Today’s interview guest is fellow Ylva Publishing author Cheyenne Blue, who is best-known for her tennis romance Code of Conduct and her Girl Meets Girl series of lesbian romance novels set in Australia.
Cheyenne is giving away an ebook copy of her latest release, opposites-attract romance A Heart This Big, and she’s also offering a free collection of romantic short stories, so make sure you don’t miss the giveaway and the freebie at the end of this post!
Welcome, Cheyenne. Please tell us a little about your latest release, A Heart This Big.
A Heart This Big is the story of single mum Nina who runs a farm on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia. Banksia Farm allows city kids to experience a taste of rural life. But when a child is hurt, and a lawsuit looms, Nina seeks out the best legal assistance she can.
Leigh is a partner in a major Sydney law firm. She’d love to help Nina, but Nina doesn’t have the money to pay her. But something about Nina—and her twelve-year old daughter Phoebe—is very hard to refuse.
If I had to slap labels on A Heart This Big, I’d say it is an opposites-attract, rich-girl/poor-girl romance, split between the city and the country. There are animals and kids, an accident-prone paralegal, and a battle to save a special farm.
I know you always put little pieces of yourself into your characters. What do the characters from A Heart This Big have in common with you?
I would say I have most in common with Nina. Nina’s one of those people who always tries to take on too much—and that would be me too. She’s also too busy to be a very neat housekeeper. That’s definitely me! Nina and I share the same dress sense too: practical, old clothes and zero dress to impress.
The character in A Heart This Big I have the most in common with is Grizz, Leigh’s paralegal. Mostly because my day job is basically Grizz’s job. In addition to that, Grizz loves her childfree state, refuses to act her age, and is rather accident-prone. I own those traits big time!
I loved the hilarious scenes at the beginning of A Heart This Big, when big-city lawyer Leigh tries to help out on Nina’s farm. What was your personal favorite scene in A Heart This Big?
Can I pick two scenes? The first is chapter 2, where Nina comes to see Leigh to try and persuade her to take on the case. Nina is so woefully unprepared—both for what the lawsuit is going to mean for her, but also for the rarified atmosphere of a swanky law firm.
The second scene is one that got added in the editing process. Leigh volunteers to assist with a group of kids with Down syndrome who come to ride the ponies at the farm. The scene shows the community that is Banksia Farm and how much it means to so many people. It’s also where Leigh first begins to really feel the pull of the farm for herself.
Back when I was a teenager, I worked at a stables that also taught riding to children and adults with Down syndrome. It was one of my favourite times of the week. I drew heavily on that experience for the character of Edwina, but also had two experienced betas who weighed in on Riding for the Disabled and Edwina’s characterisation. Thanks, Kat and Sophie.
Congratulations! Your tennis romance Code of Conduct is a finalist for a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in the contemporary romance (long novels) category. For those readers who haven’t read it yet: It’s a story about forbidden love between a professional tennis player and a very sexy Spanish official. Cheyenne, if you had to play a doubles match against Viva and Gabriela, which of the main characters from your other novels would you pick as your doubles partner and why?
What an interesting question. First up, in any tennis match against Viva and Gabriela I would battle to gain a single point against those super-fit tennis professionals! If I got slapped onto the court to play the match, though, I’ll pick Felix from Fenced-In Felix to be my partner. She’s probably never picked up a racquet in her life, but her outdoor lifestyle means she’s fit, and as a six-footer, she’s got a great wingspan. Between us, maybe we’d get lucky and manage to get a few balls back.
And, yes! I’m pretty stoked to be a Goldie finalist. 😊
Like Sue, the main character in your novel Not-So-Straight Sue, you love road trips in your campervan. What’s your favorite place you have visited or favorite experience you had on one of your road trips?
I love outback trips where the landscape is wide and brown and flat and the roads are empty. That’s something I share with Sue. I’m not a destination person; for me, it’s all about the journey. I love the quiet places where no one else is.
I took this photo on the Hay Plains in Australia. It’s certainly not a tourist destination—the opposite in fact. Those wide brown floodplains have little to see unless you count cotton, sheep, and roadtrains, but it’s easy enough to pull onto a dirt track to stop for the night and see no one until you return to the main road.
You’re one of the rare writers who actually love the editing process (including receiving my infamous editorial letters). What do you like about that part of the writing process?
I love your editorial letters! For those who don’t know, Jae’s a.k.a. Sandra’s editorial letters are a manuscript in themselves. I think the one for A Heart This Big was twelve pages.
I write really horrible first drafts. I’m a plotter, but I write fairly quickly, aiming for a minimum of 1,500 words per day. I don’t edit, I don’t self-censor, and apart from a quick scan to see where I got up to the day before, I don’t read back. Therefore, my first drafts are, quite frankly, a hideous mess.
The magic happens in the editing. Firstly, my own self-editing when I make notes and flag places I need to expand or cut. Then I go through again and start tidying up. Rewording sentences, fleshing out characters, and cutting, cutting, cutting my sometimes bizarre wordiness. And this is what I love best: seeing a story come together and looking at each chapter, each paragraph, even each sentence and word to make it shine. Maybe it’s my pedantic paralegal side. Or not.
When my story finally goes to the editor, it’s a totally different animal to that terrible first draft. Then my editor gets her paws on it and works even more magic. It’s like putting eggs and sugar and butter into a bowl but when it comes out of the oven, it’s the most delicious cake.
Finally, let me just say it is a special kind of hell to edit a sex scene.
I know you love your day job as a paralegal. Would you ever give it up to write full-time?
It’s funny you mention that. It’s going through my head a bit at present. I’d love to increase to two novels per year, and I simply can’t do that while I work full time so I have been thinking hard about some life choices. But any change would be as much of a wind-down as a crank-up. I’d like more time to travel as well. It could soon be time for that around-Australia trip I’ve been talking about for the last few years. I enjoy writing while travelling, so it could work well.
Sssh, though. Don’t tell my day job…
Since you live in Australia, I have to ask you this: What are your top 3 favorite food items or dishes that most of your readers from the rest of the world might have never tried or even heard of?
One item that I love that is very local to me are bunya bunya nuts. They look and taste not dissimilar to a giant pine nut. The cones are the size of footballs and can weigh 10 kilograms (22 pounds for our US readers). You don’t want one falling on your head. The nuts themselves can be up to five centimetres long (two inches). The tree is indigenous to southeast Queensland, where I live. I love to harvest the nuts when they fall in late January every year.
I wrote a story about the nuts if anyone’s interested. It’s called “Bunya Bunya” and you’ll find it in the f/f foodie romance anthology Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance and Erotica.
Another local food is Moreton Bay Bugs, which is a type of seafood. They’re a particularly ugly looking sort of lobster, but they taste delicious with garlic butter.
As for other things: I tend not to think Vegemite is unusual, but a lot of people disagree (and a lot of people hate the stuff). There is no better thing on toast as far as I’m concerned.
Do you have time to read? Any favorite lesbian fiction or f/f books you can recommend?
I do read quite a bit although I often fall asleep with the Kindle plonked on my nose. My favourite stories are those where there’s something else happening as well as the romance. Andrea Bramhall is one of my favourite authors for this reason. There’s always a lot happening in her books.
When’s your next book coming out, and what are you working on right now?
My next book after A Heart This Big is called All at Sea (and hey, I think you came up with that title!) It’s about a woman who escapes a party, falls asleep on a yacht, and wakes to find herself at sea with a lone sailor and a cat. It will be out from Ylva Publishing in 2020. I’m in the final stages of self-editing before I send it off to Ylva.
After that… I don’t know. I’m focused on Stevie and Kaz from All at Sea right now and haven’t thought to the book after that yet.
Where can your readers find out more about you and your books?
If you visit Cheyenne’s website, www.cheyenneblue.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can sign up for her reader newsletter, and she’ll send you an ebook copy of Rule 4 and Other Stories, a collection of free romantic short stories.
Cheyenne is giving away an ebook copy of her f/f romance A Heart This Big.
Anyone can enter. To be entered into the drawing, leave a comment on this blog.
Entries close on Thursday, July 25, 2019, 10 a.m. CET, when I’ll draw the winners using a random numbers generator. I’ll notify winners via email. Your email address won’t be used for any other purpose.
I’m posting several author interviews with giveaways and free books every month. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of them, please subscribe to my blog.