Cardeno C Interview (And an bonus excerpt)

Q: Where He Ends and I Begin is part of a series, or rather related stories centering on the concept of ‘Home.’ How does the story of Nate and Jake’s belated love affair fit into that greater theme? Does each book address a different aspect of that concept?
A: Each book in the series focuses on home in the sense that the characters are building their own home together. In that way, there is a singular focus. That said, each book is about a different couple, so each story is different. Nate and Jake have actually always been each other’s home. They are two people who have been best friends, almost family since birth. In Where He Ends, we join Nate and Jake as their relationship shifts and they become lovers.

Q: As an author, you say one of your goals is to give the reader a bit of happiness, deal in a little “awww” factor. Most people would probably equate that with a ‘happy ending.’ I’m not going to ask about the end of Where He Ends and I Begin—let readers come by that information honestly, by reading the book. But can you give us a morsel, an “awww” moment in this book?
A: Even though you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell. There is a happy ending in Where He Ends and there will always be a happy ending in (and happiness throughout) every book I write. That is the reason I write. There are so many hard things in real life, so many struggles, whether with work, our birth families, political issues, the list goes on. I write as a release to get away from that and to go to a happy, kind place and I think readers who connect best with my books are looking for the same thing. As far as an “aww” morsel, I’ll share the scene that inspired the childhood picture on the cover:

I woke up Saturday morning and looked at the warm, sleeping body next to me. His eyes were closed, his hair was tousled, and he had a crease from the pillow across his fair cheek. I gently brushed his soft hair off of his forehead and sighed as the memory of Nate’s angelic face over the years flashed through my mind like a slide show.

My first real, distinct memory, one that I knew was mine and not just an image based on a story told by my parents, was of Nate’s face. It was our third birthday party, and we were standing on either side of our shared cake, ready to blow out the candles. Nate’s cheeks were pink because we’d been running around with our cousins all afternoon, his hair was even lighter then and it was a bit matted down on his head, his eyes were closed, and his lips were sort of puckered, ready to blow out the candles. I looked at him and felt warm inside, then I held my breath when it was time to blow so he could get all the candles out and have his wish come true. After he was done with the candles, he opened his eyes and smiled at me.

Just as that memory of then-three-year-old Nate’s eyes pulled at my heart, present-day Nate opened those crystal-blue eyes. I stroked his cheek.

“Good morning, beautiful.”

His voice was raspy with sleep as he answered me.

“Good morning.”

He scooted toward me, bridging the few inches that separated us, and nuzzled into my neck.
“Watcha thinking about, Jake? You have a faraway look in your eyes.”

I stroked his hair.

“I’m just remembering. What’s the first thing you remember, Nate? Your earliest memory?”
He was quiet for a minute, thinking. Then he pulled back a little and gazed at me.

“You. My first memory is you.” He kissed me softly.

“Remember when we turned three and our folks had the whole family over? All the uncles and their wives and kids? We’d just blown out the candles on our Bert and Ernie cake and I’d made my wish—that we’d be friends forever. Then I opened my eyes and saw you across from me. I remember looking into your eyes and deciding that green was my favorite color. So that’s my first memory—your green eyes, your face, smiling at me over that cake.”

Q: Nate and Jake both do a lot of changing to overcome the past that has come between them. Which one has the most to lose? Which one changes the most?
A: You know, I think they both have a lot to gain. Their friendship is solid and unshakeable and in many ways, they’re also family (though not biologically). By taking the next step in their relationship, both men gain the joy of connecting in every way with the man they already love. As far as who changes most, I think if I had to choose, I’d say Nate. The change isn’t to his personality or his behavior, however, it’s to his perception of Jake and himself. Nate never believed Jake could want him, and much of the story centers on Jake proving to Nate that nothing could be further from the truth. Nate’s ultimate acceptance of Jake’s feelings is, in my opinion, the biggest change.

Q: When Jake needed a sexual outlet other than Nate, believing that Nate wasn’t attracted to him, why—in your author’s mind—did he sleep with women instead of other men?
A: Well, if I were going to be crass (and if you’ve read my books you know that I can be), I’d say because he was looking for a warm hole with no possible risk of emotional entanglements. Jake is in love with Nate, has always been in love with Nate, and knows he will always be in love with Nate. He has no desire to change those feelings and no desire to have anyone other than Nate fill the role of best friend, confidant, roommate, and life mate. Because Jake believed Nate didn’t want to share a physical relationship, he sought that elsewhere. But he didn’t intend to replace any other aspect of Nate’s place in his life. In Jake’s mind, if he had sex with men, he’d think of Nate and the one thing he couldn’t have with the man he truly wanted. So, instead, he had sex with women, which to him was a physical release without involvement of his mind or heart.

Q: To put a spin on it, do you see one main character as sexier than the other? Is there a key difference between them that sparks, that makes their sex really hot—the sum greater than the parts, so to speak?
A: I don’t see one as sexier than the other. I think they’re different men with different traits. I think the thing that makes their sex really hot is their emotional connection and shared history. These things make every touch meaningful to them, and hopefully that translates to an intense reading experience.

Q: What’s in store for your readers? Will there be more in the ‘Home’ series? Something new?
A: There will be many more books in the Home series so long as I am fortunate enough to be given the privilege of publishing them. The next book in the Home series is slated for release this summer, though I haven’t been given an exact date. I’m currently writing another book in the series, but it’s in the early stages so far. And I just finished writing a paranormal (shape shifter) book for a new series.

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