Last week we did an interview with lesbian romance author Cheyenne Blue on our German blog. Why? Well, we published the German version of her lesbian romance A Heart this Big. The English version sold better than snow cones on a hot summer day, and so we thought you’d love to read the interview and get a glimpse into Cheyenne’s (writer) life:
1) Could you tell us in a few sentences what your lesbian romance novel A Heart This Big is all about?
A Heart This Big is the story of single mum Nina who runs a farm on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia. Banksia Farm allows city kids to experience a taste of rural life. But when a child is hurt, and a lawsuit looms, Nina seeks out the best legal assistance she can.
Leigh is a partner in a major Sydney law firm. She’d love to help Nina, but Nina doesn’t have the money to pay her. But something about Nina—and her twelve-year-old daughter Phoebe—is very hard to refuse.
If I had to slap labels on A Heart This Big, I’d say it is an opposites-attract, rich-girl/poor-girl romance, split between the city and the country. There are animals and kids, an accident-prone paralegal, and a battle to save a special farm.
2) What would you say are some of the themes or subjects you enjoy writing about the most in your queer books?
Apart from two women falling in love? 😊
I love writing the setting or situation that forms the background to the romance as much as I love writing the actual romance.
For example, in A Heart This Big, Leigh and Nina’s romance builds slowly against an urgent need to save Banksia Farm. The farm defines Nina, and apart from her daughter, it’s the most important thing in her life. So of course Nina goes all out to save the farm. While Leigh is a massive part of that, when it comes down to a choice between Leigh and the farm, which is Nina going to put first?
In my lesbian romance All at Sea I throw two very different characters with different goals together on a yacht out at sea. So there’s a theme here too. I guess I like putting my characters in situations where there is a very real barrier to their romance, an outside situation as well as internal conflict, and helping them find a way through the obstacles so they can be together. It’s not a spoiler to say all my characters do, eventually, find a way!
3) Farmgirl Nina and Lawyer Leigh have very different personalities and they live completely different lives. What do you like most about each of these two opposite lesbian characters?
They are total opposites, aren’t they?
While Nina lives on the outskirts of Australia’s largest city, she’s basically a country girl. She’s warm and caring to those in her family—whether it’s her daughter, Phoebe, or the wider family of kids and volunteers who come to the farm. Nina is a giver and a carer, and she genuinely wants to make things better for people. I love that about Nina. I love that she never loses her idealistic side, even when it’s her caring nature that put her in a difficult situation in the first place.
Leigh’s a carer too in her own way. She became a lawyer to try and improve people’s lives, but over the years she became sucked into the big bad world of insurance law. While on the surface her life is perfect—partner at a young age in a major law firm, a luxury apartment, successful professional women to date—there’s something missing in her life. Leigh is self-aware enough to see what that is, and is willing to act on that with Nina.
Both characters are strong in different ways. While life happens to them, they both are willing to work for what they want.
4) You have lived in many different countries, but most of your books are set in Australia. What are your favorite parts of the Australian lifestyle that readers can look forward to reading about in your LGBTQ+ books?
I’m the sort of writer who needs to be physically present in the place I’m writing about, so right now all my books are set in Australia. If I was, say, in the United States, I’d find it very hard to write about the Aussie landscape or use the vernacular.
And, I love Australia! Of course, right now, with the Covid-19 lockdown, things are different, but in normal times, I love the outdoor lifestyle I have here. I love having a garden that allows me to grow much of what I eat, and I love the laid-back, dry sense of humour. Mostly, I love the space. I live in a regional town, and ten minutes after leaving the house, I can be walking in the forest, or driving through open country.
Of course there’s the downsides: the intense heat and humidity of a subtropical summer, the cost of some things (books!), and some of the wildlife can be a bit nerve-wracking. (I had a cute little red-belly black snake in the veggie garden yesterday. Cute, but highly venomous)
Outback Australia is a special place: harsh, remote, endlessly beautiful for those who come to appreciate it. I love being able to camp and not only see no one, but see no artificial lights, no headlights, only the blazing stars. A lot of that love for the outback and its inhabitants and scenery comes through in many of my books. I hope my readers will enjoy sharing that experience via the pages.
5) Do you usually draw inspiration for characters from people you know or meet in real life, or do they form exclusively from your imagination?
None of my characters are ever based entirely on someone I know—that would be all kinds of awkward, especially if they happened to read the book! However, I do take tiny bits of people and incorporate them into a character. For example, in A Heart This Big, Nina’s patience with Phoebe comes from a friend’s interaction and patience with her rather prickly daughter.
Years ago, when I was a teenager, I used to teach horse riding to kids with Down Syndrome, and secondary character Edwina draws on those memories. There’s a bit of myself in the character Grizz, who is Leigh’s paralegal, in that my day job is basically her day job. I’m as clumsy as Grizz, but not quite as accident-prone.
Cheyenne Blue has been hanging around the lesbian erotica world since 1999, writing short lesbian erotica which has appeared in over 90 anthologies. She loves writing big-hearted romance, often set in rural Australia because that’s where she lives. She has a small house on a hill with a big deck and bigger view—perfect for morning coffee, evening wine, and anytime writing.
You can purchase all her e-books in the Ylva Shop, including her best-selling romance A Heart This Big.