Today’s featured guest with her debut book, The Swamp Fairy, is Colleen Chesebro.
Colleen has been a blogger and a contributer to Litworldinterviews for some time, where she shares her reviews on books she has read. On one of her two blogs, The Fairy Whisperer, she offers interesting writing prompts and challenges, and on her blog, Mindful Journeys you will find insightful posts on life, diet and health, weight loss and mindfulness. She labels herself as s a visual word artist and poet, and she recently published her first book, The Swamp Fairy, Book 1 in her Heart Stone Chronicles series. I’ve recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it and have the review lined up for my Sunday book reviews, but you can find it already posted on Amazon. Apparently, my name is ‘Amazon customer’, lol
Today we’re going to learn more about Colleen’s writing and her book, and about a fascinating tidbit of a real occurrence that led Colleen to the idea of writing this book!
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.
Colleen’s writing explores ecological situations in the multicultural world of today. She combines real-life historical events into her writing to create experiences that will continue in the hearts and heads of her readers.
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.
When she is not writing, Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband, dogs, children, and grandchildren. When time permits, she also loves gardening, cooking, and crocheting old fashioned doilies into works of artistry. She lives in the United States with her husband and her two Pomeranians, Sugar, and Spice. You can learn more about Colleen and her writing on her website colleenchesebro.com.
Fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester, recently orphaned and a ward of the State of Illinois moves from Chicago to Florida to live with her aunt, her last living relative. Magnolia Forester becomes her legal Guardian, and together they claim an ancient inheritance; land that belonged to Abby’s mother’s family for generations.
Holding onto the only piece of her mother Abby has left, a calcite pendant and her mother’s most sacred possession, she discovers the truth of her legacy. The pendant is more significant than she could possibly imagine. Forged from a giant mystical heart-shaped stone found on the very swamp land Abby now owns, it holds the power of her ancestors.
But with that power comes greater responsibility, one that pits her against Rafe Cobb, a greedy land developer, who will stop at nothing to own Abby’s swamp land.
As Abby learns to be part of a family again and explores her love of horses with friends, Savanna, and Blake, the swamp slowly gives up some of its secrets. She is summoned by a primeval nymph, who teaches Abby that her true destiny is to protect the nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.
Can Abby save the swamp and the Naiad Nymph Clan from certain destruction before it is too late?
Let’s get to know more about Colleen!
“Thank you, Debby, for the opportunity to visit with you about my debut novel. It is a great pleasure to spend some time with you on your blog.”
I’m thrilled to have you over and share all your wonderful information about your knowledge and experience in the fairy world!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I must have been about six years old when I found out I had a high propensity for reading. Writing came next, and I wrote silly little stories in first grade that my grandmother loved. That was all it took. In high school, I took every English course and business course I could get my hands on. After high school, I volunteered and served in the U. S. Air Force. Initially, I went in as a chaplain’s assistant and ended up writing an archival paper each year about the chapel and activities that became part of the archived records on the base. It was my first “paid” writing job. In college, I knew I wanted to be a writer but also knew it didn’t put food on the table. After many years of working in the accounting field as a bookkeeper, I retired and decided to find my writing voice again.
Can you tell us a little about your blog and the challenges you put up for your readers?
I started my blog three years ago. In the beginning, I called it Silver Threading because I felt it was a liberation of sorts to grow my hair out and let the silver shine through. It was much the same with my writing. It was all about finding my voice. I started writing blog posts and the next thing I knew… I wanted to write a novel! I changed the name to colleenchesebro.com, (which has become my author blog) when I became an author to make it easier for people to find me.
Currently, I offer a weekly poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday. I suggest two prompt words to use (synonyms always welcome) and a photo if the poet needs more visual inspiration. The participants have a week to week to write their Tanka poetry.
I have had a keen interest in this poetry form for a long while. It is written in five lines, of which the syllables of each line are as such: 5/7/5/7/7. A Tanka poem is like writing a Haiku with two extra lines at the end for the poet to give their opinions or thoughts.
Here is an example of one of my Tanka poems where the words were fog and change. It is also a sneak peek into Book 2 of The Heart Stone Chronicles, called The Meadow Fairy.
A meadow nymph –
fragile and lissome of wing,
the lark bunting flies.
Change is coming to the fields
after the mountain fogs clear.
©2017 Colleen M. Chesebro
I understand that you came across a real fairy. Please tell us about that experience. And what about that experience inspired you to write your book, The Swamp 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.
The road I took on my morning walk
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 spot where I saw the swamp fairy
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. But, you know what? 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.
Fairy Swamp is found behind this development site in Pensacola, Florida
By 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.
From what I’ve read, the book offers some wonderful positive messages. It includes family relationships and ecological good practice. Can you elaborate on the why you chose to focus on including these issues in the book?
I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I remember my first introduction to conservation and ecology occurred when I was in sixth grade. Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes were polluted, and in the 1970’s, environmental issues were everywhere in the news. Through the years those issues have always been dear to my heart.
What I saw in Florida, was the encroachment of housing areas built on land near native swamps and wetlands. It occurred to me that these native environments would soon disappear, placing many of the plants and animals on the endangered species list. I have always felt the fairy nymphs wanted me to write these stories to bring attention to the issues. What a better place to start than with our young people. I am planting the seeds of action for the kids of today to handle the problems of tomorrow.
I chose to write about family relationships because I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My mother died when I was young, and I have no memories of her. In many ways, Abby’s story features many of the hardships I experienced. I became a foster child at sixteen when my father gave me up to the State of Wisconsin. Just like Abby, I had to figure out my way into the world. Family and acceptance of who you are as a person is a core premise of my book. I did this for several reasons.
Firstly, the book is written for children and teens. Children in this age group still identify with their family unit. Second, they understand what family stands for, and they also comprehend how it would feel to not have a mother or father to take care of them. In this way, they are able to empathize with my protagonist, Abby Forester.
The story centers around Fourteen-year-old Abby, whose mother is dead, and whose father has disappeared from her life due to drug addiction. Abby experiences the pain of separation as she becomes a ward of the State of Illinois. Her mother’s best friend, Maxine, steps in for a time and looks after her until Abby’s Aunt Magnolia can become her legal guardian.
Abby and her aunt bond immediately, and they establish a new family unit. Eventually, Abby realizes that family is more than just the love from a mother and father. She finds family can also be the love of friends based on loyalty and trust.
Even with her horse, Sand Dollar, she finds a universal acceptance because she is clairaudient and has the ability to communicate with the creatures, birds, and insects. In this way, Abby and the animals share a mutual understanding of their world and become part of a family unit because of it.
I also use the fairy nymphs to reinforce the concept of family. I envision the realm of the swamp fairies to be a benevolent collective unit of beings that connect on a higher plane much like bees in a hive. Everyone has a place in their reality. Abby is welcomed into the fairy community because of her family inheritance and the responsibility that comes with her duties to protect the fairy nymphs.
Children learn the lessons of life from their family unit. In this way, family teaches us how to respond to interpersonal conflicts and how to get along with others. When you incorporate a family theme in your novels, it gives the reader something to identify with and provides a learning opportunity of how other families deal with life. It also gives your reader a way to remember and connect with your novel.
How many more books do you anticipate there will be in The Heart Stone Chronicles series?
I plan on writing three novels in the book series. But, who knows? Like I’ve said, the fairies whisper their tales to me. I am not sure where this path or journey will take me. I do know there are many more stories to be told.
Please tell us a bit about the book and share an excerpt with us.
Cover Design by graphic artist, Wendy Anne Darling of Bookxeedo Book Covers
An excerpt from The Heart Stone Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy
The swamp fairy hovered, her delicate wings fanning the air, making soft swooshing noises. She waited for the amber-haired girl to approach. A mixture of the scents of lavender, patchouli, and sandalwood, wafted through the glade. The disturbances in the swamp hushed as if to recognize the girl’s stealthy footsteps. The child crept nearer to the half-submerged remains of a massive live oak tree.
The stump was hollow in the center, a lone sentinel to the age of the watery depths beneath its roots. Green lichen and moss covered the remaining bark like a second skin. At the verge of the water rested a green stone weathered by the elements. It resembled a rough-hewn heart.
The girl reached the end of the slough where the black water sunk to a murky depth. She was deliberate not to tread near the water’s edge. She spun herself around, scanning the area.
“Eleionomae, are you here? Where are you?”
Eleionomae, the swamp fairy, materialized in a swirling mist before the girl, shiny droplets of water suspended in the air surrounding her. She smiled as she watched the child clapping her hands in glee.
“There you are, Eleionomae. Do you want to play our game? I will stop talking, and you can speak in my head.”
The fairy fluttered above the green heart stone and perched on the jagged edge. She made herself comfortable and crossed her legs. Her corn silk-colored hair drifted about her shoulders. She smiled and began to speak in the language of the Naiad fairy nymphs, silent words meant only for the amber-haired girl.
The child cocked her head listening as she settled on the ground where a carpet of dead leaves made a comfortable seat. She sat still, her eyes focused on a remote area of the watery slough. A look of pure delight shimmered in her eyes.
I understand you have tended the Pink Sundew plants. They have grown in abundance.
The girl smiled, pride shining in her hazel eyes. I did everything you told me, Eleionomae. Every day I have taken care of the plants. I also have herbs growing nearby that mama said I must tend. I have been careful to add the leaves of the Pink Sundew to our tea, just as you said.
You have become an adept pupil. Before long, it will be time for you to receive your mother’s heart stone pendant.
The girl scrunched up her face, puzzlement showing in her pursed lips. Mama’s pendant? Why would I wear her heart stone? You’ve both taught me the ways of the fairy nymphs who live here in the swamp. I know the necklace belongs to her. She nodded her head in the direction of the fairy.
The fairy stretched her long legs and stood on the heart stone. She turned her tiny body to face toward the girl. A bright light glittered in her eyes. She crouched and placed her hand on the rock.
Your mother’s pendant is a piece of this sacred calcite heart stone. These stones lay in specific locations around the earth guarding the gifts the gods have bestowed on humankind. Each heart stone is powerful and surrounded by a fairy Rath, a circular wall of magical protection. That is why the Pink Sundew grows here protected from harm on your land.
The girl listened to Eleionomae’s words. She stared at the green calcite stone resting in the swamp’s watery depths.
So, mama’s pendant is unique. I always knew that. When do I get my heart stone pendant?
The fairy hovered with wings resembling the seeds of the giant oak trees, translucent and taupe in color. They fluttered, beating in a gentle rhythm. The child spread her hands open, and Eleionomae flew forward, her tiny feet tickling her palms as she landed. A look of rapture appeared on the child’s face, her eye’s crinkling at the corners with joy.
Your mother knows her fate. She chose her path. She lived to bring you into this world and to teach you the ways of the fairy nymphs. Each generation brings forth empathic people who are trained to preserve the gifts from the gods. When the time is right, you will unite the collective awareness of the Naiad nymph clan. You will inherit your mother’s calcite pendant, just as the firstborn women in your family have done since the beginning of time.
The child pondered the words and shook her head. And so, it will be up to me to protect the swamp and the Pink Sundew plants? But, I don’t want Mama to leave. She rubbed her eyes with a fist as tears streaked down her cheeks. Eleionomae stood erect and took flight. She alighted on her shoulder and brushed her feathery wings against the young girl’s face.
She is never gone, child. She will always stay in your heart. The gods have promised that you will also be a mother one day. You too will choose your life path and will serve the fairy nymphs. Remember this is your destiny.
The girl’s tears continued to fall while her small shoulders shook with emotion. A twig snapped startling her with the unexpected interruption. She glanced both ways searching for the source of the sound. There before her, walking out of the bushes, appeared many species of animals. There were deer, squirrels, possums, armadillos, too many breeds to consider.
Overhead, birds clustered in the trees and snakes hung suspended from thick branches. Frogs hopped toward the girl as they escaped from the depths of the turbid water. In the bushes, giant spiders clung to their webs and dangled from silk threads. The entire living world from the swamp had gathered to witness the wonder of the new prodigy of the Naiad fairy clan.
Eleionomae flew back to the calcite heart stone. She raised her arms and sang the song of the swamp fairies. Butterflies of every shape and color ascended from the interior of the stump. Next, dragonflies flew into the breeze, their wings, and bodies bejeweled in the colors of the rainbow.
The girl smiled, her tears glistening on her cheeks. She held out her hands, and the butterflies and dragonflies fluttered near her form. A feeling of overwhelming love and compassion filled her soul. Her communion was complete.
Here is Colleen’s book trailer: https://youtu.be/o8LIRSWbVf8
Anything else you want to find about the book you can find here: https://colleenchesebro.com/about-the-heart-stone-chronicles-the-swamp-fairy/
Many thanks to you Debby for the great visit. ❤
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