Guest post: Cheryl Mahoney
Today I’m really pleased to welcome Cheryl Mahoney (author of recently released The Lioness and the Spellspinners) onto my blog. Cheryl very kindly agreed to write a guest post for me based on her own interest in traveling (which tends to be to literary locations) and how that has influenced the characters from her books.
I want to thank Lynn for welcoming me onto her blog! When I was thinking about what guest post topic to explore, it struck me that her blog is focused on travel and books—and travel just happens to be a theme in my life and writing too.
I didn’t plan it, but every book in my Beyond the Tales series (up to four now) involves characters who travel for one reason or another. The first is the most obvious, The Wanderers, about a wandering adventurer who ends up bringing a talking cat and a witch’s daughter onto the road with him. One of the first ways my main characters connect is through a mutual love of exploring in search of new adventure, to see what wonderful thing they can find around the next turn of the road.
In The Storyteller and Her Sisters, heroine Lyra dreams of travel after a life so far spent trapped in a castle. Her love interest, Prince Dastan, dreams of becoming a wandering minstrel. You’ll have to read the book to find out if they achieve those dreams! In The People the Fairies Forget, narrator (and fairy) Tarragon has spent 500 years running from one party to another across countries. He’s perhaps the opposite to Lyra, who wants to travel in search of something; Tarry is traveling to get away.
Karina, the heroine of The Lioness and the Spellspinners, lands somewhere in between those two. She starts out traveling as an escape (though you’ll have to read some distance into the book to find out what from), but whether she knows it or not, she’s definitely looking to find something in the process.
Travel in stories, and in life too, can be a powerful metaphor. Where are we going and why is a much bigger question than simply a matter of geography! For myself, I’m a homebody who also loves to travel—but I’d never want to travel continuously the way some of my characters do. And when I do travel, I most often visit places that already feel like home—because I’ve already read about them.
I’ve managed quite a few literary pilgrimages over the years, and love visiting places from favorite books or movies. Highlights and highest-recommended include a visit to the Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals once owned by Christopher Robin Milne, available to be seen at the New York Public Library. In Paris, it’s worth climbing Notre Dame’s bell towers to visit Quasimodo’s gargoyles, and definitely worth a visit to the Phantom’s Opera (better known as the Opera Garnier) to see Box Five and the famous chandelier.
London is a literary pilgrim’s dream, if you’re me, so I keep going back. I’ve tried on Sherlock Holmes’ hat in 221B Baker Street, seen plays at Shakespeare’s Globe, done a walking tour of Shakespeare’s and Dickens’ London, and seen where the Bird Woman once fed pigeons at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mary Poppins. I’ve also seen Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford Upon Avon, and Jane Austen’s house in Bath.
The ultimate literary pilgrimage, if you’re me, is Kensington Gardens in London, setting for one of my very favorite books, The Little White Bird by J. M. Barrie. He devoted an entire chapter to “A Grand Tour of the Gardens” and nearly everything he described (in 1902!) is still readily to be seen. Peter Pan and the fairies haunt the Gardens in the most delightful way, and Barrie’s own house can be seen (from the outside, at least) just north of the park.
I don’t think I’ve had a literary pilgrimage that disappointed yet, and I’d highly recommend all the places I’ve just described. So much of what I read is set in magical other worlds or the distant future, so any chance to visit a real setting is wonderful to explore!
Information about Cheryl’s latest book can be found below with a link to her Goodreads page here – her next book sounds excellent. Check it out:
Forrest can’t fathom this prickly, knife-wielding girl who so unceremoniously turns up in his family’s barn one morning. His life has never been this exciting. Karina can’t make herself trust the strangely hospitable villagers on this island she’s now stuck on, and when they claim they can knit spells into their garments, that doesn’t help. She knows magic exists, but that’s just ridiculous.
And no one can understand why the chickens have suddenly started laying gilded eggs, or why the horse is talking in rhyming couplets.
When the inexplicable magic goes from mere bad poetry to actual threats, when dancing becomes dangerous and the wrong thought could cause disaster, the only answers are in the past Karina is fleeing—and the only way to survive is for the knife-wielder to trust the spellspinner.
Thanks again Cheryl 😀