I think this is a good time to post this interview with #romanceclass author Tara Frejas, coming off of the #NatGioWeekend high of watching Rak of Aegis that she so lovingly organized. Okay so that’s totally unrelated to the topics in this interview, since here we talked about Kpop fandom and her latest release Roadie Romance #1: Scandalized. But theater is one of her fandoms too, and when you read through this and get to the part where she talks about her work-in-progress, you’ll see why our theater weekend feelings made me want to share this chat with you ASAP 🙂
- I love how this is one of those books that I didn’t know I wanted. I’m a fan of K-pop too (and the food, and the soju, and fashion, and the culture!), so Scandalized definitely speaks to my fangirl heart. How did you come up with this story?
Aww, yay! That’s great to know, hihihi. ^_^
When Mina announced the #SparkNA workshop last year, I immediately considered signing up for it but held off on actually doing so before I figured out what I wanted to write. And because KPop had been hugely influential in my writing since I became addicted to it more than ten years ago, I thought it would be a nice place to start, to revisit, in a way.
I’d actually written a similar piece of fiction in 2007, when I was still very active in my fandom. One of the first stories I published online was a story about a boyband and their road manager, what goes on behind the scenes, their professional and personal relationships, and so forth. It was more real-person fiction than anything, and I had a lot of fun building a story out of actual events that happened to the band. I wanted to explore that world again, but I also wanted to touch on the very real issue of cyberbullying and witch hunting, which are very rampant not just in KPop but everywhere, and that’s basically how Scandalized started. I wanted to ask “What happens when you bully someone who was just doing their job?” and “How harmful are those comments you post on social media?” while trying my best to tell a story that’s still fun and relatable.
- I know DBSK is your ultimate K-pop fandom. How much did they influence your writing of Scandalized? From the characters, to the band name, and maybe even their music?
Yes, this is true. DBSK is the only KPop band I’d ever fangirled hardcore, so to speak, but their influence in my writing Scandalized wasn’t very pronounced. There were a lot of “pegs” in play for the band, because I’d patterned personalities, quirks, thought processes, and skills after different people.
Yihwan, for example, is a combination of three different people. His personality is very close to Yunho of DBSK because he’s the responsible leader and hyung of the group who can get kind of broody and old-man like. He has the skills of FT Island’s leader Choi Jonghoon, who can play both the lead guitar and the piano/keyboards, and his songwriting process is the same as Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench.
East Genesis Project’s shortened band name, EG Project, is a nod to my favorite KPop rock band, FT Island. I think any KPop fan would recognize that, or maybe think of another band under the same label, which is CN Blue. In terms of music, I would say the band’s sound is very similar to Marianas Trench and FT Island. Both bands have produced very theatrical and dramatic music over the years and I absolutely loooooooove them.
By the way, I sort of referenced Marianas Trench on the band website (the About the Band page is where it’s at) when I described the albums they put out. If you’re not an MT listener though, it might escape you, but it’s there.
- Okay so the man that our MC chooses is not always the same man the author chooses for herself. Given that, the question for you is: Gabe or Yihwan? Feel free to include the other East Genesis Project boys in the options.
Short answer, I’d choose Gabriel because I love me some beta heroes.
TL;DR answer: I would choose Gabriel through and through. Not that Yihwan isn’t made of boyfriend material, but if you read the book, you’d probably understand why I’m wary about choosing him. I don’t want to spoil anything to anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but let me say that Yihwan is a good man. He’s passionate and talented, and the type of boyfriend who would write sonnets and songs about you. If that’s your thing, I’m not gonna blame you for liking him. You’re gonna have to share him with the rest of the fandom though. :
As for Gabriel, I know I haven’t dropped a lot of backstory about him just yet, but he positioned himself in this narrative as a constant in Fi’s ever-evolving, ever-chaotic life. And I think you need people like that in your life, like an anchor to ground you or a buoy to keep you afloat. Gabe is consistent; he knows what he wants, but he’s also patient enough to wait if he feels like the timing isn’t right. I choose Gabe because he’s the type of person I could see myself liking, not just as a romantic partner, but also as a friend. Because sometimes you’ll need a friend more than you need a lover. Heh
- Do you write with music in the background, or do you write in a vacuum? Do you think that influences your work?
I do write with music in the background. It’s fuel. While I was writing Scandalized, there were long stretches of time when all I listened to were the Masterpiece Theatre and Ever After albums by Marianas Trench, and I think they influenced my writing in a huge way.
Like, for example, every time you see an EG Project song lyric in the book, you can be sure that in my head it matches an MT song. There was also this time when I was writing a scene and my fingertips fell heavy on the keyboard like my keystrokes and the drum beat are one. It was funny because I didn’t realize it until the song had finished and I was still feverishly typing away like what in the world—
So yeah, I do write with music in the background most of the time. I only turn it off when I need to think of a flow to the scene, or when I get stumped on something and I need to put my thoughts together. Quietly. Haha.
- Choose one song that you’d want as the title track of this book’s OST (cool lang kung meron diba? HAHA).
If Scandalized has a title track, it would definitely be Marianas Trench’s Beside You. It just fits the story perfectly, I think, and it actually appears in my official book playlist which was published in Will Read For Feels during Make Some Noise! Week. ^_^
- What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on another yet-untitled novel which I have nicknamed TeatroFic, mainly because majority of my characters are involved in a rather underfunded theatre company based in the Philippines. My MC is a 20-something year old lady whose romances only happen on stage, and she wants to change that. :
I was doing 2k a day when I started but I got kind of stumped lately. Things happened. I’m still currently way ahead of schedule, but I hope I get my shit together soon because this thing isn’t going to write itself.
Maybe I’ll start writing again after this weekend. We’ll see. ^_^
About the Author
Tara Frejas is a cloud-walker who needs caffeine to fuel her travels. When she’s not on work mode, she keeps herself busy by weaving her daydreams into stories.
Aside from her obvious love affair with words and persistent muses, Tara is very passionate about being caffeinated, musical theatre, certain genres of music, dancing, dogs, good food, and romancing Norae, her ukelele. She owns a male bunny named Max who sometimes tries to nibble on her writing notes.Scandalized is her second novel after Paper Planes Back Home.
Fun fact: She’s a Piscean. Go figure.
East Genesis Project’s website: bit.ly/EGProject