TuesGay Spotlight: Cheyenne Blue
When I first started this blog, Cheyenne Blue reached out to me to tell me about her book, Almost-Married Moni, because she believed the plot of the book went well with the theme of my blog, and boy was she right. If you like the stories I tell in this blog, you'll absolutely love this book. Sue and Moni's love story is introduced in Not-So-Straight Sue and culminate with their wedding in Almost-Married Moni. In addition to her "Girl Meets Girl" series, Cheyenne Blue also released Code of Conduct in July of last year.
Keep reading to get the insider information into Almost-Married Moni, as well as other fun facts about Cheyenne Blue. After you're done, be sure to check out her books (Girl Meets Girl Box Set Coming Soon) and follow her on social media (Links at bottom).
How did you come up with the idea for Almost Married Moni?
Almost-Married Moni is the fourth (and currently final) book in my “Girl Meets Girl” series–standalone stories revolving around a group of friends. Moni was the love interest of the main character in Not-So-Straight Sue. In 2017, Australia held a debacle of a postal survey to determine whether marriage equality would become a reality in Australia. Hoping for a happy result, and to mark the passing of marriage equality into law, Moni and Sue’s story came into being.
You released this book at the same time marriage equality came to Australia. Can you talk about what that time was like in Australia?
Australia came to marriage equality at a glacial pace compared to other nations, and the right-wing government of the time dragged their heels and did anything rather than actually make the decision themselves. They came up with the ridiculous idea of a non-compulsory postal survey that cost $80.5 million, and the results were non-binding. I mean, honestly.
Polls up to that point had consistently shown a large majority of Australians supported marriage equality. The survey dragged the naysayers out of the woodwork to protest and bang their drums of doom, and it was a bitter time for many people. As expected, the postal survey returned nearly 62% in favour, and marriage equality passed into law on 9 December 2017.
You’ve mentioned that you wrote this book quickly because of the timing with the marriage equality ruling. How long did it take you from the time you started to write until the book was published?
I only came up with the idea two weeks before the postal survey. I wrote the 21,000 word novella in two weeks, with another couple of weeks for editing, cover art, and proofreading. I owe a huge thank you to Astrid Ohletz of Ylva Publishing for this. When I proposed the idea to her, I thought she’d shut me down quick smart. Publishing schedules are set months in advance, so what I was proposing was a major spanner in Ylva’s schedule. But Astrid was totally behind me. Almost-Married Moni went from go to whoa in four weeks. It then sat around until December waiting for the law to catch up.
If Almost-Married Moni had a soundtrack, what song(s) would be on it?
Oooh, interesting question. The book is set in outback Queensland, a flat, sparse dry land where the horizon goes for ever. There’s a scene in the book where the characters are riding across this dusty landscape. I have in my head some atmospheric Australian instrumental music. Something from Gondwanaland. Say the track “Drought” () Gondwanaland is an ambient music ensemble active in the 80s, but their timeless music combining indigenous instruments, natural landscape sounds with synth and electronic keyboards is totally evocative of the Australian landscape that is so important to the characters in Moni.
A lot goes wrong leading up to Moni and Sue’s wedding. How did you decide that you wanted to make the whole day so messy? (Literally)
I didn’t want to write the perfect white-dress-and-roses wedding. Apart from the fact that neither of the characters were the sort of people who would want that type of wedding, where they live in outback Queensland would have made it difficult. Both characters have a huge connection and love of the community and landscape of where they live and that is a dusty, red-dirt land. I wanted that to play a major part—and that means mess!
I also wanted to put the emphasis on them as a couple and the love that they share rather than on the ceremony itself.
Recently, I spent a lot of time listening to a friend plan her wedding. It seemed that the event became less about the love that she shared with her partner and the next stage in their life together, and more about The Day. The engagement photo shoot, the table decorations, the party favours, the guest book, the wedding list. It went on and on. Her partner was relegated to a prop, someone to be stuffed into a grey morning suit (with a tie that exactly matched the bridesmaids’ dresses).
So while Sue and Moni plan a wedding (with plenty of well-meaning assistance), things don’t go to plan, and, as you say, the result is anything but a traditional photo-perfect wedding! But the focus is back on the two of them and the love they share.
I think the result is perfect for Sue and Moni.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was at school, my friend and I would write long epics during class and read the chapters out to each other on the bus going home. The stories were fantastical nonsense starring ourselves and our friends. Divinity and Latin were the classes where it was possible to hide at the back and write, which is probably why, despite having being taught it for several years, I know no Latin past Illegitimi non carborundum which roughly translates to “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”.
When writing, do you like to plan everything out or do you just jump right into it?
I’m a planner. I outline in Scrivener (novel writing software). It’s generally only a couple of sentences per chapter, but doing that helps me identify the highs and lows of the plot and pace, and keep moving along without stopping to wonder what comes next. It also reduces the subplots that always creep into my stories. It never eliminates them and I wouldn’t want it to. Being ambushed by a subplot is so much fun!
On average, how long does it normally take you to write a book?
I work full time so I don’t have too much writing time. And that time is shared with editing projects (I edit for a few other authors), social media and the other bits and pieces that come with being a writer, like blurb writing, feedback on the cover, and answering blog questions .
I shut the door of my office at lunchtime and write for an hour most days, plus an hour in the mornings before work. I can complete a first draft in three months, but then it’s at least another month of self-editing. Ylva’s editing is extremely involved, so there’s another couple of rounds of editing once it’s with them.
Do you ever work your own personal experiences into your books?
All the time. Not the big things though. I never use real-life people as characters, and they’re certainly not based on myself, but I incorporate many small things. Sue’s sense of humour is mine (although Sue is funnier, as she has more time to think about her replies!). I write a lot of what I know, so Sue’s legal work, Felix’s horse knowledge, and anything to do with outback Queensland is also personal experience. Even the part where Felix sweeps a venomous snake out of a toilet block. And if there’s a dog in the story, then it’s always based on a real-life dog. Ripper and Tess are perfectly true to life.
What was your favorite book to write so far and why?
That would be Fenced-In-Felix. Felix is a steady soul who’s lived her entire life in outback Queensland. She falls for Josie, an itinerant worker who’s never spent more than a couple of months in one place. There’s also a mystery surrounding Josie’s horse, Flame. I love how Felix and Josie complement each other so well, and particularly how Josie pushes the rather introverted Felix out of her comfort zone.
What are your writing goals for 2019?
My next novel, A Heart This Big is an opposites-attract romance about Nina who runs a farm for city kids to experience rural life, and Leigh, the lawyer Nina begs to help her out of a legal problem. There are kids, animals, a local community, and all sorts of sticking points for Nina and Leigh. And yes, a messy time is had by all! A Heart This Big will be available in June this year from Ylva.
What is a lifetime goal of yours?
To die peacefully in my sleep at age 105 with ten cents in the bank.
Can you tell us anything about what you are currently working on?
I’m about 15K words into the story of a nurse who inadvertently stows away on a yacht bound for an ecological protest in the Southern Ocean. Right now, Stevie is not at all happy that she can’t get back to shore for the next couple of weeks!
Who are your favorite lesfic authors?
I think it’s fantastic that there are so many lesfic authors writing so many varied books. My favourites change all the time, usually depending on what I’ve just read. Right now, I’ve just finished Memory by Bridget Essex and I’m eyeing her extensive back catalog. I love Gill McKnight’s humor, Pene Henson’s gorgeous way of writing, and A.L. Brooks’s story-telling.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Bum meet seat.
So many people say they could write a book. If only they weren’t so busy, didn’t have a full-time job, weren’t so stuck on the latest Netflix drama. If you want to write, then write. No excuses.