Tuesday, February 18, 2014

INTERVIEW: Cheryl Headford

Today we are talking to the phenomenally creative and interesting Cheryl Headford! (Her hat for the party is magnificent and I want it for my collection! Alas, I'll have to admire it from afar.)

Hello Cheryl and welcome to Home of the Sweetness <3 Thank you so much for subjecting yourself to the RANDOMNESS that is a Raine O'Tierney interview! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!

In addition to being an author, you are also a talented artist—when did you first start drawing and what is your favorite subject? If you had to give up one or the other, which would it be?

Art is one of my hobbies, writing is my life. If I had to give up writing I think I might self-destruct.

I’ve been sketching since I was a kid. I enjoyed it a lot at school but then left it alone for many years, convinced I was useless at it. I only picked up again a few years ago when I discovered the delight of acrylic. It was a friend of mine Maria Korte who really inspired me to give it a go. I definitely wouldn’t say I’m talented, though.

Most of my art is depictions of characters from my writing. I’ve attached my two favourites. One is Silver from Enigma. He is my favourite character out of all the many I’ve written. I am totally and irrevocably in love with him. The other is Draven from a book that isn’t out yet. Draven is a fairy who got into trouble for letting himself be seen by a human, and I like the idea of him peeping through the blossoms.

I want to know your deepest, most hidden writing dream! Nothing is too big or too wild.

One of the reasons I started writing m/m was because I was shocked by how difficult young gay men have it. The free literature I post on Gay Authors were extremely well accepted and that’s what started the whole writing kick of me. However, they also made me realize how dry the well was as far as literature, art, media etc etc is as far as the LGBT community is concerned. Where can young gay men, trying to find their place in a world that is still surprisingly  hostile to them, find characters they can relate to, who are just like them and who find happy endings?

I was surprised to find there is so much quality m/m erotica there is, but there is still way too little mainstream, and young adult in particular.

My writing dream is to get gay literature into the mainstream, to have my books in the window of a bookshop rather than hidden away at the back, to have them in libraries and schools so gay teens can find them where they need them, when they need reassurance there are others like them, who go through what they do, and worse, and who find that one person who makes it all okay in the end. 

Your thoughts on libraries: GO!

Libraries are great. They allow people who are unable to buy books, to read them. Also they open your eyes to a whole world of reading you might not otherwise have discovered. Libraries today are not even all about books. There are all kinds of things there, like research facilities, online facilities, community focal points etc.

However, I do think libraries can be elitist and exclusive in what they offer. I was unable to find a single ‘gay’ book in mine.

If creating (writing, drawing, etc.) were poison to you—so that each time you made a beautiful new thing, you would become weaker—would you still continue to do it?

It wouldn’t make me as weak as not creating would. Creativity is food to my soul and without it, my soul would shrivel and die. You can’t get more poisonous than that.

Describe yourself using song lyrics.
I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation
It's my world
That I want to have a little pride in
My world
And it's not a place I have to hide in
Gloria Gaynor I Am What I Am

You have 200 words—Make. Me. Swoon. (PLEASE!)

Ah Raine, move a little closer, let me cup your face and tantalize your pouting lips with the brush of my thumb. Let me slide my hand into your hair and stroke the nape, where the little hairs rise under my touch. Closer now. Do you feel my breath, the intensity of my gaze? A little closer still. Let me mould myself to your body, press my heat against you, as I gently nip your lower lip and lap at the cherry lip gloss you’ll wear just for me.

The curve of your shoulder entices me, and my hand runs over it lightly, raising goosebumps. The curve of your back is a perfect slope for my hand to skim before settling on the swell of your perfect buttocks.  When my leg presses between yours, I feel your heat. Will you open and let me in. Your lips are compliant, at least, parting to let me taste the sweetness of your breath. Will my questing fingers find purchase so easily?

What is one mistake you’ve made during your writing career that you’ve learned and grown from?

I thought I could edit my own work. As I’ve been edited by professionals, and learned from them, I’ve looked at my early stuff and cringed. I’ve learned to NEVER trust my own editing and always have  someone else to edit for you.  The first book I published had a lot of criticism for editing, and it shook my confidence hugely. I love that story and the characters and I’m afraid to publicise anymore because I know how badly edited they are. I would get a professional to go through them, if only I had the money to do it.

And finally, for THE most important question of all: what kinds of dachshunds are the BEST kinds of dachshunds?


Ace is blind and Haze is damaged. They live in different worlds and not everyone is happy when they become boyfriends. Haze is struggling with the after effects of a traumatic event in his past that has left him at the mercy of an uncontrollable rage. When Ace’s brother steps up his campaign of torment against Ace, they’re all in danger from Haze’s outbursts, though it isn’t until things get completely out of control that the healing can really begin. But with Ace unseeing and Haze perched on the edge of a cliff, will either of them survive long enough to benefit?

ISBN# 978-1-60820-8937 (print) $14.99
MLR-1-02013-0162 (ebook) $7.99
Cover Artist    Deana C. Jamroz
288 pages / 79,000 words
Available At:   Featherweight Publishing and Amazon

I will never forget the first time I saw Ace Richmond, not as long as I live and probably beyond. He was sitting at the kitchen table, the chair pushed back and his long legs crossed at the ankle under the table. There was a plate of sandwiches in front of him and he was eating an apple. I saw none of that.
To say that I had ‘seen’ him through the window would have been like saying that I had seen the reflection of the moon on the surface of a still lake or the sun setting into the sea. Beautiful but only a pale shadow of the real thing.
Today he was wearing an acid green t-shirt with a pink elephant on the front that was somewhat jarring on the eyes, especially matched with the lurid pink tartan trousers and the large jewel encrusted sunglasses that were completely out of place. I had to blink twice to fully take them in. However, if his clothing was something of a shock it was nothing compared to the rest of him.
He had appeared slender and ephemeral from my standpoint below, thin and pale. Up close he was far more substantial. He was not so slender at all, although there was a certain grace in the way he was lounging in the chair that made him seem more willowy than he was.

He was pale; his skin almost translucent, like the white hair that cascaded over his shoulders and obscured half of his face. He was gorgeous too; far better looking than I had observed or imagined, but not in the fragile, fey way that I had thought. He was very substantial indeed. Weird in the clothing sense but lovely and…real.

About 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 and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.

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