This week’s author profile is someone I’m very pleased agreed to be my guest. Cheryl Headford – better known to readers by her pen name Nephylim or Nephy – is a multi-talented author/artist who writes romance stories of all type. Her characters can be gay, bi, or straight, human, vampire, or alien [I think that covers most types]. She has written m/m as well as m/f romance, but I mainly know her for her m/m stories. I met Nephy on Gay Authors over two years ago. Very approachable, she helped me when I was new, making it much easier to find my way around.
Nephy is one of those rare, natural writers – someone who can effortlessly tell a story and make you care about her characters. Her stories bring you to the edge of parapet and just as you start to lose your balance and tumble over, she snatches you back. Such an approach can often end up contrived, but if you read any of her stories, you’ll understand why I say she’s a natural. The first story I read of hers was – Hostage - a free story posted on Gay Authors. It might still be my favorite of hers. But it was Enigma that cemented her as a favorite author of mine. There is a free version of the story on Gay Authors, but buy the published one – it’s a bit more polished and it has a few little new bits you don’t want to miss.
Nephy’s newest book – Fallen Angel – is being released tomorrow, January 25, 2013. Check out what Nephy has to say about herself and her up coming book. Then go to Romance First Publishing and buy her book.
Author Profile – Nephylim:
Fallen Angel by Nephylim
Book Release January 25th 2013
They searched for answers and found truth they never expected in their wildest dreams
• Title: Fallen Angel
• Author: Nephylim
• Publisher: Romance First Publishing
• Publication Date: January 25th 2013
• Genre: Contemporary Romance, Gay Interest, Vampire, Fallen Angel, Mystery
• Length: 290 pages
• Sales links to be announced.
Isobel is a were panther. She believes she shares her body with the soul of a big cat. She belongs to a group who all believe themselves to be Otherkin, beings that are not entirely human. She absolutely believes it. At least she thinks she does until she meets Arran who turns out to be a ‘real’ vampire.
Arran mocks her, teases her and embarrasses her in front of her friends, and yet…
When she starts having flashbacks to another time, a time when she belonged in Arran’s arms, Isobel’s feelings for Arran change and for brief moments she believes he feels the same, but still he treats her coldly.
Against her better judgment, Isobel follows Arran on a dangerous quest for a mysterious object that holds a great truth about vampires.
When she discovers the reason Arran has been pushing her away Isobel gives herself to him completely and they re-forge a bond that was broken eons ago.
In a desperate race against time, Isobel and Arran search for the mythical object in the hope it might save Arran’s life. However, what they find at the end of their journey is something so huge, so unbelievable powerful, it must be destroyed. But where does that leave Arran?
As Isobel holds him and watches his life slip away, she has an idea. But will it work?
As their lips met their souls touched, and Isobel’s mind opened. She saw the lake again only this time she wasn’t an onlooker. She stood with her arms around Arran, trying to hide her face as blood rained from the sky. She knew the sun was still high but it was so dark, like night. If she looked up she would have seen the sun obscured by the bodies fighting, their blood bathing the earth below, dripping onto her hair and back. Arran prevented her looking up. His arms weren’t the only things wrapped around her. She nuzzled into down as soft as a baby chick that lined the coal black wings curving overhead and around her body.
“Save me,” she whispered and he nodded his eyes dark, deep and endlessly sad.
“When I say – run.”
She nodded wordlessly.
Arran spread his wings and grabbed her hand. She screamed in terror as blood rained down upon her. Skidding and slipping on the gory grass they ran until they reached the wood and the trees afforded them some protection. Now and again a scream cracked the air, followed by a thud as another body fell to the earth, but from which side they didn’t know and dared not stop to check. The friends and family that they left behind tugged at their hearts, but terror was a harsh taskmaster and they could do naught but run on, until they were too exhausted to run anymore.
Collapsing at last in the roots of a huge old tree, Arran tucked Isobel into the hollow and made them as comfortable as he could. Eventually he covered them with his wings for warmth and comfort, but fear for their safety startled him at every snap of a twig or call of a bird. Desperate, terrified, alone, in the renewed light of a sun finally cleared to shine again, they stared into each other’s eyes and knew their unity was all they had left.
With a gasp, Isobel pulled away from Arran and stared at him, not pausing even to wonder if the image was true. The truth was obvious. It was a memory and the intensity of that moment spilled into the present. Isobel tore at the straps of her dress, desperate to be free of it and feel him against her bare skin. Arran froze, staring as her body was revealed, pale and perfect in the darkness. When she was naked, she turned to him with fire in her eyes, gratified to see a matching flare in his own.
Hungry fingers fumbled with buttons that refused to yield. Isobel lost all patience and tore the shirt from his body, surprised by her own strength. Arran laughed, a deep rumble that only served to inflame her more.
“I think, perhaps, I should do the rest. I happen to like these trousers, and I don’t really want them shredded by a wild cat.”
Lowering themselves onto the bed, that same, strange shift of reality showed Isobel a different Arran. He had the same face and eyes, but he no longer lay on the plush bed, the soft velvet covers spread out under him. Now he sprawled on the rough floor of an ancient wood, his body cushioned on large, night black wings, the feathers glossy in the moonlight.
Isobel reached out a tentative hand and brushed the trembling feathers. They were sleek and oily at the wing ridges, but deeper, closer to Arran’s body, they were soft and fluffy, like a down quilt ready to wrap around her in eternal comfort and safety.
And then they were back again. The room enclosed them and the sounds of faraway fighting faded. Smells faded slower and the metallic tang of blood made her nose itch for some time.
Arran reached out, a look of reverence and awe on his face, and touched Isobel’s hair, running the soft silken strands through his fingers.
“You have hair the colour of old flames, just like you did then.”
“You have hair the colour of the night, just like you did then.” Isobel reached for his hair but went past his head to the space behind it. “I remember your wings.”
“My wings burned off a long time ago.”
“The only wings I ever had were in my heart whenever I looked into your eyes. They still work as well as they ever did.”
“Hell Isobel, do you know what this means?”
“I guess it means you don’t really need to find that room anymore.”
“No. But I do need to find what it protects.”
“Yes, my love, you do.”
“Do you remember, Isobel?” Arran whispered. “Do you remember everything?”
“Yes, I remember everything. I remember the white city on the cliff, the City of Angels, they called it in the village. I remember the men, the beautiful men with wings who were so cold and distant. And I remember… those who weren’t.”
“I can hardly believe it.”
“My… our fathers were angels, weren’t they? Real angels.”
“Yes,” Isobel whispered, stroking his chest. “And our mothers were human. That’s why they killed them; why they hunted us. Were we the only survivors?”
Arran shook his head. “I don’t know. I can’t remember. There have been times, I think – in other lives; times when I’ve met someone or heard or seen something that’s not fit into any life I remember… remembered then. Maybe they were people we knew then. I don’t think true angels live and die as we do, so perhaps there were others like us, who escaped the war, too.” He laughed. “Escaped the war,” he repeated, dazed. “The war in heaven.”
“But it wasn’t in heaven. It wasn’t about God or the Devil or…”
“No, it was about…”
“Not just about us, Isobel. The Council decreed that humans and malakim shouldn’t mix but it wasn’t just about that. It was the Source.”
“Yes,” she said, stunned. “The Source.”
“It was really about power wasn’t it?”
“Yes. The Council had it and they didn’t want to share it. If only… It seems incredible now, looking back… all the way back. They held it in their hand: the Source of all life. The actual Source of all life. They had the power to create… anything. They could transcend humanity, create a new race of transcendental beings and instead…”
“No, they couldn’t Isobel. They were right about that. They couldn’t ascend humanity.”
“Don’t you see? If they used the Source to change one race into an entirely different one, even if it was more enlightened, a ‘better’ one, they’d have been putting themselves in the place of God. It’s not for anyone, not even the Sanhedrin Malakim to do that, to take that kind of drastic action.”
“You sound as if you’re siding with them.”
“Siding with them?” He frowned at her, then smiled. “We’ve had this argument before. I’ll tell you now what I told you then, and take it further. The Council was right in preventing the Source being from used to ascend humanity. They were right that humanity needed to undergo its own evolution. But they were wrong, so totally wrong in what they did about it. Making decrees about who someone can or cannot love is impossible. Breaking apart lovers and destroying families for the sake of a decree is evil.
“What our parents did was wrong. Not their love, that should never have been punished. But taking things into their own hands and making the choice to ascend humans without permission from the Council, yes, that was wrong. The task of protecting the Source fell to the Council, and that wasn’t easy. The Source was the single most powerful substance in the universe, responsible for the very creation of the universe. No one knew exactly what it was capable of or that it would be as much bad as it was good.
“Don’t you see… the Council succeeded for millennia in preventing the Source from being used for selfish ends, and then Semjaza took it into his head to transcend Ishtahar and the whole world went crazy.”
“It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t start the war.”
“He did start the war, Isobel. I’m not saying he was entirely wrong, but his action in ascending Ishtahar did start the war. He violated the most sacred law by taking a human into the sanctuary, by having her enter the Source, and by allowing her to transcend.”
“He loved her.”
“I know. And I know what it’s like to love like that.” He looked up into Isobel’s eyes, brushing her hair off her face and tucking it behind her ear. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t have done it myself, but you have to be realistic and you have to be honest. He did start the war.”
“Okay, okay, he started the war. But the Council should never have done what they did. Maybe Semjaza did break the law, maybe he violated the sanctuary or whatever… but he didn’t deserve what they did, none of them did, none of us did.”
“No, whole scale slaughter of entire families is never acceptable for any reason. That’s when the real power trip began and that’s when the whole thing went to hell. Do you… do you think that after… after the war… Do you think they were sorry? Do you think that when everything calmed down, the Council regretted what they did and…?”
“No, Arran, I don’t and they didn’t. Look at what’s happened since. They’ve hunted us through history. So many things make sense now. We’ve never stopped running. They’ve hunted us and they’re hunting us still.”
The war approaches, closer every day.
No one knows what’s behind the gates, but they weaken every moon cycle, every nightfall, every hour.
Be ready when they open.
Remember, awaken, wait for the call… and follow Arran and Isobel.
About The Author:
Born into a poor but loving mining family in the United Kingdom, Nephylim grew up in the beautiful and history rich South Wales Valleys, becoming the first in her family to attend university. As a lawyer practicing Family Law for several years, the profession allowed Nephylim to learn more about human nature at its worst and best moments, and develop empathy and a view of life not limited by social standing or background.
Tapping into the heritage of her people that throughout Earth’s ages welcomed the wandering bard into the hearts of their villages as keepers of lore, Nephylim trained as a Druid and brings the richness of her Celtic past and spiritual training to enrich and elevate her writing. Since a child Nephylim has been fascinated with other worlds, which exist within and alongside her own and has reveled in creating worlds and characters for others to enjoy.
Despite lack of family support, Nephylim continued writing privately and eventually found the Gay Authors website. With the positive response and a warm welcome received, she found the confidence to pursue her passion to a greater degree. Feeling gay fiction was a woefully neglected corner of the market where readers were all too often presented with what amounted to erotica, Nephylim strives to write quality gay fiction where sex and sexuality is not the central premise. Instead, concentration is given to character and narrative development through storytelling that goes beyond the physical.
Nephylim still resides in Wales, UK, and enjoys writing, reading, art, and taking part in medieval reenactments.
Interviews with the author:
Other works by Nephylim
Enigma, Book 1
Fighting the Man, Enigma Book 2
The Unfairness of Life
Hump in the Night
Wicked Watchers – Looking at the Lads
Bigger Briefs – Reluctant Romance