talked about the cameo!"
Now, I've put the cover art from the big cameo couple on a LOOOOONGGG scroll down, so hopefully, you won't see it--at least on your phone--unless you really really really want to. But in the meantime, I thought I'd talk about the weird intermingling of what's real and what's not in the Candy Heaven universe.
Because a lot of it is real.
I talked about some of how real Candy Heaven is HERE and Darrin (who is real) has told me that people come in and tell him that they read about his store in the books--which makes us both AMAZINGLY happy--so it's obviously a real place.
But what about River Burger? What about Raley Park? The RiverCats? Old Sacramento? The Derek's office? Rick's Desserts?
And what about the people?
Are any of them besides Darrin real?
So how about I start at the beginning of the list of real and imaginary people and places, and then explain why the cameo everyone is talking about HAD to happen. Because it makes total sense if, uh, you actually live inside my head.
Candy Heaven-- totally real, and I've totally documented it. Moving on.
Old Sacramento-- totally real, and you've seen my crappy pictures for many years. Keep going.
River Burger--nnnnn... no. There is no River Burger as shown, owned by Finn Stewart's happy pixy family lurking across from the Railroad Museum in Old Sac--however, before everybody goes home in disappointment, I made River Burger as sort of an amalgam of the MANY food places that are there. So ACTUAL River Burger--no. Some place very much like it? Definitely.
Raley Field and the RiverCats-- yes. I've posted pictures of my family going to see baseball games, including one where Squish was with her choir singing the national anthem, and one in which Zoomboy randomly ran on the field to be on a little league parade when he is NOT in little league.
Crocker Art Gallery-- as is sometimes mentioned. Yes. Have taken my kids there a couple of times, including a time documented in March sometime, with Squish's class as a chaperone.
Levee Oaks (this comes up later)-- yes and no. It's not called Levee Oaks, but anyone who lives out here will be able to identify Rio Linda from a couple of markers, including the water tower and the 7/11 and the frequent flooding. The last time I had to take someone to a dance lesson in Rio Linda, we were late because there was a cow in the road. I am not shitting around.
Discovery Park-- yes. There is VERY much a Discovery Park, and my memories of it are both good and bad.
Gatsby's Nick-- no. However, there IS an LGBTQ bar named Faces in Sacramento--but I have never been. (If was was ever a clubbing sort of girl, I would have gone--it's been in Sac for over 25 years.) I knew about Faces, but since I'd never been, I had to establish a place I could describe, so I built one in my brain for the Talker series. But if Gatsby's Nick was going to be an Amy Lane equivalent of Faces, it wouldn't have disappeared when Brian and Talker moved to Monterey. So when I decided Cy was going to work in a dance club (and we'll get to why in a minute) I decided it would have to be Gatsby's Nick.
Darrin-- yup. There's even pictures, and they've been on this very blog.
Darrin's boyfriend, Ro-- yes and no. YES, there is a Ro-- but NO these two men have never met. I asked Ro if, since Darrin was real, I couldn't have him be Darrin's boyfriend, so I could very very very firmly put the brakes on NEVER SHOWING DARRIN HAVING SEX. Cause he's a friend, and uh, icky.
Adam--only in my dreams.
Finn--iiiiiiiiishhh... Okay, so he's not really Finn. But a guy matching Finn's immediate description used to be a deckhand at the gym pool. No actual conversation, just a few waves and smiles, and a whole lot of me, looking at him all starry eyed. I felt totally free to change this guy's name (I don't even remember his name) and his sexual orientation and make him into Finn.
Finn's family-- totally made up.
Rico--I think I saw an actor once matching Rico's description. Like, one of the bit part players that rotates regularly into different shows? Anyway--I liked him. Thought he was adorable. But that's about it. Mostly Rico is his own man.
Derek--I'm sure I knew a Derek in high school. Didn't everybody?
Miguel AND his family-- Yes and no. Miguel and the three sisters and two brothers and widowed mother are totally fictitious--but.... Miguel and his mother and the happy Mexican family are based on my friend Teresa, from soccer. Teresa and Mate have coached each other's children in soccer for more years than I can keep track of. When Mate lost most of his team this year to the big league age deadline shuffle, most of his kids who aged up went onto Teresa's team, including her son, Adan, whom Mate coached last year. I've known her for going on fifteen years--and I've adored her. If the soccer gods decree we go for a year without seeing each other, the minute we see each other again, we are talking nonstop. When I talked about a strong Latino family, I was thinking about my students when I was teaching, and obviously about Teresa and her children--her amazing, beautiful children. So while Miguel was my creation, he needed to be a kid who COULD be Teresa's son. And of course, Teresa was Teresa. Because she's my friend and amazing. And she listened to me tell her about pretty much every aspect of Lollipop, because I was so excited that she could have a spot in it. I've just adored her for so long.
Ezra-- Ezra was very much his own man. But I will say, of all the guys in the Candy Man universe, Ezra is also probably the most like me. Except for Jake. I'm very much a Jake the Cat. Saying.
Robbie-- Robbie is based on so many of the guys I grew up with, I couldn't put a name on one.
Robbie's friends from work-- are based on my sister's (now ex) husband and her two amazing boys. Unfortunately, I found out about the pending divorce after the book was submitted, but let's just pretend her husband was just as awesome as I made him out to be in the book--because her KIDS (Micah and his brother, Teddy) are my nephews and I adore them. Their cousins are based on family friends whom my own kids consider cousins.
Robbie's parents-- I know it's easy to hate them, but I try not to. They're based on listening to some of the women from my aerobics classes chatter, and, yes, some of my parents' friends. I've gotten very adept at, "I'm very pro-civil rights so I'm afraid I'm not very sympathetic," but I've also gotten good at hopefully going for dialog over confrontation. Because confrontation confirms their suspicions that I'm a raging unreasonable liberal. Every now and then dialog makes a difference.
Cy--Okay, here's where the fine line between Amy's brain and reality gets very fuzzy. I've talked about my kids' dance school for YEARS. I've bitched about the recital, I've volunteered, I've told stories--you guys are familiar with this place, although I don't think I've listed the name. In a certain series of books about Levee Oaks, the second one in particular, one of the characters worked for "Anna"--who is based on my kids' dance teacher. That's Chicken's too-- since Chicken was three, as a matter of fact.
So, "Cy" is based on someone I've seen dancing since Chicken was three. He's a few years older--old enough to have been one of ZoomBoy's instructors since he was in gymnastics at two, actually.
If I were to describe him, you would see the exact same description as I used for Cy. Including the hair and the baubles and the makeup. Word on the grapevine was, he had a job at Faces, which was why he had to work at Gatsby's Nick, right?
Here's the thing--"Cy" and I never really had a chance to talk. I wasn't working backstage when he was, I very rarely talk to the teachers unless they're teaching MY kids, and usually, I'm talking to Joanna, the owner of the studio.
But I saw him grow up into this amazing dancer--and this very flamboyant young man.
So my rule, about not knowing someone--to me, "Cy" was the persona I saw on stage--and you guys, you'd have to see him. He's amazing. He used to do the Genie for Aladdin, and his body language, his presence--would knock your socks off. Just truly talented--stunning. And while I understood that he was very definitely gay and not bi at all, when he was on stage, his presence sparked chemistry with anyone he danced with, male, female--didn't matter.
His dancing presence embraced all comers.
So that's how I made Cy.
Now, one of the principle moments for Cy and Robbie--and the moment of one of the big cameos--comes at an gymnastics and dance exhibition at Cal Expo. That was real. My kids performed there and the worry about the matts was real, as was the difficulties performing the gymnastics. The owner of the studio was pissed.
Now about the big cameo-- that particular character worked for Anna at the beginning of his book. The real Anna, although she doesn't speak a word of Russian, DOES have studios all over various parts of town--often not the best parts, either. Her belief is that any kid who tries is welcome, and her rates are as damned low as a teacher can get and still run a business. She's damned near a North Highland's institution.
So, if "Cy" was going to work for "Anna"--because until very recently, he did, then we would HAVE to see this other character, because he worked for her way back in 2010 when HIS book came out.
And we, of course, had to have his cop in there too.
Now, I wanted to post a picture of Cy here--and people are probably wondering why I haven't. I posted pictures of Teresa and her oldest son, with their permission, when I was talking about my inspirations for Miguel and Teresa. Why wouldn't I post Cy?
Well, Cy--who was part of the exhibition in December--quit "Anna's" between December and May. I'm not sure why--I'm not close enough to ask--but besides missing the hell out of seeing him dance at recital, I didn't get a chance to tell him about the books, about him being an MC in a romance--any of it, which is too bad. I have a picture of a picture--he was there long enough to be printed on the program--but I just didn't feel right posting it without his permission.
But there you go-- the real and the fictional, all sort of twined together in this series (two of them, actually.) Now you see why the cameo had to happen--because in Amy Land, these people really would have known each other.
And hopefully, they would have gotten along.
So if you don't know who showed up at the dance portion, scroll down-- way, way, way down--and you'll see their cover.
I love this couple so much.
I'm glad they came back to play.