Please help us welcome Cardeno C. The very talented author of the Home Series.
Thanks so much for being here with us today, Cardeno. Let’s start by having you tell us a bit about yourself.
CC: I’m a fairly new author. My first book was published in February of this year and my newest release will be published on October 11th in honor of Nat’l Coming Out Day. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to get the voices in my head onto the screen and out into the world. It’s an honor for me when people read and enjoy my books and I’m endlessly grateful to the readers who buy my books and allow me to have the privilege to keep writing.
When did you discover your passion for writing? Was there someone in particular who encouraged and inspired your love for storytelling?
CC: I write quite a bit in my day job, but it’s a very different type of writing. I’ve had stories floating in my head for years and one day I just decided to just go for it and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I wanted to write books that show happy, positive gay relationships without being judgmental about the lives people lead. I hope I’ve accomplished that with my books.
What was your first published novel, and how long did the process take from the time you began writing until it was released?
Do you come up with the titles of your books before the writing process begins, or does that typically happen later on?
CC: I usually come up with the titles before I start writing the stories. All of my titles are based on lyrics from songs that, in one way or another, depict the characters in my books. Here are a few examples:
He Completes Me is about a Zach, a man who struggles with his own history and background to come to a place where he can finally trust Aaron, the man he has inexplicably fallen in love with. The chorus from You Complete Me by Keyshia Cole made me think of Zach:
“You love me, you complete me
You hold my heart in your hands
And it’s okay ’cause I trust that
You’ll be the best man that you can”
Love at First Sight is about Jonathan, a sweet but unlucky man who was going through life without a compass until he saw David and fell in love at first sight. Of course, there were obstacles in the way, but when I heard Kylie Minogue’s Love at First Sight, I thought of Jonathan:
“Was tired of running out of luck
Thinking ’bout giving up yeah
Didn’t know what to do
Then there was you
And everything went from wrong to right
And the stars came out and filled up the sky
The music you were playing really blew my mind
It was love at first sight”
And my newest book, Just What the Truth Is, is about Ben, a man who has spent his entire life trying to be something he isn’t – straight. When Ben meets and falls in love with Micah, he knows that he needs to find the strength to come to terms with who he is. Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues constantly played in my mind when I thought about Ben.
“Beauty I’d always missed
With these eyes before,
Just what the truth is
I can’t say anymore.
Some try to tell me
Thoughts they cannot defend,
Just what you want to be
You will be in the end”
How much creative input do you have in the cover designs for your books?
CC: I’m able to suggest what I want to see in a cover and the artist is very generous in trying to accommodate me.
Have any parts of your books originated from your own life experiences?
CC: Absolutely. There are many small things – funny lines, background stories – that come from my life and I work into my books. And sometimes it isn’t something specific but more of a feeling. There’s a scene in He Completes Me where the main character, who is a self-described slut, overhears friends of his new lover talking about him in a disparaging way. That scene was based on a real life event and it was the inspiration for the character and the book.
Too often in life it seems that people expect others to act just as they would in a situation or to have the same needs or lead the same lives. But the beauty of existence, to me, is that we’re all different. When I wrote He Completes Me, I wanted to show a person who had his share of issues, who wasn’t perfect, but who liked himself regardless. Zach is self-confident and strong and he doesn’t apologize for who he is, regardless of what people think of him. And Aaron loves him for it.
Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you attempt to dedicate to your writing?
CC: No, I don’t write full time. I have a day job that pays the bills and I write for pleasure.
Do you find it more enjoyable to write in any one sub-genre as opposed to another? (i.e. paranormal vs. contemporary vs. historical?)
CC: Most of my books have been contemporary, although I am also writing a paranormal series. I’ve enjoyed writing both of those sub-genres and I enjoy reading them.
Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?
CC: I don’t outline my plots, but I do have an unwritten plan for each story. I know who my characters are, what makes them tick, how they’ll grow, how their relationship will develop, and where they’ll end up. Sometimes they surprise me by changing course in the middle of a story, but the basic framework is there to guide us.
What has been the most difficult topic you’ve ever approached in your writing?
CC: My stories are, at their core, about the internal struggles we face. Although I recognize that there are many external sources of pain and hardship in life, in my experience the damage we do to ourselves is often much more acute than anything coming from the outside.
To me, it’s interesting to explore those inner conflicts. That means that, as I think is true in life, my characters might worry about an issue, and might make questionable decisions in order to avoid or hide the issue, but at the end of the day, the issue will never be as significant as what they’d built up in their heads. To me, that’s real.
Now, as far as the most difficult topic I’ve approached, it’s Ben’s struggle coming to terms with who he is and living his own life in Just What the Truth Is. It was very important to me to show what the character went through in his coming out process without being overly dramatic or overly simplistic. Doing justice to that process and that character required a close look at his internal struggle and it wasn’t an easy one for him to face. As a result, it wasn’t an easy one for me to write.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
CC: It’s funny because I’m not a writer as my primary job. I’m actually a boring corporate type. So I’ll turn the question around and tell you that if I wasn’t a boring corporate type, I’d be a writer.
How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
CC: I’d describe my sense of humor as a little dry and a lot dirty. I laugh all the time because I think we can find humor in all sorts of places and situations, and because, hey, it feels good to laugh!
Do you have a favorite personal mantra, quote, or saying that describes your outlook on life and the way you approach each day?
CC: I don’t know if I have a mantra, per se. But I do approach life by trying to be good to people around me and to find the positive side of things. I don’t believe in dwelling on the negative or wallowing.
Thank you again for spending some time with us, Cardeno. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
CC: My website is www.cardenoc.com.
And we’d love if you’d share a favorite excerpt from one of your books with us.
From Love at First Sight:
“I don’t want to go home.”
Jonathan’s voice was soft, but he hoped his meaning was clear, because he really couldn’t find the courage to say more. Was it actually possible that this beautiful man could want to be with him? And, again, had he called Jonathan “baby”?
David nodded in understanding, a tender look in those beautiful eyes.
“Do you want to come home with me, Jonathan?”
Those eyes, so soft and caring, gazed at Jonathan from the handsome, kind face.
“Okay, Jonathan. Don’t be scared of me. I won’t hurt you.”
Jonathan shook his head from side to side. “Not scared of you.” Of everything and everyone else, maybe. Of messing up yet another part of his life. Of breaking yet another of his brother’s tools or his sister’s prized ceramic collectible snow globes. Of disappointing his parents because he was gay, not smart enough, not strong enough, or not driven enough. Of never earning as much money as he’d need to give Sam a good life. Yes, he was afraid of all of those things. But not of David. He could never be scared of the man with those warm, caring, navy-blue eyes.
Slowly, oh so slowly, David scooted out of the booth and took a step in Jonathan’s direction, never letting go of his hand. Jonathan raised his body out from behind the table and found himself chest to chest with David. The hand that had been holding his let go and made its way to his hair, petting him, while David’s left hand wrapped possessively around Jonathan’s waist.
“I have no idea what’s happening here, but.…” David licked his plump, red lips and swallowed, the movement of his Adam’s apple taking Jonathan’s breath away. “Can I kiss you, Jonathan? I need to kiss you.”
Jonathan must have been nodding because things in his line of sight moved up and down, but his brain seemed to have shut down. He was rigid as David leaned toward him and those warm lips—so soft, so tender—met his own. And then Jonathan opened his mouth and tasted David’s flavor for the first time. He whimpered and melted against that hard body. His arms wrapped around the flat waist, his fingers dug into the hard muscles, and his tongue met David’s and danced.
Jonathan moaned when he felt David’s hard length pressing insistently against his waist. The moan turned into a whimper when David’s knee edged its way in between Jonathan’s and pushed until Jonathan’s cock was pressed against David’s thigh. A big hand tickled its way across Jonathan’s back and down to his ass. David clutched him and pulled him forward, urging Jonathan to rock against his leg while David plundered his mouth.
Jonathan’s hips thrust forward and back, his whimpers and moans flowing into David’s hot mouth. Though he feared that he’d cum right there in the bar, Jonathan couldn’t stop himself. It felt so good. David’s taste, his flavor, his scent. Just as Jonathan neared the edge of the precipice, David stopped his rocking motion with a firm grip on his hip and spoke into his mouth.
“Can you wait, baby? I want to taste you when you cum and I can’t do that here.”
That endearment, flowing from David’s lips and aimed at him. The thought of David’s mouth on his cock, something no one had ever done, of David wanting to taste his cum, something he hadn’t ever considered someone wanting to do. Oh, just that word and those thoughts were all it took for Jonathan to explode.
“Oh, God!” He threw his forehead against David’s chest and whimpered as he climaxed.
“Holy shit. You weren’t even moving and you just came.”
David’s deep voice rolled over him, but Jonathan kept his head ducked down, eyes averted. He was mortified. He’d just creamed his pants in front of his dream man. In a bar. Yes, it was early, so the bar was essentially empty, and they were in a dark corner where nobody could see them. But David knew, and that was all that mattered.
Jonathan steeled himself for rejection and opened his mouth to apologize, but David’s lips descended on his, tongue demanding entrance, and he lost the power of speech. David licked and nibbled, sucked and moaned, and by the time he pulled his mouth away, Jonathan’s lips were swollen and he was gasping for air. David held Jonathan’s face between his large, warm hands and peered into his eyes.
“You are the single hottest thing that I have ever seen in my entire life. I don’t know where you came from, but I am never letting you go. I’m going to tell Eric that I’m taking off. You can clean up if you want, bathroom’s that way.”
David tipped his head toward an area behind Jonathan’s left shoulder. Jonathan stood still and blinked his eyes, trying to get his spinning head under control and calm his racing heart. He hadn’t blown it. He didn’t know why or how, but David still seemed interested. David looked at Jonathan in wonder for several long moments. Eventually, he dropped his hands from Jonathan’s face, and started walking toward the bar, where a tall man was wiping a spot on the section farthest from them. But after taking only a few steps, David flipped around, strode back over to Jonathan, and pulled the smaller man into his arms for another full-body kiss.
“Hottest thing ever. Seriously. Where have you been all my life?”