C H Cleppit : Magic Mirror Collection

I’m really chuffed to welcome C H Cleppit to the blog today, to answer my nosy questions and talk about her new release, Eye of the Beholder!

Take it away, Claire!

1. First, tell us why you are doing this interview?

I like to get about a bit. Also, I’ve recently started a new series of queer fairy tale retellings which I’m calling my “Magic Mirror Collection” and I’d also like to shamelessly plug the first one of those. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I have set it in 1930s France and fixed all the problematic bits. If you like slow burn lesbians (not actual fire, slow burn is what they call it if they don’t jump each other right off the bat, apparently) with magic and acceptance, give it a go and see what you think.

2. What started you writing?

I’ve always written. Even when I was tiny I used to record stories on cassette tapes! I don’t know what happened to those, which is probably for the best.

3. Where do you write?

For drafting I write wherever is comfortable. I have an app on my phone that allows me to write on the move, too, so wherever inspiration hits, I can get it down. Once I’m editing/formatting I have a grown up desk.

4. What do you like to read? 

I like to read anything where the characters are well developed enough to be plausible and the pace is decent. If you describe a woman by how she feels about her own breasts, or spend three pages on what a wall looks like, you’ve lost me as a reader.

5. What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Hmm. Good question. I do comfort reread things sometimes, so if we’re talking about that, maybe His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, The Night Watch by Sarah Waters and the complete Sherlock Holmes. I like them because they are totally immersive, and you can really see the worlds within them. But I think if I was going to be on a desert island I’d like to take something I haven’t read yet so I’d have something to look forward to. 

6. Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

Nah. I’m not a huge fan of humans! That’s not true, I am in a couple of online groups that discuss writing and marketing, but they aren’t hugely active. If anyone has any recommendations for groups they enjoy that aren’t all spammy or dead on the inside then give me a shout. Bonus points if they focus on Lesfic.

7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Quarantine has pretty much limited me to binge watching, sketching and LOTS of home decorating. I have basically turned my kitchen into a comic book… But before that when I was passing for human I would love going to the gym, meeting friends for food and cinema and playing netball.

8.  Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Eye of the Beholder is a queer retelling of Beauty and the Beast (with lesbians). It took me much longer to write than it should have done because lockdown threw my brain into a terrible unproductive spiral of not focusing on anything but Twitter, which was super healthy… I am proud I managed to finish and launch it in spite of myself, though. I enjoyed being able to turn a fairy tale around and remove problematic elements and make a story of mutual respect, love and support and I’m glad it’s been so well received. The only thing I hated was how hard I found it to focus and get it done.

Eye of the Beholder

When pressure from his materialistic children turns Claude into a thief, it is down to his youngest daughter to set things right. Angelique agrees to take her father’s place as prisoner to what she is told is a hideous beast.

Angelique soon discovers that the so called beast is nothing more than Rosalie, a princess cursed to remain trapped in a castle, unless the curse can be broken, something she assures her is impossible.

Angelique does not believe in the impossible, and sets about trying to find a way to save her new friend, who she is rapidly growing to love.

Eye of the Beholder is the first in a series of queer fairy tale retellings in C H Clepitt’s Magic Mirror Collection.

Buy here : 99c!

Stalk C. H. Cleppit!

thanks all round

And that’s the end of The Flowers of Time blogtour! Thank you so much to everyone who has hosted me, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to visit. Here’s a recap of the topics and where you can find me:

Plus! All these lovely people came and talked to me over the last few days on intersecting topics:

It’s been a lot of fun and an immense privilege to host such a wonderful set of people and I’m so grateful that they took time out of their busy lives. Thank you!

PS. If you’d like to buy The Flowers of Time that would quite frankly make me extremely chuffed.

Zaya Feli talks about journeys

Zaya Feli is the author of the wonderful Stag’s Run fantasy-historical trilogy, the Icefjord duology and has an upcoming release, Wild Sky, which has dragons! Zaya is visiting today to talk about journeys in her work- both physical ones and mental ones. Plus, making world-maps!

Welcome, Zaya!

My name is Zaya Feli. I’m an illustrator and author living and working in Denmark, writing LGBT+ genre fiction, and journeys have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I rarely sit down with the intention of writing about a journey.

My one exception is my upcoming novel, WILD SKY, where I created an expansive world I knew I wanted my characters to explore. From the backs of dragons, they could cover large distances in little time, so I deliberately focused on creating a world that would allow my characters to, quite literally, stretch their wings.

But most often, the physical journey simply happens. I’ll finish plotting an outline and realise I’ve dragged countless lines all across my world map in the process.

Sometimes, the characters’ mental journeys reflect their physical ones.
In my fantasy trilogy, IRON BREAKERS, the main character, Ren, is forcefully ripped from the comfort of home within the first three chapters, and doesn’t get a chance to return until the very end of the final book. At the start of his journey, the world around him feels almost like an enemy in its own right. By the end of the third book, he’s been across the nation and back, as at home in the wild as he once was in his comfortable castle quarters.

My stories rarely take place in the real world.

Maybe it’s the result of being an illustrator as well as a writer, but one of the first things I do when I start working on a new story is to draw a world map. I create a world first, then place my characters in it. The world might change as I write, and then I’ll redraw the map, but it helps me to have markers, locations and a solid layout of geography.

I think most authors have their own writing-related quirks, and mine include keeping track of distance and time. It’s something I’ve always done, even way back when I wrote my very first original story about puppy dogs when I was 10 years old.

How long will it take the characters to get from this town to this inn? On horseback? Dragonback? How much time has passed since they left home, and how long a distance do they still need to cover? I’ll cover whole pages of notebooks with timetables and charts.

In my Norse-inspired fantasy duology, THE ICEFJORD SAGA, the story takes place in two distinct locations – one for each book.

The first book centers largely around one of the main characters’ home town, while the second book sees them leave the safety and comfort of home behind, and sail to a hostile and uncharted frozen woodland in the high north, in search of a magical runestone.

In a way, this split of locations paralleled my own life at the time: when I wrote the first book, I based the map of the characters’ home on my own home. And just like my characters, I was uprooted midway through writing the series, having to adjust to a whole new place.

And that is perhaps why physical journeys keep being such a strong, subconscious theme in the stories I write.

I haven’t gone on many holidays in my life. I’ve only ever left the country twice, and have never been outside Europe. My physical journeys are on a smaller scale, but no less impactful. Throughout my life, I’ve rarely lived in one place for more than three or four years at a time.

I started my life in the capital city of Copenhagen, moved within city borders before moving to the countryside across the island. There, I moved around even more, before making a big switch to the other end of the country two years ago. And within the coming year, I’ll move again, to a different place.

Like my characters, I’ve lost and gained things and people along the way. I’ve changed and grown as a person, not to the extend I often force my characters to, but in a way that still feels profound.

Maybe I simply enjoy writing about new places and varied scenery. Or maybe I keep searching for the various ways in which I can translate the same core idea that means so much to me: that home isn’t necessarily a place. Sometimes it’s a feeling. Or a person. Or a soft sweater on a cold day. It’s what you make of it.

You can connect with Zaya here:

Twitter : Instagram : Amazon: Website : Goodreads

You can read my own post talking about The Flowers of Time and Edie’s Journey today, at Love Bytes Reviews

release day! The Flowers of Time

Today is the book-birthday of The Flowers of Time!

You can find the buy-link and read all about the book here…there’s an excerpt and a clip of me reading it.

Plus, to celebrate the launch I am off on a blog-tour over the next ten days. You can see the schedule below and the things I’ll be talking about.

I’m also hosting some lovely people here on own site to talk about magic, gender and journeys (not necessarily all at once!) in their own books. I’ll be putting a post up introducing them tomorrow.

Today though, I am over at Queer Sci-Fi, answering questions about my writing process. And other things. Because otherwise that would make for a short interview! Thank you so much to the QSF guys for hosting me.

Finally…scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter draw for a universal e-reader cover and a leather-bound notebook, not at all unlike the book in the story!

This week you can find me at:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

here, there and everywhere

This week’s post is a lazy one, just a heads up to a couple of other things I’ve written in the last few weeks. (I’m on my holidays this week, in Devon with the family).

Firstly, my monthly newsletter has got some ramblings about where I am with work and dachshunds, plus a link to some free LGBTQ+ books on Bookfunnel and new releases by Elizabeth Noble and Julie Bozza. You don’t have to sign up to look at it, because I am a positively amazing technical wizard and have worked out how to link to the web version from here. (If you want to though, that would be lovely! There’s a sign-up form here).

And secondly, I’ve committed to writing a few posts for Scott over at Queeromance Ink and this month I’ve introduced myself and talked about being semi-closeted in rural England. I’m taking suggestions for future topics, so please do let me know if you have any ideas or questions. I love QRI – it’s one of the places I go to find new LGBTQ+ reads and they are a lovely bunch of people. Also, Queer Sci-Fi. What’s not to like?

That’s it! I told you I was being lazy.

(I’ve experimented with iFrames to embed those posts here and if it’s rubbish for whatever device you’re reading on, please let me know and I will find another way if I do it again)