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 centers 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 defenses.
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?
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 http://www.lisabetsarai.com or her blog Beyond Romance http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/.
An Interview with Lisabet Sarai
By Holly Hewson for The Romance Studio
HH: Lisabet, thank you so much for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Quarantine and features two very special characters in an extremely dangerous situation. Where did you get the idea for this amazing and clever story?
LS: The germ for this story was the outrageous anti-gay rhetoric that's so sadly prevalent in the United States media, especially with regard to the marriage equality issue. I've heard so-called spiritual leaders claim that homosexuals deserved to die of AIDS, for instance - that it was divine punishment for their immoral behavior. Another influence was reading about the Japanese internment camps during World War II. If that was possible, in our supposed land of freedom and opportunity, it really wasn't too difficult to imagine a conservative cabal taking power who would treat gays as vermin, locking them up to prevent them from "infecting" straight society - both literally and figuratively. I come from a Jewish family and was born only a decade after the Holocaust, so the experiences of Jews, Gypsies and other "inferior" races in the Nazi concentration camps was also at the back of my mind. In fact the
image on the cover of the book is a shot of Auschwitz.
Once I had the premise, I began to think about the attitudes and feelings of men inside the camp - and outside. Propoganda can have an emotional effect even when you don't believe it intellectually. Rafe has to fight his own societally-installed homophobia even though he's in love with Dylan.
The character of Kevin (initially, at least, one of the villains) came to me later, as I thought about how an ambitious but basically decent man would react to the evils of the Guardians of American Greatness.
HH: What do you like best about Dylan and why will readers empathize with him?
LS: Dylan is an eternal optimist, despite having been imprisoned in Camp Malheur for seven years. He's brilliant and he knows it, so he doesn't give up, even in the face of what seem like impossible odds. As the book goes on, he meets one obstacle after another - including a close brush with death - but that
doesn't kill his spirit. Finding love with Rafe increases this tendency.
At first he seems like a callous opportunist, manipulating Rafe's feelings in order to escape from the camp. I've had a few readers tell me that this turned them off. However, like all realistic characters, he changes over the course of the book. His relationship with Rafe becomes more important than his own well-being.
HH: What do you like best about Rafe and why will readers love him?
LS: Rafe has heart. He thinks he's cynical and jaded, but in fact he has a huge capacity for love and compassion, which reveals itself in his relationship with Dylan. Even in their first meeting, when Rafe is angry and frightened, he still feels sympathy for the delinquent prisoner he has summoned for
Rafe is also far braver and more capable than he realizes or believes. He sees himself as a nobody, a slum dog with little education and no skills, but he evolves into a leader others are proud to follow.
HH: What did you enjoy most about writing this story and what do you think readers will take away from it?
LS: Actually, writing this story was a kind of torture, as opposed to being enjoyable! Well, that's not quite true - I always enjoy creating worlds, and I'm extremely proud of the result in this case. Still, I had more difficulty
writing Quarantine than any of my other novels.
For one thing, I really cared about this book. I had a couple of messages I wanted to convey, about the dangers of power and of intolerance as well as the resilience of love. Quarantine presents what I see as an all-too-plausible future. I'd like readers to come away from reading determined to prevent this sort of future from coming to pass. Some of my book I've written "on a lark", just for the fun of exploring the ideas and the characters. Quarantine was a much more serious endeavor for me.
Also, this is my first full length science fiction book. I felt a lot of pressure to make the details of post-Plague America in the 2040's seem simultaneously realistic and surprising. Scifi requires huge reserves of imagination. Writing Quarantine was pretty exhausting!
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
LS: Actually, I am in the planning stages for a sequel to Quarantine, tentatively entitled "Insurrection". (I just hope it's easier to write than the first book!) Many readers commented that they wanted to see Kevin find a love of his own. Furthermore, Quarantine ends with the Queer Resistance just beginning to make progress in undermining the Guardians. Insurrection will take that struggle further, and also show Dylan's and Rafe's relationship maturing as
they face new challenges.
Meanwhile, I have a new novel scheduled for release in early June, entitled RAJASTHANI MOON, that I'm pretty excited about. It's not in the M/M genre, so I don't know whether it will be of interest to Rainbow Studio readers, but it includes pretty much every other genre: steampunk, BDSM, menage, shapeshifter, Bollywood and Rubenesque. Actually, I wrote the book just to explore how many subgenres of romance I could combine in a single novel. Let's just say it's a lot less serious than Quarantine! I'm pretty pleased with it, though, and eagerly waiting for it to come out.
HH: How does 2013 promise to be different from 2012 for you?
LS: Promise? I'm not sure about promises, but I'd certainly like to get more readers interested in my work. The trouble is, I write all sorts of stories, from historical to futuristic, paranormal to contemporary, featuring all orientations. So I don't really have a recognizable brand - other than the
fact that almost all of my work is at the higher end of the heat scale.
I'm ramping up my advertising, trying to be heard above the din. There are
just so many romance writers out there!
HH: Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
LS: Everywhere - like most authors! Usually my stories begin with a premise or situation, though, rather than with the characters. The characters emerge out of the background. Occasionally, a book will start with a title and grow from
Fairly often, I will write to satisfy a particular theme, anthology, or series. Maybe it's my good-girl, A-student background, or my naturally submissive nature. I do well when given assignments! For instance, I'm working on a story for a collection called "Tied to the Billionaire", about BDSM relationships with very rich men. I've come up with what I think is an interesting wrinkle on the theme.
HH: What's your writing schedule like?
I tend to write a couple times a week, in large time blocks. My work makes it tough for me to write every day, and meanwhile, I also find it takes me an hour or two to get "into the groove" of a story. Rather than trying to produce 1000 words a day, grabbing an hour here or an hour there, I'm more effective
when I reserve an entire Sunday afternoon and pound out 3-4 K.
HH: What's your favorite way to interact with readers?
I blog a good deal, and also communicate with my readers by email. I'm not on Facebook because of privacy concerns, and I don't do Twitter because, quite honestly, I don't have time. I actively maintain my own blog, Beyond Romance http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com and also contribute regularly to several group blogs, as well as guesting on other authors' blogs. Each month I publish
a newsletter on my website and blog, which always includes a contest. I do quite a few giveaways between my newsletters, too. Readers who'd like to be kept informed about my blog posts and giveaways can join my Yahoo group,
Lisabet's List http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lisabets_list.
I'm on Goodreads, too, but more as a reader/reviewer than as an author. I love the notion of an online community devoted to books.
HH: What are you most looking forward to in 2013?
For the first time, I actually have a set of writing goals for the year, a number of stories that I've promised. I think this will help me be more productive. I won't waste time worrying about what I need to work on.
In the near term, I'm eagerly anticipating the release of RAJASTHANI MOON. I have the cover already and I'm planning a major publicity blitz in May and June.
Maybe I'll come over and do a feature at TRS Blue!