Beth’s mother was beautiful. She shared Beth’s long pale hair and lively green eyes. But where Beth was still growing into her limbs and potential, her mother had blossomed years ago and had time to take raw beauty and refine it into something ethereal and elegant. She moved with the purposeful grace of a doe and her voice when she greeted us was warm and smooth as honeyed tea. “I’m sorry to interrupt.”
“Hello Sammy.” She smiled. “It is getting dark. Shouldn’t you be heading back inside?”
It never struck me as odd, having someone else send me home from my own backyard. Ms. Bjarken had a quiet authority about her, not something that rose up enough to be intrusive, but just a quiet edge to her carriage that suggested she was used to being obeyed. I hugged Beth, waved to Ms. Bjarken, and went inside.
—from “Berkano” by April Steenburgh
Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?
I wrote about the gods of a small grove of birch trees. Guardian deities of a place that just happened to be the backyard of a young girl.
When we moved to the farm here, a good number of years ago, we found an almost perfect circle of trees in the woods. It has been our favorite spot to just sit quietly and relax and be. It is, honestly, magical. Have you ever stumbled across a perfect group of trees like that before? Or maybe just that one massive tree whose presence you weren’t expecting? Trees can lend such a strong sense of spirit to a place, and I wanted to share that mix of love and awe and wonder.
What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?
I write short stories, usually a few at a time. Right now I am working on a story about why you shouldn’t break promises with Faery Queens that has involved a surprising amount of research into the impact of global warming on apple farms. The other story actively in the works is about a witch finding their familiar. They had not actually been looking for a familiar, but that sort of thing just happens sometimes, as it needs to. I like having the idea of a story, the bones, and seeing how it will surprise me while it is being written. Both of these stories have done a lot of shifting and changing and have been a lot of fun to write.
Tell us about your farm!
Our farm is a little unique. We share 100 acres of land with three other families on the shore of Lake Ontario. The land itself is set up primarily as a conservation effort. All of the families do some gardening around their homes and in common areas. Our household just also happens to have five alpacas, thirty chickens, and one really friendly turkey. The alpacas protect the chickens from predators (and are really effective), give me fiber to work with every year, and provide a lot of, erm, fertilizer for the gardens. They are also the most silly, inquisitive, opinionated creatures I have ever had the privilege of sharing space with. The turkey pretends to be our farm dog and follows us everywhere. We also have four cats, two that we moved here with, one that was found in a local swamp (I formed a small press with Laura Anne Gilman named after that one, Faery Cat Press), and one that was found, a couple of days old, abandoned inside of a maple tree on the farm.
Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?
I lovingly refer to myself as a bit of a swamp witch, as there is a large marsh on the property here. I think a bit of that ends up seeping into the things I write. It also gets all over the house as I have been making soap and salves and things (TwiglooFarms on Etsy). The farm is normal farm stuff. Like remembering to close the chicken coop at night and making sure the alpaca get their grain before 9am (I think there is danger of rebellion if we should be too late…), but then it is also being excited about a weird mushroom, or coyote song, or an owl in the tree outside the bedroom window, or finding plants I can use to make a new soap recipe. All of that seeps into my writing work. I am really lucky to be where I am.
About April Steenburgh
April Steenburgh lives on a homestead near the shore of Lake Ontario with a cunning little cat they found in a swamp. That cat might be a witch. They also share their homestead with various other cats who heard through the grapevine that it was a good place to be, a small herd of alpaca, a roving horde of chickens, one very friendly turkey, and a husband who crafts dreams and wild schemes into reality. Coyote song and owl shouts are the music they write to most often, sitting inside the perfect circle of maple trees hidden in the woods near the house. All the best stories get whispered there, with every breeze, by the leaves of those old trees. April has published multiple short stories and does not intend on stopping any time soon. When not writing, April can be found working as an English instructor at a number of colleges.
April recently launched Faery Cat Press with fellow author Laura Anne Gilman.
Find April Steenburgh
And check out Twigloo Farms’ Patreon page!