TNA: Hi, Cara, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself: hobbies, interests, things we might not know about you but should?
Cara: Thanks for having me! I’d say my work is my biggest hobby. I can get lost in fiction for hours and then wonder how the whole day flew by. Add reading, traveling, and listening to music and I’m all set.
TNA: Have you always written M/M Romance, or is that something that came along later in your writing career? What is it that drew you to explore gay relationships in your writing?
Cara: I started with M/F, which I still enjoy, and then I got hooked on ménage but thought I found something even better when the girl left ;) Ménage stories frustrated me when the two men were so damn reluctant to touch each other haha. At first, I think I just found it extremely hot—I mean why write about one when you can have two? But today it’s grown; it’s more about the relationships, the surroundings, and any obstacles the characters have to deal with.
TNA: What was your first published M/M title? If you could go back in time, to the moment you sat down and began writing it, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give yourself, now that you have the benefit of experience?
Cara: Aftermath was my first M/M novel, and it was one of those stories that was very easy to write. The plot came to me, and the characters developed naturally. I think it only took me a couple months to finish it, and while I was writing, I didn’t focus on the next part. I just wrote. And I got lucky, because it became very popular overnight; I’m still not sure how that happened. But I think, if there’s any advice I’d give myself, it’s that every book won’t be an Aftermath.
TNA: Do you remember the first M/M book you ever read? If so, what was it, and what about it made the most lasting impression upon you?
Cara: Hmm, it wasn’t the first, but one of the first was Hot Head by Damon Suede. I fell hard for the “gay for you” concept, but it has to be believable. It’s nothing that happens overnight, and I feel like a strong connection between the two men—other than simple attraction—is necessary. Like a long-lasting friendship, dealing with tragedy together, or simply evolving. But, like I said, nothing that happens overnight, and Damon Suede nailed it. I hope I did too, with Aftermath. :)
TNA: How would you describe your books to someone who hasn’t read them yet? Do your characters share common qualities? If so, what’s your idea of a great protagonist?
Cara: I shy away from unnecessary drama. Drama and angst—that’s all great, but it can’t be too drawn-out or unrealistic. As for my characters, they’re all flawed in different ways, but I stick to loyal men and women.
TNA: Let’s talk a little bit about your new book Public Display of Everything. What are some of the things you love most about your characters Cory and Flynn?
Cara: I’d have to say I love their balance of give and take. Cory might be strong, tall, and more confident, but he also trips over air, can’t hold a job, and isn’t sure about what he’s supposed to do with his life—or who he is. At the same time, Flynn is successful and rich, but he’s also socially awkward and insecure. Lastly, I wanted to mix things up a little. So, we have the model who’s passionate about Roman history and the cute geek who runs an online community about voyeurism.
TNA: What is it that compelled you to write a story that includes voyeurism/exhibitionism? Did you find writing those scenes to be creatively liberating in a way? Was it an instance where you just gave your imagination free rein and were surprised to see what came of it after?
Cara: The voyeurism bit was there from the beginning; I wanted to write something on that topic, because I’ve always liked “different,” and a new area to research is always fun. From the beginning, I kept imagining Flynn glued to his laptop (don’t know why!) and his website sort of came to life that way. I can only speak for myself, but once I have my characters running around in my head, I have very little control of what happens. I can decide on a direction, but it’s the character who paves the way, if that makes sense.
TNA: If I were to ask Cory and Flynn, what are some things they’d say they love most about each other?
Cara: Acceptance. Cory and Flynn can be who they are—no judgment. Flynn loves it when Cory pushes him out of his comfort zone every now and then, too. And Cory definitely loves that Flynn won’t let Cory get away with petty excuses and stalling. I think they challenge each other in a very sweet way.
TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt from the book with us?
Cara: Of course!
Cory can’t keep a job. Flynn has a job he can no longer hide behind. A simple proposition in an effort to solve both of their problems leads two young men to confront the heartbreaks of their pasts in order to make a future together.
What starts as an innocent bit of voyeurism turns into a public display of…everything.
You know you like to watch.
Excerpt: “Shit,” I mumble, dropping the plate back into the sink. Dishwater splashes across my T-shirt, and I get suds in my eye. Why is it always my fucking eye? Grabbing the rag tossed over my shoulder, I wipe my face and shut off the faucet.
“You know we have a dishwasher.” Flynn enters the kitchen. I look over at him as he sits down at the table with my tablet. “So…I’m going to take a wild guess. It’s another distraction.” The last word comes out with no small amount of irritation. I clench my jaw and stare down at the sink as he goes on, this time more indifferently. “Anything I can do for you? Name it. I pulled up the documentary you wanted to see on Netflix.”
Guilt weighs heavy on me, and I gotta hand it to Flynn. For not being Catholic, he plays that card very well.
“The Gold of the Thracians?” I mutter, and he nods in my periphery.
“It sounds very fascinating,” he says conversationally. Turning around, I lean against the counter and narrow my eyes at him, sure he’s up to something. “What is Thracia, really? Did I say that right?”
“It was a province. Doesn’t exist anymore.” My answer is automatic. “What are you doing, Flynn?”
“Hmm?” He’s the picture of innocence. “Me? Nothing. I’m making conversation.” He smiles as if nothing’s wrong. “I waited patiently while you asked for time to process. Three days passed and you still didn’t want to talk about Luke’s messages. Then I pressed the matter, at which you got defensive and cantankerous.”
I think I know that last word. “I knew you didn’t wanna talk about Thracia.” Too good to be true.
“Au contraire.” He holds up a finger. “It’s been a week now, so I’m going a different route. You’re like a scared animal. The more I push, the more you retreat—”
“Are you comparing me to an animal?” I fold my arms across my chest, half-amused, half-ticked off.
“That’s what I said,” he replies frankly. “Anyway, I’ve done some research, and I think I know what will work on you.” I raise a brow. Now I’m an experiment? Flynn looks proud and triumphant. “Acting like I don’t care.” He nods. “That’ll do the trick. Soon enough, you’ll feel wounded and annoyed because I’ve stopped asking.”
What the fuck. I can’t help but laugh. “You’re not supposed to explain your schemes.”
“Well…” His eyes flicker to the tablet. “I don’t want you to actually believe I don’t care. You claim there’s nothing to talk about—”
“There isn’t.” I’m so sick of this topic. “It changes nothing.”
“It changes everything.” He widens his eyes at me, incredulous. “Cory, you pretend not to care, but you do. Luke is very sorry—”
“Did you wanna talk about Thracia or not?” Fuck subtle. I’m done with this. I don’t need Luke.
TNA: I know this is sort of like asking you to name your favorite child, but of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite? If so, which and why?
Cara: Yikes! Oh, um. Hmm. I think it’s a tie between Aftermath, Public Display, and Touch to Surrender. They’re all so different, too. Aftermath sated my need for research; I really do love that, and Austin and Cam have a special place in my heart, definitely. But so do the others… Impossible to choose! Hey, maybe I can cheat and say, “My favorite hasn’t been written yet.”
TNA: If you could bring one of your characters off the page and into the real world, whom would you choose, and why?
Cara: Flynn or Cam, I think. I’d want either of them as my best friend. Maybe because I put more of myself into their personalities. They’re both straightforward in their own ways, and definitely people shy.
TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs with us?
Cara: My priority is definitely Outcome, the sequel to Aftermath. We get to see Austin and Cam again, and of course we’ll get Chase and Remy’s story. Unlike Aftermath, Outcome won’t have a steady stream of flashbacks, because I felt we got enough of those in Austin and Cam’s story. Instead I’ve forwarded Bakersfield three years into the future, and Chase—who was also kidnapped by Ben Stahl in Aftermath—is pretending that everything is okay. At the same time, in another part of California, Remy has given up and has turned to alcohol and drugs.
If you read Aftermath, you might remember that the kidnapper assigned parts for the captives to play, and Chase was given the role of Remy, the kidnapper’s brother. For different reasons, Chase and Remy carry guilt for what happened three years ago, and the last thing they want to do is revisit the past. But they kinda have to, if they want to move on, and one has answers the other needs.
To keep ten men captive for five months wasn’t free, and Ben Stahl didn’t have any money. Remy, on the other hand, is loaded.
TNA: And finally, would you share with us all the places we can find you on the internet?
The Giveaway: Cara Dee would love to give one lucky reader the chance to win an e-copy of Public Display of Everything. All you have to do is leave a comment right here (one comment per reader will be accepted for entry) by Midnight Pacific Time on Monday, May 26, 2014.
One winner will be selected at random on Tuesday, the 27th, and notified via email for prize delivery.