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!
These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. We are so pleased with the success of PETS IN SPACE. WE couldn’t have done it without all of you. I am sending you all huge hugs of thanks!
We are going to round out our conversations with the PETS IN SPACE ANTHOLOGY authors with Cara Bristol. She is going to introduce us to her story Spark of Attraction. Be sure to visit her website and follow her on social media. Links are at the end of the blog post.
Spark of Attraction in Pets in Space has three main characters. The hero, heroine, and a dog. Here’s a highlight of who they are.
Name: Dante Stone
Race: Cyborg. A computer-modified human.
Nickname: Cold Stone.
Occupation: Captain of the Crimson Hawk, a military spacecraft
Goal: Deliver the 200+ survivors of an alien attack to Space Station 15 and then resume his normal duties.
Temperament: Analytical and mission-focused. His emotions were accidentally erased when he was transformed to cyborg. His nickname is “Cold Stone.”
Obstacle: Miranda Lowell, one of the survivors who sneaked aboard a malfunctioning K9-500 bot. She’s an unwelcome distraction, and her robot dog is irritating. The damn bot bit him!
Name: Miranda Lowell
Occupation: Archivist for the New Utopians, a group of colonists that sought to establish a colony on Verde Omega.
Goal: Recover from the alien attack that nearly killed her and destroyed everything she owned except for Sparky, her K9-500 robotic dog.
Obstacle: Something is terribly wrong aboard the Crimson Hawk. Her fellow New Utopians are disappearing one by one. Why won’t the captain believe her?
Appearance: Resembles a real dog. He’s small, with short white fur, electrified teeth, and one hell of a bite.
Race: Artificial Intelligence. A K9-500 robot.
Function: Companion to Miranda Lowell. Programmed to protect her at any cost.
Obstacle: The captain of the Crimson Hawk. To protect Miranda from the threat posed by the captain, Sparky bit him. Now he’s been deactivated. As soon as he can move again, watch out!
If you left to colonize a planet, what one personal item from home (Earth) would you want to bring?
Spark of Attraction blurb
Memory: intact. Cognitive function: enhanced. Emotion: erased.
After becoming a cyborg, Captain Dante Stone didn’t think he’d ever feel again, until a traumatized young woman and a ball of synthetic fur named Sparky helped him to love.
An excerpt from Spark of Attraction, Pets in Space
“How’s your leg?” she asked.
“Good as new.”
“I’m so sorry about what happened.”
“Don’t worry about it. With my nanos, the bite wound had healed by the next morning, and all traces had disappeared the day after. Just give me your word you’ll keep the bot powered down.” A cyborg, he’d healed fast, but if the K9-500 bit a human, the outcome wouldn’t be so good.
She crossed her heart. “I learned my lesson. I had assumed when you grabbed me to keep me from falling, it triggered a protective response in Sparky, but he hasn’t been performing to spec lately.”
“You need to get that checked out.”
“I intend to when I get to the space station. He’s the only thing I have left. My father gave him to me before he died.”
“On Verde Omega—”
“No, no,” she added quickly. “He died when I was teenager. I’ve had Sparky ever since, and he saved me from the Tyranians. He bit one of them, too.”
Thank goodness she had had the bot. “Maybe I could examine him?” Dante offered.
What was he thinking? He needed to break off all association with this woman—not find ways to spend time with her. A relationship between the captain and a refugee passenger would be inappropriate—not to mention short-termed. Once the ship docked, they would go their separate ways, as they should. And if he already ached at the idea of never seeing her again, how much worse would it be if he got to know her better?
“I don’t understand.” She frowned.
“We have an android lab. I’m no coding expert, but as a cyborg, I run diagnostics on my own programming regularly. I can examine…uh…Sparky for anomalies, red flags.”
Was he crazy? He couldn’t fraternize with a passenger! Tell her never mind. Forget what I said.
“You’d do that?” Her face lit up with a beautiful, glowing smile. For the second time since he’d met her, he felt as if he’d been punched in the chest. If she ever smiled at him like that…well, she was, but only because he’d offered to run a diagnostic on her robot.
“Let me see when I have the time,” he backpedaled. Before he extended any more stupid offers, he excused himself. “I’ll let you know what Lieutenant Commander Brack finds out,” he said, and rose to his feet. “I must return to the bridge.” He fled the observation deck.
Cara Bristol’s website: https://carabristol.com
Cara Bristol’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/9aRJj
Cara Bristol on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cara.bristol.3
Cara Bristol’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Cara-Bristol/e/B004D8KZTQ/