I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Cheri Gillard to talk with me today about her book, Chloe’s Guardian. Cheri has been a freelance writer and editor for twenty-five years, working for several publishing houses and companies writing or editing projects, books, magazines, and curricula. She has released the first two books in her Nephilim Redemption Series, Chloe’s Guardian and Chloe’s Watcher, with the third due next year. This Halloween, her next novel releases, a medical thriller called The Clone’s Mother. Before writing, she was an obstetric and pediatric registered nurse, but she hung up her nurse’s cap when she gave birth to quadruplets. She is also a musician, regularly playing violin in Acoustic Springs, her folk-style band. She lives in Colorado with her family.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
I was searching for legitimate awards to pursue, in order to help improve my book’s visibility by showing it was a high-quality Indie book. I’ve written so long with traditional publishers (non-fiction) that I had the old fashioned ideas about self-publishing. Now that I’ve joined the Indie author movement, I needed a way to show I really can write, that I’ve been practicing and learning the craft for decades. When I read about IndieBRAG, I knew I’d found a place that recognized what I was looking and striving for.
Please tell me about your book, Chloe’s Guardian.
Chloe’s Guardian is the story of a teenage girl who just wants to be loved. Her parents are splitting and her boyfriend cheats on her, so her world is falling apart. She can’t cope, so while on a high school orchestra tour in Scotland, she decides to jump from a castle ruin. But she is saved when Horatius—a half angel, half human—happens to fly by (being chased by his demon father) and decides he might prove his goodness by plucking from the sky the human girl. He is trying to earn points with the angels to gain redemption, something he recently decided he wants (ergo his demon father is battling and chasing him). But Horatius parties too much and just brings more trouble into Chloe’s life, including losing her in 16th century Scotland after he hides her there from his vindictive father. Horatius loses his powers from a curse and can’t find Chloe, and so she is left to fend for herself and find her own way back to her timeline, negotiating with demons and fighting hellish battles along the way.
Are the castles mentioned in your story really exists?
Yes! Dunnottar Castle is near Stonehaven, south of Aberdeen. It is an amazing ruin, which was even used in the film Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson. It is open to the public and you can hike up onto the summit and look out over the North Sea. It has a rich history and it was great fun to include it in my book. One setting in the story is in Stonehaven, and I arranged my scenes based on old maps of roads, forests, and the town’s Market Square. Also, in Edinburgh, I used historical locations such as Edinburgh Castle and Netherbow Port, one of the gates in the city wall, to make what Horatius and Chloe do in the Middle Ages more authentic. Westminster Abbey in London and Saint John’s in the District of Columbia make appearances as well.
What is one of the reactions that Chloe has being transported back into the 16th Century Scotland? The Middle Ages were quite harsh and for women!
Once she gets over her initial disbelief, Chloe starts trying to get home. All she wants is to return, and as soon as possible. When she was whisked away and then lost in the Middle Ages, she had left with her family in danger and she doesn’t even know if they lived. So instead of shriveling up in fear (which she might have done if her BFF, Kaitlyn, wasn’t with her) she starts scheming to find a way home. Lost without Horatius or is powers, she depends on the people she meets to help her, which include several historical figures like Mary of Scots and James Stewart. Finally, she even starts negotiating with beings in the spiritual realm, in spite of knowing the great risk involved, because she MUST GET HOME. She is learning the family she thought was a mess and could never meet her needs means everything to her.
Why did you chose that period for her to be transported back in time?
I love the history of Mary of Scots and have done a lot of research of her and her time period. Because I already have so much information in my head or at my fingertips about her, it was a natural choice to take my characters back there. Historical fiction is a lot easier to write if you already know the history in which you are placing your characters.
And I wanted Horatius to be an old friend of Mary’s.
Please tell me about her friend, Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn is one of my favorites characters! She is so loving, non-judgmental, and accepting. She thinks the best of everyone and shows us ideas of how we might approach others who are different from us. She gets mixed up or dwells on trivial things sometimes, and her priorities are not what typical teenage girls have. Her sense of spiritualism really helps Chloe, because Kaitlyn is aware of things many would miss. So once they end up marooned in the Middle Ages, she’s quite an asset to Chloe to help her cope and stay hopeful. Kaitlyn is strong when she needs to be, but not without it costing her some. So she isn’t just a wonder woman who can do all and be perfect. Chloe loses patience with her. Kaitlyn reveals secrets she shouldn’t. But because she means well, and she is respectful of others, she just really endears herself to readers.
What do you want your readers to come away with when reading this story?
Besides being swept up in an adventure that keeps them turning pages, and that stays with them long after the last scene, I hope readers see the deeper themes, like earning love versus experiencing free gracious love. I wove a lot of different ideas into the story. It’s not just a story of adventure and suspense, but one of ideas to challenge exploration into one’s perspectives.
Who designed your book cover?
My designer is a graphic artist in Arizona, Shelley Glasow Schadowsky, at http://www.goodlifeguide.com. I searched and reviewed many different artists from Smashwords’ database of recommended artists, and I loved her work. She had a look that was unique, versatile, and high quality. And she was wonderful to work with. She’s done the cover for the second book in this series, and I plan on her artwork gracing the cover of the third book, too.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I had a different name for Chloe at first, but when the character of her BFF, Kaitlyn, developed and became a bit of an airhead—albeit a very dear, sweet and caring airhead—she misread Chloe’s nametag their first day in orchestra together and thought it said “Chelo” (i.e. cello) which happens to be Chloe’s instrument (Kaitlyn plays viola) so it was a perfect choice for a first name. Kaitlyn always calls Chloe by the nickname “Cello” believing that was what her parents named her, being prescient about her future cello playing. And because of the dual protagonists, I wanted the title to reflect two characters at once, plus give a hint as to what is going on in the book. Therefore, the “Guardian” part of the title, which points to Horatius, and that fact that he is a supernatural creature (sometimes—when he is in his angel form and not drinking too much!).
When you’re stuck on a scene in your story, what do you do?
Oh, do you mean after I bang my head on my desk, eat a lot more than my daily ration of chocolate, and frantically pace my hallway? After all that, I lie down, relax, and cover my eyes, and imagine the scene where I am stuck. I imagine the characters, what they have done so far, and see where I can take them, what happens, and where they need to go. Then usually, it comes to me, and I go back (probably grabbing a celebratory piece of chocolate on the way for the breakthrough) and get back to writing.
What are you working on next?
I’m about to release a stand-alone medical thriller called The Clone’s Mother. It is on presale now at Amazon and releases on Halloween. It’s about a nurse in Chicago who spends her evenings when she’s not at the hospital with her cat and the TV. So when she finally gets a date with an amazing man, she swoons. But then it looks like he may not be the wonderful Prince Charming she thinks he is. She has to figure out what is really going on, but then people start dying…
Do you stick with just genre?
Everything I write seems to have a bit of paranormal or the supernatural in it, whether it is blatantly obvious and part of the plot, or just little fun things that happen along the way. But I do switch genres. I have another time travel trilogy in the works, a 13th century historical novel about Simon de Montfort, the medical thriller above, and this series of Chloe’s. I also am developing a memoir about having quadruplets.
Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?
I have a home office where I do most of my writing. Sometimes, when I’m working out a plot outline, I’ll go to my big white board in my hallway or my wall of charts in my bedroom and map out where I want to go with the story. I develop the story before I start, and I always have to know where I’m going to be able to write a scene. I discover the smaller details as I write, but I always need the bigger things, like plot points and character arcs, before I start.
Is there a favorite food or drink you like to enjoy while writing?
I LOVE coffee with writing. It just has a certain feeling, like the two GO together. Especially on a wintry day when I look out my second story office window and watch the snow fall over the valley behind our house. And of course, chocolate. Both for rewards, and for those sorrowful days when it doesn’t work and I quit being a writer (that happens regularly) and I need comfort food.
Is there a particular hobby you enjoy when you’re not writing?
I LOVE reading. I like mountain hikes with my husband, and kids when they are home. Writing has consumed so much of my life, I have to work hard to get away from it and enjoy other things. I’ve forgotten how to do crafts, and to take my camera along and continue my photography, and I get too busy to worry about gardening. I guess those are what I’ll do when I run out of ideas to write about.
A Message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Cheri Gillard who is the author of, Chloe’s Guardian, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Chloe’s Guardian, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.