In this sequel to Cari Z's Opening Worlds (which originally appeared in the Wild Passions anthology, but is included here at no additional cost), former starship captain Jason Kim travels to Perelan, the homeworld of his lover, Ferran, to start a life together. The ruling council of the Perels have allowed this unconventional union to continue in the hopes of strengthening relations between themselves and the humans. And while Ferran's family welcome Jason with open arms, not all of the other major families are as pleased. The arrival of an outsider to their insular, subterranean world challenges the traditions of centuries.
Tensions soar as old rivalries are rekindled in the wake of Jason and Ferran's relationship. Inevitably, something snaps. Jason and Ferran soon find themselves literally fighting for their lives when xenophobic anger pushes things beyond the breaking point. Only their devotion to one another can see them through, but a ghost from Jason's past threatens even that. With Perelan on the brink of civil war, Jason and Ferran must find a way to stand together in the face of chaos and to change the world on their own terms before it tears itself apart.
♥ Thanks so much for stopping by, Cari! For those who may be new to your writing, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm in my late twenties, a Gemini, blond hair, blue eyes, my measurements are...oh wait...not like that! I've been writing erotica for a number of years and kept it up even when I lived in a place with only occasional electricity (I was in the Peace Corps for two years) so I can safely say that writing is indispensable to my well being. I never start something I don't intend to finish, and I strongly believe in satisfying endings.
♥ Okay, let's get right to the juicy bits. How did you first come to incorporate M/M relationships into your fiction, and why do you think it is that so many women (authors and readers) are drawn to those relationships?
I went through a phase in my teens where I was obsessed with the Age of Sail. I read C. S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian, I watched all the movies about it I could, I loved it with a passion... and then I got kind of frustrated, because it was an age where the vast majority of action belonged to the men. I wanted romance as well, and I couldn't really find any, so eventually I say down and wrote my own historical erotic romance starring the people at the heart of the conflicts: the men. I was reading plenty of M/M erotica at that point, and I think a large part of the allure, at least for me, is the fact that it's easy to lose myself in a fantasy like that. I love men, but there's also no pressure anywhere in my mind for me to draw a comparison to myself, especially a physical one, because I just don't have the parts. I do love to see those parts in action, though, and putting two hot men together and having them go at it, figuring out the physical and emotional give and take, it's just so much fun, and kind of empowering, too. I can't speak for every female reader, but I imagine that many of them feel the same.
♥ Are the relationships in your books more a product of your own imagination, where you put something of yourself into the characters, or do you have gay friendships upon which you can draw to explore those experiences?
A lot of myself ends up in my characters, simply because that's what I understand and find easy to write. I have gay and straight friends that have occasionally formed a basis for an idea or a character, but for the most part I prefer to rely on my own imagination.
♥ Before we leave the characters for a moment (I promise we'll come back to them later), it's often said that great characters take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions the author hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?
Honestly, I feel like my most compelling characters are the ones I understand the best, and so when I write them I can usually follow what's going on and get a good handle on what they need to develop. It's the side characters that can throw me for a loop sometimes. If I don't flesh them out enough, then I find myself writing them doing things that make me go, "What? Really?" At that point I either need to sit down and chat them up some more or go in an entirely different direction.
♥ Looking outward instead of inward for a moment. What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered and how did you respond?
Oh, man. Well, when I first started posting my work (I put it up on Literotica, free to everyone) I was totally stunned when I got a comment from a reader offering me very descriptive violence for writing what I had. I had never anticipated that writing M/M erotica would get that kind of reaction, and every other commenter had been really positive. I showed it to my boyfriend, now my husband, who pointed out to me that this reader had had to go through the entire story, plenty of clicks, and then clicked again to comment and write this out, so at the very least, I had provoked a strong emotional reaction, and sometimes that was what art was about. He also said that reader was a total asshole, which I could totally get behind.
♥ As an aspiring author myself, the mechanics of writing always fascinate me. Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you satisfy the muse whenever and wherever she taps your shoulder?
I do most of my writing right after I get home from work. I find that on days I don't work, it's harder to motivate myself to do something regimented, although occasionally the muse does take control of my brain regardless of where I am and what I'm doing.
♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others (myself included) it's writing that first paragraph. What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?
The title is definitely the hardest part for me. I've resorted to brainstorming with my editors to figure out proper titles before. One of my most recent titles came from a wonderful reader whom I appealed to for help. Titles are my bane>.
♥ Okay, I promised we'd get back to the characters, so total fantasy fun time here. If you could choose just one of your books to make into a movie, knowing you'd have total total control over the production, who would you cast for the leading roles?
Mmm, fantasy time! I don't often cast my books in my head, I prefer to go strictly from my imagination, but there is a notable exception. I recently published a short story called Different Spheres that features older protagonists, and if I had my way and could make the story long enough to be a movie, I would definitely pick Simon Baker from The Mentalist and Mark Harmon from NCIS as the leads. I looove sexy older men, and Mark Harmon is a total silver fox.
♥ I'm kind of partial to Abby, myself, but Gibbs is great! People often forget that authors are readers as well. Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who refreshes your literary batteries when you're not writing?
I read a lot of urban fantasy, and I have a desperate love for Ilona Andrews. When I need to unwind, I just slip into something comfortable and read about her characters battling evil undead mermaids or mad scientists. If I'm in the mood for something more explicit, I really like Mary Calmes' Warder Series. Dudes fighting demons. Go dudes!
♥ If we can talk a bit about Changing Worlds for a moment, what is it you hope reader take away from the read? Is there a key theme or message you're looking for them to embrace, or a favourite scene you hope they'll share with friends (and lovers)?
The message behind Changing Worlds is definitely one of love, mutual tolerance and, first and foremost, patience with change. When I started writing this book I was living in another country with a different language, a place where I was in a tiny minority, and even after being there almost two years I still felt out of sync. This book is infused with moments that reminded me of how important it was that I kept my patience with myself and my community, and that while it was hard, I was learning and playing and, in the end, having one of the best times of my life there.
♥ Finally, before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?
I'm considering my options when it comes to the next big thing, but I'm submitting a lot of shorter works to various anthologies this summer. I love a good prompt when it comes to writing, and there are some highly creative publishers out there who ask for things that make me instantly hot and bothered.
♥ One last thing - where can readers find you and your newest release?
Readers can find me at my blog, which is the best place for updates on my writing and what I have coming up next, at http://carizerotica.blogspot.com, or they can check my website at www.cari-z.net. If you're a twitter-phile, I'm here: https://twitter.com/#!/author_cariz. The best place to find Changing Worlds is at www.stormmoonpress.com.
Thank you so much for having me today!