Today, I’m very excited to welcome author Cari Z to Joyfully Jay. Cari is the author of the new book Changing Worlds, sequel to the short story Opening Worlds that I reviewed here earlier today. Welcome, Cari!
Why, thank you!
First off, can you start by giving us a quick summary of Changing Worlds from your perspective?
Changing Worlds follows my two main protagonists, Jason and Ferran—one a human and one an alien—back to Ferran’s home world after their unexpected romance and marriage. It’s the story of how their entirely new, politically-charged relationship plays out in a world that fears change, in the context of both the larger society and just between the two of them. Jason is in a subordinate role for the first time in a long time, every move monitored by his new family, and Ferran is worrying about how his husband adjusts while trying to learn a whole new skill set. It’s a love story, absolutely, but one that has a lot of dips and curves.
One of the things I enjoyed about the short story Opening Worlds was the vivid world building and details about Jason and Ferran and the Perelan society. Is it difficult to create a new world for a story? Or do you enjoy the freedom to make up your own rules and way of life for your characters?
World building is one of my favorite parts of writing. I love being able to make up whatever I want, or to pick and choose from different cultures and traditions to form an entirely new one. It’s definitely challenging, but that’s where the fun comes in.
While the first story takes place entirely on a spaceship, Changing Worlds takes the heroes to Perelan itself. This is an insular society that is just opening itself up to outsiders. Can you tell us more about Perelan?
Perelan is populated by the Perels, a species that was technologically advanced enough to destroy most of its population in a civil war thousands of years ago. After that the society experienced a radical shift from patriarchal to matriarchal, and ever since then, the females have held the upper hand in all aspects of daily life, and they’re not eager to get involved in anything that might change the balance of power. As far as the planet itself, most of my story takes place in the capitol city Berenze, which is partially subterranean and set in the middle of a rainforest that’s more forbidding than inviting. Of course, my hero finds his way there anyway. 🙂
While Jason is human, Ferran is an otherworldly creature with lots of human characteristics as well as lots of foreign qualities. I am interested in the balance between creating a character that is both unusual and different, as well as someone who is relatable enough to readers as a romance hero. Can you tell us more about that?
It’s a very fine line to walk, especially given the romance aspect. It’s one thing to have fun alien characters who interact with humans; it’s another thing entirely to expect the two species to be compatible in bed, and in a romance that’s essential. On the other hand, I didn’t want to do something cliched with my aliens, like making lizard-men or cat-people or just humans with pointy ears. I want Perels to be memorable all on their own, so I tried to give them enough unique physical and mental characteristics to make them stand out from the crowd while still being approachable to humans.
Can you tell us what else you are working on now? Are there any new projects we can expect to see?
I’m taking a little break from the long stuff to finish a plethora of short stories for various anthologies and finish out a serial story on my blog. I’m still considering which way to go with my next big undertaking. Novels are a much larger dedication of time and resources, and so I want to make sure I can give the time to the work that it merits.
If my readers want to know more about you or your work, where can they find you?
The best place to get current updates on my work is at my blog: http://carizerotica.blogspot.com. My website has a complete list of all my published works at www.cari-z.net, and you can follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/author_cariz. Please come and visit me!
And now we have an excerpt from Changing Worlds. Can you set the scene up a bit for us?
Sure! In this scene Jason and Ferran are about to land on Perelan, and Jason is removing his captain’s uniform in exchange for his new, Perel-approved clothing. A huge part of his identity has always been wrapped up in his work, and this is the point where it hits Jason that that part of his life is over.
He took the suit out and laid it on the bed; then he just stood there and stared at it. Once he put that suit on, it would become his new normal. Jason already knew that he would never go back to his uniforms, but he hadn’t thought it would be so hard to let go of them either. After a moment, Ferran stepped in and slowly unfastened Jason’s shirt, pulling it back off his shoulders and tossing it away. He did the same with Jason’s pants, sliding them down his legs and off, getting rid of the shoes first. Every movement was deliberate: not really sensuous, but decidedly intimate.
Ferran’s cool hands traced up Jason’s shins, over his knees and hips, and across his abdomen as Ferran stood again. Goosebumps sprang to life over Jason’s whole body, accentuated in the slightly chill air of their bedroom. Ferran exhaled against the base of Jason’s throat, warming him, before he turned to the green suit. He redressed Jason with the same care he’d used undressing him, carefully straightening the collar and smoothing out the sleeves before he attached Giselle’s insignia to the unmarked shoulder.
Once everything was done, he stepped close and embraced Jason in the Perel way. Their right temples touched, and each of their right hands cupped the side of the other’s face, gentle and intimate. They kept the rest of their bodies at a slight distance, feeling the heat of each other, but nothing else.
“I love you,” Jason said, turning his face just far enough to kiss the edge of Ferran’s cheek. For some reason, he felt it was important to ensure that his lover had those words at the forefront of his mind before they tackled what came next.
“I love you,” Ferran replied. “You first. You always.”
“Good.” Jason kissed him again briefly before he pulled back. “Ready for our grand entrance?”
Thank you so much for joining me here today on the blog!
It was absolutely my pleasure, thank you for having me!