Cheryl Headford on Worldbuilding and her release Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Title:  Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden

Author: Cheryl Headford

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: November 13, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84700

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, gay, fairy, British humour, fantasy, abuse

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Worldbuilding by Cheryl Headford

I was born, brought up, and still live in the Welsh Valleys, surrounded by mountains, woods and fields. There are many “secret” places and everyone knows there are fairies everywhere and you have to keep part of your garden wild for them. The place where Draven has his unusual picnic is based on a place I used to go to a lot. It’s called Nant-Y-Gwyddon (roughly translates as Mountain Stream of the Druid (or knowledgeable one)) Very sadly, the last time I went there a flood had washed away the path and collapsed the tree that held up the side of the valley at that point. The stream is still running as far I know but there’s no way to get down to it or any bank to sit on if you could.

I’ve never been to the precise city where Keiron lives. I’m not sure it exists. However, it has all the things cities have, like Italian restaurants, parks and smog.

Through various circuitous routes, I’d been led to remember a lilac tree I had outside my window when I was growing up and that led to me thinking about the whole garden, and in particular the bushes at the end where the fairies lived. At the time (until I was 16) we had an outside toilet, at the end of quite a long garden path, and I will never forget running up and down it at night, with my lantern watching for fairy lights or goblins trying to trip me up with their long, knotty fingers.

That night, I had a dream about a fairy peeping out from those bushes into my old garden and watching a man. The fairy sneaked closer and closer but was never caught. The next day, I painted a picture of the fairy and wondered what would happen if he got caught. Of course, it was set in my old house, but not the place I used to live, which wasn’t a city. I will never live in a city because I am far more fey than human in that respect.

As far as plot was concerned that was pretty much as far as it got before I started to write. I had a very strong connection with Draven from the start, and I knew him very well from all the fairy stories, tales, memories, musings I have collected over my years of interest in fairies and folklore. Keiron, I came to know more slowly. As I am a pantser rather than a plotter, the rest pretty much wrote itself as I went along.

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden
Cheryl Headford © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

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.”

“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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Meet the Author

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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A Special YA Fiction Spotlight: Cheryl Headford’s Hostage (Character(s) Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Character Interview 

Characters Rowan and Astrin from ‘Hostage’ are here today and agreed to a joint interview.  Greetings, Rowan and Astrin.  Thanks for stopping by.

  • What or who is the greatest love of your life?

A: Rowan, of course. I have to say that, don’t I?

R: *Rowan swats his head affectionately* Please don’t feel constrained by me.

A: *Astrin laughs* Of course it’s you. It’s always been you. We’ve been through a lot, haven’t we? It was a great adventure, but I don’t think I’d have got through it without you.

R: *Rowan melts and hugs Astrin* You can get through anything, with or without me. You’re amazing.

*Astrin ducks his head and blushes*

  • Okay, on to the next question.  What’s your favorite journey?

A: Oh, I don’t know. We’ve had a few. I can tell you which one wasn’t my favorite. Do you remember when we had to ride camels? *Astrin shudders* I don’t ever want to see a camel again, let alone ride it. I wasn’t too fond of the train either, but that was my fault.

As for my favorite…hmm. I think that was the one I took down the aisle of the cathedral. My whole world was waiting for me at the end.

  • What is your most marked characteristic?

A: Oh. I don’t know. What do you think?

R: *Rowan shrugs” You know what I think.

A: *Astrin chuckles and rolls his eyes* Rowan things I’m stubborn. *He gives Rowan a sideways glance* Okay, Maybe I am a little stubborn. Okay, a lot stubborn.

  • What is your greatest fear?

A: That I let down the people I love. I take my roles very seriously. One day, I will be king of House Raphael and when I am I will give myself to my country absolutely. Rowan knows well that my commitment to my people comes first, but I worry that one day my commitment to them will conflict with my commitment to him, and I fear terribly what would happen if it did.

R: *Rowan cuddles him* I know the score. If you weren’t such a good prince and a good person, I wouldn’t love you as much. I know I have to come second to your people, and I’m good with that.

A: Yeah, until the situation arises. So many people have found themselves unable to accept a reality they thought they had peace with.

R: Well, it won’t be me. I promise.

A: *Astrin gazes up at Rowan and gives him a sad smile* I pray you’re right, but I fear you’re wrong. We shall see.

  • What is your greatest regret?

A: I have no regrets. If I had to live my life over there is little I would change. Perhaps I would have accepted my feelings for Rowan a little sooner. Perhaps I would have trusted our families a little more. Perhaps I would have been a lot more careful in the castle of Strebo Michael and not got myself into a situation that could easily have been my last.

  • Which talent would you most like to have?

A: I’m happy with the talents I have. House Raphael has a long association with water and I have strong abilities with healing, manipulating water, and influencing emotions. They’ve always worked well for me. Although. *he glances at Rowan* I would love to have Rowan’s abilities to manipulate stone, so I could make him beautiful things like he makes me.

*Astrin reaches into his pocket and takes out a tiny stone head* Rowan made this the first night we spent together in the South. It was his first try and it doesn’t really look much like me but it’s kind of a memento. I’d love to have been able to make something like that for him.

R: *Rowan shrugs* I have plenty. Besides, without your healing talent I wouldn’t have been there to make the head in the first place. And I wouldn’t have survived the prison.

A: *Astrin shivers* We had an adventure, and looking back, a lot of it was fun, but we need to remember that it was deadly serious and we both almost didn’t come out of it alive.

*Rowan turns solemn and chews on his lip*

  • What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A: Being completely alone. That’s one of the things that made it so hard for me to cope when I was Rowan’s prisoner. I felt so alone. Usually, I’m never alone. Even if there is no one physically with me, they’re only a thought away. It’s not always a good thing, especially when my mother tries to start a conversation when I’m…er…busy, but I know there’s always someone there. When I was a prisoner I didn’t even have myself.

  • What is the quality you most like in a man?

R: *Astrin glances at Rowan* Impulsiveness, and proclivity for temper tantrums

*Rowan cuffs him lightly and they both grin*

A: No, seriously, I like spontaneity. Many of the men I grew up with hold important positions and have to abide by rigid rules of conduct. Rowan was like a breath of fresh air. He doesn’t care about protocol and tradition. He just does things because they feel right, and he makes sure that sometimes I do things just because they feel right, too.

  • What is the quality you most like in a woman?

A: Knowing when not to drop into someone’s head unannounced. Hear that, Mom? *Astrin grins* No, seriously, I’d say it was having a great sense of humour. Things are getting better but it’s still harder for a woman to get on, especially in House Gabriel. Melissa is doing a great job, as Queen and I know my mother is helping, and being helped, a great deal. Both of them are very level headed and sensible, but they have a wicked sense of humour, and that makes a huge difference, I think.

  • What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

A: I’m weak. I would like to be stronger, like Rowan.

R: *Rowan’s eyes widen* Weak? Are you crazy? You’re the strongest person I know.

A: Yeah right. How many times did I almost die? How many times you have to save me?

R: About the same number of times as you saved me.

A: Yeah, but those were accidents.

R: And you…. *Rowan makes a huge effort and chews his lips* I not ‘going off on one’ as you keep saying. Let’s just say I totally disagree, and move on.

  • What is the trait you most deplore in others?

A: Cruelty. Everyone hurts people sometimes, mostly without intending to. Even when you don’t care it’s not deliberate. But when someone hurts another living being just because they can, because they enjoy it or get some twisted kick out of I just don’t understand that.

*Rowan keeps chewing on his lip, his eyes firmly on the ground. Astrin squeezes his arm* I know you didn’t really mean to be cruel to me. You’re not a cruel person. You were blinded by your anger, and I’ve forgiven you a hundred times.

R: I don’t want your forgiveness. I don’t deserve it.

A: Okay…moving on. This is an argument I can’t win.

  • What do you most value in your friends?

A: Honesty.

  • Which living person do you most admire?

.A: My father. He’s had to fight hard for me, and he’s done it without thought for himself. He is the strongest, wisest and most admirable person I know. He’s a true king.

  • What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

A: I don’t think any virtue can be overrated. I try to be the best person I can be, and I don’t consciously try to be virtuous, but I think that if you constantly strive to be the best version of yourself you can be, you’ll always be virtuous, without being sanctimonious.

*Astrin gives a wicked grin* Although Rowan’s working at loosening my virtue and I have a feeling he might try to steal it.

  • On what occasions do you lie?

A: Never if I can help it. Sometimes I have to give slightly different versions of the truth, but I try very hard to be truthful whenever I can.

  • If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

A: Definitely not a camel. Um…something soft and cuddly I think. I like being cuddled.

R: I’m very glad about that, because I like cuddling you.

A: So what would you be?

R: A camel.

A: What? Why? Why would you be a camel?

R: *Rowan whistles and rolls his eyes” I thought I might be able to teach you to ride me properly.

A *Astrin coughs* Moving on.

  • What is your motto?

.A: Never give up.

 

 

Title: Hostage

Author: Cheryl Headford

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

 
Length: 328 Pages
Release Date: September 17, 2015
 
Blurb:

Astrin Raphael wakes up in a strange place, frightened and confused. He is told to trust someone who seems to hate him, and he tries—he really tries. However, things change rapidly when he discovers his friend is actually his archenemy, Rowan Gabriel, whose abusive behavior stems from a deeply ingrained, if unwarranted, hatred over something that happened many years before, and simply wasn’t Astrin’s fault.

When Rowan’s uncle and Astrin’s father are kidnapped by Strebo Michael, the two crown princes are catapulted into an adventure that forces them to work together, and along the way their feelings for each other grow. Rowan is quick to let his hate go, but Astrin can’t release his inhibitions. It takes Astrin almost dying from a poisoned dagger before he finally accepts Rowan’s love.

When they return home, their problems continue as their Houses try to negotiate a way for the young men to be together. It soon becomes clear at least one of them will need to relinquish his throne.

 
 

ROWAN WASN’T smiling. He was simmering gently and muttering to himself under his breath. He’d understood and fully appreciated everything his uncle said to him, but it changed nothing. He hated Astrin Raphael, hated him with a vengeance—vengeance for his parents, to be exact. When Astrin’s father had given the order to attack the armored convoy carrying Rowan’s parents back to the capital, he had shattered Rowan’s world. At four years old, the young prince had hardly known his parents, but he could remember the soft touch of his mother’s lips on his hair, the strong arms of his father cradling him and making him feel safer than he ever had since.

That was all gone now, wiped out in one round of intensive fire and a couple of old-fashioned rocket grenades. Gritting his teeth, Rowan pressed his thumb against a panel that checked his DNA. As Crown Prince, there was no security level for which he was not cleared, and almost instantly the panel changed from red to green, letting out a soft hiss as the seal around the door released.

Quite apart from his feelings for Astrin, Rowan hated coming to the infirmary wing. It was thankfully small, as it catered only for those who lived and worked in the Palace Complex. The door opened into a central lobby from which other doors led in three different directions. One led to the administrative center, another to the main body of the hospital, which was more often accessed through the main entrance at the other side of the building, and the third to the private royal apartment. This was used and accessed only by members of the royal family, their personal physicians, and retainers.

As usual a senior administrator sat behind the desk, working before a bank of computers. Because of the unusual circumstances, soldiers stood on either side of the door into the royal suite. They were elite bodyguards, eternally alert and ready to act in a heartbeat should the need arise.

Nodding to the soldiers but ignoring the administrator, Rowan again pressed his thumb against a panel and was admitted to a dimly lit corridor.

At the end of the corridor was an administration chamber similar to the one he’d just left. This was manned predominantly by nurses, as it dealt with only a fraction of the information handled by the mainframe.

Today there were three nurses at the station. One was working hard on a keyboard in front of the monitor screens, apparently updating paperwork.

The other two nurses were lounging. They snapped to attention as Rowan entered. He ignored them.

Crossing the floor, he activated another thumb pad and pushed the door open when it hissed.

His first thoughts when he passed through the door were of utter contempt and disgust. If he hadn’t retained some sense of honor and decency, he would have spat on the sleeping prince. Fortunately, despite his complaints to his uncle, he realized it was necessary to treat the other prince with a degree of respect. It was vital the negotiations with his father were a success. Rowan therefore swallowed his feelings and went to work.

The boy was unconscious and completely helpless. As a Class One Prisoner, it was too dangerous to allow him any kind of freedom, even the freedom of consciousness.

For normal Class One Prisoners the overcrowded prisons had, over the years, developed containment chambers. Here, many men and women could be economically housed in pods, kept in a comatose state for however long their sentence might be, constantly played audio messages designed to precipitate rehabilitation. They were roused from their coma only during the last months of their sentence, when they had regular consultations with clinical therapists who assessed whether their minds had developed sufficient conscience to allow them to be released back into society.

Some prisoners had committed crimes so severe it was unlikely they would ever be roused. Their pods occupied a room all of their own, which was entered only to install a new pod or to remove that of a prisoner who had died.

However, no one was going to put Astrin, Crown Prince of House Raphael and The Western Kingdoms, in a stasis pod. Although he was a prisoner, he was still a member of the royal family of a major ruling House, and therefore deserving of special treatment.

Instead of a pod, he was reclining on a state-of-the-art bed, his head and shoulders propped up on white pillows. Although it was not possible to see from casual examination, his body was suspended from the shoulders down within an electrically generated field. No part of it was touching either the bed or the covering sheets, thereby preventing bed sores. In addition the field provided constant deep stimulation to his muscles, preventing atrophy and circulation issues.

Tubes inserted into the veins in his arms fed him a regular mixture of drugs, which maintained his perpetual coma, and another tube inserted into his stomach through his abdomen was used to feed him daily with a concentrated, thick liquid that contained all the nutrients needed to keep him alive.

It was Rowan’s duty to feed the sleeping prince, then disengage the force field and wash his body, making sure he stayed clean and there was no infection or irritation of the skin. Rowan hated it. He hated Astrin, and touching him repulsed him. Also the mixture of sedative drugs and the soupy liquid diet produced an absolutely foul waste that made him ponder at times whether it was deliberately engineered by his uncle as a rather basic lesson in humility.

It never occurred to Rowan that, if he found the whole thing demeaning and sickening, had Astrin been conscious enough to be aware of what was happening to his body, he would, no doubt, have found it even more so.

 

It never occurred to Rowan that, if he found the whole
thing demeaning and sickening, had Astrin been conscious enough to be aware of
what was happening to his body, he would, no doubt, have found it even more so.

 

 

 

 
Cheryl Headford was born into a poor mining family in the
South Wales Valleys. Until she was sixteen, 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
reenactment group who traveled 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 there 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 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, hamster, and two 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.
 
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Winner’s Prize: Signed Paperback of Hostage.

Runners Up Prize: 2 E-copies of Hostage.

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

 

 

Focusing In On: Memories of Forgotten Love by Cheryl Headford

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 Memories of Forgotten Love by Cheryl Headford
Publisher: Featherweight Press

Memories of Forgotten Love…

After waking from a coma, Noah discovers that memories are tricky things and sometimes blissful ignorance isn’t such a bad thing. 

Noah wakes from a coma with no memory of who he is. As his memories return they become stranger and more sinister at every turn. He begins to suspect the accident in which he was injured wasn’t an accident at all, and refuses to accept what everyone is saying that he threw himself off his balcony in a suicide attempt. It just doesn’t feel like something he would do. Struggling to come to terms with the shocking story he gradually uncovers, he’s helped by his friends. Yet, his best friend, Luke is acting strangely, leaving Noah to wonder just what exactly he isn’t telling him.

Buy links:   Amazon US   Amazon UK  Featherweight Press

Meet Cheryl Headford

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, hamster and two 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

Contact/Follow Chery at:

Blog: http://cherylheadford.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SevenPointStar
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nephylim.author
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More About Memories of Forgotten Love…

Excerpt:MOFL Cover

I didn’t go back to my room. I went outside into the garden. I needed space. I needed time to think alone. I headed for my favourite place, a wooden bench under a rose arbour near a stone koi pond. I walked along a shady path between clipped hedges and turned the corner into my special place. There was someone there. My first reaction was extreme annoyance. This was MY place and I needed it. How dare someone be here? However, as I drew closer, I recognised the pale hair, brushing the surface of the pool as its owner leaned over to trail his fingers in the water.

Luke clearly didn’t hear me approach as he didn’t stir, and I was able to get right up close without him noticing. This gave me a chance to examine him closely. He was tall, although not quite as tall as me, and slender, although by no means skinny. His hair was too long, almost reaching his shoulders, and fell in unruly waves. He was wearing black jeans and a black shirt. He always wore black, as if trying to magnify the effect of his hair. I smiled. That was Luke, a man of contrasts.

The first time we’d met—well no, not the first time but the first time in this part of my life—I’d been skinnier than him; weak, wasted away. But since then I’d filled out a lot. I worked so very hard and my muscles were toned again. I was strong. I still walked with a pronounced limp and I still had a degree of weakness in my left hand and arm…and I still had to think carefully about what I wanted to say or I stammered and got things confused, but on the whole I was bigger and stronger than he was and he appeared…frail, slumped, dejected, defeated.

I experienced something almost maternal as I stood and looked down at him. He hadn’t been near me for ages. Why was he hiding out here? I felt an almost irresistible urge to touch him, to stroke his hair, to take him in my arms but that, of course, would have been wholly inappropriate. We had become close again, but not that close. He wouldn’t have appreciated it, I was sure of that.

While I was watching him, he sensed my presence and his head jerked up. He didn’t smile in greeting as he usually did, he just stared at me. He had been crying. His eyes went wide and they shone like pale sapphires set in a fine piece of jewellery. He seemed stunned. Of course, I had no way of knowing then what he saw in that moment. I sat down on the low stone wall over which he was leaning to trail a hand in the water. For a moment, my own shock and anger were forgotten.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” He blinked and turned his face away, clearly embarrassed.

“Bollocks.”

We were both silent for a time. I watched Luke and Luke stared fixedly into the water. When had this wall grown up between us? “You haven’t been to see me for ages.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I needed time to think.”

“Think? Think about what?”

“About all the things you want from me—need from me—that I can’t give.”

“That sounds ominous. I don’t want anything from you, only truth and honesty.”

“And those are some of the things I can’t give you.”

“Are you sure?”

“I knew this would happen. That’s why I haven’t come. I couldn’t face you knowing you would be like this. You were always the same. You could never just let things lie.”

“I’m not going to apologise for that.”

“I wouldn’t ask you to. It’s one of the best things about you.”

The awkward silence fell again, and I didn’t know how to break it. I found that I was picking at the stone with a fingernail.

“Luke…what kind of person am I?”

He didn’t look up, just carried on staring at the water, making little circles with his finger.

“What?”

“Let’s face it…you’ve known me longer than I have. What kind of person am I?”

“I don’t know. I know what kind of person you were.”

“Then, what kind of person was I?”

“You were strong, stubborn, opinionated sometimes. You were gentle, and kind, and wise.

You were patient with a clumsy, impulsive, insensitive friend. You were a good man, a great friend, a…You were… amazing.”

“Was I a coward? Was I a quitter? Was I…was I…?”

He glanced up quickly. “No, no, you were never that. Never a coward. You were…you are the bravest person I know.”

“Then why…?” I found it hard to say because I found it so hard to accept, to believe. “Was I the kind of person who would jump off a balcony to kill myself?”

His eyes went wide, such colour as there was draining from his face. He seemed shocked,
scared. He licked his lips and swallowed hard. “How did you…?”

“New shrink. He didn’t know I didn’t know.”
“Oh.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Yeah, right. How was I going to bring up that subject? Oh by the way, Noah, did you know, did you realise that right after we had the worst row we’d ever had, right after I stormed off vowing never to see you again, you jumped out of your window and tried to kill yourself? Strangely enough, the opening never arose.”

Genre: Young Adult, Gay Romance, Mystery
Length: Novella (135 pages)

Contest:  The prizes are 2 5$ Amazon Gift Cards, 1 ecopy of Memories of Forgotten Love, and 1 ecopy of A Face in the Window. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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