“Novels give you the matrix of emotions, give you the flavour of a time in a way formal history cannot.” ― Doris Lessing

From fantasy to historical fiction is quite a jump. Making it all up versus all that research and getting the facts right would not have been Cheryl’s first choice for future books. Then she fell across Emma Beach, a fellow Australian who has spent several years researching the story of Elizabeth Scott – The Shanty Keeper’s Wife was born and her taste for historical novels was set.

Historical women’s fiction with
more than a touch of romance

is Cheryl’s first released historical novel.
Read all about Keepers, reviews,
and where to buy here.

Current project

Cheryl is currently working on a novel set in her much loved Forest of Dean, besides the River Severn.

See how it’s going!

Keep in touch with how the book’s progressing and bits of background, plus other news, views and occasional giveaways, through her monthly newsletter (see below for how to do that!).

Historical fiction – magical realism

(Working title – a wildflower traditionally carried by young brides)

Hester talks to the river, which she knows as Sabrina. The river nymphs call to her as they ride the white horses of the bore … Aaron is a wise man with the power of herbal healing, and more. When Hester persuades Aaron to teach her what he knows, he’s reluctant. He’s been there before.

Inspired by a real woman

This story is inspired by the life of Ellen Hayward, a respected herbalist from the Forest of Dean who was tried for witchcraft in 1906. And acquitted, happily. Initially Cheryl planned to write an historical novel about Ellen, but being a keen reader of magical realism, she has turned the book into something rather different. This is a work in progress, being helped along by local and virtual critique partners all of whom are keen to know what happens next (as is Cheryl). In the meantime, she’s learning about the medicinal and magical properties of herbs and wildflowers, about toadstone rings, 19th c farming, and smuggling on the River Severn.

The image is of yarrow, plentiful in fields and hedgerows. Yarrow boasts many medicinal and magical properties. From stopping a nose-bleed, allaying fever, and enhancing psychic powers.

The Shanty Keeper’s Wife
Historical fiction – women’s fiction

Co-authored with fellow Australian (living in Australia still) Emma Beach, this novel is complete and is being queried for a traditional book deal.

The opening chapter and synopsis of The Shanty Keeper’s Wife was shortlisted in the Flash500 Novel Opening 2020 competition, which was very pleasing indeed. Agents and publishers please note!

Australian High Country 1863

Child-bride Betsy has grown into the pretty wife of an abusive, drunken owner of an illegal grog shanty. When he’s murdered, her ex-pirate cook is quickly arrested. But rumours of ‘too close an intimacy’ between Betsy and a youthful groom soon lead to their arrest also.
Convicted on hearsay and gossip, Betsy will hang – unless one man tells the truth.

Very few people have heard of Elizabeth Scott, tried in 1863 along with her mixed-race, illiterate cook and an 18 year-old groom who lodged with the family for the murder of her drunken, abusive husband. That included Cheryl before she came across Emma Beach’s novel drafts on a peer review website. Emma’s family hails from the area where the murder happened – the chimney of the illegal grog shop (shanty) where it took place still stands. Cheryl and Emma became collaborators on the book. It’s finished, even though Emma keeps digging up new and fascinating facts, and they are on the hunt for an agent or publisher.
Beta readers love Betsy, and the tension of the story, begging for that reprieve …

Here’s what one of our beta readers had to say:
I loved it… You made a masterwork of suspense. Especially during the court scenes as you revealed what happened that night. Right up to the end, I was hoping the Governor would make the decision …

Read an extract from The Shanty Keeper’s Wife here.

The picture is a watercolour by ST Gill. Elizabeth’s first marital home, where she bore five children of whom only two lived, would have looked like this.