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A guest author very close to my heart - Elin Gregory

March 14th, 2012 (08:55 am)

All my guest authors are special, but this one has a particular place in my heart. Have known her since before she was Elin and I was Charlie, and we regularly tease each other about rugby and daughters and whatever comes into our heads. So, when Elin submitted stories for Tea and Crumpet/British Flash I threatened to lie on the floor and scream if I couldn't edit them. They were her first published stories and the vanguard to Alike As Two Bees

Thank you, Charlie, for being kind enough to welcome me onto your blog and for the questions.

What inspired you to start writing?

Story telling came first. Another word for it was ‘making things up’ or, if one wants to be nasty, ‘lying’. As soon as I learned to write I wrote my tall tales down and drew pictures to go with them - a nice quiet occupation for an only child with busy parents – and I just carried on doing it. Then I discovered the internet and, to my amazement, fan fiction! After a year or two beta reading some truly startling material, I discovered that people were actually publishing the type of stories I tried to write – action adventures, mysteries and historicals with brave gentlemen who were rather more than jolly good pals – so I thought I’d give it a try!

Your first stories were in British Flash and Tea and Crumpet. What’s the best thing about writing stories set in Britain?

It gives me the warm fuzzies to write about places that I love. I like to share them – to show off their beauties or the scary places. And the history! Also it’s practical. Anywhere else and I’m in a constant fret that someone will say something like, “Oh no, you’re rubbish. That’s not how the US postal service works!” Of course, writing historicals brings a whole new batch of problems but I stand more chance of being able to find out the little details about 16th century Hereford than I would 16th century Massachusetts. Also the English language is grand. I don’t think there’s a publisher anywhere who would accept a story written in the proper vernacular but it’s fun introducing a flavour and seeing if one can get away with it.

What did/does it feel like watching your first solo book fledge and leave the nest?

Worrying. Like sending a kid off to university. Except most kids can look after themselves and will call if they are in difficulties. A book just goes and – well, that’s it really. All one can do is provide a bit of publicity for it and hope it makes some friends and pray you don’t get a phone call at 3 am where it’s sobbing “Come and fetch me home”.
I think that metaphor got a bit mixed. Actually it’s exciting and interesting balanced almost equally by anxiety that I’ve got it all wrong.

Why this particular setting and era?

For “Alike as Two Bees”? A few years ago, before I had any idea about trying to get something published, I saw a call for submission on the subject of Gemini and immediately thought of the Dioscuri – twin demigods famous for their horsemanship in the Greek pantheon – and this image came to mind:

As for the setting, I’ve drawn together things that give me pretty mental images – a sculptors’ yard, horses bounding through the shallows, the shadows of vines on tanned skin.

The other big draw for the period is that two men being in a caring relationship would not be an issue, even though the way they express it might be. I recalled a comment I saw from a gay man who asked “Doesn’t anyone write historicals where people can just be HAPPY?” so decided to write something light and easy with small domestic conflicts rather than life threatening ones.

Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?

Plot driven, mostly. I think that comes down to confidence. I don’t trust myself, or my characters, to get to the end of the journey unless I’ve got a pretty fair idea which route I’m going to take. That said, sometimes characters get off the leash and unplanned things happen. That has happened recently with a WIP but I went back and added a paragraph to chapter 2 and a bit of dialogue in chapter 3 and bingo the sudden digression in chapter 4 looks as though it was planned!
Possibly. It might look daft once the story is finished, but then any first draft has its crazy moments.

I really admire pantsers. It must be great to be relaxed enough to just write and see what happens.

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

Oh crikey, that depends on the corner. If it’s a practical problem, I have a character called Charlie Shaw who is a very handy man with a spanner or a dowsing rod. If my boat was sinking and I couldn’t bail fast enough, I’d want to see Lt Kit Penrose, RN, [who is trying very hard not to be a pirate] because he’d show me how the pumps work. If I was being mugged I think I’d want to see Carlito Esposito di Uberto, Renaissance actor and spy, who is a fine hand with a rapier and can swear in eight languages. But any of them would do. It’s nice to have company in adversity.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?

In Alike as Two Bees there is a secondary character, a young boy called Anatolios. I would like to write his story where he goes north to Scythia and gets involved with power plays amongst the Scythian warlords and Greek colonists and, eventually, with a man who thought nothing of telling Philip of Macedon to take a hike. It would be a 60 year story, though, and would take almost as long to write. And just for the heck of it, I’d add some unsparkly vampires and werewolves because they figure in the mythology of the period and people like paranormals, don’t they?

Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?

War and Peace! Twice. Each time I’ve had to stop reading in order to do something else and by the time I got back to it I’d forgotten who everyone was. All the characters have 3 or 4 names each and my memory just can’t keep them straight.

What’s your favourite gay fiction book? And why?

There are some authors who are ‘automatic buys’ and I know I’ll be in for an engrossing read, others where I take care to read the blurb and reviews because I know that, while excellent, some of their works don’t suit me. Every so often I’ll read something that makes me say “OMG everyone should read this book!” and that will be my favourite until the next one comes along. The last book that made me feel that way was “Junction X” by Erastes so perhaps that should be the short answer although, honestly, if I was allowed only one book to read forever I’d prefer something a bit less soul-wrenchingly sad.

What's your next project?

Novels take me ages to write so I’ll have other things bubbling away as well. At the moment I am winding up a novel called “On a Lee Shore” which is pretty standard generic pirates on the high seas hokum, but NOT I hope, to be confused with POTC fanfic. On the second draft I’ll go through and triple check all the boaty bits. I daren’t get those wrong. Also I have half of “A Fierce Reaping” about conflict between the northern Romano-Celts and the Saxons in the 7th century AD – that’s on the simmer while I try to finish the pirates. In addition to those I have a paper first draft of “Eleventh Hour”, a spy novel set in London in 1928, and am assembling notes for 2 novellas – “A Long Secret Summer” set in Sussex in 1941 and “The Hounds of the North” set in Rome in 63AD. There are other ideas but I’m beating them off with a rolled up newspaper!

Alike as Two Bees, from Etopia Press.
Heat Index: mildly spiced - korma rather than vindaloo

Horses, love, and the tang of thyme and honey…

In Classical Greece, apprentice sculptor Philon has chosen the ideal horse to model for his masterpiece. Sadly, the rider falls well short of the ideal of beauty, but scarred and tattered Hilarion, with his brilliant, imperfect smile, draws Philon in a way that mere perfection cannot.

After years of living among the free and easy tribes of the north, Hilarion has no patience with Athenian formality. He knows what he wants—and what he wants is Philon. Society, friends and family threaten their growing relationship, but perhaps a scarred soldier and a lover of beauty are more alike than they appear.

Available from Amazon US and UK, ARe, B&N and Kobo.

If you wish you can follow Elin at Blogspot, LJ, Facebook, or Twitter.


Posted by: grace_roberts (jessie_lansdel)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 10:26 am (UTC)

A lovely entertaining guest spot. Elin's reminiscences of childhood story writing and making things up had me spiralling back 50 odd years. Me too, Elin. ;)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 11:11 am (UTC)

I think we can all empathise with that. Many memories to be shared in Brighton!

Posted by: grace_roberts (jessie_lansdel)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)

I know. I can't wait. :D

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)

People just didn't appreciate the stories, did they? *shakes head*

Glad you enjoyed it. Charlie asks a good question, doesn't she?

Posted by: Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
Cat and Books by sallymn

Some great answers there.

Posted by: mylodon (mylodon)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)

*nods*. Very interesting, especially the comparison to a child going to Uni.

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)

Thanks for commenting. :)

Posted by: kayberrisford (kayberrisford)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)

'Alike as Two Bees' is a beautiful book - just finished it and am gathering my thoughs :D

Lovely interview. I don't know what it's like having a child go to uni, but must be very scary if it's anything like letting book 'babies' go ;) (Actually, now I think about it, I can imagine its even worse --- eeeep! How does anyone survive??)

Posted by: mylodon (mylodon)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)

LOL You just have to bring the non-book babies through a rigorous set of edits so that they can face the world without falling apart!

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 09:49 pm (UTC)

Thanks hun. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Publishing/university was the best comparison I could come up with but I think it's pretty accurate. :)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:21 am (UTC)

It's a brilliant comparison - better than childbirth because you've had time to work on the 'product'!

Posted by: Anne (darthanne)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)

I enjoyed the interview muchly, and I love the sound of not only the story set in Classical Greece, but your next projects too, especially "Eleventh Hour" and "A Long Secret Summer".

Posted by: mylodon (mylodon)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)

She has some amazing ideas, that girl!

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)

Thanks for commenting.

I'm looking forward to writing both of those stories but oooh dear the research! :)

Posted by: Anne (darthanne)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 10:04 pm (UTC)

*grins* One of the joys of writing in an historical setting. The research daunting, but part of me loves that part of it, especially once I get into it.

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Hour

I'm lucky in the case of the 1941 story. I can just ask Mum, she was there. But 1928 is a bit more complicated. Still it's great fun and I keep finding little bits of treasure.

Posted by: Gaycrow (gaycrow)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 08:46 pm (UTC)

I didn't know you two have known each other so long. This was a great interview, and I enjoyed reading your answers, Elin. :-)

Posted by: mylodon (mylodon)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
jamie chest

We go back a long way in Age of sail. "Sponger I and loader her..."

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 10:04 pm (UTC)

Did you know that Welsh for sponge is "sbwnj"? Truefax that! :) sometimes I love my job so much.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:22 am (UTC)

And is it true that the Welsh for microwave is "popdyping" or something similar? I do know that penalty is cosbi from all the years of watching y clwb rwgbi.

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:34 am (UTC)
blood brothers

XD I'm delighted to be able to say yes! Popty is Welsh for 'bakehouse' so popty ping is the little bakehouse [oven] that pings!

Of course the proper serious Welsh for microwave is 'microdon' and that might be pretty good too as a nickname for the mini-mylodon.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:49 am (UTC)

I shall tell her straight away! Both bits.

Edited at 2012-03-15 11:50 am (UTC)

Posted by: Gaycrow (gaycrow)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 02:26 am (UTC)

*hides* That's all double dutch to me. ;-)

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 10:11 am (UTC)

:D it's gun loading parlance. After it's gone bang you have to get it ready for the next shot by using your wormer, sponge and rammer in the right order. [i borrowed those from someone who 'borrowed' them from HMS Victory!] I'm delighted to be cast as Ms Gun Captain Cochrane's powder monkey.

Posted by: Gaycrow (gaycrow)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 10:28 am (UTC)
chocolata pirates

Ooh, that's interesting. Thanks for the link to that picture.

(Edited to change my user picture.)

Edited at 2012-03-15 10:29 am (UTC)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:29 am (UTC)

There's a great scene in Master and Commander where they sing the song I took this from. Full lyrics are here.

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:40 am (UTC)

All together now :D

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:48 am (UTC)


Posted by: Gaycrow (gaycrow)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
chocolata pirates

And here! http://youtu.be/eGTsVUSiM1g

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 16th, 2012 11:02 am (UTC)

The very same! Isn't it great?

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 14th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC)

:) thanks for commenting. We go back a long way too. 2004 isn't it? To Restituere? *sigh* absent friends

Posted by: Gaycrow (gaycrow)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)

Yes, it was a really good time for me, back then. *sighs with you*

Posted by: Erastes (erastes)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 03:59 pm (UTC)

Really excited by all the future projects! Great interview!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)

She gives a good answer, that girl.

Posted by: Elin Gregory (elin_gregory)
Posted at: March 15th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
UK Meet

Thanks for commenting. :)

Carlito, the actor/spy I mentioned above, is the hero of that story I mentioned about the lapis lazuli. Tears of Heaven it'll be called if I ever get my arse in gear and finish it.

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