Veronica Scott for AMAZING STORIES: Welcome to my periodic series of author profiles. Today I’ve chosen Cara Bristol, who has written a wide range of science fiction romances, from cyborgs to futuristic reality shows and more. I’ve been reading her books since she first enticed readers with snippets from her hard hitting Breeder series. She’s truly supportive of other SFR authors and maintains a lively group on Facebook for readers and authors alike.
VS for ASM.: Which of your SFR books is the bestselling?
CB: Breeder (Breeder 1) is the bestselling, but only because it’s the very first SFR that I wrote, so it’s been available the longest. It was first published by Loose Id in 2013, then re-released as an Indie publication in 2017. Logline: An Alpha commander rules over a violent planet until a lowly breeder slave changes his world. Breeder is intense and edgy. Ironically, Alien Mate (Alien Mate 1), which is light and funny and totally the opposite in tone, is my second-bestselling book. It was published in 2017.
ASM.: I started reading your books with Breeder and was totally hooked. None of us can ever pick a favorite book or character but if you had to go live in one of your own books, which would you choose and why?
CB: The Alien Castaways series! Six aliens fleeing the destruction of their planet land in Argent, Idaho. Argent is a very small town (population 500) in the woods of northern Idaho, but the residents open their arms to the aliens and accept them unconditionally. Argent is fictitious, but I lived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for nine years, and I drew from my knowledge of the area in creating Argent. Alien Castaways is a six-book series. Each book is titled after the alien hero and reflects a particular trait that the alien has: Chameleon, Wingman, Psy, Shadow, Inferno, and Tigre.
ASM.: It’s a terrific series and I love the way the small town trope fits into the scifi romance themes. How do you go about world building? Do you do elaborate planning, keep a big file, use post its, wing it – what method works for you?
CB: Ha. Ha. Ha. Like I would have a file. That’s a good one. I’m a total pantser. I make it up as I go along—everything, the world, the characters, the plot. I don’t know what I’m doing until I’ve done it.
ASM.: Well whatever creative inner process your muse has, even if invisible to you until it’s complete, sure seems to work! What was your most recent book and what was the story spark or inspiration for that story?
CB: Maelstrom (Cyborg Force 4). I’d written several alien romance series, a couple of which were set on Earth, so I wanted to switch it up a bit. I decided to write a cyborg romance set on an alien planet. I decided the planet in Cyborg Force would be covered with white sand. Then, I thought, what if the sand isn’t really sand? What if it’s a residue left by an ancient alien population that is now causing problems in the colonization effort? No, wait…what if the sand IS the alien?! Bingo! Each Cyborg Force romance features a different cyborg hero and woman who get their HEA, but the series subplot deals with the need to protect this unique alien species from evil government & corporate forces.
ASM.: Which book was the most fun to write and why? The most challenging and why?
CB: Darak: Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides 1 was the most fun to write. It’s a short, light, fun and funny alien romance, about a woman who brings an alien as her plus-one to her sister’s wedding to shock her disapproving family. I knew exactly what needed to happen, and the story came together quickly and easily. Maelstrom (Cyborg Force 4) was the most challenging. It was the last book of the series, and the previous book, Vortex, was a reader favorite, so the pressure was on to ensure that Maelstrom was just as good. Maelstrom was my 61st book, and for the first time since I started writing romance (2009), I experienced major writer’s block. Some days I was lucky to squeeze out 500 words. But I finished the book, and the reviews have been phenomenal. Readers love Maelstrom even more than Vortex! Which goes to prove something I learned long ago—how you feel when you’re writing a book has little to do with its quality. It’s the writing that matters.
ASM.: Your own favorite tropes? Least favorite tropes?
CB: My favorite trope is enemies to lovers because of the natural conflict and story that arises. The challenge is how to make two people who hate each other fall in love! I also like forbidden love, forced proximity, and arranged marriage/marriage of convenience. And redemption is a theme that runs through many of my books. Often a “villain” in one book will be redeemed as the hero in another. He’s not “bad;” he’s just misunderstood. Lol. I’m not fond of any tropes in which hero mistreats the heroine. Bully romance, dark romance, mafia romance aren’t for me.
ASM.: Do you also write other genres? Which ones? How does writing a book in that genre compare to writing an SFR?
CB: I only write science fiction romance, although I have written a nonfiction sex scene thesaurus and writing guide called Naughty Words for Nice Writers. Published in 2015, it’s my number one bestselling book of all time. This book consistently sells with almost no promotion (once in a blue moon I’ll put up a Facebook post). Nonfiction has legs!
ASM.: What’s next for you?
CB: Well, I have a new alien romance series. Alien With Benefits (Forbidden Bonds 1) just released.
A space cruise with her bestie seems like the vacation of a lifetime until Holly Winter gets abducted by aliens and finds herself on a slave ship. When the ship’s AI goes haywire and accidentally releases the prisoners from their cells, she makes a break for it—only to be kidnapped again by a huge horned and furry alien. Aeon claims to be a prince, but he acts like a royal jerk and refuses to let Holly go. However, she’s determined to locate her friend and somehow get home to New Terra.
Prince Aeon of Araset is enjoying his last breath of freedom from royal duties when he’s accidentally ensnared by slavers trafficking in alien species, including the protected but despised humans. At the first opportunity, he escapes in a tiny evac pod and lands on the nearest inhabited planet. In an impulsive act of sympathy, he takes a human female with him to save her from a fate worse than death. Now he’s stuck with the talkative, conspicuous nuisance. For her own safety, he can’t release her.
At odds, at first, Holly and Aeon quickly discover that on a hostile, dangerous planet, being friends and working together offers more benefits than fighting. But when friendship turns passionate, emotions remain guarded because both know they are loving on borrowed time. Upon their rescue, Holly must return to New Terra. A human would never be accepted on Araset, and Aeon must bond with a royal of his species to inherit the throne.
Can two lovers from different worlds defeat the forces against them and find happiness together?
The series will follow five women who won a prize drawing for a space cruise and got abducted by aliens. Each woman gets her HEA with an alien hero. I’m currently writing book two.
ASM.: Sounds good! What’s on your To Be Read List?
CB: Two SFRs set on Mars: Alone (The Mars Diaries) by Skye MacKinnon and Mars Ho! by Jennifer Willis. I like the idea of a sci-fi romance set on a real planet (other than Earth).
ASM.: Give us your short author bio and where you can be found on social media.
USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol writes science fiction romance about tough alien and cyborg heroes who fall hard for sassy heroines.
Cara is a homebody who married a wanderer. When she’s not writing or being distracted by squirrels cavorting outside her office window, she enjoys reading and traveling the world with her husband. Topping her bucket list is visiting all seven continents and petting a squirrel.
Reader newsletter: https://carabristol.com/newsletter/
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