Guest Post: An Interview with Cheryl Mahoney

Posted November 6, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Guest Posts / 2 Comments

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Last month, Cheryl released her third novel, The People the Fairies Forget (which I keep reading as The People the Fairies ForgOt because my brain is silly) and today she is on the blog again to answer questions about the book. I asked a very important non-spoilery sneak-peek question for readers of the first two books. And also we chatted about the stories and the way Cheryl plays with fairytales in her latest book.

Welcome again, Cheryl! <3

Let me give you all the plot description. I’d also like to note in advance that, though, The People the Fairies Forget is the third in a series, it works perfectly well as a stand-alone.

Cover for Cheryl Mahoney's The People the Fairies Forget. A male fairy loooking bashful in front of some fruit trees. Above him, a fairies in a pink ballgown is hovering.Tarragon isn’t your typical fairy. He scoffs at gossamer wings and he never, ever sparkles. Plus, he’s much more interested in common folk than in anyone wearing a crown. All he wants to do is enjoy good food and good parties, but he can’t quite resist sparring with Marjoram, a typical Good Fairy if there ever was one. Against his better judgment, Tarry becomes the reluctant defender of the ordinary people Marj is trampling underfoot in her efforts to help the royalty.

That includes people like Jack, a goatherd stuck on the opposite side of a mass of thorns from his true love Emmy, a maid in Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Or Catherine, who has no desire to marry a very un-charming prince just because her shoe size matches some girl he danced with. Or Anthony, whose youngest sister Beauty got involved with a great and terrible Beast.

Tarry has to set down his supper, brush up on his magic and his arguments, and try for once to wrangle some kind of Happily Ever After out of the mess.

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1) The People the Fairies Forget is the third book in your Beyond the Tales series, but if I recall it was the first one you’d written. How did it feel to return to the story after your experiences with The Wanderers and The Storyteller and Her Sisters?

Plot-wise it didn’t feel too strange, because the plot (and major characters) for each book are independent.  I enjoyed layering in a few extra references to characters in The Wanderers—Tarry makes occasional comments about this friend he has who’s a wandering adventurer.  What did feel more disconcerting about coming back to this draft was realizing that my writing had improved a lot since I wrote it—which meant for a lot of revising!  But in the end, it means readers are getting a much better book than they would have if I’d published this one first.

2) Both The People the Fairies Forget and The Wanderers tackle several fairytale retellings as the novel goes along. What is it about fairytale mash-ups and combinations that fascinates you so?

Part of the concept of my series is to tell stories set in a fairy tale world—where the rules of fairy tales apply, so that I can explore what the actual fall-out and complications would be.  The Wanderers pulls familiar elements in without retelling particular stories (mostly), while The People the Fairies Forget retells Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.  Bringing multiple stories together gives me a chance to bring in so many more elements and tropes, and sometimes to emphasize a point because it carries through multiple stories—like Marj’s fixation with the royalty, and her blithe disregard for the peripheral disasters caused by her “good deeds.”

3) The story features Tarragon and Marj. Readers of The Wanderers may remember Tarry and who could ever forget Marj after encountering her, but tell us a little about the new characters we’re going to meet.

My goal with this novel was to focus on the characters the fairy tales usually ignore—the small characters on the margins of the story who are still being impacted by the events.  So my retelling of Sleeping Beauty focuses mostly on Jack, a goatherd who doesn’t really believe he’s as important as a prince—because unfortunately, he’s heard the stories too and noticed they aren’t about people like him.  When Sleeping Beauty’s entire castle falls asleep, Jack is trapped on the wrong side of the thorns from his true love, Emmy, a kitchen maid inside the castle.

In the Cinderella part of the story, my heroine is one of the girls who tries Cinderella’s slipper on—but it fits her.  Catherine is then whisked off to marry the prince, even though she’s engaged to someone else and also really doesn’t have time for this because she has an inn to run.  Catherine is the exact opposite of the traditional Cinderella.  She’s not waiting around for any fairy godmother to shape her life for her, and she has no patience for an arrogant prince either.

Catherine’s fiancé Anthony gives us the link to Beauty and the Beast, because he’s Beauty’s older brother.  Anthony has finally figured out what he wants to do with his life, and doesn’t appreciate Marj telling him he now has to stay at the former-Beast’s castle with Beauty and the rest of his family.  Anthony’s two brothers are a lot of fun too: George, a big, kind-hearted bear of a man who can (almost) keep up with Tarry at a banquet table; and serious Connor who has a better idea than anyone on the way the spell enchanting the Beast has actually wreaked havoc with an entire country.

4) What was your favourite story to retell in The People the Fairies Forget?

That’s a tricky question…  My Sleeping Beauty premise is probably my favourite: what if someone came to rescue a true love in the sleeping castle who wasn’t the princess?  But my Cinderella characters are my favourite: fiercely independent Catherine, and self-absorbed Prince Roderick who never remembers anyone’s name (hence his difficulty finding Cinderella).  And my Beauty and the Beast retelling, as the third one in the book, has some of the most exciting and character-revealing moments in it!

5) Lastly, you probably knew this question was coming, will there be more Tom?

I’m sad to have to tell you that Tom is not in this novel.  I tried—I had two ideas for getting him into the story, but neither worked out.  Although Tarry does make a remark about a talking cat he knows who is great fun at parties…

6) I lied. One more question: what can we expect from you next? I know you’ve got the fourth novel waiting in the wings for edits and you’re currently participating in NaNoWriMo, so I suspect you don’t want to reveal too much, but perhaps a sneak peek?

Well, I will tell you that my next Beyond the Tales novel features a heroine with a dark past, a hero who knows how to knit (and to put spells into the knitting!), one knife fight, a lot of magic gone wrong, three metal trees, and a guest appearance by Dastan, hero of The Storyteller and Her Sisters.  And, not surprisingly, Marjoram managed to horn her way into the story too, and we find out how even more problems are, ultimately, her fault.

For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m taking a leap into science fiction.  I’m working on a story around two teenage girls from different planets who take a quest through the multiverse—though it’s more about exploring the parallel lives of one of the characters than about exploring universes with radically different evolutions.  I wanted to do a story that focused on friendships, and on how choices create who we are.

And after that…we shall see!

Cheryl Mahoney can’t remember when she began her love affair with stories.  She never goes anywhere (including the grocery store) without a book and a pen.  Cheryl also writes a book review blog, Tales of the Marvelous, and is on Goodreads (MarvelousTales) and Twitter (@MarvelousTales).  She has been previously published in The Ignatian, and has completed NaNoWriMo twice.
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Thank you so much for visiting again, Cheryl!

The People the Fairies Forget is available in paperback and ebook. You can buy the paperback from Amazon, and the ebook is available from various retailers such as Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords. (Amazon links are affiliate links for Cheryl. Other links are not affiliated.)

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2 responses to “Guest Post: An Interview with Cheryl Mahoney

    • Me too! I adore Tom, which undoubtedly surprises no one who knows me. Hopefully there’ll be more Tom eventually. Maybe an “Adventures of Tom” style book… XD *hopes against hope*