Author Cardeno C. is best known for Wake Me Up Inside and Home Again. When not writing, CC can be found volunteering at local gay rights organizations. Mastering the genre that they write, CC finds a way to keep readers attached to the novels they can’t seem to put down!
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction? How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I’ll answer the first two questions together. I never considered being a fiction writer until about the time I sat down and wrote my first story, which was Where He Ends and I Begin. I hadn’t read romance novels at that point and I had no idea there were gay romance novels out there. What drove me to write the book was a sense that so many movies and shows I saw had gay characters who were killed or hurt or deeply miserable and after seeing this over and over again, I started feeling like it was a punishment, like these people weren’t allowed to be happy and healthy and strong AND gay. And I’m talking about movies where the gay characters are the main characters, movies targeted toward a gay/welcoming audience. That vision of life doesn’t match what I see in the world around me.
Yes, there are tragedies and sadness and family trouble. I know. Those things are real and true. But my life experience is that people as a whole are resilient and strong. I see people move past the hard times and make their own happy futures. I see people learn and grow and build lives and communities and families around them. I see people who use their experience and wisdom to make choices that allow them to live the kinds of lives they want on their terms and to be satisfied and happy with those lives. That’s my reality and I wanted to share it.
My first step on that path was writing the beginning of Where He Ends and I Begin and publishing it on a free website. When I got notes from readers telling me they liked it and to write more, I did. After that story came another and then readers suggested that I try my hand at publishing the online stories into books. They told me about Dreamspinner Press so I went to their website, bought a few books, and then submitted my own.
You write under a pseudonym. Why?
Writing explicit books isn’t a good match with my day job. That means my choices were to write something else or use a pen name. I like writing explicit books so pen name it is!
What is it like to volunteer with gay rights organizations?
Volunteering is wonderful. Being part of a community and the wonderful growth and change we see in the world around us is important to me and I enjoy doing it.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
I don’t want people I work with to know I write explicit books because I think it would impact my ability to continue working in my field.
What was it like to use a time travel element in Places in Time? Was it a great plot device to use?
I loved the time travel element in Places in Time. I wrote that short novella as part of Dreamspinner’s time travel daily dose anthology specifically because I’m a time travel fan. Quantum Leap is one of my favorite all time shows.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
We have wonderful writers in this genre with many different types of books.
Was there any backlash from publishing Walk With Me, because of the religion mentioned?
I haven’t experienced any backlash from Walk With Me. Many novels have characters who have a stated religion or who celebrate certain holidays so it wasn’t a groundbreaking aspect of the book.
What are you currently working?
Currently I’m writing a wolf shifter book in a new universe.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I come with an idea for a book and then get to know the characters in my head. After that, I outline the book and then write it. I edit extensively throughout.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
I can generally write a novel in two months if life doesn’t get too busy.
What is it like to go from writing a sweet love story, to a paranormal toned romance? Is it hard to transition between subgenres?
I think all of my books have a sweet, uplifting undertone to them. At least that’s my goal. When I write a new book, I shift my mind to the new characters – who they are, where they live, their ambitions, their struggles, how they’ll grow. That shift happens regardless of book genre.
What advice do you have for those thinking about writing gay romance and what advice do you have for those who are trying to build an audience from scratch?
If someone has a book or books inside them, they should give it a go and write them down. I’m so glad I took that step because it got me to a place where I can follow my dream and write books.