Interview: Liz Faraim talks about Canopy

Today, please welcome new author Liz Faraim to the blog to answer my incredibly intrusive questions and talk about her debut release, Canopy! Canopy is a contemporary LGTBQ thriller, featuring Vivian Chastain, a veteran transitioning back in to civilian life. It’s not a romance, but falls squarely in the LGBTQ category, with f/f pairings and gay, trans and poly characters.

There’s an excerpt and a chance to enter her rafflecopter draw if you scroll on down, too.

Happy Monday, Liz! Why are you doing this interview?

I am doing this interview because my debut novel, Canopy, is due to release on October 26. I’ve also just launched my website. My lack of web design skills will become apparent if you choose to visit the site.

Tell us a bit about why you started writing?

Not sure I can really pin it down. Writing has always been something I have done. I recall tapping away on my father’s old manual typewriter as a child, which resulted in my first short story. My mother had a friend that was an author, and I mailed him my little manuscript to see if he’d give me some feedback.

Where do you write?

We live in a small townhouse, with doesn’t have much space for everyday living, let alone an office. So, my writing desk is in the only place it fits, which is the living room. While it is not the cozy little writing nook I dream of, it gets the job done.

What do you like to read? And what are the three books you’d take to a desert island?

I like to read contemporary fiction, historical fiction, mystery, and the occasional fantasy novel.

If going to a desert island I would bring: 1) Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 2) David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, and 3) Katie Quinn’s The Huntress.

I would bring these books because each one of them does a fantastic job of transporting me to another place. They really suck me in and provide a level of connection with the characters that I would likely need if all alone on an island.

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?

I am a member of both the Queer Sacramento Authors Collective, and the Bay Area Queer Writers Association. Previously these groups held meetings in person, but have adapted to virtual meetings given the current public health issues here. Both groups have been incredibly helpful in advancing my writing, and I have formed some wonderful friendships.

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

When not writing I am parenting my very busy nine-year-old son, working my day job, and exploring. I live in a beautiful town on the bay, and I like to get out and enjoy the incredible views and fresh air. I also enjoy geocaching, watching tv, hosting game night (when not in a pandemic), and playing with my cats.

Tell me a little bit about Canopy. 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?

My upcoming release was a long time in the making. Canopy was my first attempt at a full-length novel, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. It has seen many iterations, but I am happy with the final product. All in all, Canopy took about three years to write. The main character, Vivian, was inside of me, ready to be wrestled down onto paper.

I am a “panster,” so I don’t plot my stories out in advance. I just sit down and write, so I never know what is going to happen in the story until I am typing it.

I enjoyed the feeling of how easily the story flowed out of me. That’s not to say I don’t get writer’s block, because I most certainly do, but Canopy had been bottled up in me for years and was ready to come out. What I hated was that I had a very unexpected and traumatic break up right after I finished the first draft. I had sent the manuscript out to my beta readers, but I became so depressed from the break up that I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to read their feedback or make any corrections for almost six months.

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Liz! Read on to learn more about Canopy. Liz is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour to celebrate her launch.

Canopy

Vivian Chastain is an adrenaline addicted veteran transitioning to civilian life in Sacramento, California. She settles into a new routine while she finishes up college and works as a bartender, covering up her intense anxiety with fake bravado and swagger. All Vivian wants is peace and quiet, but her whole trajectory changes when she stumbles upon a heinous crime in progress, and has to fight for her life to get away.

While recovering from the fight, she falls in love with someone who is tall in stature but short on emotional intelligence, and this toxic union provides Vivian the relationship that she thinks she needs. Given Vivian’s insecurities and traumatic past, she clings to the relationship even while it destroys her.

Prone to fits of rage, the spiraling of Vivian’s temper creates a turning point for her as she looks within to find the peace she seeks.

Vivian’s alcoholic brother and emotionally devoid mother serve as frequent thorns in her side, prompting her turbulent history to often bubble up to the surface. The bubbling turns to a rolling boil when Vivian’s brother lands himself in jail for drunken indiscretions, and not long afterward her partner is arrested for something so atrocious Vivian cannot even fathom it. She is left pondering whether or not to believe that the person she loves could have committed such an inexcusable crime.

Vivian’s relationships are strained to their breaking points as she continues to seek balance. She turns to her best friend for support, only to be left empty handed and alone until she finds comradery and care from the last person she would have thought.

Warnings: This book contains sexually explicit material which is only suitable for mature readers, graphic violence, self-harm, abuse of a child by a parent, abuse by a sibling, alcohol abuse, and PTSD.

Buy Canopy

About Liz

Liz Faraim is a recovering workaholic who has mastered multi-tasking, including balancing a day job, solo parenting, writing, and finding some semblance of a social life. In past lives she has been a soldier, a bartender, a shoe salesperson, an assistant museum curator, and even a driving instructor.

Liz writes contemporary fiction that highlights queer characters and often includes complex polyamorous relationships. Her writing has a hefty dose of soul searching and emotional turmoil while also taking the reader on fun adventures. She loves spending time in nature and does her best to share nature with her readers.

Website : Facebook : Twitter : Goodreads

Read an excerpt from Canopy

As I approached Road 27, I saw what looked like an old warehouse. It was all closed up, the metal siding rusty, the dirt lot empty and overgrown with Russian Thistle. It was perfect for a bio break.

I backed off the throttle and downshifted. The bike rapidly slowed under me. I pulled into the dirt lot and parked along the side of the structure. I killed the engine and hopped off quickly, yanking off my helmet and gloves.

My bladder was screaming for relief. I grabbed a tissue from my tank bag and jogged around to the east side of the building so I wouldn’t be seen from the road. Dropping trou, I squatted against the side of the building. The heat of the warm metal siding radiated through the back of my shirt. Once I was finished, I stood, buckling my belt as the relief washed over my body.

The building was surrounded by row crops, and a breeze blew across the fields. The distant Sierra Mountains wavered in the hot air.

It occurred to me an abandoned warehouse like that would be a great spot for geocaching and I walked slowly along the side of the building, looking for potential geocache hiding spots.

I rounded the far corner of the building and stopped in my tracks. I was startled to see a car parked about twenty feet away. It was a rusted-out old Honda Accord, its windows rolled down. The burgundy paint was oxidized, and strips of the headliner hung down, fluttering in the hot midday breeze.

Some faint shuffling sounds came from inside the warehouse, and I realized I was standing directly in front of a rusty pedestrian door. I took a few steps back. My hands tingled and I balled them into fists.

It’s just a farm worker getting some tools, dumbass.

But the hypervigilance that had kicked in would not go away. Something was off, and it made me bristle.

I reached down for my M16 sling and came up empty. I looked down at my boots on the dusty cracked ground. They were my scuffed-up riding boots, not military issue jump boots. My pants were denim, not BDU’s.

I slipped away to another hot, dusty day five years prior. A day when RPG’s and bullets filled the air rather than the sound of the breeze rustling crops. A day when blood was shed.

I took another step away from the building and forced myself to breathe. Breathe in the smell of freshly plowed soil, leather, gasoline, and the faint hint of a dung heap.

I slapped myself across the thighs, hard. Even through denim, the sound and sting of it helped bring me back. My thighs and palms burned. I did it again to make the point to myself.

The door to the warehouse opened, and a woman stepped out. She was wearing a tan backpack, whistling, and twirling a key ring on her fingertip as she walked toward a spigot near the door. Her long hair was brown and tightly permed. She was short but solid and moved like an athlete. Scanning her, I noticed that her hands and shirt were bloody. I coiled up inside, ready to fight.

The door closed heavily behind her, and she took a few more steps before looking up and spotting me. She stopped whistling as our eyes met.

I immediately shifted into a fighting stance. With no hesitation the woman charged at me. I got low and opened my arms because I didn’t have time to try a side slip. As soon as the woman plowed into me, I wrapped my arms tightly around her.

We went down hard. I wrapped my legs around her waist. Dust and grit were immediately in the air.

I had a hard time keeping a grip on her torso because of the backpack. I worked my arms up until the crook of my elbow was wrapped around the back of her neck, holding her as close as I could. She bucked and tried to roll out of my grip. I locked my right foot into the crook of my left knee and squeezed the woman’s guts. She grunted as I clamped my thighs down around her, restricting her ability to get a full breath. She was solid and strong, deep down in her core.

Adrenaline and rage surged through my body, and a clear lucidity took over. I was in my element, and apparently so was the woman I was hanging onto.

Warnings: This book contains sexually explicit material which is only suitable for mature readers, graphic violence, self-harm, abuse of a child by a parent, abuse by a sibling, alcohol abuse, and PTSD.

Buy Canopy

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!

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

booktrailer: the flowers of time

I’m quite proud of this, actually!

The Flowers of Time has been a long time coming. I first started mulling the idea of writing about plant-collectors a couple of years ago when I read a newspaper article about Europeans stomping round the world in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ‘discovering’ new plants. I knew I wanted Ella Fortune (from Lost in Time) to have her own book and it seemed like the kind of thing she might do in the 1920s after she’d finished being an ambulance driver in France and started a newspaper. Initially I thought this might be it.

However…when I started writing, the characters didn’t want to be in the twentieth century at all, they wanted to be in the 1780s. This was a completely new era for me and cost me a lot of research-time. I relied heavily on ‘Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India‘ by Shashi Tharoor for background, plus ‘She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen: British women in India 1600 – 1900‘ by Katie Hickman about women in India and ‘The Honourable Company: a History of the English East India Company‘ by John Keay. I recommend these three as giving a reasonable overview of the pre-British Empire period. I also did a lot of reading about the Victorian flower-painter Marianne North ‘A Vision Of Eden: The Life And Work Of Marianne North‘ and found ‘Among the Tibetans‘ by Isabella Bird illuminating.

So then. Having dealt with the change in time-period, I started out with Jones, who I knew was non-binary and Edie, who’s sexuality can best be described as ‘pragmatic’. And as their journey over the mountains progressed it became clear that Jones was probably demi/gray asexual, as well. And then the paranormal intruded, which I find it often does once I start writing. And by the time I got to the end, I was in a real twist about how they were going to get their happy ending and be able to come back to England as a couple and both be settled in their own skin.

Anyway. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. You can buy it here.

the flowers of time

The Flowers of Time will be published by JMS Books at the end of February! Pre-order here! Or listen to me read an excerpt!

A non-binary explorer and a determined lady botanist make the long journey over the high Himalayan passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with dangers for both of them, not least those of the heart.

Jones is determined to find out what caused the unexpected death of her father whilst they were exploring ancient ruins in the Himalayas. She’s never been interested in the idea of the marriage bed, but along with a stack of books and coded journals he’s left her with the promise she’ll travel back to England for the first time since childhood and try being the lady she’s never been.

Edie and her brother are leaving soon on a journey to the Himalayas to document and collect plants for the new Kew Gardens when she befriends Miss Jones in London. She’s never left England before and is delighted to learn that the lady will be returning to the mountains she calls home at the same time they are planning their travels. When they meet again in Srinagar, Edie is surprised to find that here the Miss Jones of the London salons is ‘just Jones’ the explorer, clad in breeches and boots and unconcerned with the proprieties Edie has been brought up to respect.

A non-binary explorer and a determined botanist make the long journey over the high mountain passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with perils for both of them, not least those of the heart.