Beka Gremikova writes folkloric fantasy from her little nook in the Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada. Her flash fiction has been published on Havok Publishing’s website and in several of their anthologies (Bingeworthy, Sensational, Prismatic, and Casting Call). Other short stories of hers can be found in various collections, the latest of which include Fantasea, Sharper Than Thorns, Tales From the Tower, Aphotic Love, Fool's Honor, and The Heights We'll Fly To. When she’s not travelling, playing video games, or sketching, she’s often curled up in a corner with a mystery novel. Currently, she’s plotting a plethora of retellings and planning to release a sci-fi/ fantasy ebook short, “Under Two Moons,” in Fall 2022. You can sign up for her newsletter at bekagremikova.com, follow her on Instagram @beka.gremikova, or join her reader group, “Beka’s Books,” on Facebook.
What anime/manga/light novel inspired your short story?
"Cursed Crush" wasn't inspired by any specific manga/anime/light novel, but I'd say that my love for Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun's twists on character archetypes fed into this story, as well as my love for sweet, healthy shojo romances. I wanted to fully lean into the tropes of the genre and both celebrate and lightly poke at them--which is half the fun of being a fan of something, am I right? ;-) So you'll find the shojo staples of Bringing Your Sick Classmate's Homework to Them, the Dramatic Second-Hand Kiss...as well as the Prince of the School/Beautiful Foreigner trope in my sweet, slightly-awkward, heart-of-gold MC, Theo-kun.
What was your process like for writing this story? Did you have a specific idea for the ending or a theme you wanted to write around?
I had the beginning and ending fairly early on in the process, and then just had to tie them together. I knew I wanted to write a shojo-inspired Beauty and the Beast retelling, and weaving in those elements was a lot of fun. I think I whipped up the first draft within a few weeks, then got some beta feedback and had a British friend look over the story to help ensure Theo's voice was authentic before I submitted it.
What was your favorite part about writing this story? Was there anything challenging about it?
My favourite part about writing this story was definitely having fun with the shojo tropes--I think the story completely embraces its chaotic nature, and letting the story do that made writing it a joyful experience for me. I found the middle challenging (I always do--middles are my nemesis).
Do you have a favorite sentence or quote or paragraph from the story?
Here is one of the (non-spoiler) ones, and one of the first lines I wrote for the story, where I fully leaned into one of the shojo tropes right off the bat.
"You’d think bringing over a classmate’s homework wouldn’t be such an ordeal, but honestly, it can be the most harrowing thing you ever do in life.
Believe me. I know."
Can you tell us about one character in the story? Any insights into who they are as a character that we didn’t get to see in the story?
So as we already know, Theo-kun's mom is a very powerful and vengeful Love Mage--as well as a very good cook. While this isn't something that developed while writing the story, looking at her character now, I think part of her backstory involves dropping out of Cooking Magic to get involved in Love Magic instead. Much more political power in the Love Mage arena than the Cooking Mage one. ;-) Personally, I think she should have stuck to cooking--her and Theo and Mai would probably have been much happier in the long run.
Can you briefly share about your other works? Where can people find you if they want to read more?
I write mainly folklore and fairytale retellings with quirky twists. For example, my latest release, "The Safe Tower," is a Rapunzel retelling set during a fantasy zombie apocalypse (imagine Rapunzel meets The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild meets A Quiet Place). It's currently available in the anthology Tales From the Tower from Ye Olde Dragon Books, which is available on Amazon and other retail sites. I also have a few pieces in the upcoming fairy tale anthology, Sharper Than Thorns, which I helped organize and edit alongside Anne J. Hill. My pieces range from a Little Red Riding Hood story about fox and wolf shapeshifters to a Snow White retelling where Snow White's mother takes the place of the huntsman.
If you want to sign up for my newsletter, you can find the sign-up on my website, www.bekagremikova.com, or you can join my reader group on Facebook, Beka's Books, to get behind-the-scenes snippets and peeks, as well as book and movie/TV recommendations! I'm also most active on Instagram if you want pics of my sweet old dog, my travel adventures, and yummy food.
The existence of love mages is interesting enough, but the economics mages are really unique. Was there a specific inspiration for either of these? What are some other types of mages that exist in this world?
Thank you so much! If I remember correctly, I started out with Love Mages, which were inspired by the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Actually, I just realized this story has quite a bit of Eros & Psyche vibes with Theo's strained relationship with his mother! As for economics mages, I think I just wanted something that would be a stark contrast to Love Mages, so people might understand the animosity Theo's mother holds--even though she's very wrong in how she views the world. And I suck at math, so I got to experience some catharsis through the story, haha.
As for other types of mages, I honestly don't really know. I imagine there's a whole host of them, for probably almost every discipline. Mages in this world are kind of a mix between a magic-user and a sage--someone who holds a lot of knowledge about the topic as well as the magic to *use* some of that knowledge. So I could definitely see there being Science Mages, Literature Mages, etc. (with many branches of each, of course).
If you could be a type of mage, which would you pick, and why?
I'd probably want to be a plant mage, because I think it'd be fun to interact with them! Especially since I recently just bought myself a cactus (now named George), and I want to add to my plant collection in future.
Mai and Theo are so cute together! What kind of life do you envision them having together after the story ends?
Thank you so much! <3 I envision them having a fairly quiet life in the city, hanging out with her dad and avoiding Theo's mum at all costs. Though they may show up in a spin-off I'm currently pondering, where Sensei goes on an adventure himself to try to lift the curse on his poor cat--and perhaps finds love along the way. ;-)