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Character Interview: Tom Stevens from Eva Márquez’ YA debut novel, ‘Sweetest Taboo’




We’re thrilled to have here today Tom Stevens from Eva Márquez’ new controversial YA debut novel, Sweetest Taboo.  Tom is a 37-year old High School Teacher living in Los Angeles, California.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Tom.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Yes, I feel as if I were portrayed fairly accurately in the book. With that said, I do feel that some readers who have been prejudiced with preconceived ideas about his type of relationship will portray me as some sort of predator. I realize that to those particular readers, there really is nothing I could say or do that would sway their personal beliefs and opinions. To those who are a little more open minded, I hope that you can see the love that did shine between Isabel and myself, and although it was a student teacher relationship, it was NOT based on that fact, yet based on equal grounds.  There was nothing more to this than two people meeting and falling in love…despite age and the social issues regarding what is deemed right and wrong in this society.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Well, yes and no. Yes, because I was portrayed as a sensitive and caring man when it came to the one person in this world whom I was totally and completely unconditionally in love with. I would have died for Isabel, and there was nothing I wouldn’t have done for her. However, I do feel at times I was portrayed as some sort of whimpering pathetic man who couldn’t cope with the loss of Isabel, which as far as I am concerned is somewhat less than accurate.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I believe my strongest trait is being a giving person as well as being honest, also being a person in tune with himself, and having the ability to “see the big picture”.

Worse trait?

Hmmm…we all have traits we would like to not have. But if I could change anything I suppose it would be my desire to avoid conflict at pretty much all costs. I have paid a high price for conflict avoidance over the years, and knowing this…I also know that if I would have dealt with certain issues as they came up, life would have been much different for Isabel and myself. I have always lived my life for other people and never took the time to treat myself to life’s pleasures and rewards. I guess that would be the second worst trait.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Really? I have no idea. It would have to be someone who is age appropriate, and hot! Just kidding, I do think it would have to be someone who could actually portray sensitivity and love though their look, their eyes, demeanor, and their touch…while being strong and confident in themselves at the same time. I’ll let the readers determine who that should be.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Umm, yes…I think that would be Isabel.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I was pretty much nervous about the whole book because of the subject matter, however, aside from that particular subject matter, I was really concerned up to the last chapter. I couldn’t be more thrilled by the way it ended.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I wouldn’t trade places with her good friend who ultimately stabbed her in the back. That is no way to be. Friends stick together, support each other, and in this relationship where both myself and Isabel were in a way, self imposed victims of our choices, there was no place for someone who was such a good friend and confidant to turn on her when in fact Isabel was in charge, doing her own thing, and really was in control all along.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Sometimes as a man, I hate being sensitive (you know…some macho sense that guys shouldn’t get all misty about things), but to be honest…I cried. Did I cry because it was a sense of relief, heartbreak, or joy? I guess you will have to read the book and come to your own conclusions.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Don’t change a thing…you developed a terrific story about a taboo subject. Keep your style.

Thank you for this interview, Tom.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Only if I am invited to show up.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.

Her latest book is the YA/Adult Fiction, Sweetest Taboo.

You can visit Eva’s website at

Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart. This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.

Join Isabel as she makes her way through this dark love story, hiding from teachers, lying to her parents, and defying the authorities to make a life with the man she loves. Watch as she discovers the wonders of love and romance, and the terrible betrayal of jealous friends. And cry with her when she learns the hard truth about life and the people in her world. Sweetest Taboo is inspired by the true and tragic stories of students who fall in love with their teachers, and live with the hard truths of forbidden romances. In a world full of after-school specials on sexual predators, this touching book seeks a different path, casting both student and teacher in a gentle light, and showing that true love may lie at the base of even the most illicit romance.


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