While time passes too quickly (how is it November already?) and I’m writing Pink Bean Book Two, I’m very happy to welcome my good friend and editor Cheyenne Blue to my blog. She’s here to tell us about her brand new novel Not-So-Straight Sue, which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed!
Before Cheyenne and I became friends, I was a fan girl first. I adored her short stories and I’m so happy she’s writing novels now. I usually refuse to read lesbian fiction because it stresses me out too much (hey, I’m sensitive) and I like to unwind with different genres in my spare time, but I gladly made an exception for this book. Not only because we’re friends and I was super curious about the book, but also because once I started, I couldn’t put it down. Though Sue’s story isn’t all sunshine and roses, it’s such a heart-warming, feel-good book because of where it’s set: in outback Australia. (Warning: you will want to visit Australia after reading this book. My ticket is booked already!) Cheyenne’s language truly shines when she describes the landscapes and the people who inhabit them. On top of that, you get a lovely romance that gently unwinds. For once, you can take my word for it: this is a top-notch read!
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Hello once again, good people of Harper’s interwebs. I’m happy to be here today (thanks to Harper—I only had to twist her arm a little bit this time) to talk about my new release.
In December 2015, my novella Never-Tied Nora came out through Ylva Publishing. The main character, Nora, has a best mate, Sue. Sue is an Aussie lawyer living and working in London. She’s down-to-earth, blunt as a bag of wet mice, loyal to her friends, with a wry sense of humour. Even as I was writing Nora, I knew that Sue was a character that I’d like to get to know better. Better, as in I wanted to write her story, help her to find who she really was and of course help her to find love.
And here it is that story. Not-So-Straight Sue is available now from Ylva Publishing. Why yes, the title is a clue. Sue’s story takes her from London back to Queensland, Australia. Not to Brisbane or one of the major cities, but to a tiny community in the outback, the settlement of Mungabilly Creek, where she is taking over the reins in a one-person law practice for a year. Returning to Oz meanings returning to face up to her demons and the circumstances that drove her away ten years ago. It’s a story about coming out, friendship, lawyers, doctors, the Australian outback, dogs, family, small towns, ex-girlfriends, finding your place in life, horses, rural life, wine-drinking, stripteases, campervans, star gazing, horse riding, Waltzing Matilda, and of course love and sex. Lots of love and sex.
While this is the second book in the “Girl Meets Girl” series you certainly don’t need to have read Never-Tied Nora first. If you do read Not-So-Straight Sue, look out for Felix the outback horse trainer. Her story forms the third book in the “Girl Meets Girl” series. Fenced-In Felix, will be out in November 2016 also from Ylva.
“Sorry, I’m straight.” Those words, accompanied by a smile, were the ones Sue Brent used to turn down women. But the truth was buried so deep that even her best friend, Nora, didn’t know that Sue was queer. Sometimes, Sue even managed to convince herself. The only person in London who’d seen through her façade was Moni, an American tourist.
When a date with a friend’s brother goes disastrously wrong, Sue has to confront the truth about herself. Leaving London, she returns to Australia to take up the reins in an outback law practice. Back in the country of her birth, she is finally able to accept who she is, including facing Denise, the woman who burned her so badly years ago and set her on the path of pretence. But it’s not until Moni arrives in Queensland to work for the Flying Doctors that Sue is finally able to see a path to happiness. However, as things start to go her way, Denise arrives in Mungabilly Creek, begging a favour that might destroy Sue’s new relationship.
I parked the campervan in the driveway and left it running a moment. There was a slight knock in the engine and a layer of red dust on the dash. It needed a service, which meant a trip to the Isa. I turned it off, went around to the passenger side, grabbed my wheelie case of files, and dragged it, clatter, clatter, up the uneven path to the veranda steps with Ripper at my heels.
It was getting dark, but it was still hot. My shirt was sticking to my back, despite the camper’s air con. That probably needed a re-gas.
“About time you got home.” The voice, low, feminine, and decidedly American, drifted down from the veranda above me. “It’s hot as hell here, I can’t find the switch for your air con, and all your beer is gone. I was about to go to the hotel for a six pack.”
I knew that voice. I hadn’t heard it in over three years except over a Skype connection, but it was unmistakable. Moni. How like her to turn up unannounced. I dropped the case, which hit the path with a thunk, and I took the veranda steps two at a time. My heart thudded in my chest, and I didn’t want to stop and analyse the euphoric feeling that flooded me, that made my fingers tingle and my mouth stretch into the biggest shit-eating grin. She was here. That was what mattered, and I couldn’t wait to see her.
She met me at the top of the steps, and I flung my arms around her and gave her a big hug. She hugged me back, and I was so wound up that I was about to kiss her, really kiss her, when she extricated herself and took a step back. Right. The Moni I’d been imagining, the one that might possibly be my girlfriend, was in my head. I hadn’t actually mentioned it to her yet.
“So you’re glad to see me, huh? Things must be quiet around here.”
I took a good look at her. Same small curvy woman, with big, big hair, although now it was somewhat squashed by the Akubra hat she wore. Khaki shorts that didn’t quite go with her purple singlet and thongs on her feet. If it weren’t for the accent and the pale skin, I would have taken her for a local. She was smiling, and there was a sparkle in her eyes that said she too was pleased to see me.
“It is. Very quiet. I see you found your way here.”
She flapped a hand, and only then I noticed the old Holden parked on the patch of dust out the back that was supposed to be a lawn. “I have GPS in that car, and you’re the only lawyer for miles. I saw the shingle, even though it needs repainting and doesn’t have your name on it anyway. Found the steps up here, and as you don’t lock the house, I found the beer fridge.”
There were two empty tinnies on the veranda rail. She was right, there was no more. I needed to go to the Royal for beer.
“Who’s going to break in around here? Apart from you, that is.”
I went down and retrieved my case from the path, dragged it thump, thump up the steps, and put it inside the door. I’d unpack it later.
Moni gestured to a daypack left haphazardly against the door. “I hope you don’t mind me turning up without telling you. I figured you’d be here, and I thought it would be fun to surprise you.”
“It’s Friday. I have no plans at all for the weekend, other some experimental cooking and wine drinking. The wine drinking isn’t experimental though. Just the cooking. Stay as long as you want.”
Ripper, who’d been investigating the veggie patch in case it had changed since morning, came scampering up the stairs and made a beeline for Moni. She bent to pat him, scratching him behind the ears, his favourite place.
“I have to be back in the Isa on Tuesday. Can I stay until then?” Her face had a wistfulness about it when she straightened. “I’ve been missing the company of existing friends. Don’t get me wrong—I’m making friends, meeting lovely people, but it will be good to be with someone who already knows me.”
I pondered her words. I’d known Moni for one day back in London, and we’d had a sporadic connection since. But in that time, we’d shared our lives, gotten to know each other. Part of me was warm and mushy at the idea that I was the person she wanted to relax with. “Of course. You don’t need to ask.”
Cheyenne Blue’s fiction has been included in over ninety erotic anthologies since 2000. Her collected lesbian short fiction is published as Blue Woman Stories, volumes 1-3 from Ladylit. The first two books in her romantic Girl Meets Girl series, Never-Tied Nora and Not-So-Straight Sue are out now from Ylva Publishing, with the final book Fenced-In Felix due in November 2016.
She is the editor of Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire, a 2015 finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Award, and of First: Sensual Lesbian Stories of New Beginnings both from Ladylit.
Cheyenne has lived in the U.K., Ireland, the United States, and Switzerland, but now writes, runs, makes bread and cheese, and drinks wine in rural Queensland, Australia. Check out her blog at cheyenneblue.com and follow her on Twitter at @IamCheyenneBlue and on Goodreads at goodreads.com/CheyenneBlue