Special Guest Kay Berrisford

I'm very pleased to welcome author Kay Berrisford here today. Kay is the author of several exciting paranormal/fantasy m/m novels--possibly my very favorite genre to read! 

Welcome, Kay. Please tell us a little about your new release.

Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone, is about a lonely, geeky history student who meets the man of his dreams in the middle of a stone circle that he’s studying.  One problem. The amazing guy, Aubrey, claims to be a time traveler from 1647. Despite their mutual attraction, Aubrey’s desperate to get home before Christmas.  What’s more, Aubrey’s method of shifting through time involves outdoor sexual rituals at the stone circle, and shy Simon’s not entirely sure he’s up for it—particularly as he’s trying to resist falling in love with this man who seems desperate just to shag and leave him. So there’s all sorts of trouble ahead for my guys, particularly when Simon realizes Aubrey’s getting home is a matter of life and death.

Sounds intriguing. What inspired you to write this book?

Loose Id put out submissions call for a romance encompassing two key dates in the holiday season.  E.g. your lovers meet at Thanksgiving, fight through to Christmas, and then realize they’re soul mates on New Year. Loving this idea, I decided to focus my seasonal novella between the winter solstice (21st December) and Christmas, and devised a plot that encompassed magic, demonic possession, stone circles, and of course, time travel. As a Brit, I originally decided to steer away from Thanksgiving.  After all, I’ve never yet set foot on US soil, so who am I to write about one of the most important dates in the US calendar? 

Yet back in the 1600s—as in most periods since—British and American history were intimately intertwined. I decided that Aubrey had been born about 1621, and busily looking up that year, I discovered it had been cast in history as when the Pilgrim Fathers’ celebrated their first Thanksgiving, in Plymouth, New England. Although this particular harvest ceremony in 1621 was arguably not Thanksgiving in the modern sense, the earliest Thanksgiving-style ceremonies certainly originated in this period—as a form of religious ceremony devised by the Puritans in the English Civil War period, to differentiate their practices from Catholic and Anglican tradition. And there I was, busy reading about the English Civil War, in which Aubrey had served in Cromwell’s army.

Thoughts about Thanksgiving kept lurking, whether I wanted them or not, and American history kept distracting me too.  Aubrey’s modern day lover, Simon, lives in the medieval part of the city of Southampton, and I wandered down there one day to do some plotting and to seek out a romantic place for Aubrey and Simon to kiss.  And where did I find myself?  Under the Mayflower memorial, from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail in August 1620 (The Mayflower subsequently set sail from Plymouth after its sister ship, Speedwell, sprung leaks, and they had to turn back. Otherwise that ‘first’ Thanksgiving might have been in a place called Southampton, New England!)

In the end, I decided to be brave. There was clearly a place for Thanksgiving in my book, not least to give Aubrey and Simon longer than the four days between the solstice and Christmas to fall in love! I got busy mainlining Thanksgiving stories, researched Thanksgivings old and new—and nagged a few American friends to make sure I wasn’t making any major errors.  So I’ve written a Thanksgiving to Christmas book without having been to America after all. Then again, I’ve written a time travel novel without ever having travelled through time. It will be easier to rectify my lack of US experience than fulfil that dream, even if I could understand the maths behind quantum theory!  So I hope my American readers will forgive me.

I'm sure we will. ;) So tell me, what character do you like best? What is it you like about him/her? Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

I’m definitely most like Simon. In fact, experience and lifestyle-wise, he’s the most like me of any character I’ve ever written.   He’s a history student, and I studied history. He ever lives in the same town as me—although I don’t live in the old part of the city. I’d like to, though!  Personality-wise, we’re not quite the same, though we’re both guilty of snappiness sometimes and can be over keen to please!  I like Aubrey too, though. What’s not to love about a gorgeous, brooding, Civil War soldier, who’d fight to the death for those he loves?

Do you have a dream cast for your book?

Benedict Cumberbatch as Aubrey! Yummy!

Please tell us in one sentence why we should read your book.

It’s got time travel, magic, hot guys, danger, and al fresco sex—all wrapped up with a Christmas bow! 

Well, you've certainly sold me on it! Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 

I’m working on the third novel in my Greenwood series, which are a series of standalone m/m romances set in the Greenwood—a magic realm of sex, magic, bondage, and blood, inspired by the myths and legends of the New Forest, a historical royal hunting ground about ten minutes drive from where I live.

The books can also be read in any order, though certain themes unite them. Now I think of it, one of those themes is passionate al fresco lovemaking. Maybe that is a common theme of all of my books, as there’s a fair bit in Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone!  While Bound to the Beast, my previous Greenwood novel, was the tale of Herne the Hunter, my WIP, Lord of the Forest, features the most famous Greenwood legend of all—Robin Hood. I’ve stripped his story right back to the most ancient legends and mingled them with the real history of the early thirteenth century. As with Herne, uniting Robin with the love of his life is proving quite an adventure.

My other WIPs include my first shifter novel and a medieval fairytale.

Wow. I know we'll all be anxious to read those! How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

When Bound for the Forest came out, I was at my parents, and my dad had just built a new garden shed.  So we had a ‘shed party’ complete with champagne! We said we’d repeat the event with consequent releases, but we haven’t.  When Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone, was released, I was visiting my parents again. But it was November and far too cold for hanging out at the bottom of the garden. We celebrated with just the wine!

What was your most rewarding experience since being published?

Every time somebody tells me they enjoyed one of my books J  Just those few words can mean so much and make all the time and effort worthwhile.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? 

When I was about seven or eight, my favorite books were The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and a rather more obscure tome called Beaver Towers, by an author called Nigel Hinton.  It was about a boy who was swept away by a magic cloud that took him to a remote island.  Once there, he became embroiled in a war between the animals of the island and a witch called Oyin. I kid you not, Oyin is about the most scary character EVER. She’d turned some of the animals to stone and the rest were waiting in the dungeon of Beaver Towers, the castle which she had captured, waiting to be burned alive!  When reading it as an adult, my husband told me he found it rather stressful. I think that’s why I loved it.  Unlike a lot of children’s book back then, Beaver Towers conjured a genuine sense of danger and threat.

What's your favorite season?

This year, I’ve really loved autumn. We spent the end of October in Berlin, and the colors in the garden of Schloss Charlotenburg, near where we stayed, were just stunning.  The New Forest back home in England looked amazing too.

Favorite places to travel?

I’m lucky in that my husband’s job has us jetting all over the world. In the last year we’ve been to Montreal, Florence, Milan, Dubrovnik, and Berlin, and next year we’re off to Washington DC among other places (my first trip to the USA!)  My favorite cities are probably Berlin, Budapest, Venice, and Melbourne.  The first three were stuffed with amazing history and sights. Melbourne I love because after a grueling 24 hour flight, I felt instantly at home there.  Everyone was just so friendly!

Favorite color?

Green.  Unwaveringly, always, without a doubt, green. The color of nature and life J

Can't argue with that. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future and why?

I’d definitely want to go backwards, as long as I could have a return ticket!  I’m a history buff—as must be obvious by now—and I’d love to travel about Europe in the early 1900s and see all the color and life in the beautiful medieval cities, before so much was destroyed in the two world wars.  I also love the Tudors, but I’m not sure I’d want to go back to visit the court of Henry or Elizabeth or anything.  I don’t want to get my head chopped off!

I think my main reservations about traveling back in time would be similar to Simon’s in Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone.  I want to have a look around, but I don’t want to catch the Black Death, be accused of being a witch—or exist too long without access to tooth paste!

On a side-note, when near our local university yesterday, I saw a girl wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan: “Historians.  Better than Time Travel than Scientists.” How cool is that?

That's great! Now let's take a closer look at Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone:

Blurb: Simon’s holiday season is looking grim. His boyfriend’s dumped him, and his self-esteem is rock bottom. Stuck in the UK where nobody celebrates Thanksgiving, the shy, geeky student drowns his sorrows at an ancient stone circle. When a gorgeous stranger, Aubrey, shows up and attempts to seduce him, Simon is flattered but also freaked—especially when Aubrey claims to be from an historic sex cult who’d uncovered the true powers of the circle. It’s a time machine. Aubrey intended to travel back three hundred and sixty-five days, but an error propelled him forward three hundred and sixty-five years into a world alien to him.

Simon reluctantly takes the lost time traveler under his wing, and Aubrey teaches Simon the ways of sex, love, and magic. Simon’s never felt so alive, but as their bond grows, Aubrey remains determined to perform a dangerous ritual and return home at the winter solstice. Fearing he’s no more to Aubrey than a sexual sacrifice, Simon must discover the dark secrets of Aubrey’s pagan past. Only then can Simon choose between risking all for the man he loves or a lonely Christmas without him.


“Wh-why have you brought me here?” stuttered Simon. “You should have called an ambulance.”

Confusion clouded Aubrey’s sharp eyes, but he seemed to dismiss Simon’s words. “Here, drink.”
Aubrey picked up a plastic bottle of mineral water that had been in Simon’s bag, unscrewing the top with his teeth. Simon took it, and Aubrey cupped a hand about the back of his neck, lifting him so he could take a swig.

The cool liquid refreshed and wet Simon’s dry lips, but his head hurt as much as ever. As for Aubrey? The man seemed frantic to keep Simon with him.

After screwing the lid back on, Simon threw the bottle down and slumped back into the man’s lap. “Look, you can take the phone. I’ve got nothing else of value.” Well, there were the car keys in his pocket, but he was not going to draw attention to those. Strange the man hadn’t already taken them. “Just…please let me go.”

“I am not robbing you.” Aubrey stroked Simon as he might a feral cat ready to sink fangs into him any minute. “Neither would I keep you here against your will.”

“Then what the fuck are you doing?” Simon rolled off the man’s lap, catching himself on his hands, and then collapsed face-first into the carpet of leafy mulch. Feeling Aubrey’s touch on his shoulder, he turned over and glared.

Aubrey reached toward him, then snatched his hand back. “Wounds like this can be dangerous. You must—”

“What the hell do you expect me to do?” Simon moaned, pressing his hand to his head. “We’ve known each other for five minutes, and you stuck your tongue down my throat.” He’d not complained about that bit at the time, but it seemed a moot point now. “And why are you carrying a knife? It’s against the law. Don’t you know?”

Aubrey slid his hand to the hilt. Simon’s blood congealed to ice, but the man drew the dagger only to place it on the ground between them. “If it ails you so much,” he said, “I throw it down.”

Simon grabbed the weapon and examined it. Though the cutting edge had been sharpened, stained with something dark red that looked disturbingly like blood, the flat was dull and mottled through heavy use. As for the handle, with its spiral motif and slender hand guard that curved up around the hilt like a bow, Simon could jump to only one conclusion.

This weapon had been meticulously crafted and dated from the English Civil War. It looked like the kind pikemen and musketeers carried as a backup. Simon regarded Aubrey’s dress anew. The man’s short trousers had buttons at the knees, much like seventeenth-century-style breeches. The white shirt, which the rain had set clinging to Aubrey’s shoulders, could have dated from any time in the past six centuries but didn’t appear of modern cut.

“Are you with the Sealed Knot or something?” Simon placed the dagger down on his side farthest from Aubrey. “Is that why you’re camping here? You’re in one of those history reenactment groups?”
Aubrey sucked in a shaky breath and drew his fingers across his lips. “You speak of many strange things. Pray tell me. What year is this?”

“Eh?” Simon wrinkled his nose. “It’s 2012.”

“Oh ye gods.” Aubrey’s weather-bronzed face whitened.

Suspicion stole through Simon’s veins. “What’d you think it was?”

Aubrey looked so helpless. He inched his shoulders up in a shrug, and his voice cracked. “Yesterday it was 1647.”

The man’s meaning impacted Simon like a second blow to the head. “Say what?”

“I…don’t know.” Aubrey scanned the ground as if seeking answers amid the leaves and fungi. “I was supposed to go back. To undo…” He trailed off and was quiet for a long moment, squeezing his lower lip between his teeth. “Something went horribly wrong.”

“You bet it did.” Simon performed the mental mathematics. “Just assuming I believe you, and I’m not saying I do, you’ve been sent forward three hundred and sixty-five years.”

“I was supposed to go back three hundred and sixty-five days! I have to get home.” Aubrey covered his face with his hands, and Simon resisted an impulse to reach out, to comfort him. This didn’t strike him as a man easily reduced to despair.

But that was not the issue. Simon was still a captive, kind of. And Aubrey tore time? He’d actually completed that andaga ritual?

Well, the Stones were powerful—Simon harbored no doubts about it—and Aubrey did remind him of Doctor Who, but… No, the Stones were not a time machine. That was just insane.

He made a renewed attempt to raise himself. “I’m the one who needs to get home.”

“No!” Aubrey grabbed him, gouging into his waterproof jacket. “Since I got here, you’re the only person who’s understood anything of what I speak. I need you.”

Aubrey pleaded with his eyes and his lips, his anguish as tangible as a punch to Simon’s solar plexus. Coupled with his ravishing looks, it was all too much to bear. No way could this guy need him. At best Aubrey had to be a rival student taking the piss. Shit, maybe Pete put him up to it. At worst he was a psycho toying with his prey.

Simon twisted from Aubrey’s grasp, forcing words from a fear-tight throat. “Get away from me.”

My website: http://kayberrisford.com/

Buy it now links for Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone and all Kay's other titles:
 Loose Id
 All Romance
 Barnes and Noble

Thanks so much for dropping by Kay and for sharing such a great excerpt. Good luck with your new release and your WIPs. I'm looking forward to reading them! 

1 comment:

Nancy G said...

I've heard nice things about this one-adding it to my wishlist as we speak. Thanks for the insight, the excerpt was intriguing.