Cheryl Morgan Maxey spent some time answering a few questions for me. Cheryl is recently married to James Maxey, the author of Nobody Gets the Girl, Bitterwood, and more recently, Greatshadow and Hush, the first two in his Dragon Apocalypse series.
I started reading Greatshadow, and as these things go, I read the post-script first. I was fascinated by the story that Maxey relates therein, telling about how his writing of Greatshadow brought to fruition his hidden love for his best buddy, Cheryl.
Cheryl Morgan Maxey
They were married in November of 2011.
(I don’t see any resemblance at all between Cheryl and the depiction of Infidel on this cover for Greatshadow, do you? Nope, none…)
That’s totally you on the cover of Greatshadow.
I like Infidel, but she was a creation of James’ before we met in a short story version of Greatshadow. However, you’re not the first person to ask if I am Infidel, especially after what James wrote in the acknowledgements.
In the post script of Greatshadow is a lovely story about how you and James came to be married last November. Can you tell me your side of the story?
James sums up how our friendship changed to a relationship in the acknowledgements of Greatshadow. I think that our love and respect for each other is really rooted in the friendship we formed. We had friends that married on 10/10/10 on Bald Head Island and we were fortunate to take part in their wedding as well has spend time with them down at the beach. One morning after their wedding James and I got up early to go shelling and he proposed to me by writing in the sand. We were married this fall on 11/11/11 and it was a crazy blend of the traditional with the unique. In addition to the two of us writing our vows, James had also written a poem that we had printed on the programs and he read aloud. We really wanted the wedding to express who we were, and what we were to each other and I think we were able to do both.
I got to meet both of you at ConCarolinas, and this partnership you two have is clear and apparent. How does this partnership work in regards to the novels and the book career? All good relationships are more than the sum of their parts: how do you benefit from this?
I have been what James refers to as a “wise reader” for a while now. I feel like I’m pretty bad at returning the chapters to him with written comments the way some of his other beta readers do. However, we’ll talk about what I’ve read and my thoughts on it in the car, over dinner, before bed, doing the dishes, etc. Out of the blue I’ll say something about a character or a scene. My comments aren’t always in an email, but they build as I complete the reading of his draft. I know he’s not killed off characters because I’ve liked them.
I try to act as his PR advocate in regards to his career. James has been going to cons for a while, but he’s hesitant to talk himself up when he’s not moderating a panel. I have encouraged (badgered) him into going into our independent bookstore and now Purple Crow Books has his novels on the “local authors” shelves. I also contacted several area newspapers about Hush coming out and other events he was taking part in. Last week the News of Orange, a weekly paper in our town did a great article on his writing and the editor also read Hush and did a book review for her editorial.
Writers know writers. Have you had your “squee fan-girl” moment with famous authors?
My worst “fan-girl” moment was last year at ConCarolinas when Connor, winner of season 1 of SyFy’s FaceOff was a guest. I was practically stalking him. I’m a competition-reality show junky and love the artistry and skill that shows like FaceOff have brought to the masses.
What do you do between cons and modeling for book covers? Are you a writer?
I do not write… at all. I work as a Clinical Trials Coordinator at the Duke Cancer Center. Outside of work, I love digging in the yard. We just moved to a new house so I have new flower beds to create and cultivate. Once it’s not in the triple digits! James and I like to travel off the beaten path too. We’ve taken some great road trips where we explore the little towns between here and nowhere and on those trips I love snapping photos of things we see along the way. And cats. I was well on the way to being a ‘crazy cat lady’ when James and I started dating. So far, the stray cats in our new neighborhood haven’t found out I’m living here.
How do you see your presence in Maxey’s life influencing the books that I am reading (Dragon Apocalypse series)?
Keeping the side characters that I find interesting alive. I really pick out some weird ones that I get attached to, but I think some of the auxiliary characters James creates are awesome.
What are some of your favorite books? What are you reading now?
I had finished the Hunger Games trilogy when we were at ConCarolinas. I tried to space them out to enable myself to really think about the story instead of plowing through all three at once. I thought it was an incredible story on so many different levels.
I more recently just finished the 2nd draft of Witchbreaker, the 3rd book of the Dragon Apocalypse and I’m trying to keep myself available for a editing run-through before James sends it in… it’s due at the end of July. I read a lot of mystery and some general fiction too. Rita Mae Brown has a new Sneakie Pie mystery available and that the next on my hit list.
Which is your favorite convention or book-ish event?
I love going to the various cons and immersing myself into the very different world of fiction and make-believe. I love ConCarolinas. It’s a great venue and it’s awesome how they have the hall of writers. I also now know a lot of people that go to ConCarolinas so I feel like it’s “homecoming” when we go there. We also went to World Fantasy back in 2010 which was amazing. It’s not about the panels, it’s about the people. Going out to dinner, hanging out in the hotel bar, meeting people from everywhere, creating a network, hearing great music. We are returning to DragonCon this year which is the whole other end of the spectrum. Lots of people and mass chaos.
So, is a dragon farm part of your guys’ future plans?
We do plan to get a concrete dragon to put in the corner of the yard. One that’s like 4-5 feet tall.