Hello y’all! We’re excited to welcome Natasha Washington on From Top to Bottom Reviews today! She has brought an awesome giveaway with her, but more importantly she’s here to tell us a bit more about the protagonists in her upcoming debut Calling Calling Calling Me!
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.
Release Date: September 4th
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Guest Post by Natasha Washington
Character Study: Meet the MCs
Patrick Maloney is used to being a freak in his native Fresno, where people don’t exactly embrace the queer and different. In middle school and high school, he was bullied – enough that he had to be pulled out of school for a year. His saving grace has always been writing, music and theater, and he has ambitions of writing screenplays or books that will reach kids who’ve felt like outcasts. As a college freshman in San Francisco, he’s ready to shed his past to start new. This means pushing himself outside of his nerdy comfort zone: living with a bunch of guys in the Castro, going to clubs, and wrestling with his super-inconvenient crush on his roommate Josh. He’s got to go from being queer-in-theory to gay in a city where guys kissing in the street barely turns heads, all while being on his own for the first time in his life.
On the surface, it seems like Josh Dirda has never had to deal with much in the way of adversity – his family’s wealthy and liberal, and his journey to discovering his own pansexuality has been fairly angst-free. He’s popular and charming, known all over campus for his ability to seduce anything that moves. But Josh’s promiscuity hides his insecurities about what it means to get close to someone. If he catches feelings, that means being vulnerable, and the last time Josh let himself open up – to a friend he fell for in high school – he got his heart broken. Josh struggles with showing people what’s real and what will make him more likable, and he’s deathly afraid of not living up to the expectations of others.
I love fish-out-of-water stories, but I wanted to turn the trope on its head. In this story, though Josh is more experienced and basically appoints himself to be Patrick’s tour guide to San Francisco, Patrick manages to see through Josh’s cool kid façade and reveals the insecurity that lies beneath it. I thought it was important that they learn from each other, and that their relationship changes who they are. I think one of the main characters in this book is also the city itself—San Francisco isn’t just a backdrop, it’s a living, breathing thing that opens up Patrick’s world and allows him to see what’s out there. For Josh, San Francisco means something else: it’s his hometown, a place of memories, and it’s even a bit haunted by the struggles of his past. But as they fall for each other, the city becomes a place that connects them on this journey to understand who they really are.
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.