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Release Blitz with Exclusive Author Q&A: Apart by C.J. Pastore

Growing up is hard. No one knows that better than Alicia Cesare.

As a child, Alicia struggled to free herself from the cloying shadow of her mother’s depression and the overprotectiveness of a meddlesome family. With a top-selling fashion design and a passionate relationship with New York City real estate mogul Chase Reardon blossoming, being an adult isn’t so bad . . . until she’s viciously attacked by a Russian drug lord out for the blood of anyone that matters to Chase.

Now, under constant surveillance from family or a team of ex-special-ops Marines, Alicia remains determined to maintain her freedom and grow her brand. This does not sit well with Chase who sees Alicia’s behavior as reckless and as much of a threat to her safety as the vicious gangster himself.

Chase thought his service to the United States ended, but when he’s called to duty, he readily responds. What’s meant to be a simple mission unravels into a dangerous separation for both.

Nothing could have prepared Alicia for what was to follow.

Trapped in a web of lethal reprisals and on her own for the first time, Alicia struggles to protect herself and those she loves while balancing independence and the transcendent force of unconditional love.

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Exclusive Author Q&A

1.     How did you handle writing this book a standalone even though it is a continuation from your first book, “Captive of A Commoner? It was challenging to write a continuation of Book 1 as a standalone story. The characters were subconsciously a part of me, and it was easy to assume that readers who had not read Captive of a Commoner knew more about them than they actually did. A specific sequence of character development was essential. Scenes were developed that actively placed the characters together so the reader could become acquainted with their roles and personalities.  Backstory had to be added to familiarize the reader with what occurred previously. Then, the characters had to evolve as the plot unfolded. Alicia especially had to emerge from an inexperienced innocent to a mature woman able to flex her wisdom as her life experiences changed. 

2.     Why do you think some women are afraid to act as sexual beings? I think there is some social anxiety about women enjoying sex too much. Young women are generally not taught how to explore their sexuality, their desires, and what makes their bodies feel good. As such, it might be harder for them to understand sex as a means of receiving pleasure and not only providing it for another. It’s difficult for women to untangle what it means to be sexualized by outside pressures and what it is to experience their sexuality from within. I think many in society are threatened by women who are empowered enough to reach out for what is pleasurable and satisfying to their inner sexuality. 

3.     What role do you think erotica novels play in helping people explore their sexuality? Romance books, particularly erotica, can empower people to be unafraid to explore their inner sexuality. Often written from a female perspective, they grapple with the question, what do women want in a relationship? Erotica emphasizes that there is nothing wrong with reading words that spark the libido. Unlike other genres, these types of romance novels don’t hide or gloss over the sexual encounter. They reveal that, while life is full of conflict and tension, ultimate happiness and pleasure can thrive in a consensual, emotionally satisfying and safe sexual relationship.

4.     What do you think is unique about Alicia and Chase’s relationship? I often wonder about what drives a couple together. What forces mold the building blocks of their compatibility and desire? What’s unique about Alicia and Chase’s relationship is that the spark that propels them together starts when they are children. Growing up in the same town, they can follow the thread of each other’s family problems and the insecurities that subsequently result. Alicia witnessed how Chase took care of his alcoholic father and Chase observed how Alicia’s mother’s depression effected Alicia’s development. As adults, they use the past as a springboard to tackle and resolve their present conflicts.   

5.     Do you think men can enjoy romance novels? I think men can learn from romance novels. Men can also gift their special someone a romance novel they know he/she will enjoy. Then together they can have fun with the sexual exploits of their choosing.

6.     Are any of the characters in your book based on real people? The characters are fictional. In some instances, I combined several people into one character. Some of the events were based on real life situations. My mother suffered from depression and my father was an alcoholic. They were loving and dynamic people who battled their illnesses with resilience, courage and outside help.

7.     Is there anything in particular you do if you’re hit with writer’s block? If I’m uninspired, it’s important to separate myself from my writing. I usually take a long walk or jog, watch Netflix, cook, read, do what it takes to get my mind off what I’m writing.

8.     What three authors would you like to sit down with, and what would you ask them? There are so many great authors I’d select for a face to face chat. Elena Ferrante, John Steinbeck, and Liane Moriarty are three who currently come to mind. I’d want to ask Elena Ferrante how she is able to reveal so many personal truths with such blazing honesty and where she gets the inspiration to expose the charged connections between people so that the reader is pulled into their lives? Although it’s not possible, an ultimate wish would be to have Ferrante and Steinbeck engage in a conversation about what guided them to write about injustice, poverty, and inequality.  I’d inquire about what they thought made friendships and love endure. Then, I’d absorb the depth of their dialogue expressed from a male and female’s perspective. As a contemporary Australian author, I’d ask Moriarty to describe how she effortlessly weaves domestic abuse, rape, and female rivalries into stories that fill the reader with hope and yes, even laughter. She, too, would be invited to be part of the conversation with Ferrante and Steinbeck adding to another question about how human beings cope with the emotional traps buried within intense relationships.  

9.     Apart features scenes that are sexually explicit without being crass. How did you balance that fine line?Specific words and how they’re expressed highlight the path readers take when they open a book. Slang or shocking words work in certain contexts especially if part of dialogue or what a character is thinking that might apply to a specific event. It’s when they’re overused that it can be assumed an author was not able to paint a scene using precise and perceptive language.

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