- Carina Press
- Release Date
- July 2017
- Book 1 of Bones Of Eden
Action/Adventure Romance, Erotic Romance, Multi-cultural/Multi-racial Romance, Romantic Science Fiction/Futuristic
In a world that's part paradise and part hell, two opposing tribes are divided by the most dangerous impulse of all: desire
For years, the Varekai and Elikai tribes have each struggled in their own ways to survive against the elements, hunger and the deadly creatures of Eden.
For just as many years, they have adhered to one rule: never make contact.
The resourceful Varekai are called female.
And the Elikai? A mysterious, animal breed called male.
When an adventurous Elikai brother is caught stealing from the enemy, a beautiful, inquisitive Varekai healer, the rules keeping the two tribes apart begin to matter less and less. Stranded together in a perilous land, a curious instinct draws Varekai and Elikai closer together than their world has ever dared.
And nothing will ever be the same.
The Bones of Eden series continues with Second Heart
Warning: First Fall contains explicit content, including dubious consent.
Aug 03, 2017 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
72 people found the following review helpful
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I read the synopsis for FIRST FALL by Zaide Bishop. The movie "Blue Lagoon" came to mind almost immediately. Then when I read how the Varekai adorned themselves, I jumped to "Lord of the Flies." So, hmmm…I was intrigued.
The story is slowly drawn out as the readers learn what life is like outside Eden but our knowledge as readers don't exceed that of the Varekai and Elikai who consider themselves two distinct species, women and men. The use of pronouns in the story did trip me up until I understood why. Then I found both the names of the characters and their use of he/she interesting. To quote Ms Bishop in her interview with TRR
: "So much of the series is about challenging the idea of gender stereotypes and I think using very untraditional names helps the reader let go of their preconceived notions of what gender should and shouldn't look like." And this story definitely does that. Whether it's the Varekai appearing more warlike/aggressive to the seemingly more passive nature of the Elikai. The ideas of behaviors we would consider gender-specific are tossed in this dystopian world.
Lest we forget, this story is also an erotica that again, tilts expectations on its head. The primary couple in this story is Tare of the Elikai and India of the Varekai tribes. From their initial meeting they are at odds with each other based on preconceived notions. Well that and Tare did steal two canoes. From there, they seem to balance each other out. Tare is the fun loving one who seems to fly high in the sky like a kite, while the more serious India makes for a strong anchor keeping him from flying away. Then again, Tare is able to draw out the less serious side of India showing that both are capable of adapting.
We also meet many of the other tribe members and some of the interactions border on the non-consent but it fits the story and their naïveté is intriguing. But war is brewing and we are left with the question of whether the Varekai and Elikai can get along long enough to save their species.
Lovers of dystopian science fiction will enjoy FIRST FALL, which is story 1 in The Bones of Eden
series and I'm curious to see how this plays out.
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Book Review by Delta (reviewer)
Oct 09, 2017 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
43 people found the following review helpful
5 wildly original and engrossing stars for FIRST FALL!
After Eden fell, two tribes were formed from the carnage. The female Varekai are bloodthirsty and inventive, while the male Elikai are strong and resourceful. After an Elikai steals a Varekai canoe, he sets off a chain of events that will have long-lasting and serious repercussions in their world.
Wow wow wow. I don't want to give away too much, since this book is too good to not let you enjoy it fully, but FIRST FALL was sheer brilliant insanity! It's hard to tell in the beginning whether the first book in the Bones of Eden series is a post-apocalyptic or prehistoric type setting, but the plot of separate tribes made up of men and women who have no clue how the others' bodies and minds work was surreal. When their background was revealed…DAAAMN! There's no really telling how old the characters are either, but their mental naïveté was slightly uncomfortable at times, and the gender pronoun usage was tough to get used to, making the overall immersion experience of this book even stronger. I'm ready to take the week off and hole up in my reading nook and let myself get carried away by the next two books in this series! Pick this one up, STAT!
Bottom Line: No monogamy between any of the characters, but no ménage situations (FF, MM, MF); no condom use; no BDSM/kink; sexual assault; violence/murder. This book isn't a contemporary story so none of the typical rules really apply.
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BOOK INTERVIEW on August 2017
Interview by Laura
Hi Zaide, welcome to The Romance Reviews, and let's talk about your recently published book FIRST FALL, the first book in the Bones of Eden
(NOTE: 5 star review for FIRST FALL! Read it here: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=25380)
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for this series? How are the books tied together?
The books were originally going to be a series of seven novellas, which have now been condensed into a trilogy. As a result, the third book in the trilogy is about 30, 000 words longer than the other two.
Much of the inspiration came from conversations with my best friend, Annie, way back around 2008. I wrote the first 30, 000-word novella in a single weekend and sold it to Carina press as a series, with just the first book and synopsis written for the next six novellas.
My editor, Alissa Davis, was instrumental in shaping the series and her support and expertise really changed me as a writer. A good editor is worth more than their weight in gold.
The books themselves are sequential. Each novella is like an ‘episode' a contained story in the greater arc. There are several couples and their stories, as well as the story of the two tribes as a whole, is all intertwined into one long single thread.
Q: What was the world like in this series? Tell us about the people in your world—the Elikai and the Varekai. How different are they from humans?
In Bones of Eden, disease has killed off most of the human population. The 'Edens' were facilities to grow disease resistant children who would be able to repopulate the earth. However, society crashed before the program was complete. In order not to distract the children, the males and females were kept separate, so until they escaped, they had no idea the others even existed.
The children are primarily resistant to the diseases that wiped out the rest of humanity. They're also highly intelligent and as genetically diverse as possible, since there are only 26 males and 26 females in each Eden facility.
Until their escape, they were all well educated in science, math, agriculture and survival skills. However, they were still deemed too young to be educated on human biology and reproduction. They have no idea where babies come from. It's a mystery they are trying to solve at the beginning of the series.
Q: Intriguing! What is the hardest part in writing this series? Why?
At the start of the book, the women have never been exposed to men and the men have never been exposed to women, so they only know one set of gender pronouns. All the women call everyone ‘she' and ‘her'. All the men call everyone ‘he' and ‘him'.
It seemed like such a fantastic idea when I started writing and I still love the concept, but the practicalities of writing and editing that were a nightmare. As the series progresses, some characters adopt dual pronouns and some don't. Romeo, who was born female, chooses to identify as male, but not all the characters respect that. Toward the end of the series, trying to remember who referred to him as 'he' and who referred to him as 'she', was tricky. I think 90% of the editing was trying to straighten out gender pronouns.
I still love it and it was worth all the headaches, but I don't know if I'll be doing it again in a hurry!
Q: Now that sounds like an editing nightmare. In the story, an adventurous Elikai is caught stealing from the enemy. Who is this Elikai? Tell us more about him.
Tare is a lot of fun. That is both a strength for him and probably his greatest weakness. He's optimistic, he doesn't see why everyone can't just be friends and get along. He believes everything will be okay, so there is no reason to be cautious or take things seriously. So, he's constantly falling into trouble he could easily have avoided.
He's a bit of a cad. He does a lot of bed-hopping before he meets India. He's very good at exasperating everyone around him, then sleeping with them to get himself out of trouble. He's actually pretty scared of the Varekai at the start of the series, but for him, that just makes stealing their canoes even more fun.
He's completely shocked when it backfires. He's the only one who is surprised.
Q: Tare stole from a beautiful Varekai healer. Who is she? What kind of person is she? What makes her a healer?
India is introspective. A scholar. She has a keen interest in botany and chemistry. Through memory of her lessons in Eden and a lot of trial and error, India has established gardens and developed a lot of healing medicines for the tribe. However, there is more than that, she has a kind of sixth sense.
The Varekai and Elikai believe all the species on the islands are their own tribes, that the snakes have their own tribe, the birds, the crocodiles, and that if you treat one cruelly, the others in the tribe will seek revenge. Part of India's job is attending to the relationship between the Varekai and the many other species on the island, making sure her sisters treat all life with respect to maintain harmony. It's a contained and delicate ecosystem, so agricultural management is very important.
Tare's happy-go-lucky, everything will work out attitude is India's opposite in most ways. But they are both flexible, they're both willing to see other people's viewpoints and change their opinions when given new information. So together they are a strong couple. Tare stops India from being so serious all the time, and India gives Tare some stability and structure, but they're both willing to bend and change to accommodate the changes in their lives.
I think it would have been love at first sight for them both, if India didn't need to think about everything for two weeks before making a decision.
Q: LOL Now we come to the fun part. What was their first meeting like?
Like a lot of first meetings in romance, Tare and India's is a little rocky. Tare has disobeyed a direct order and is trying to return the canoes he stole to prevent another war from breaking out. Tare is terrible at making plans:
India saw the Elikai paddling down the narrow channel and froze. She had seen the woman before, though she was not sure of her name. She had blonde hair in a silky wave to her chin, brilliant blue eyes and a scar that ran from her left eye across her check and down her neck.
Her brown chest was bare and smooth. The Elikai had no breasts at all—just tiny, hard nipples and a flat, muscled expanse of ribs. Their hips were narrow. Their legs were hard and strong. They were remarkably hairy and, though India couldn't see it for the grass skirt around the Elikai's waist, they had an ugly little growth between their legs, something like the wattle of a rooster's comb.
As the Elikai drew closer, India's pulse picked up, her skin tingling with adrenaline. The Elikai were physically strong, stronger than most of the Varekai, and this sister was no exception. She was not the largest of her kin, but she was lean and powerful, with solid, muscled arms and the tight, controlled movements of a tiger.
By Varekai standards, Elikai were incredibly ugly, but at the same time, India found herself studying the stranger intently. They were so intensely animal. So... hideous.
She was so caught up in her fascination, it took her a moment to realize the Elikai was gliding by on not one, but two canoes. The stolen canoes!
She drew an arrow from her quiver, placing it in the bow and drawing back with breathless silence. The whole world faded as she took aim. All that mattered was the target: perfect, precise. She exhaled and released.
The arrow buried itself in the canoe, inches from the Elikai's hand.
The Elikai yelped, drawing back and causing the canoes to wobble wildly.
"Be still!" India warned. "Or the next one will go through your throat."
An easy shot at this proximity, though not a politically advantageous one.
"I'm still! I'm still!" The blonde Elikai held up her hands, peering into the thick undergrowth. India sank down a little lower. "I can't see you."
"That is intentional." The Elikai really were quite simple creatures.
"Come on," she coaxed. "I'm not armed. I'm bringing back your canoes."
"You stole them," India accused.
"Borrowed," she corrected. "I borrowed them. I'm bringing them back now. No need for arrows, okay?"
India drew another arrow and nocked it in place. Simple and childish, but she would have been the even greater fool to underestimate her. "We'll see."
"Come out. Or at least tell me who you are."
The current was carrying the Elikai along the channel, and India was forced to pad along the riverbank, weaving her way through the palms and bromeliads. "India."
"The witchdoctor? I'm Tare. I'm not here to do any harm. Honest. I just wanted to return the canoes before anyone could get mad."
"It's a little late."
"Come on now, the canoes are just fine. Well, this one has an arrow in it now, but that's your fault, not mine."
Q: They have interesting names, what were you inspired by?
The Varekai and Elikai were both named in the laboratory with different phonetic alphabets. The Varekai are named for the NATO phonetic alphabet and the Elikai are named for the older RAF phonetic alphabet, with some Spanish thrown in to cover the doubles. EG: Victor became Vaca.
I really enjoyed having characters, particularly characters in a romance series, with very unsexy names. Names you wouldn't normally associate with heroes and heroines. Names that you wouldn't even associate with that gender. So much of the series is about challenging the idea of gender stereotypes and I think using very untraditional names helps the reader let go of their preconceived notions of what gender should and shouldn't look like.
In the Bones of Eden world, it is the Varekai, the women, who are seen as warlike and violent. The Elikai are considered to be more like gentle giants, bigger, but much less aggressive. To me it makes sense, because to survive in a world overrun with crocodiles, wild boars, huge snakes, sharks and deadly weather, a group of women would have to be just a little more aggressive than a group of men. They don't have the muscle mass to rely on strength alone.
Q: Which character is the hardest to write? Why?
Whiskey. Whiskey is such a flawed protagonist. In some ways, you could argue she is the villain of the series. She does things for the right reasons, she wants to protect the ones she loves. She wants to make up for past mistakes. But she does it with violence and she does it without any room for compromise. She's very strong, the things she goes through would break anyone else. Physically, emotionally, she's the strongest. But she makes the wrong choices. She makes the choices a villain would make.
I always put something of me into every character. Whiskey and I both have endometriosis. When she is a child they almost euthanise her because of it, so it can't be passed on to future generations. But in the world of the books, they see it as a direct correlation between her strength and her suffering. They don't understand the disease, instead of a bad period being a terrible weekend, it's a sign of her vitality as a hunter.
I empathise with Whiskey, but it's hard to be in her head. I want to take her aside and say: "Maybe there is a solution to this problem that doesn't involve killing a man." But then if I was in the book, I'd be dead. I don't even like camping. But I am an Australia, so camping is an extreme sport here.
Q: The Elikai and the Varekai are natural enemies. So, when these two meet, it is expected that there would be conflict. What was that pivotal moment that changed everything between them?
When the two tribes are about to go into battle, convinced that Tare has killed India, the leader of the Varekai tribe, Charlie, hands herself over as a hostage to the Elikai. It's the only way she can stop Whiskey from inciting violence, but it means giving herself to the enemy, knowing very well they could choose to kill her or use her as leverage to do much more than stop the fighting.
Charlie's willingness to think outside the box and make huge sacrifices in order to do the right thing make her a great leader. She's always coming up against Whiskey, though; it's hard to lead a force of nature. Many of the deeper conflicts in the series are within the tribes themselves. None of them are related, but they grew up as a family. They love each other deeply, but that doesn't mean their relationships are harmonious. If you imagine a family of 26 brothers or 26 sisters, there's going to be a lot of interpersonal conflict. However instead of 'you ruined my favourite pants' it's more like 'if we don't go up the mountain to safety, we'll all die'.
I wanted to explore a lot of different kinds of love in this series. Romantic love, the love of friends and siblings, the love of a parent for their child. It's not just a story about a romance, it's a love story in every sense of the word.
Q: Please give us a sneak peek at the next 2 books in the series.
Book two, Second Heart, is already out and book three, Third Wave, will be out on the 14th of August. So, if you enjoy book one, you don't have to wait to finish the series. For me, the worst thing about series and trilogies is waiting for the next book. I always forget so many details between reading books, so I'm so glad these titles could come out really close together.
Tare and India continue to play major roles in the plot, but we also get to follow other couples as their romances grow and develop. Life on the archipelago gets more dangerous with every chapter. The fate of humanity rests on their ability to get along and work out where babies come from, but as an author it's my job to put as many obstacles between them and their happily ever after as possible.
You can expect giant snakes, prehistoric crocodiles and lizards, super intelligent pigs, evil scientists, hurricanes, tsunamis, lions, feral packs of dogs and the very worst kind of spider.
Q: What is it about erotic, dystopian science fiction that draws you?
I think there are a lot of people who have been excluded from narrative for a long time. People of colour, queer people, people with a-typical gender identities. The speculative fiction genre is huge, with this vast array of titles, and still we have a very heterosexual, western dominance.
For me, speculative fiction erotica is a way to explore and celebrate other narratives. It's also a way to discuss current political climate and sociological issues without invoking them directly.
Bones of Eden allowed me to look at gender roles and sexuality, question them, and imagine them differently, without saying anyone in the real world is 'wrong' or even suggesting that I have a solution to the problems many marginalised groups are facing today.
It also (I hope!) gives some readers a chance to see characters 'like them' taking a starring role. Being heroes and lovers and having the happily ever after they deserve, without their sexuality, gender or the colour of their skin being an obstacle.
Q: What's up next for you?
I have two upcoming titles that don't have firm release dates yet. Both are written with my co-author, Olivia Kyle.
One is a gay sports romance about an ice hockey player and a figure skater. It's angsty and sweet and has a lot of sports talk I am not entirely sure I follow, but I got to meet cute ice hockey players and figure skaters while researching it!
The other is a gay fantasy romance, where a prince desperate to deliver documents that will spare his country from war is kidnapped by, and married to, a barbarian warrior living deep in the magical and very dangerous wilds he is trying to cross. Theirs is a very bumpy path to love, but also a really sexy one.
I'm really excited about both titles, and it's a great idea for people to follow me on Twitter and check out the blog I run with Olivia to stay abreast of release dates.
Thank you for your time, Zaide! Bones of Eden sound fascinating, I for one can't wait to check it out.
Bio of author, Zaide Bishop:
Born in 1985, Zaide is an Australian writer who spends an unhealthy amount of time reading and watching horror movies. She also loves cats and aquariums, and lives in a house dominated by both.
When she isn't writing, Zaide is studying psychology, with a particular interest in the sociological effects of the internet on interpersonal communications, learning and information processing. Zaide's other interests include cooking, rock climbing, lithops, web design, photography and video gaming.
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