We are very happy to welcome Cardeno C. to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. CC’s most recent book McFarland’s Farm, available at Amazon, is the first novella in the Hope series.
Cardeno C. - CC to friends - is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few "awwws" into a reader's day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno's stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.
You can learn more about her on her shared Café Risque blog.
Jodi: Thank you, CC, for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. I am a fan of your stories and characters. Please tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to write in the m/m romance genre.
CC: I never considered being a fiction writer until about the time I sat down and wrote my first story, which was Where He Ends and I Begin. I hadn’t read romance novels at that point and I had no idea there were gay romance novels out there. What drove me to write was a sense that so many movies and shows I saw had gay characters who were killed or hurt or deeply miserable and after seeing this over and over again, I started feeling like it was a punishment, like these people weren’t allowed to be happy and healthy and strong AND gay. And I’m talking about movies where the gay characters are the main characters, movies targeted toward a gay/welcoming audience. That vision of life doesn’t match what I see in the world around me.
Yes, there are tragedies and sadness and family trouble. I know. Those things are real and true. But my life experience is that people as a whole are resilient and strong. I see people move past the hard times and make their own happy futures. I see people learn and grow and build lives and communities and families around them. I see people who use their experience and wisdom to make choices that allow them to live the kinds of lives they want on their terms and to be satisfied and happy with those lives. That’s my reality and I wanted to share it.
Jodi: What was the inspiration for the new Hope series?
CC: I’ve heard readers say they want a book they can pick up and read in one night or when they’re busy. I often want the same thing. So my goal with the new Hope books is to create a little town by sharing freestanding stories about the lives of various couples in the town and to do it novella length. McFarland’s Farm is the first book in that world and it’s a light, happy novella.
Jodi: Do you have the series completed planned out yet?
CC: I have the town of Hope planned out and several of the people in it who will at some point get their own story.
Jodi: The characters in this story are intriguing. Lucas and Jared are very different, yet they share a few commonalities. What was your inspiration for each of these men?
CC: It’s so hard to pinpoint inspiration. When I’m ready to write a book, I think about the characters and they’re real in my head. There are occasions when I can pinpoint an inspiration, but that’s very rare.
For this book, I wanted to write an opposites attract type of story. On the surface, quiet, shy, hard-working Jared is night and day from party boy Lucas. But down deep, they want the same
things out of life and they complement each other well.
things out of life and they complement each other well.
CC: That’s a question every reader can decide. We definitely know Lucas’s father wants what’s best for his son and we know how highly he thinks of Jared.
Jodi: What was your inspiration for the setting? Will the rest of the stories in the series take place in this rural area?
CC: Yes, every story will take place in the fictional town of Hope. I wanted to write a town that I could create and I wanted it to be a more remote location than I’ve written in my other contemporaries. The location of Hope – between LA, Vegas, Phoenix – works well for being accessible and yet remote.
Jodi: Jared is a bit of an enigma. As a farmer he appreciates fresh vegetables, and yet, he does not cook. Is there some hidden meaning behind his stack of frozen meals?
CC: Jared is like many people who don’t feel like cooking makes sense when it’s being done for one. He works hard all day and because there’s nobody there to share his table, he’s never thought of taking the effort to make a meal.
Jodi: It is interesting that Lucas doesn’t realize that his behavior with the chef was inappropriate because of the location of the action. Why is he so convinced his father does not approve of him being gay?
CC: Lucas needed to grow up. He had an entitled, self-centered attitude that prevented him from seeing his own mistakes and made him blame others instead. Being at McFarland’s Farm gave him the room he needed for introspection and growth.
Jodi: Was it a challenge writing this story as a novella? Do you prefer writing shorter works?
CC: I loved writing the novella. As far as long or short, there are things I like about both so I’ll keep alternating novels with novellas.
Jodi: So, I have to ask ... You have written quite a few great books with intriguing characters. Do you have a favorite book or character?
CC: There is no way for me to choose. I can’t write a character unless I know him. Before I write my books, I live with the guys in my head and learn who they are and why they do what they do. I genuinely like my characters (even the ones with more flaws than others) so it’s impossible to choose a favorite. There might be some who I’d spend more time with than others in real life, but at the end of the day, I like them all or I wouldn’t live with them in my head long enough to write their books.
Jodi: How does writing shifter books differ from writing contemporary books? Do you have a preference?
CC: With shifter books, there’s more world building and, in my opinion, the opportunity to touch on darker subjects. Shifters are animals as well as men so they can bounce back from rough things in a way that would be more painful in a contemporary story. Also, in a shifter universe, there’s the ability to touch on real world subjects without directly addressing those subjects (and instead using parallel subjects). I love those aspects of writing shifter stories. That said, I love writing contemporary too so, much like the length of my work, I’ll keep doing both. J
Jodi: What is your next project?
CC: My next release is a freestanding contemporary novel in my Family universe called The Half of Us. Here’s the description:
Short-tempered, arrogant heart surgeon Jason Garcia grew up wanting a close-knit family, but believes he ruined those dreams when he broke up his marriage. The benefit of divorce is having as much random sex as he wants, and it's a benefit Jason is exploiting when he meets a sweet, shy man at a bar and convinces him to go home for a no-strings-attached night of fun.
Eight years living in Las Vegas hasn't dimmed Abe Green's optimism, earnestness, or desire to find the one. When a sexy man with lonely eyes propositions him, Abe decides to give himself a birthday present — one night of spontaneous fun with no thoughts of the future. But one night turns into two and then three, and Abe realizes his heart is involved.
For the first time, Abe feels safe enough with someone he respects and adores to let go of his inhibitions in the bedroom. If Jason can get past his own inhibitions and open his heart and his life to Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.
Jodi: I love the books in the Family universe J. When will the new book be released?
CC: The Half of Us is releasing October 10 on Dreamspinner Press.
Wealthy, attractive Lucas Reika treats life like a party, moving from bar to bar and man to man. Thumbing his nose at his restaurateur father's demand that he earn his keep, Lucas instead seduces a valued employee in the kitchen of their flagship restaurant, earning himself an ultimatum: lose access to his father's money or stay in the middle of nowhere with a man he has secretly lusted over from afar.
Quiet, hard-working Jared McFarland loves his farm on the outskirts of Hope, Arizona, but he aches to have someone to come home to at the end of the day. Jared agrees to take in his longtime crush as a favor. But when Lucas invades his heart in addition to his space, Jared has to decide how much of himself he's willing to risk and figure out if he can offer Lucas enough to keep him after his father's punishment is over.