We have Cheryl Headford stopping by today with her new release Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden from NineStar Press
How important is research to you when writing a book?
It depends on the book. If I’m writing what I know there’s no need to research. On the other hand, if there’s anything at all I’m not sure of I will squeeze the last drop out of Google or anyone I know with experience in that area. I constantly have in the back of my mind that if I can’t justify everything I write, someone will call me out on it so I try not to write anything unless I’m sure of my footing. Even with my fantasy, I like to make sure things are logically possible and at least try to remain within or explain my way out of the laws of physics. I find myself looking up things like “how fast can a human body go before it explodes”. The answer is that the human body can travel at any speed short of the speed of light. It’s the acceleration that gets us. Most humans can’t stand acceleration of more than 5G’s. (One G is equal to the pull of Earth’s gravity toward the planet’s centre at 9.8 metres per second squared (at sea level)) Astronauts in their suits can manage 9Gs.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
I write mainly on a laptop because it’s easier and all my work has to be digitalized in any event for publication, posting online etc. I do, however like to write longhand, and especially when I’m out of the house I write on pads which I find very satisfying.
My absolute favourite is writing with a dip pen using coloured inks. I save this for research that I want to keep and that particularly interests me. I’m really interested I do picture essays which is effectively a single sheet of illustration of main points.
I can’t see me ever dictating, at least not as long as I am capable of typing. I hate listening to the sound of my voice. There is no way I would be able to speak aloud a sex scene. I blush hard enough when I’m typing it.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
I can’t write when I’m uninspired. The words won’t come and my mind gets distracted. As with everything else I like to do, if I’m not in the mood it doesn’t work and I find myself pulled strongly to do something else. It’s very rare I have a block, usually when I’m writing necessary scenes that don’t actually interest me. At those times I tend to revert to pen and paper which, for some reason, keeps my attention more than the computer screen.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
I am definitely a loner. I love people but am terrible with them. I’m fine on a one-to-one, although if you wait for me to initiate a conversation with someone I don’t know you are likely to die of old age before you witness it, but not so much with groups. Having said that, I have been known to give talks to large groups about things I am passionately interested in.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
There is absolutely nothing about writing that is hard for me. I even enjoy editing because I have learned an enormous amount from that over the years and I love the relationship build up with the editors I’ve worked with. I suppose it can get hard when I’m hand writing but I can easily write for three or four hours without a break. I have taught myself to write with my left hand so I can extend that.
The hardest thing about being a writer, is all the things that go with it, marketing and promotion. I’m simply not good at it. I have to force myself to do everything and it often makes me unhappy. That, of course impacts on my writing and I hate the fact that I have to work so hard on things I hate. That’s not unusual in any job though and it has to be done so I do it to the maximum of my capability.
Title: Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden
Author: Cheryl Headford
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: November 13, 2017
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, gay, fairy, British humour, fantasy, abuse
All Keiron wants is a quiet life. Fat chance with a boyfriend like Bren. But if he thought Bren complicated his life, that was nothing compared to the complications that begin when he opens the door to what he thinks is a naked boy claiming to be his slave.
Draven is a fairy with his sights set on the handsome human who keeps a wild place in the garden for fairies. When Draven slips through a fairy gate into the city, he sets in motion a series of events that binds him to Keiron forever, and just might be the end of him.
While Draven explores Keiron’s world with wide-eyed wonder, Keiron does everything he can to keep Draven’s at bay, until the only way to save Draven and bring him home is to step into a world that should exist only in children stories.
Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden
Cheryl Headford © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Keiron hurried home at the end of a very long day, anticipating some peace and quiet. He liked a quiet life, so what had possessed him to take on a boyfriend like Bren Donovan was anyone’s guess. Whatever else it might be, life with Bren was certainly not quiet, and it was slowly wearing Keiron out.
It was almost a relief Bren wouldn’t be staying at the flat that night. Although they were practically living together, Bren had his own place and sometimes felt the need to stay there. This was usually because a member of his family-or particularly flighty friend-was coming to stay. It wasn’t as if his family wasn’t aware of their relationship, but Bren was shy about “rubbing it in their faces”. Keiron didn’t understand because Bren’s mother seemed to like him a great deal and considered him to be a stabilising influence on her son.
Keiron was a conservative person and so different to Bren, they might as well live in different worlds. As for Bren’s friends, they were usually very like him-loud, messy, and irresponsible. Keiron couldn’t stand them. He was lucky if nothing got broken, and they always left the flat in a complete mess. If Bren wanted to live in a pigsty, so be it. He could do it in his own home.
This weekend, with the bank holiday, Bren was getting both. His friends were congregating on Saturday. Then his parents and sister were coming on Sunday, and staying through until Tuesday morning. Keiron had a Bren-free weekend and was looking forward to it.
If it hadn’t been for their differences on this point, they’d have moved in together a long time ago. Bren chafed for it, but Keiron couldn’t handle his flat descending into chaos, and it wasn’t even as if Bren helped tidy up afterwards. Keiron cringed at the thought of having that chaos and therefore stress every day.
Not only that, but Bren was the most jealous person Keiron had ever come across. Keiron was constantly accused of looking at other men, and God forbid he spoke to one. Bren was a firebrand, completely living up to his fiery red-headed Irish-descended promise. Sometimes it was exciting, even invigorating, yet at other times Keiron longed for the peace and stability he used to have before Bren burst in on him. Maybe at twenty-two, he was just getting old.
Keiron ordered takeaway and, while he waited for it to arrive, wandered down to the bottom of the garden, a beer in his hand, his hair damp from the bath. The sun was still high and warm enough for him to be wearing a thin T-shirt and shorts. The smell of a barbecue drifted over from a neighbouring garden and his mouth watered.
Savouring his drink, he sank onto the stone bench under the rose arbour. It afforded a good view of the whole garden. It was a big one. A long lawn stretched ahead of him to the decking immediately outside the house, where a large wooden table, a number of items of garden furniture, and a shiny silver gas barbecue sat.
Sometimes, he had Bren’s friends around for a barbecue. They weren’t so bad out here in the garden, although they made such a mess of the barbecue itself that it took him days to get it properly clean. He smiled to himself. Sometimes, living with Bren was like having a teenage son. Fortunately, Bren was very good at things he’d hate to think any son of his could do.
The lawn was bordered on either side by flower beds and bushes, which hid the wooden fences separating his garden from the ones on either side. To his left, screened from the arbour by a yew hedge, was a garden pool with a rock fountain and fat koi swimming under lily pads. There used to be more fish-before Bren’s friends found the pond. He pursed his lips at the thought.
To the right was a shrubbery. A large variety of plants made up a wild area of about thirty square feet. Bren loved it, of course. He’d burrowed into it and, within a week, had made a green cave right in the middle. He’d floored it with an old piece of carpet he’d found on a skip. It had taken a long time and a lot of carpet-cleaner to persuade Keiron to enter it, but he had to admit, making love outside under the bushes in the darkness was something he’d come to enjoy very much.
Bren had been surprised he had such a wild place in his neat garden, in his neat life. Perhaps it was the thing that sealed the deal with Bren, who’d been reluctant to get involved with someone so unlike himself, and likely to “cramp his style”.
“But why?” he’d asked. “It doesn’t seem like you to have a wild place like this. It’s so out of place-with the garden and with you. Why haven’t you ‘tamed’ it? Everything else in your life is tame. You’re the most vanilla person I know-except for this.”
They were in the “cave” at the time. It was dark but warm, and they were holding each other in the afterglow of amazing sex. Keiron had smiled lazily and sighed.
“My mother used to live out in the country somewhere when she was a child. My grandmother never took to city life. She told me once there was no room in a city for life, real life. Nowhere for roots to reach the earth. No place for the fairies.”
“Oh yes, she was very superstitious about fairies. Never had anything made of iron in the garden. Put out saucers of warm milk if there was a deep frost or snow. And always had a wild place in the garden-for the fairies.”
Bren had smiled at him. “I never thought you had any of that in you, Keiron. I guess there’s hope for you yet.”
Keiron had grinned and held Bren tightly in his arms.
Keiron smiled at the memory and took a drink of his beer. Something caught his eye, and he turned towards the shrubbery. He was sure he’d seen something move, shooting across his vision, behind the trees. He stared hard, but there was nothing there. It must have been a squirrel. He saw them now and again, scrabbling for nuts under the hazel tree or acorns from the enormous oak that overhung the garden from next door.
With a sigh, he settled back and took another drink. His stomach rumbled, and he glanced at his watch, wondering when his pizza would get there. The deliveryman was a regular, and if there was no answer at the door, he’d text to say he’d arrived. So Keiron could relax and not worry about-
There was definitely something there. It moved again. He’d seen it-a flash of white. A cat? Most of the neighbours had cats, and they liked to hang about in the shrubbery, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting birds. It had taken a lot of work to get rid of the smell of cat pee from the carpet.
Ah well. Although…something nagged at the back of his mind. It wasn’t a cat. It couldn’t have been a cat because it hadn’t looked like a cat. It had looked like a person. A small person with a pale pointed face. But it had only been a fraction of a second, a flash, an impression. It was nonsense, of course.
Maybe it was one of the fairies. He smiled.
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Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play. Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere. In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art, with a healthy smattering of magic and mayhem.
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