This week I had the privilege of speaking to the whimsical Sylva Fae. She is a married mum of three small girls from the North of England. She had an unusual childhood living in an old farmhouse on the Lancashire moors, where she grew up with a random menagerie of pets, rescued wild animals, unwanted pigs and goats and a gaggle of geese and ducks.
Her parents were also artists, who ran a language school for foreign students so they frequently had lodgers from all round Europe. When Sylva wasn’t trying to work out which language to say good morning in, or rounding up the animals, her days were spent painting, drawing, reading and going on countryside walks. When she recalls her childhood she remembers it as idyllic, filled with love and family time, something she hopes she can recreate for her own girls.
LJ: What do you think makes you a Dreamer?
Sylva: I’ve always been an observer. I see the little details that most don’t notice and appreciate the beauty of nature. As a child I questioned constantly, I wanted to know everything. Now my head is full of the same questions, I just don’t voice them out loud (well not intentionally). I love to sit alone in a public place and watch people, I create stories in my head, who they are and how they came to be here. I also attribute being a dreamer to reading so much. Books are an escape to magical places, new and exciting experiences and a chance to live as someone else. If I don’t have a book in my hand, I create my own alternate reality. The imagination is a powerful tool.
LJ: Where is your favourite place to do what you love and why?
Sylva: One of my favourite places is a field that runs alongside the woodland. It is hidden from view and feels like our own secret place. We lie down in the long grasses and search out mystical creatures in the clouds. http://sylvafae.co.uk/blog/dreams/chasing-mermaids/
Another favourite place is a huge fallen tree in the middle of the woodland. It was sitting on this tree trunk when I first fell in love with the woodland. I sit here to meditate, listening to the breeze through the trees and the distant giggles of my girls playing. From here I track the changing of the seasons. I watch the tiny new ferns unfurl, see the colours change from a sea of violet bluebells to a purple tangle of rhododendrons. I hear the bees buzzing, the rhythm of the woodpecker and the flutter of wood pigeons rising from the trees as my noisy children run by. Then wrapped up warm, I watch autumn change to winter. The once thick canopy of leaves disappears leaving bare trees silhouetted against a cerulean sky.
LJ: What do you do to take some time out for yourself?
Sylva: It’s no surprise that I read at every possible opportunity. Since having children I have also started writing. It started as ‘Mummy stories’ in the car to entertain my eldest daughter but after a while I decided to write them down. I was recommended by an author to start a blog and write every day. I took her advice and my blog has become my little indulgence. It’s helping me get over my shyness of people reading my writing. It may seem silly but I only ever write for my children and I’m always amazed when others read my words. I blog about our adventures in my little woodland but also I share reviews of books I’ve enjoyed.
LJ: What was the last dream you had and remember?
Sylva: I have a recurring dream that echoes many of my favourite places blended together. I appear in a wildflower field. The poppies and cornflowers are tall, nearly as tall as me. I’m barefoot and wearing pyjamas. I wander through the tall grasses, the ground is soft underfoot so I stride confidently forward. I feel I know this place but the discovery of a small clearing is always a surprise. In the middle sits an old brass bed draped in silks and warm fleece blankets. At the foot of the bed is a thick tree trunk, shelves are carved into it creating a natural bookcase. I choose a book and curl up in comfort enjoying the peace and luxury of uninterrupted reading. After a while, a huge orange butterfly captures my attention. It circles the bed and lands on my book. I go to touch it but it flies off. I follow the butterfly, fluttering just above the swaying flowers, until I come to a cliff. The butterfly disappears into the flowers but a crow swoops down cawing and guides the next part of my journey. I follow him along the cliff to a gap in the rocks. The stone steps hewn into the rock feel cold and smooth on my bare feet as I step down towards a sandy bay. I wander to the water’s edge and lie down. The small waves lap over my toes, cool and soothing. Each wave brings with it a feeling of peace and washes away all my aches and worries. I focus on the clouds above as the tide comes in further and wait patiently for the wave that will eventually carry me back out. I don’t resist. I’m completely calm and at ease as I float out to sea. My crow is a constant guide, a silhouette against the blue. I gaze at the clouds drifting with me and wonder where we are going but I trust in my guide to keep me safe. Above me the sky darkens and the clouds are soon replaced by stars. I find my special star, close my eyes and sleep.
I wake up at different points in the dream but the format is always similar. In real life I would find floating out to sea quite a terrifying experience but I always awake feeling peaceful.
LJ: What is your favourite book? What are you reading right now?
Sylva: My favourite book is Infinity by Nico Laeser. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infinity-Biography-Nico-Laeser-ebook/dp/B00V7QERDW
In fact it’s difficult to choose one of Nico Laeser’s books, they’re all equally amazing. I chose Infinity because it had a profound effect on me and its story still lingers on in my mind.
Right now I’m reading Salby Damned by Ian D Moore. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Salby-Damned-Ian-D-Moore-ebook/dp/B00MVXFHFC
This is a very different read to Infinity but very entertaining. I have recently beta read Ian D Moore’s latest novel Salby Evolution, a must read for those who’ve enjoyed Salby Damned but it also works as a standalone novel. It has just become available for pre-order.
Both Nico Laeser and Ian D Moore are indie authors and members of the IASD https://indieauthorsupportanddiscussion.com/
Nico and I worked together on Ian D Moore’s charity project in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The finished book, You’re Not Alone, is an anthology of stories by indie authors based on the theme relationships. We each have a story included. All profits from this book go to Macmillan. https://www.amazon.com/Youre-Not-Alone-Author-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00Y5RCOOE
LJ: What advice would you give someone who has a dream they want to pursue?
Sylva: Dreams remain dreams unless you do something about it. Do your research, find out as much as you can to make your dream a reality. Things don’t always work out as you envisaged but go with it, maybe there’s a reason why you’re taken down a certain path. You never know what is possible until you try. Also share your dream with someone you love and trust. It is so much easier to pursue a dream if you work with someone who shares your vision.
LJ: Where did your dream of owning a woodland come from?
Sylva: So many times my husband and I have wished for things in life only for them to stay as dreams. It was after a disastrous camping holiday with a boisterous toddler that we mused about how nice it would be to have our own little woodland; a space to let our daughter run wild and enjoy the outdoors. Secretly, we each went away and researched it and discovered this dream was actually within our reach. We discovered there are companies who buy up large woodlands and split them into manageable sized plots, with manageable prices for ordinary people like us. We spent an amazing summer pottering around woodlands for sale and eventually found our perfect place. Sometimes you just get a feeling that something is right. That feeling washed over us as we sat on a huge fallen tree and gazed at the sunbeams sparkling through the tree branches. We just knew that this was our wood.
That was the dreamy bit, researching all the different woodland covenants attached to the land and what they meant in reality, was the hard bit. We learned the woodland sales jargon – ‘gently undulating’ in North Wales actually means vertical cliff face, and ‘good ground cover’ means thigh-deep in nettles and brambles. Then we had to look at boring things like insurance and contracts but we were driven by the excitement of owning our own wood. We didn’t tell anyone until we were officially the proud owners; it was our little secret.
We were expecting a mixed response from friends, and we got one. Most people thought we were slightly mad but a small few were curious enough to visit. With the woods officially ours we spent the first year just exploring and collecting logs for the fire. Our dreams for what the woodland could become started to grow. They stayed dreams while I had my next two children, but the magic was there just waiting to be discovered.
While my husband worked, making fire and chopping logs, I would take the girls off to explore. As little toddler legs grew longer, our ramblings ventured further. We left the path and went in search of fairies and dragons. I turned the woodland into a magical kingdom for their imaginations to explore as we stomped through puddles and climbed trees. On the way home I would make up stories to entertain the little ones, stories about our adventures with the fairy folk of our own woodland.
As the girls grew they invited their friends to join in their woodland adventures. My husband built them a playground in the trees, with swings, climbing ropes and a mud kitchen. I taught them woodland crafts and devised treasure hunts and games. The first group called themselves the Woodland Warriors and our dreams started to become reality. Hearing children laugh and play in the woods brought a special magic to our little bunch of trees. Each group of Woodland Warriors went away muddy and happy, leaving my husband instructions to build zip slides, wigwams and rope ladders. The Warriors’ kingdom grew and the children brought our dreams to life.
I now have a new dream to publish some of the stories inspired by our woodland. For now, I’m learning and enjoying writing for my girls. I’m hanging out with a fantastic group of indie authors who are happy to share their experience and expertise. I’m not there yet but the dream is growing. That’s the thing with dreams though, they stay as dreams unless you put in the effort to make them happen.
LJ: Where and how can people find and contact you?
Sylva: My blog Sylvanian Ramblings http://sylvafae.co.uk/blog/
Thank you to Sylva Fae for allowing me to have a glimpse into her magical world. I thoroughly enjoy how she sees the world around her and her imagination.
Next week I will be introducing you to my amazingly talented cover designer, Ann Maree.