I’m so pleased to feature USA Today Bestselling author Cara Bristol at my blog today. As you all know, my travels around the globe help me bring my science fiction worlds to life. I love how Cara describes how she too was inspired by a faraway land…
China, Xenia, and Claimed by the Cyborg: strangers in a strange land
By Cara Bristol
In 2007, my entire family took a trip to China. Previously, I had little interest in visiting China, but it was the year before the Beijing Olympics and we got such a great travel deal, I couldn’t afford not to go.
China changed my attitude toward travel. I’d been Europe, the Caribbean, and Canada & Mexico, of course. Before China, I traveled for vacation. I wanted to go someplace familiar and comfortable so I could rest & recreate. Until 2007, the places I’d visited were westernized. While Europe is pretty impressive, much older and more “cultured,” it’s not that different from the US.
Going to China was like traveling to a different planet. Oriental culture is so foreign, so unlike anything we have or know in West it felt alien to me. I felt like a “stranger in a strange land.” I fell in love with it, and instantly wanted to see more of the Orient. Since China, I’ve also been to Thailand, and I want to go to Japan and Vietnam as well. Maybe Korea. Hell, everywhere.
That sense of foreignness is what I try to bring to my science fiction romance settings. I want to take readers to places they’ve never been, to experience worlds different from what they know—yet not so different that they feel at a loss to understand. So I try to make my alien locales relatable to something familiar.
One of these worlds is planet Xenia, created in an earlier Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance, but used as the main setting in Claimed by the Cyborg. It’s a vibrant, colorful planet with fields of purple grasses, unusual flowers, and squat trees. The animals are unusual: fish have legs and land mammals have feathers and wings, the sky is pink, not blue, and it colors the planets streams and other waterways.
And, of course, an alien planet has “alien” food, which the hero finds unappetizing.
(I didn’t think the food we had in China was that different from American Chinese food: stir fry with chicken/beef/pork with vegetables and rice. However, in passing through one restaurant I noticed locals were eating stuff that bore no resemblance to anything we were served. To anything I’d ever seen. And in the street markets of Beijing, I saw shish kebob scorpions & centipedes).
Claimed by the Cyborg Description
March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.
The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.
Claimed by the Cyborg is available in ebook and paperback:
Claimed by the Cyborg Excerpt:
(In this scene, Terran March is reunited with Julietta, his old flame who is Xenian.)
Julietta inclined her head toward a small table readied in the corner. “I thought we could have a bite to eat.”
Glassware, fresh flowers as close to the ones on Terra as she could find, and tapered glowsticks created an intimate tableau, reminiscent of their romantic dinners on Earth. They’d gone to small cafes where they’d scrunched in at tables so tiny they’d bumped knees. Sometimes the food had been good, occasionally it hadn’t been, but always the setting—a world of their making—and the company, had been perfect. Planetary race hadn’t mattered. They had been two people in love. One of them still was.
“All right,” he agreed with a wariness that stabbed her heart anew. He wanted nothing to do with her. She could force him to spend the time with her, but she couldn’t make him forgive or even like her again. “You’re not serving anything with legs, are you?” he asked.
Was that his concern? The food? “You mean like the fish at the banquet? You don’t like our food?”
“I’m sorry. It’s not what I’m used to.”
“No apology needed. I understand.” Gloom lifted, and giddiness rose within. She’d made the right call with respect to their meal. “Nothing with legs. I promise.” None still attached, anyway. She’d given precise instructions. While the food couldn’t be considered Terran, it was as close to it as her chef could get: bread baked from grain, cheese derived from yacuni milk—if asked, she would omit the mention of which animal had provided the milk—fresh fruit, and marinated sliced meat.
She gestured to the table. “Shall we sit?”
Once settled, she pressed the button on her wrist comm. Moments later, a servant wheeled in a cart, and after dishing out the food, moved to the side to wait. Julietta dismissed her with a wave. “I’ll be fine, Sillena. If I need anything, I’ll get it. Please inform the others I don’t wish to be disturbed.”
“Yes, Princess.” Sillena bowed and exited.
“Please, eat.” Julietta grinned. “It won’t hurt you,” she teased, forgetting for the moment that Kur and Naimo had been sickened by food poisoning. From what March had observed, Xenian food could hurt him. Perhaps wariness was wise.
He didn’t seem to make the connection and forked a bit of meat into his mouth. “Very good.” His eyes widened with surprise. “It’s almost like Terran beef—but it’s not, is it?”
“Our version of it,” she said. Taste wise, close enough, unless you saw the six-legged lizard the meat had come from. It wasn’t even a lizard because they didn’t have reptiles like Earth did, but it looked like one.
“Terran food must have seemed strange,” he said.
USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol has been the no. 1 best seller in science fiction romance, bdsm erotica, and holiday fiction on Amazon. She’s the author of two science fiction romance series featuring tough alpha heroes: the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance cyborg series and the Breeder science fiction romance series, which emphasize character-driven stories written with a touch of humor and sizzling chemistry between the hero and heroine. Cara lives in Missouri with her own alpha hero, her husband.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Cara-Bristol-Romance-178661122147994/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Cara-Bristol/e/B004D8KZTQ/
Twitter, @CaraBristol: https://twitter.com/CaraBristol
Do a photogram/bookstagram of Claimed by the Cyborg on Instagram and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card. The contest runs until January 20. The earlier you enter, the greater your chances of winning. Get the details and contest rules HERE.
I wanted to take a moment from the busy holiday this Thanksgiving Day to thank YOU, my friends and readers, for all your love and support. I’m so grateful for YOU!