LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos! Let’s get started. How did you get the idea to write about the swamp fairy?
CC: Thanks, Lisa. I’m happy to be here with you. I love this big comfy couch. Now hang on, because I am going to tell you how I met a real life fairy!
While on a walk during a warm, foggy morning in November 2014, I had a close encounter of the fairy kind. At the time, we were living in Pensacola, Florida. I still remember the day, as if it has been carved into my memory; something I will never forget.
As I walked along the road, I heard a sound that instantly caught my attention. At first, I considered the possibility that the sound might be an injured bird rustling in the thick underbrush. I peered into the foliage and drew back in surprise. At first glance, I thought I saw a ruby-throated hummingbird with brilliant green feathers. However, that was not so.
Instead, appearing in front of my eyes was a tiny green swamp fairy fluttering on delicate wings that looked like transparent leaves. She had hair the color and consistency of corn silk. Bottle green leaves adorned her small body. The heady fragrance of lavender, patchouli, and sandalwood wafted on the air.
I stood there at the edge of the road transfixed by the vision. I realized then, I had witnessed a miracle. I had been given the gift of fairy vision.
The petite winged-being stared at me with eyes as green as the leaves she was hiding
in. I must tell you, this meeting felt something akin to a spiritual encounter. An overwhelming feeling of peace and love surrounded me and held me within its grasp. In an instant, she was gone. The swamp fairy vanished into the fog that swirled around me.
I shook my head and continued my walk. My feet felt lighter that day. I knew something had changed. The swamp fairy had ignited my imagination. I knew what this fairy encounter meant. I had been granted the ability to become a fairy whisperer.
Soon after, I started to write stories about the swamp fairies which I posted to my blog. The stories came in quick succession. Next, the dreams started. I began to channel the stories of the fairy nymphs that had inspired me that day long ago. Each day on my walks, I observed the real swamp as it was crowded out by the building of new homes. The natural wetlands were disappearing at a rapid rate. Slowly, a story began to form in my mind.
By the fall of 2015, we moved to Colorado. The dreams continued and grew even stronger. The stories changed. The fairy nymphs wanted me to tell their stories. And, that is exactly what I have done. The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy is that story, which I published this year.
LWT: Wow! What a great experience. Was Abby’s character based on someone you know or is she entirely imaginary?
CC: Abby Forester is a combination of myself, my daughters, and my granddaughters. I borrowed a little of something from each of us. I was a foster child as a teenager. Those emotions and memories never leave you. So, I decided to use those experiences for something good. Abby Forester is the outcome.
LWT: Tell us about the area in Florida where you first came across the swamp fairy?
CC: We were about ten miles inland from the Gulf Coast. It was a rural setting with houses nestled in between fields and wooded areas. Much of the area was natural wetland swamps or sloughs. In fact, we had the best neighbors living in the field behind our house. The horses would visit and beg for carrots which I describe in the story. The photo below is depicted in the book. See the strange tree trunk? That was the magical portal between the fairy realm and our human existence that Abby slipped through daily to visit her friend Savanna.
LWT: When I write, I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who was the muse for Abby?
CC: I did a lot of research on female YA characters. Most of them had dark hair and were drop dead gorgeous. I wanted Abby to be the image of the girl next door. She had to be kind and sweet but still, have the usual teenage angst. I imagined her with amber strawberry blond or red hair with fair skin. I found a picture on Pixabay.com that I have used to portray her.
LWT: I have to know, who was the muse for Rafe Cobb? I really wanted to hurt him.
CC: LOL! I couldn’t help it but, I used the 45th President as the physical image in my mind of Rafe Cobb. You know, the bad reddish comb over? Actually, years ago, I worked as a legal secretary in South Florida, and we had a client that was as evil and conniving as my character. Rafe Cobb is based loosely on that man.
You know his name was hard to come up with. Finally, I researched the names of deceased Civil War soldiers to find a name that would sound southern enough. I hope I haven’t disturbed the spirit of the real Rafe Cobb.
LWT: Let’s just hope the real Rafe Cobb was nothing like the one in the book or you’ll be in trouble. For such a young girl, Abby had a lot of spunk. Why was this an important part of her personality?
CC: I gave Abby my birthday (April 18). That meant she had to mirror some of my characteristics and faults. I used astrological research on the sign of Aires, to make her stubborn but also loyal to her family and friends. Abby had to have that sense of responsibility that she carried on her shoulders for her to help the fairies. The loyalty to her mother and her heritage were important to the story and to make Abby come across as a real person.
LWT: No wonder I liked her so much. In the book, it is said that “the wrath of God will bring about the destruction of humankind.” Explain why this is so relevant in the book and in today’s society?
CC: The main theme in the book is that humans and the expanding population were destroying precious wetlands. Rafe Cobb was building a housing area that backed right up to fairy swamp. If he could buy Abby’s land (or take it), he would have destroyed the swamp where the precious Pink Sundew plants grew. If that happened, the fairy nymphs and Abby would have failed in their responsibilities to preserve the plants which contained a “magical” substance found in all antibiotics. The gods (I used the Greek gods) would destroy us all for our folly. Of course, this is a fantasy novel… but you never know. This could be a fact. (wink, wink)
Climate change and how it is devastating our world is the central message the fairy nymphs want us, humans, to understand. It is up to us to save our world. Even though my novel is based on fantasy elements, the addition of current events gives credence to the message.
LWT: How long did it take to complete this masterpiece?
CC: Lisa, I think I’m a slow writer. It took about a year to create, write, edit, and format this book.
LWT: Sometimes slow is better. How important is Aunt Magnolia’s character in Abby’s development?
CC: Aunt Magnolia had to step into Abby’s mother’s shoes. She had no children of her
own and wasn’t sure what to do with Abby. I created the aunt as a strong, educated woman who was not afraid to take on the responsibility of raising a teenager. Aunt Magnolia has quite a bit of my grandmother in her.
Besides, Aunt Magnolia had to accept Abby for what she was – a fairy whisperer. It was that link to the family that kept their relationship strong. Abby is different, just like many kids are. The fact that her aunt accepts her also gives her courage to meet her responsibilities.
LWT: Who are some of your influences in paranormal writing and why?
CC: I have always been attracted to the strange and unusual. I’ve had a few unique experiences. I don’t feel that my experience meeting the swamp fairy was paranormal. It was more of a spiritual encounter. I know I’m empathetic and more receptive to the vibrations of nature. I feel things many people can’t. Nature is the catalyst that really gets my imagination going.
LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?
CC: I was lucky to have met my dear friend, Wendy Ann Darling, through the WordPress blogging community. When I moved to Colorado, I found out she was only a couple hours away from me. Once we met, we became fast friends. Wendy is a graphic artist. I described the swamp fairy to her, and she drew the fairy. I gave her a photo of fairy swamp, and she added the calcite heart stone and the image of the hummingbird (since the fairy was a shapeshifter), to create a fantastic cover.
Wendy designs book covers for Bookxeedo Book covers. Her prices are reasonable, and she is easy to work with. She will be designing my future book covers.
LWT: Do you use social media and does it help with sales?
CC: I use social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. From what I can tell, I have not sold any books from those forums. It is the blog and interviews like this where I notice a spike in sales. It just goes to prove that we writers are also readers and buy each other’s books. Our blogs are a powerful marketing tool.
LWT: Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Spill the tea.
CC: I write with music playing, usually Pandora. I love Enya, Classical piano, and all new wave sounds. Sometimes I play nature sounds while I’m writing. I think I’m clairaudient like my character, Abby. No, I can’t function if I drink, let alone write! LOL! But I do love tea!
LWT: What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?
CC: As an indie writer, I’ve had to teach myself how to write YA fiction, how to edit, and how to format the book to CreateSpace.
I also had to learn to ask for help. I have an author friend that I asked to help me with the first edit. I learned more from her than I thought possible. She took me under wing and helped me with plot holes and sentence structure. The only way I could thank her was to do the same for another author. It is important that we help each other as beta readers and first draft editors.
LWT: What is your experience like with editing your work?
CC: Initially, I hated the editing process. It was tedious as all get out! I did purchase Grammarly, and that has helped to keep me in line. Eventually, I understood that the editing process is where you do the actual writing. Once I figured that out, I liked the editing because I was making the story better, and could see the results. I still have a lot to learn. I will be using an editor on future books. P. C. Zick from The Manuscript Doctor is my choice.
LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?
CC: The first tip is to read every book in your genre you can get your hands on. The next is to keep learning about how to write. The last tip is to set a goal and keep working towards it. Don’t give up!
LWT: That is great advice! Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?
CC: I contacted my friend and fellow blogger, Irene, from IreneDesign2011.com to design a calcite fairy pendant like the one Abby wears in the book so readers could feel the magic of the fairies. I sell the books, and Irene sells the necklaces. We both benefit from this relationship. By the way, Irene’s prices are the best!
Would you love to own your own calcite fairy stone pendant like Abby Forester wears in the book? Here’s how to get yours:
Here are the links to Irene’s Etsy site where you can buy your own SMALL pendant or the LARGE pendant
LWT: Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?
CC: My favorite resource is Thesaurus.com. I love that site! I use synonyms extensively in my writing, especially when I am editing.
LWT: What does success look like for you?
CC: Success for me is accomplishing my goals and reaching for the stars. I feel like a success because if I say I’m going to do something… I do it! It might take me awhile to get there, but I seldom give up. Success is gained with determination and perseverance.
LWT: That is a wonderful outlook. What’s up next for Colleen?
CC: Lisa, those fairy nymphs are whispering in my dreams every night. Currently, I am working on the second book of the series called, The Meadow Fairy. Here is a brief synopsis:
Fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester journeys from Blackberry Ridge, Florida to Bent Grass, Colorado when her Aunt Magnolia accepts a job as a researcher working for an author who specializes in writing about myths and paranormal activity.
Abby, along with her deceased mother’s most sacred possession, a calcite pendant, continues her legacy as a Fairy Whisperer to the primordial fairy nymphs who inhabit unique places scattered about the world.
In Colorado, Abby meets two young friends, Crosby and Landon Miller, who along with their family are beekeepers on a small farm under the shadow of Pike’s Peak. Abby is summoned by a primeval nymph who asks her to resolve the secret of why the bee population is disappearing from the prairie meadows.
With the help of Nate Bannock, a Native American Ute rancher, Abby learns the astonishing truths behind the decimation of the bee population.
Does Abby have what it takes to save the bees and the Meliae Meadow Nymphs before it is too late?
Thank you for inviting me to Couch Convos. I loved getting together with you, Lisa. I appreciate your help in spreading the magic of the fairy nymphs! ❤
And I loved having you. Well folks, that’s another Couch Convos in the can. Until next month… In the meantime pick up Colleen’s book, The Heart Stone Chronicles on Amazon by clicking HERE!
Colleen M. Chesebro is a writer of cross-genre fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy series called, “The Heart Stone Chronicles – The Swamp Fairy,” was published January 2017. A veteran of the United States Air Force, Colleen is also a retired bookkeeper. She has an Associates Degree in Business Administration, and another Associates Degree in the Arts, which she uses to combine her love of writing with her passion for all things creative.
To connect with her please click the links for her Social Media.