Today I am so pleased to welcome Cari Z to Joyfully Jay. Cari has come to talk to us about her new release, Evergreen. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I’m so happy to be back at Joyfully Jay, this time promoting my latest release, Evergreen. This is an m/m science fiction novella that I originally published with Less Than Three Press a long, long time ago in an anthology far, far away. I loved working with LT3, but the anthology didn’t really go anywhere, and I mentally consigned my near-future, mission to Mars story to history.
Things have a funny way of working out. Since then, presses have come and gone, work has fallen back into my hands, and I’ve dipped a toe into the waters of self-publishing. Evergreen is the fourth story of mine that’s getting a new life, and I’m particularly thrilled about this one, since it’s one of my personal favorites as well as full of tropes that I love. Enemies-to-friends-to-lovers! Long-distance relationships! Climate change as the inevitable predictor of a mildly dystopian future…wait…
There are footraces and HALO jumps, training accidents and rescue missions gone wrong, hateful fathers and loving sisters and above all, a pair of devoted lovers. I love this little novella, and I hope you will too if you check it out. Enjoy the exclusive excerpt, too!
The ISA recommends speaking to your family no more than once a month. You may not pass along classified information of any kind, including but not limited to: your training regime, the specialties of your fellow candidates, any proprietary information about MB1, any technical details about Project Evergreen, and/or your mental and emotional health. We recommend sticking to neutral topics such as telenovels, or the latest viral kitten videos. –ISA Project Evergreen Handbook
One of the big ideas that the psych team pushed at Cyril and the rest of the squad was the idea of their “new family.” They were encouraged to consider themselves as part of a family that consisted of everyone else in the program, and to slowly cut ties with their “old family” in order to make the inevitable separation easier to take. That change in perspective was assisted by limiting each person’s contact with the outside world and monitoring every interaction for signs of flagging conviction and enthusiasm.
For most people it wasn’t a problem. No one offered themselves up as a candidate for a mission to Mars if they weren’t already prepared, whether by circumstance or by choice, to leave everything and everyone behind. For Cyril particularly, it was no problem. He was effectively orphaned, and happy to be so. For some, like Shekar and Leon, it was harder to pry themselves away from the lure of their extended families. Leon had already been warned once for over-sharing; one more infraction and he’d be kicked out of Evergreen.
Then there was Scottie, who was just a lucky bastard and knew it, because the only living family member he had was in the same boat. Regulations were dramatically relaxed for him, and so he made it a point to connect with Sophie live at least once a week, usually syncing their tablets so they could watch a movie together. When Scottie first invited Cyril along for movie night he declined, thinking it too personal to join them. Scottie had persisted, though, and Sophie made Cyril feel welcome. Scottie, on the other hand, made him feel downright useful.
“Fucking thing,” Scottie griped, smacking the surface of his tablet. The holoprojector flickered in and out, finally going dark. “Bloody hell, now I’ve lost her completely.”
“You can’t treat your tab like a piece of lab equipment,” Cyril said. “Give it to me.” Scottie handed it over and Cyril ran his hands over the smooth casing, tutting softly at it. “Poor baby, is the big mean man always this awful to you?”
“I’m not awful to her, she’s just a saucy little minx who can’t decide whether she’s turned on or off by me,” Scottie muttered.
“I think Sophie is right, you’re just bad with fine machinery.”
“And I think this marriage of minds between you and my sister is perfectly horrifying,” Scottie replied. “Despite what you may think, the woman doesn’t know everything about me. Her words are not the instruction booklet for my life.”
“Of course not,” Cyril said, turning the tablet on again. He held it out toward Scottie. “Get us in.”
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” Scottie recited dutifully. His voice key unlocked the tab, and the function icons blossomed into existence above the screen. Cyril reactivated the connection to Sophie, and a moment later she was there, shaking her blonde head.
“I told you not to let him touch it,” she said.
“I should have listened.”
“I’m right bloody here!” Scottie protested. “Who’s got the doctorate in cryogenics and superconductivity? Oh, is that me? The one who does practically nothing but work with machines day in and day out, and you want to blame this damn thing’s malfunctions on me?”
“Within your sphere you’re brilliant, darling,” Sophie soothed, “but outside of it you’re rather impatient. Your little tab isn’t meant to deal with hamfisting.”
“Woman, I’ll have you know—”
“Who did the foster parents make work the family projector for the entire seven years we lived with them?” Sophie demanded. “I’m sorry, who was that again? I believe it was me, your little sister.”
“I only broke it once!”
“Once was enough for the McMurtreys. They didn’t let us watch anything for months, it was terrible.” She looked down and tapped her screen a few times, and then the opening scenes of Iron Man 13 filled the tab’s projection screen. “Hold him down if you have to, Cy, just don’t let him bugger up the connection again.”
Cyril reached over and wrapped his arms around Scottie’s shoulders, which softened from their defensive stance after a moment to go lax and comfortable in his grip. Scottie turned his face and kissed Cyril’s shoulder, and Cyril smiled contentedly. “I can do that,” he promised Sophie.
Soldiers. Explorers. Lovers.
Cy Konstantin and Scottie Andrews are supposed to make Project Evergreen’s one-way trip to Mars together. A near-fatal accident during training knocks Cy into a coma for half a year, and out of Project Evergreen. He works his way back to Scottie’s side, but he can’t rejoin the mission. Once Scottie leaves, they’re destined to live millions of miles apart for the rest of their lives.
A deadly accident on Mars might spell the end of their distant romance, though—or be the thing that saves it.
Cari Z is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She likes edged weapons, prefers books to television shows, and goes weak at the knees for interesting men and exciting explosions (but not at exactly the same time—that would be so messy).
You can find her at carizerotica.blogspot.com, follow her on Facebook as Cari Zee, or on Twitter as @author_cariz. She has several novels available on Amazon as well, please check them out and leave a review!