Building Blocks; or, How To Have Fun Playing God by Author Cari Z

Please welcome author Cari Z to Top 2 Bottom! Her latest novel, Changing Worlds, was just released through Storm Moon Press, and is a great mix of science fiction and romance!


There are a ton of details that go into writing a novel, and in the case of Changing Worlds, only about half of them made it into the actual book. Authors wax poetic over the intensive character studies, the meticulous plot, how to communicate those feelings of intrigue and drama and romance… and all of that is very important stuff, absolutely. The backbone of any story, though–at least the ones I tend to write–is based in the setting. World building is probably my favorite part of writing, and I will be the first one to tell you that I tend to go overboard with it. By the time I’m on my third page of description my editor is usually in there, saying, “Um…action? Action, please?” At which point, I smack myself and remember that I’m trying to advance the plot, not write a travel brochure to a completely imaginary place.

I actually prefer writing science fiction to more contemporary genres because of the freedom I get with the creation of it. If I want to set my world on a planet covered in blue jello, I could do that (mmm…blue jello…there isn’t any in this book, though). So much of the fun of science fiction is transporting your characters, and readers, into a place that they’ve never been before. Everyone’s been to a city, old news, but I light my city with phosphorescent fungi instead of electricity. A lot of my action takes place in a forest, oh, ho hum… except the environment is so toxic that my hero Jason is in danger of dissolving into a puddle of grossness without the right prophylaxis. Need some conflict? How about having your mind read by your mother-in-law! I could go on and on, but so much of the fun of reading is the process of discovery.

One of the biggest challenges in writing Changing Worlds for me came in keeping things different enough to pique interest, but similar enough to make reading easy for people who have no interest in hard science fiction. This story was written to be a romance and it is a romance, just one set on an alien world with an unusual social structure, occasionally incompatible ethics and a much different physical environment than my human hero is used to. Nothing I write should be so off-putting that someone can’t imagine it in their minds. Actually, a lot of it the emotions Jason feels and the things he goes through will be intimately familiar to anyone who’s been in a similar situation, going from their native culture to one that they’ve never experienced before. My hero has to deal with different foods, a different language, a change in profession and, of course, marriage, but marriage as defined by an alien culture.

I put a lot of my own experiences and emotions into crafting this novel, and I strived to make it accessible, engaging and, most of all, enjoyable. I want to transport my readers into another world, I want them to become as comfortable there as Jason eventually does, and by the end, I want them to love it the way he does as well. If I did my job right setting the stage, then Changing Worlds will leave my readers feeling like they’ve lived the experience alongside my heroes, and that it was a hell of a ride.

Many thanks to Top 2 Bottom Reviews for hosting me today!

Cari Z is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She tried living the American dream for a while but soon traded it in for two years in the Peace Corps. She’s back from Africa now, playing catch up with work, loving hot running water, and writing for all she’s worth. Follow her blog for updates on her recent works at, and check out her website at for a running tally of everything she’s put out there and news on what’s coming next. You can also find her on Twitter at!/author_cariz.

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