First Swallow of Spring
16 March 2016
The first swallow of spring draws Seanán back to the fae circle each year. There he dances with the handsome fae lord, Iorweth. He knows the rules he must follow if he wishes to be free to leave at the end of the night; however, Iorweth is growing ever more inventive in his attempts to trick Seanán into breaking them.
“Seanán will be dancing with none but me.” The words were softly spoken, yet the tone brooked no argument, and at this utterance, the others scurried away and a new figure stepped into view.
A wave of contentment flooded through Seanán. “Iorweth.” He accepted Iorweth’s proffered hand, and Iorweth pulled him to his feet as if he weighed nothing. He gazed up at the regal figure. “I have missed you.”
“And I you. Shall we dance?”
Iorweth swept Seanán into his arms and they spun toward the edge of the clearing. The others made room for them and they joined the chain, circling the stone in a dance of pure delight. The music came from no discernible source, but it filled the air, bright and bell-like, and between its magical refrains, the fae laughed, clapped, and cavorted in the moonlight.
Seanán followed Iorweth’s lead. The rest of the world melted away as he lost himself in the fae lord’s glimmering, emerald eyes. This was the time of year he felt most alive. In the long months between these meetings he survived on memories and dreams. They kept him going, but nothing compared to being here in Iorweth’s arms. The press of his hand on Seanán’s back—that was the brilliant reality. The rest of his life was colorless.
Iorweth pulled him closer until their bodies met. Warmth spread through Seanán and he sighed and rested his head against Iorweth’s chest. Surely they had danced for long enough. Surely Iorweth would soon take him to the stone. Yet, on and on they danced. They twirled and dipped and swayed, never breaking from the circle. Seanán should have felt dizzy. At the very least he should have grown weary. But when he was with Iorweth, he always had boundless energy. So long as their hands touched, Seanán believed he could go on dancing without pause, forever.
Interview with Asta Idonea
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m British-born, but I have lived in Australia for 8½ years now. I was backpacking here when I met my husband on the bus. I just never went home. I worked in admin until 2014, when I left to try my hand as a freelance editor and author. I am much happier now, though I still need to build up a little more editing work.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I was almost a translator. I completed a PGDip in Translation, but then I moved here and my European languages weren’t as relevant anymore. I still try to keep up my language skills, though. I have pen pals around the world, I read books in other languages, and I watch a lot of world cinema.
How do you relax?
I have many hobbies: reading (naturally), theatre, cinema, music (I sing and play a few instruments), sketching….
Do you have a favorite quote?
“What a terrible affair life is to be sure; I don’t mean nasty, because it’s glorious and enthralling, but so aweinspiring and unnerving and taxing.”
(Percy Grainger to Rose Grainger (his mother) 23/07/1907)
How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing?
As a child, I loved books. My sister would ask to play with her dolls, and I would ask to read. From as far back as I remember thinking about such things, I wanted to write, but it was something I kept putting off, thinking I wasn’t good enough. In my late teens/early twenties, I started publishing some fan fiction, but then I moved to Australia and finally found the drive to pursue my dreams. I had my first original work published in 2011 and haven’t stopped.
What are your ambitions for your writing career and what’s your favorite part of writing?
My favourite part is giving life to the characters that fill my head and helping them tell their stories. As for ambition, it would be nice to earn more than I spend on my writing, and one day see one of my books on the shelf in a major bookstore, but deep down, I’d be happy simply to know people are reading and enjoying my work.
Why did you choose to write GLBTQ romance? Why not another genre?
Actually, I do write mainstream too (under the pen name Nicki J. Markus). I started out in mainstream paranormal and fantasy, and I continue to write that alongside my MM works. The MM came about through my editing. Most of the manuscripts on which I work are LGBT, and when I started editing for Wayward Ink Publishing, I decided to try my hand at an MM piece of my own for one of their anthology calls. I found I enjoyed it and wrote another, and another…. Much of my former fan fiction was slash, so I guess subconsciously it was a genre I already appreciated.
What scene in your writing has made you laugh the hardest or cry the most?
I’m not sure I can pick a single scene, but the two works with which I had the most emotional connection were The Ragnarök Chronicles (MF Fantasy) and Souls for Sale (MM Paranormal). Both Loki (in the former) and Saul (in the latter) became very dear to me.
Can you give the readers a brief summary of your latest book?
It is a short fantasy MM story, releasing as a single title and within an anthology. It follows Seanán, a young man who is drawn year after year to the fae circle near his home. There he is romanced by a fae lord, who tries to trick him into breaking the rules that will see him unable to leave at the end of the night.
Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they?
Seanán lives at home with his parents and helps work his father’s farm. He is bored with his everyday life and longs for the one night each year when he can visit Iorweth. Nonetheless, he resists all attempts to trick him into staying; he wishes to make that choice himself.
Iorweth is a regal fae lord who wishes to trap Seanán in the fae realm, to keep him close forever. Used to getting his way and tricking unwary mortals, at first he fails to see that the way to win Seanán is through openness and love, rather than wiles.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style. When and where is your favorite time/place to write?
I work from home, so the morning and early afternoon I dedicate to editing work. Occasionally I have a day or two free between editing jobs, but mostly I have a steady stream of manuscripts and work seven days a week. The mid to late afternoon (and sometimes into the evening), however, is writing time.
When I have the initial idea for a story, I jot down character notes (full profiles if it’s a novella or novel). I also note some key plot points, but that’s the only planning I do—I prefer to see where the characters take me. I always type the first draft at the computer in my study. However, once that it done I print the work and retreat to the comfy chair in my library/music room for editing. I read through the complete story, making notes and corrections as I go, then it’s back to the study for the next draft. Short stories go through two or three drafts and then a final proofread. Novellas and novels get four drafts, then the proofread.
What sort of book do you enjoy reading in your free time? What was the last book you read? What did you enjoy about it?
I read widely; the only genres I avoid completely are true crime and chick lit. I read (and reread) a lot of classics. I enjoy literary fiction and paranormal/fantasy tales, and I read a lot of non-fiction (in particular books on my favourite historical periods). Recently I finished a book on Victorian London, which I was reading as research for my new Steampunk story. That was interesting and gave me plenty of ideas. Now I am reading an historical fiction piece about a highwaywoman in England during the Commonwealth.
Thank you so much for answering my questions.
I think my readers will enjoy learning more about you!
Good luck in your future writing!
Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.