Cardeno C. is a self-reported hopeless romantic. After seeing story after story (targeted to a gay-welcoming audience) where gay characters get hurt, killed, or are deeply miserable, he decided to write books where this is not the case. Where there are happily-ever-afters and where people start their own homes and families. The Home-series was born and today, Cardeno C. tells us all about it and talks about his characters and writing habits.
Please give us a short introduction to what He Completes Me is about.
He Completes Me is a contemporary erotic romance novel about Zach, a self proclaimed slut who has never wanted or thought he’d have a committed relationship and Aaron, a man who has been waiting for a the right man so he can have a committed relationship. The story is told from Zach’s point of view. What I enjoyed most about writing this book is creating a character who truly grows and changes. The Zach we meet at the beginning of the story is not the same Zach we see at the end. That isn’t to say Zach starts out as a bad guy or an unhappy guy, he doesn’t. In fact, he’s happy with himself and his life. But what Zach realizes through his relationship with Aaron is that he can be even happier and his life can be more complete if he doesn’t live it alone. Like all of my stories, He Completes Me is about characters creating their own family and building a home together.
Zach struggles with hurts from the past. Why did you pick a "broken" character for your story?
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, strong, and resilient and he doesn’t apologize for who he is, regardless of what people think of him. And Aaron loves him for it.
Zach and Aaron fall in love instantly. Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe in attraction and interest and desire at first sight. If those hold, they can turn into love and then it may feel like we experienced love at first sight.
What drew you to write in this genre?
I started writing gay romance stories because I felt like so many movies and shows had gay characters who were killed or hurt or deeply miserable. After seeing this over and over again, I felt 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 artistic depiction of life doesn't match what I see in the world around me. And it doesn't match what I want to see in the world around me.
Yes, there are tragedies and sadness and family trouble. 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. I see people who work every day to change the world around us for the better and I see those people succeeding. That’s my reality and I wanted to create art where I could share it and, hopefully, do my small part to encourage people to make it true.
When I think about my goals as a romance writer, I always remember this wonderful quote by the composer Leonard Bernstein from a December 31, 1972 interview with the LA Times:
"The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed ...because people are changed by art - enriched, ennobled, encouraged - they then act in a way that may affect the course of events...by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think."
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Hmmm. I’m a fairly low-key person, more than a bit of a home-body, better with friends and small groups than big crowds, vegetarian for more years than I wasn’t, and a fantastic singer but only in my shower or in my car with the radio up really, really loud.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? Favorite writing spot? How do you make time to write?
I need beverages. An ever filling flow of beverages. Often it’s iced coffee or iced tea. Sometimes it’s water. I’m almost recovered from my Diet Coke addiction, but it still makes it into the rotation. I write almost everywhere – coffee shops, couches, tables. As long as I have my laptop and a beverage, I’m good to go.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently writing the fourth and last book in my Mates collection. These are paranormal novels (shifters and vampires), each about a different couple who are fated to be together.