Today I have another awesome guest and another awesome giveaway. It's Kay Berrisford, and you can win a copy of her latest release, Simon, Sex and the Solstice Stone.
Kay! Welcome to my blog. If I’d known you were coming I would have tidied up a bit. Please disregard the dog hair. And the possums.
Can I just add – squeeeeeeeeeeee! Possums! When I was in Melbourne zoo, I saw a wild possum, and was just as excited about it as I was about any of the animals I was supposed to be looking at. It turned out he was a poorly possum, and the zoo vet rescued him. Aw!
No. Possums are not cute at all. They are the reason I have to keep my bananas in the microwave. They torment me. But thanks for coming over to answer some questions. Let’s start with the easy ones: How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I could write, so basically since I was four. That fizzled out a bit at school and university when I threw myself into my love of history and trained to be a professional historian. But it was no good. In the end, I just preferred making things up. And adding spanking.
Well everything's better with spanking! Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
Yes! It was about a creature called Ogog (basically, a blob with a smiley head, four legs and a tail) who lived in a cave. I still have the exercise book I wrote it in. It spawned a many sequels, and in a kind of sub-Enid Blyton fashion, the plots got better and better. There were haunted castles! Smugglers! Pirates! Everything you possibly wish for (minus hot mansex. That came later. Fortunately, or it would have been a bit weird.)
I do wish for haunted castles, smugglers and pirates! Is there any genre that you wouldn’t write?
I’ve never been to the USA, so I’d steer clear of writing anything contemporary set there. My ignorance would be obvious. I don’t think I could write cowboy romance either. But if my luck holds I’m visiting Washington DC next year, so I’ll never say never.
As someone who lives in tropical northern Australia, I was amazed by something you told me the other day in an email: that you were putting on the washing machine in the hopes of warming the flat. Later, as I was bobbing in the ocean with a friend, I was telling her about it.
(KB takes moment to go a bit green – either with jealousy or empathetic seasickness. Could be either.)
“Wait,” my friend said. “A washing machine? How does that work?”
“I don’t even know,” I said.
So here’s my question: Does turning the washing machine on really make your flat warmer? Because I’m sweltering at the moment and would love the excuse to turn the washing machine off. And the oven. And the vacuum cleaner.
This is a great excuse for me to come over all “whinging pom” about my flat. Basically, because this lousy/glorious little island is so crowded and the property so expensive, hubby and I live in a ridiculously tiny ground floor apartment, with no garden and no central heating. The flat is north facing, which is great during our (two days of) summer, but when it’s freezing out—as it is right now—it gets a tad chilly. I have storage heaters, and fan heaters that stink of burning dust when I turn them on. However, a good burst on the washing machine cracks the frost from the inside of our windows and introduces a level of warm humidity. If we close our eyes, we can pretend we’re somewhere near your lovely southern seas. Kind of. So, basically, if it’s cold enough, a washing machine makes nearly as much difference as a heater, as does a swift round with the vacuum cleaner. The oven is best of all. Down your way, you therefore have every excuse to keep all such appliances off.
What can you tell me about your latest release, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone?
Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone, is about a lonely, geeky history student who meets the man of his dreams in the middle of a stone circle that he’s studying. One problem – the amazing guy, Aubrey, claims to be a time traveler from 1647, and despite their mutual attraction, Aubrey’s desperate to get home before Christmas. What’s more, Aubrey’s method of shifting through time involves outdoor sexual rituals at the stone circle, and shy Simon’s not entirely sure he’s up for it—particularly as he’s trying to resist falling in love with this man who seems desperate just to shag and leave him. So there’s all sorts of trouble ahead for my guys, particularly when Simon realizes Aubrey’s getting home might just be a matter of life and death.
Of course, my favourite bits are all the sex at the stone circle. And the spanking. Though it was remarkably difficult to focus on even these fun aspects when I attempted to write scenes set in England in November when in Tuscany in August. Not that I’m complaining about being in Italy, of course, but I don’t function that well in the heat. Maybe it’s a good job I’m not an Aussie after all.
Simon is a history nerd, and I love that. I’m also a history nerd. And you’re a historian! What sort of history did you study?
Oh help, a lot of different subjects over the years, mainly British and European-centric history. I spent a shamefully long time at university! My specialist subjects have been concepts of gender and nationhood in Britain and Empire in the nineteenth century, and war reporting in the twentieth. These days, I’m way more into Tudor and medieval history, particularly folklore and magic—as you know! I read all I can on the subjects and make it my mission to visit as many castles and lovely historic sites as possible.
My other passion is classical civilization, though I’ve not tried writing a Rome or Athens set story, or tried to tackle those Mycenaeans or Persians. Yet. I did once write a very long fanfic au set in Roman Nimes, France, after a holiday in that part of the world, but it’s best to draw a veil over that.
I’ve loved history ever since I realised it contained— literally — every story ever told. Despite spending my formative years living on an island with a jungle full of WWII tanks, planes and detritus, I was insanely jealous of people who had Roman settlements and Viking treasure hoards just down the road. Which is how I imagine all of the UK. What first got you interested in history?
I spent the holidays of my formative years trekking across windswept Cornish moors in search of Celtic crosses and standing stones. This might have put some people off, but no. History was always my best subject at school, and looking back, I was a bit of a brat about it. I remember correcting my teacher on a school trip when she wrongly identified a Norman arch at Rochester Cathedral. Bad me!
I’ve not yet uncovered a Viking hoard, though my dad found a Roman meat cleaver on a dig last year. It was awesome! I wish I had a pic.
To be honest, most of the UK does have some pretty damn interesting stuff just down the road—or right beneath you—but it’s amazing how few people notice. In Southampton, the medieval city was badly bombed in WW2, yet there’s still impressive town walls, a fourteenth-century church, and some amazing timber-framed houses, to list a few highlights. Still, the old city is usually deserted, and most people who live up near the uni, as we do, don’t even know it’s there. Which is kind of sad.
A jungle full of WWII tanks, planes and detritus sound amazing and rather scary all at once! We have a few unexploded WW2 bombs still turning up around here too.
I wish I had a Roman meat cleaver! Apart from history, I’m also a fan of folklore, ever since I realised how terrifying it was. Can we please remove fairies from the bottom of the garden and put them back in our nightmares where they belong?
Yes, I’ve got a butterfly net handy for this very business! I’ve spent most of my day trying to stop some sadistic fairies hijacking my story, so I can get back to the important business of mansex.
Seriously, though, fairies are vicious. They’ve got fangs that gnaw right through that net. However, I’ve found that if you offer them a nice cup of tea, they get so angry at the pleasantness of it all that they pass into a catatonic state. Long enough to run into the nearest woodland, dump them, and then run for your life.
Sorry, that was probably rhetorical.
(Whoops, I answered it anyway!)
That's quite alright. One thing I love about Bound to the Forest and Bound to the Beast is the very dark theme of blood sacrifice to the gods of the greenwood, which just happens to lend itself beautifully to BDSM. I also loved the way that you treated the paranormal aspects. I definitely got the same creepy-in-a-good-way vibe that I did from the folklore I devoured as a kid: that there are wilder and older things in the world than people, and you don’t want to catch their attention.
I so agree. And thank you. And talking of blood sacrifice, the form of sacrifice that Scarlet is terrified of Bound for the Forest (death three times over by poisoning, cutting, and suffocation) was inspired by evidence of similar practices carried out on real prehistoric bodies. *cackles evilly*
I remember learning about this is history in high school! Some man found in a bog, right, who'd had that happen to him? And the thing that struck me is that he was well fed, in good health, and there was no signs he was anything but a willing victim. Fascinating! And I just realised that wasn’t a question. So here’s a question: Do you live near a forest? If so, do you lock your doors and windows on the night of the Wild Hunt?
I do! I live near the New Forest, which contains patches of England’s last primeval woodland. It’s about fifteen minutes drive from where I live, though sadly (well kind of) there haven’t been too many sightings of the Wild Hunt recorded in this region. All the same, I take the baying of hounds and the bleating of goats—and, of course, the sight of a massive bloke with horns—as a prompt for battening down the hatches.
As you might well know, The Greenwood of Bound for the Forest and Bound to the Beast, is my fantasy version of the New Forest. I ended up blurbing about this at great length for the lovely JA. Rock, so I will include that here too, if you don’t mind? Created in 1079 by William the Conqueror as a royal hunting ground, thirty-six villages and churches were apparently swept away, and brutal laws were imposed for the next few centuries to prevent commoners’ hunting or even foraging. The most famous of these laws decreed that commoners could only hunt in the forest if their dog was small enough to fit through the verdurer’s stirrup (and if too large, parts of the poor dog could be lopped off! Aw, they were evil!)
As in all the best narratives, the New Forest gained some small revenge in 1100, when William II (Rufus) the Conqueror’s heir and then king, was killed by an arrow during a hunting trip. The Greenwood’s blood harvest did not stop there. Rufus’s brother and three other relatives were also killed in the New Forest, allegedly in suitably ritualistic fashions: Duke Robert was killed by an arrow through his throat, and his son was hanged from an oak by his hair. Combined with the many tales of fairies and witches associated with the New Forest, it’s all grimly inspiring!
Spooky! I love it! Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone:
Simon’s holiday season is looking grim. His boyfriend’s dumped him, and his self-esteem is rock bottom. Stuck in the UK where nobody celebrates Thanksgiving, the shy, geeky student drowns his sorrows at an ancient stone circle. When a gorgeous stranger, Aubrey, shows up and attempts to seduce him, Simon is flattered but also freaked—especially when Aubrey claims to be from an historic sex cult who’d uncovered the true powers of the circle. It’s a time machine. Aubrey intended to travel back three hundred and sixty-five days, but an error propelled him forward three hundred and sixty-five years into a world alien to him.
Simon reluctantly takes the lost time traveler under his wing, and Aubrey teaches Simon the ways of sex, love, and magic. Simon’s never felt so alive, but as their bond grows, Aubrey remains determined to perform a dangerous ritual and return home at the winter solstice. Fearing he’s no more to Aubrey than a sexual sacrifice, Simon must discover the dark secrets of Aubrey’s pagan past. Only then can Simon choose between risking all for the man he loves or a lonely Christmas without him.
Giveaway! If you’d like to win an e-book copy of your choice of Kay’s back catalogue, please leave your email in the comments (spelling it out if you are worried about spam bots e.g. kayberrisford at yahoo dot co dot uk) Alternatively, email email@example.com with Lisa blog comp in the title. Entries close on the 18th of December! Thank you!
Thanks for stopping by, Kay, and enjoy that chilly English weather!