Cara Dee on Northbound and Northland ~ Interview

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Cara Dee for stopping by today.

A Handsome Young Man

Title: Northbound and Northland

Author: Cara Dee

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Cara Dee

Genre: Gay Fiction

Blurb:

Northbound

Quinn Sawyer didn’t apply for a temporary job at the remote O’Connor Adventure Retreat all the way in Alaska because he wants a change of scenery. He loves his sunny Florida, and he’s only heading north because he needs answers from Declan O’Connor, the man who dated Quinn’s aunt six years ago.

One day, Declan was just gone, and it had been the beginning of hell for Quinn. Most of his family suddenly hated him and still blames him for Declan ending the relationship with Quinn’s aunt, though nobody will tell Quinn why.

He deserves to know how it could’ve possibly been his fault, and he’s not going to let the crush he harbored for Declan stand in the way.

After finally tracking down Declan, Quinn gets on a plane. Or death machine, as he prefers to call it. But in his quest to find out the truth, he discovers there’s a lot more to the Land of the Midnight Sun than seeking answers.

Northland

Two years ago, Logan Ward got the surprise of his life when he discovered he was the father of a two-year-old boy. Professionally and romantically adrift, he devoted all his time and energy to caring for his son. But now he’s searching for something more, and he and Justin head north to Alaska to try out the life his best friend Quinn has been raving about.

Kyle Shaw has been living off the land his whole life, comfortable with nature and the challenges of surviving in the Alaskan wilderness. He enjoys his seasonal work at the O’Connor Adventure Retreat and is looking forward to this year’s stint. He’s not in the market for anything more than hard work, good friends, and reasonably priced milk.

The work brought Logan to Alaska, but a late-night encounter with Kyle opens his mind to the possibilities of a future richer than any paycheck.

Recent Release Spotlight with Cara Dee

We are here today to talk about Northbound and Northland. What can you tell us about them?

It all started with a prompt for a short story. Write 13 000 words and submit it to a publisher’s anthology—great PR, I thought. But then I kept writing. Like Aftermath, another novel of mine, Northbound and Northland were easy to write because I was so passionate about every aspect of the books—plot, characters, setting. So what was supposed to be a short story became two full novels.

In Northbound, Quinn leaves his beloved Florida behind after scoring a temporary job as a handyman at an adventure retreat in Alaska. But the reason he applied for the job is Declan, the man who dated Quinn’s aunt several years ago and then disappeared without a word. Quinn has questions like, “Why didn’t you say goodbye?” and “Why does my aunt blame me for you breaking up with her?” and “Why are you straight?” Okay, the last one is a question he has every intention of keeping to himself.

Once Quinn sees Declan again though, a whole new world opens. What was once a straightforward quest to get answers becomes a lot more as their work begins.

Then we have Northland, the second novel that focuses on Kyle and Logan. And without spoiling…hmm, what can I say? Logan is Quinn’s best friend from Florida. Unlike Quinn, who said he was a handyman but actually isn’t, Logan is a construction worker, and they need his help at the retreat in Alaska. After everything that has happened in the past couple years, Logan really needs to get away for a while, so he’s on the next flight with his son.

Logan is looking for stability. He needs it, craves it. He’s gone from being a carefree bachelor to single father, and he doesn’t feel at home anywhere. The last thing he needs is a man who makes him question his sexuality. Especially Kyle. Born and raised in northern Alaska, Kyle is a jack of all trades, prefers the wilderness over city life, and is the embodiment of a state that is so foreign to Logan.

In Northbound, Declan asks Quinn how he’s finding Alaska so far, to which Quinn huffs and says, “Frigid.”

If someone asked Logan the same question, he’d look shell-shocked and say something along the lines of, “A pack of rabid wolves wanted to eat my son. When can I leave?”

Tell us more about our main characters?

Quinn Sawyer: He’s youthful and open-minded. He basically wrote himself, and he became my comic relief, especially in Northland, but also in Northbound when he found himself comparing Florida and Alaska. He has his vulnerable moments, too. He’s optimistic but realistic.

A Quinn moment:

Quinn blinked and squinted. It was pretty cloudy, but the moon was bright enough to light up the snow that covered the airstrip. And he saw something. A few somethings, actually. There. Three, no, four. What the…?
“Wolves,” Declan said quietly. “Beautiful, aren’t they?”
“Oh, fuck that noise.” Fear and adrenaline sobered Quinn in a goddamn second, and he hauled ass for the cabin.
Back home, Quinn wasn’t a stranger to spiders and snakes—even the occasional gator—but Animal Control was only a phone call away. Wolves were a whole other matter. One, they couldn’t be flushed down the toilet. Two, the nearest hospital was a plane ride away.
All roads supposedly led to Rome, but no roads led to Nowhere, Alaska.

Declan O’Connor: Jaaaded. At least at first. Very jaded. He’s sort of given up, and he’s terrified of sending Quinn running. History always shapes us, and Declan’s taken a few hits because of his own past. But he’s loyal, fiercely protective, and very affectionate. And kinda kinky for vanillas. 😉

A Declan moment:

Declan knew very well he couldn’t beat Quinn at swimming.
Unless he was willing to play dirty, and Declan certainly was. There was even a memory from Florida that fueled him, and it was time for payback. So half a second after Quinn was off, Declan pushed away from the wall too, but he didn’t stay in his own lane. Instead, he resurfaced right behind Quinn and managed to grab on to his foot. With all his strength, he pulled Quinn back as much as he could, and then he passed the coughing and spluttering Sunshine State kid.
Declan could barely stop himself from laughing in the water.
“What the fuck!” Quinn wiped water from his face and glared at Declan. “You should be disqualified for that shit!”
Declan laughed hard, feeling younger and more carefree than he had in ages.

Logan Ward: Getting to know Logan was a trip. I already knew Kyle a bit better since he was in Northbound more than Logan, so my crush on the second Floridian (Quinn being the first) came a little later. I do love me some fic kiddos, and few things are hotter than a man who adores his child. Unfortunately, since Justin entered Logan’s life, Logan has lived solely for his son. He’s lost, confused, and uprooted. What with all the cultural differences in Northland, it was most fun to follow Logan’s development, and I absolutely loved writing the interactions between him and Kyle’s niece, Lani. Imagine being schooled by a ten-year-old on hunting and wilderness. And that’s was the thing with Logan; he’s not only opening his eyes for a man. He’s discovering a new culture, a new way of life, his own sexuality, all while being a constant for his son.

A Logan moment:

“Are you fuckin’ serious?” Logan blurted out, staring at Kyle. “You’re gonna let a little girl go after rabid wolves with you? You’ll put her in danger!”
The silence that followed was heavy with tension, and everyone seemed to watch Logan and Kyle like a damn tennis match.
Kyle chuckled darkly. “If I wanted to put someone in danger, I would’ve asked you to come along.” Then he looked up toward the stairs. Lani was joining him, and the two exchanged a few words too quietly for the rest to hear before they headed outside.
Logan was in disbelief.
“Logan, Lani was born into this,” Declan said patiently. “Kyle and Lani’s elders take this very seriously. They live by traditions passed down for generations, and no one can survive here better than them.”
Elders. As in Native people. Logan could obviously see Lani was part Native, but it still seemed incredibly reckless. Her heritage wouldn’t make the dangers go away.
It didn’t feel right at all.

Kyle Shaw: I’m not gonna lie, I do have a favorite in this series, and that’s Kyle. Maybe because his character demanded I did more research, maybe because of how awkward he is around kids, maybe because he spoke to me more, maybe because he’s a hot, Alaskan bad boy with a big heart, or maybe it’s most definitely a mix of all of the things I mentioned. He’s set in his ways, professionally speaking. He’s experienced and hard-working. But when it comes to love, he’s clueless. He’s always been satisfied with casual hook-ups, male or female, but he became withdrawn after Northbound. Casual isn’t enough anymore, but it can’t be with Logan…right? After all, Logan regrets what they did in Anchorage and claims it was a mistake. Fucker. Nah, screw relationships. It’s not for Kyle.

A Kyle moment:

“Can I sit on your lap?” Justin asked, and without waiting for a response, he crawled up onto Kyle’s lap.
“I, uh…I think we’ve discussed this, cub,” Kyle told four-year-old. “I’m not comfortable with humans your size. You’re untrustworthy in terms of voicing your needs, and I’m horrible at guessing. You’re also like a knick-knack or a figurine—you break easily, and I’m like a bull in a china shop.”
The kid sometimes told his daddy he needed to go to the bathroom approximately two and a half seconds before he…went.
He was also a liar.
Justin claimed he wasn’t tired when he was exhausted.
Kyle was screwed, falling for a man who had an ankle biter. “Plus, your dad won’t be happy if I accidentally make you cry or some shit, not to fucking mention, I’ll have a heart attack. Can you sense a pattern? It’s all going downhill from there.”
Justin was nodding along while he chewed on his syrupy pancake—as if he understood a single word of what Kyle was saying.

What about Northbound and Northland makes you the most proud?

The research. It was a challenge, and I love a good one. To make the novels as authentic as possible, I went on a hunt for documentaries—among other things. And I learned documentaries about Alaska are a dime a dozen, but it’s not as easy finding one to which Alaskans actually say, “Yeah, that’s accurate.” More often than not, I stumbled into forums where Alaskans bashed shows for portraying the state the way Hollywood thinks it’s like. Then I got lucky and managed to find a community about hunting. A man who’s part of the National Geographic series Life Below Zero is a member there, and I learned so much from his stories.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Always, always, always hire an editor. You may be the writer, but the editor makes your words shine.

What is the nicest thing a reader has said to you in a review, email, in person, or on social media?

Reviews that always stick with me are “I felt like I was there with them” and “It played like a movie in my head.” Most recently, someone tweeted me about Northbound and said, “You even got our slang right.” She’s from Alaska, so it totally made my day! But most humbling—and incredible—are the few who have emailed me and said my stories were bright spots when they battled against depression. I always save those messages. They mean more than I can say.

Why Alaska?

The climate, the wilderness, the research, the culture. I’d rather go hiking than explore a city, and I love the winter. Alaska is on my bucket list. I’m actually going to the Arctic Circle this summer, though not in Alaska but northern Sweden, Finland, and Norway. I’m saving Alaska for a winter when I can see the lights. 🙂

What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?

Feels like I’m always re-reading the Midnight Breed by Lara Adrian. It never fails! After that, I’ll probably re-read Hot Head by Damon Suede or maybe some of Eli Easton’s books.

Rapid Fire Time

  • Fisting or Watersports? Fisting.
  • Butterfly or Lady bug? Lady bug.
  • Rain or snow? Snow.
  • Vodka or Tequila? Vodka.
  • Favorite meal? Seafood linguini or souvlaki.
  • Rock or Country? Rock!
  • Train or Plane? Train all the way.
  • Seger or Springstein? Springsteen, I suppose.
  • Tennant or Smith? Ahem. Eccleston.
  • Beach or Mountains? Mountains, please and thank you.

What are you working on? What is next?

Next up are two m/f novels, Breaking Free and With Brave Wings. M/M wise, the sequel to Public Display of Everything. 🙂

In Breaking Free, we meet Tennyson Wright, a film director in his late thirties, and Sophie Pierce, a party princess in her early twenties. A PR relationship forces them together because they need to generate a bigger buzz about the film they’re making. For Sophie, it’s also about the wish to be taken more seriously. She needs to save face. Tennyson only cares about the film’s reputation—until they reluctantly admit there’s more to the other than they originally believed. It’s a book—for Sophie—about growing up and breaking free. Love is the last thing they need. Or want.

As for Public’s sequel…it’s Luke’s story! If you read Public Display of Everything, you might remember Cory and Flynn. Luke was introduced later in the book, and it’s his turn to find happiness. Resigned, withdrawn, and quiet in his nature, Luke learns about Cory’s boyfriend’s website, Public Display of More. An online community about voyeurism. And Luke is…intrigued.

Excerpt

It was late when Kyle unlocked the door to Declan and Quinn’s place, and he wanted nothing more than to go to bed.

The trip hadn’t been wasted, though. The heaters had been mixed up with another model, so Kyle had adjusted the order while Logan had been on the phone with Declan to compare the digits on the timber.

Everything had been taken care of now, including a quick trip to Costco.

Kyle wasn’t gonna turn down the opportunity to buy a gallon of milk that didn’t set him back ten bucks. Really, it was cute how Alaskans below the Arctic Circle complained about costs.

“You can take the guest room. I’ll be on the couch,” Kyle told him.

“I’m not going to bed yet,” Logan said. “So if you wanna crash now, you can take it. I’m headin’ out.”

That made Kyle pause in the middle of the living room. “Errands for Declan?”

Logan shook his head no as he stripped off his snow pants, leaving him in jeans. “I haven’t had a day off—unless my son’s been around—since I was up here last time. I need to find a bar.”

Kyle got the message. Loud and clear. He snickered and sat down on the couch, stretching lazily. “Bring her back here and we can share her.” It was a joke. For the first time in his life, really a joke.

He’d never been a saint. In fact, up until two years ago, he’d been somewhat of a manwhore. He didn’t have an endless list of hookups, but he’d definitely fucked around and then some. It had gotten old, though. After seeing what Declan and Quinn had, shit had changed. Kyle had calmed down. Maybe he’d also become a bit withdrawn.

“You look like you can’t breathe,” Kyle told Logan.

Or maybe like he was constipated.

“What?” Logan masked his obvious discomfort at Kyle’s joke by throwing him an irritated glare. “I can breathe just fine.”

Kyle shrugged. “I was only kidding about the sharing. But you have fun.” He grabbed the remote and turned on the TV.

Hopefully, a game could distract Kyle from the voice that urged him to go out, too. Old habits and his dick died hard, and seeing Logan all flustered was sorta hot.


The blonde clinging to Logan would do. He was half-hard already, so fuck it. He wasn’t gay. There was nothing to worry about.

“Wanna get out of here?” he asked the blonde. He recalled her name—it was…Alison or something. He kissed her neck and shifted his hand higher up her thigh, stroking it sensually.

“Yeah.” Her voice was breathy and full of desire, reminding him that he usually knew what he was doing. He knew sex. He was good at it. “I just gotta check in with my roommates.”

“Sure.” Logan kept his mouth and hands on her while she called her friends, and he learned her name was Alyssa. Her perfume was a little strong—too sweet—but she was a knockout, no doubt. Big rack, legs that went on for days, sexy curves, nice ass.

“Your place or-or mine?” Her breath caught when Logan brushed over the fabric of her panties. Praise Jesus for short skirts.

“Bring her here and we can share her.”

Fuck that. It was only a joke, like Kyle had said. And if it weren’t, Logan definitely shouldn’t bring the chick to Quinn’s place. They should go to her apartment, even if there were roommates.

“Your call,” he told her. “Wherever you feel most comfortable.”

That earned him a blinding smile. “Your place.”

Logan shouldn’t feel excited about that pick. He shouldn’t be more excited about returning to Kyle than screwing this woman, either.

He wondered how far this could go…

About the Author

cara-avatar-2There aren’t many things better than picking up my Kindle and getting completely sucked into a whole new world—where words morph into images and characters’ moods suddenly reflect my own. Aside from good plot and writing, for me, it boils down to relatable characters.

As a writer, I’m not finished until the men and women in my books come to life, until I can see them as real people, until I can connect with them. Which means I write what I want to read: everyday heroes and heroines who have the same struggles we all do. They evolve, have flaws, make mistakes and amends, learn, and find the endings they fight for.

Those are the characters who take the readers on a journey away from work, laundry, grocery shopping, and to-do lists.

When I’m not writing, researching, or brainstorming, I’m either planning my next trip (never-ending bucket list!), reading, watching hockey, or spending time with family and friends.

Links

Northbound and Northland on Goodreads

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

Giveaway

Links

Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25430190-northbound
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25430552-northland

Amazon ASIN
Northbound: B00WJ2OJMM
Northland: B00XJZ6LV0

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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