I'm thrilled to host a very special Tuesday Teaser today. My last guest for this year is talented author and wonderful person Lisabet Sarai who, once upon a time not so long ago, was the first to host yours truly on her blog Beyond Romance. She's since released a couple of intriguing stories. One of those stories is my personal favourite Quarantine, which has just received an honourable mention in the Rainbow Awards. Needless to say, I'm extra-thrilled that she's talking about the story behind the story here. Oh, and did I mention that she's brought a present, too? Uh-huh, she's giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on this post. But enough from me.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here's the fabulous Lisabet Sarai:
The Power of Persistence
By Lisabet Sarai
When I was seven or eight, my mother enrolled me in swimming classes at the YMCA. I've never been particularly athletic. I muddled through, until the end of the term, when the Y organized a day of competitions, in which for some reason I decided to participate. The race in which I swam involved five laps of the pool. By the time everyone else had reached the finish line, I was still on lap three. Nevertheless, I continued swimming (slowly!), determined to complete the final two laps. I might come in last, but I wasn't going to give up.
When I dragged myself out of the pool, the spectators applauded. That felt better than any prize.
That experience came to mind a few days ago, when I learned that my M/M science fiction novel Quarantine had received an honorable mention in Elisa Rolle's prestigious Rainbow Awards. I was thrilled, for many reasons. Quarantine is only my second full length M/M romance, for one thing. And for another, I almost didn't finish it.
The first part of the book went pretty smoothly, but about halfway through, I totally lost confidence in my vision. It wasn't the erotic romance aspect that had me stymied – it was the science fiction. I worried that my dystopic future wasn't sufficiently different from current mundane reality. I thought my world showed too little imagination to be interesting. I looked around at the fabulous alternative cultures created by other authors and felt that mine was flat and insubstantial by comparison.
I didn't add a word to the novel for six months. I worked on other projects, telling myself they were more urgent, but in truth I was avoiding the discomfort I felt whenever I opened the file. I was frustrated and disgusted with my own lack of spine. Why couldn't I just finish the damned story and get it over with?
Seeking some way to rekindle my inspiration, I asked a writer friend to read and crit what I had so far. His comments, and even more his questions, showed great insight. He managed to cut to the core of my problem, by repeatedly asking why? He got me thinking more deeply about the characters and the forces that animated my plot. A sci fi author with an awesome imagination of his own, he threw out a dozen wild suggestions in every email. Most I discarded as too far from the story I was trying to tell. But our conversations (our “muddles” as he liked to call them) helped me refine and elaborate on my ideas, and even more important, to regain some of my normal self-confidence.
I also realized that good or bad, I had to finish the book, or it would haunt me forever. It wasn't easy picking it up after such a long hiatus, but I made myself do it – just the way I made myself cover those last two laps.
I've always been pretty persistent (my husband calls it “stubborn”). I think there's a fundamental value in following through on what you start. It's a lot more comfortable giving up when things get rough, but success depends on perseverance. Sticking it out doesn't guarantee you'll succeed. But giving up pretty much guarantees that you'll fail.
When love is forbidden, the whole world's a prison.
Dylan Moore will do anything for freedom. Seven years ago, a gay plague spread to heterosexuals, killing millions and sparking brutal anti-gay riots. The Guardians rounded up men who tested positive for the homogene and imprisoned them in remote quarantine centres like desolate Camp Malheur. Since then, Dylan has hacked the camp's security systems and hoarded spare bits of electronics, seeking some way to escape. He has concluded the human guards are the only weakness in the facility's defences.
Camp guard Rafe Cowell is H-negative. He figures the lust he feels watching prisoner 3218 masturbate on the surveillance cameras must be due to his loneliness and isolation. When he finally meets the young queer, he discovers that Dylan is brilliant, brave, sexy as hell – and claims to be in love with Rafe. Despite his qualms, Rafe finds he can't resist the other man's charm. By the time Dylan asks for his help in escaping, Rafe cares too much for Dylan to refuse.
Dylan's plan goes awry and Rafe comes to his rescue. Soon they're both fugitives, fleeing from militant survivalists, murderous androids, homophobic ideologues and a powerful man who wants Dylan as his sexual toy. Hiding in the Plague-ravaged city of Sanfran, Dylan and Rafe learn there's far more than their own safety at stake. Can they help prevent the deaths of millions more people? And can Rafe trust the love of a man who deliberately seduced him in order to escape from quarantine?
Excerpt (Rated R)
“You built something as sophisticated as a robot controller out of trash? But how…?”
“I’m patient. I’ve been here long enough to learn that at least. It doesn’t happen often, but every so often a 3DV set will die, or one of the antennas. Can openers. Cookers. Laser emergency lights. I even found a broken CCD camera once.” Dylan flashed him a grin full of white teeth. Rafe’s cock twitched as he recalled spying on the other man. But there was no way Dylan could know about that, was there?
“Yeah, you watch us 24/7, or so you think,” the prisoner continued as though he could hear Rafe’s thoughts. “Spy eyes in our dorms.” Rafe hardened further. “Cameras in the kitchens, the greenhouses, the workshops, the recreation halls. But you’d be surprised how many places there are in Malheur Camp where the cameras don’t reach. Nobody ever bothered to train a spy eye on the dump.”
“But then why do something as obvious as your…um…variety show?” Rafe didn’t get it. Clearly this guy was brilliant. The ability to control the robots, even one at a time—well, that gave him a lot of power, enough to make Rafe feel queasy with fear. If the Guardians found out…
“I wanted to entertain my mates,” Dylan replied, his grin becoming broader. “Got to do something to fight the boredom.”
“Damn it, don’t fuck with me!” Rafe lurched forward and grabbed a fistful of pink shirt. Dylan’s eyes widened as Rafe dragged him roughly to his feet. The barest hint of fear flickered in those green depths.
The inmate was finally afraid. The sight inflamed Rafe. His erection surged inside his trousers. He wanted this cocky little queer, he realised. And he wanted to teach him a lesson.
Rafe shook the bound man like a rag doll. “The truth!” he shouted, delighting in the way the other man cringed. “Why did you risk everything on your stupid little stunt?”
For the first time, Dylan lowered his eyes. His voice was so soft that Rafe had to strain to hear. “Because,” he said, “I wanted to meet you. In the flesh.”
Astonished, Rafe let go of the man’s shirt. Instead of returning to his chair, however, Dylan sank to his knees, inches from Rafe’s swollen groin. “What are you talking about?” Rafe croaked.
“I know you watch me,” Dylan answered, all the brashness gone from his manner. “Well, I watch you, too.”
“How…?” Rafe slid his fingers into Dylan’s reddish thatch and raised the inmate’s eyes to his own.
“Easy. I programmed a guard to change the video routing. To feed the stream from here to the screen of my controller.”
So there were spy eyes in the control room after all. “No…”
“Yes. You know that hard-on of mine that you enjoy watching so much? That’s for you, man. When I jack off at night, I’m thinking of you.”
Rafe’s mind reeled. He snatched his hand from Dylan’s hair as though he’d been scalded.
“Unlock the cuffs, man. Let me touch you. Let me show you how much I want you.”
“Shut up, faggot!” The key burned a hole in his palm. His rigid dick strained against his zipper. He was tottering on the edge of a precipice, tempted to jump. Tempted to give in, to release the rash young man who’d delivered himself into Rafe’s hands.
But that would be suicide. The penalties for breaking quarantine were more severe than for murder.
I want to thank Sage for having me as her guest, and thank you all for reading. To help celebrate my Rainbow Award recognition, I'm giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on this post. I'll draw the winner this Saturday, the 15th of December. Don't forget to include your email address in your comment!
You can check out the sensational Quarantine trailer Quarantine, just go to Total-E-Bound! ! And if you're interested in getting your own copy of
More than a decade ago LISABET SARAI experienced a serendipitous fusion of her love of writing and her fascination with sex. Since then she has published five single author short story collections and seven erotic novels, including the BDSM classic Raw Silk. Dozens of her shorter works have been released as ebooks and in print anthologies. She has also edited several acclaimed anthologies and is currently responsible for the altruistic erotica series COMING TOGETHER PRESENTS.
Lisabet holds more degrees than anyone needs from prestigious universities who would no doubt be embarrassed by her chosen genre. She loves to travel and currently lives in Southeast Asia with her highly tolerant husband and two cosmopolitan felines. For more information on Lisabet and her writing visit Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory () or her blog Beyond Romance ().