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Guest author - Julian Griffith

August 2nd, 2013 (08:31 am)

I'm delighted to have julian_griffith - yet another author I've known since before they took up their professional pen - as my guest today. So...

What inspired you to start writing?

I've been writing ever since I was a small child, so it's hard to say! I suppose part of it is wanting to make stories out of what I've seen in the world – the first “book” I ever wrote was the story of a vacation trip my family took to St. Croix, when I was five. And then there were the stories I wrote because I couldn't get more of the worlds I loved any other way – I wrote stories set in Middle-Earth when I was seven – and the stories I just plain made up out of my own head. I think my mother may still have a few of those early ones – she was always the sort to save my school papers. I'm afraid to ask.

Do you have another job (paid or otherwise) apart from being an author? If so, how do you juggle your time?

I'm currently studying for certification in medical billing and coding, and it's an online course, so I try to be disciplined about it – get through a chapter of the course three days a week, write for two – but it doesn't always work out that way. I also spend one day a week as assistant to an editor, which gets me out of the house, and sometimes there I'll be talking about my writing!

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

It's nerve-wracking! I had the good fortune to work with a terrific editor – the same one you've worked with on your last couple of Cambridge Fellows books! – so I was very happy with the final manuscript. But then there was the wait for the cover art. I knew from friends that there's not nearly enough stock art out there with models in historical costume, especially military uniforms, so I was very anxious about it all. I'm happy to say that Lou Harper did a fantastic job and really captured the spirit of my book. Now I get to worry about whether any reviewers will take notice of it, and whether they'll like it, and, most important, if anyone but my dozen or so friends who've been cheering me on will actually buy it! So, nerve-wracking, but tremendously exciting as well.

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

I think of myself as very character-driven. They're all so real in my head; they'll pop up and comment on other things besides their stories. Because I set out to tell their stories, I'm not sure that anything really counts as a tangent; they let me know what their stories are, and I follow them. If you take it from this that I'm a pantser and not a plotter, you'd be right.

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, Lord Rockingham, no question about it. Not that Lieutenant Thorne is any less brave, or any less skilled a fighter, but Rockingham has money, and power, and influence on top of that, so he could help me out of all sorts of tight corners.

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

I think that'd have to be the one about the Jewish woman playwright in seventeenth-century France and her lover the Musketeer. It'd be an entirely different period for me, and it'd take a lot more research – which, come to think of it, might be part of the attraction. It's also only slightly within the GLBT category; although Olivier (the musketeer) has a male lover as well, I'm not sure if he'll be onscreen much, even though Mimi knows about him and has no problem with it, and while there's some genderplay, as Mimi sometimes dresses as a man for practical reasons like freedom to move about unaccosted and Olivier loves her in male dress, the main love story is theirs, so it's a mostly conventional male-female one, and that's a bit of a departure for me. Audiences for GLBT romances don't necessarily want to read M/F ones, and mainstream romance readers don't always take to authors who've written GLBT stories, so I'd worry about it being a bit of an orphan. But if I were guaranteed? It's a story I'd love to tell.

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

That'd be The Castle of Otranto. I dearly wanted to read it, since it was the book that started the entire Gothic novel genre, but I could not make it through. There was no depth of personality to the characters at all, and I couldn't suspend my disbelief for the supernatural elements – a giant hand? Really? - and in the end, I just couldn't bring myself to care about what happened to any of them. If you've got to have a look at a period Gothic novel, I suggest Matthew Lewis' The Monk. It's dreadful, but it's so over-the-top that it makes for hilarious reading.

What’s your favourite gay romance/other genre book? And why?

I promise I'm not trying to curry favor when I say that Lessons in Love will always be a top comfort read for me, but my all-time favorite is Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner. It's not strictly a romance, although the romantic lives of the characters are an integral part of the plot, and it's not strictly a fantasy, although it takes place in a world that's very similar to but not really our own – it's been described as a “melodrama of manners”. I love the intrigue, and the contrasts of the nobles' lives with those of the Riverside underclass, and most especially I love Richard and Alec, who are both flawed men with an imperfect relationship, and yet you want them to be together so much. It's my favorite book of any genre.

What's your next project?

It's the story of Jack Rowe, a soldier in the 43rd Light Infantry during the Peninsular War, who was raised as a girl but identifies and lives as a man. It's not precisely a sequel to Love Continuance and Increasing, but the 43rd is Lord Rockingham's regiment, and Polly, the woman Jack loves, was the Rockinghams' cook-maid before she married a soldier and followed the drum. I haven't quite decided on the battle where she loses her husband yet, as there are so many – Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Vimiero – but there'll be plenty of adventure. I've got firsthand memoirs of the Peninsular campaign from both a sergeant and an officer of the 43rd – I'm so lucky to have such good sources at my disposal – but I expect I'll also be watching a lot of Sharpe!

Love_final

Love Continuance and Increasing from Storm Moon.

Comments

Posted by: Becky Black (becky_black)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)

Good luck with the book! And the follow ups. The first one is such a strange time. Everything feels so unreal.

I'm definitely going to check this one out. That's a fine mess you've got your characters into. :D How are they going to get out of that one? And the cover is indeed lovely - and intriguing.

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)

Thank you! For follow ups, I have a story (unrelated, and about 100 years earlier) coming out next week in an anthology, a WWII short piece coming out as part of Torquere's Charity Sips in September, and a Christmas story which is essentially the epilogue to the novel that comes out from Storm Moon on December 20. Still waiting to hear back on a story that deals with a minor character from this one!

And as for the mess? Have you ever heard it said that the Chinese characters for "disaster" and "opportunity" are the same thing? I think it's not strictly true, but that principle is at work.

I hope you enjoy it!

Posted by: Becky Black (becky_black)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:35 am (UTC)

Heh, I look forward to them deciding to the effect of "We're viewing this as a problem. Maybe there's another approach." ;-D

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:41 am (UTC)

Caroline's viewing it as a problem. Rockingham has to explain otherwise, and then of course there's the issue of getting the idea through to Thorne...

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:10 am (UTC)

The 'unreality' bit is spot on. I have to say it still doesn't feel real years down the line!

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)

I need someone to get a picture of me the first moment I hold a paper copy in my hands.

Posted by: Becky Black (becky_black)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:36 am (UTC)
archie

Every time I get my royalty statements I still have a moment of: "people are actually paying me to do this writing stuff. Are they nuts?"

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:42 am (UTC)

I keep wondering if, once my friends have all bought it, if I'll even make enough to cover the hosting for the proper official website I put up... only time will tell.

Posted by: eglantine_br (eglantine_br)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)

I got my Kindle copy today so I would have it on Kindle. That way it will go with me when I go places.

I am so pleased for you-- You just jumped like a little duck going out of a tree.

So awesome.

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)

Duck? Tree? How did the duck get in the tree in the first place?

Check the acknowledgements, hon.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:12 am (UTC)

It was a tree duck, as any ful no. :)

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:15 am (UTC)

*is even MOAR confuzed*

ought I to send you a review copy for reading while you're on holiday? So you can see the acknowledgements too.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:17 am (UTC)

http://www.mallardlanefarms.com/treeducks.htm

Please send it when we get back am shutting PC down right now in anticipation of imminent taxi!

*hugs*

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:11 am (UTC)

Love the little duck analogy!

Posted by: shiraglassman (shiraglassman)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 04:48 am (UTC)

Mimi sometimes dresses as a man for practical reasons like freedom to move about unaccosted and Olivier loves her in male dress, the main love story is theirs, so it's a mostly conventional male-female one, and that's a bit of a departure for me. Audiences for GLBT romances don't necessarily want to read M/F ones, and mainstream romance readers don't always take to authors who've written GLBT stories, so I'd worry about it being a bit of an orphan. But if I were guaranteed? It's a story I'd love to tell.

There are bits of my book that I can't WAIT to get your reaction on.

And honestly, I'm a huge believer in "write what you want".

Glad to hear there is trans* stuff in the next book.

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:06 am (UTC)

I want to write ALL my stories... but there are only so many hours in the day! So I have to prioritize.

The trans* story was one I already knew was part of the world - the idea of a passing soldier was there since childhood, with fantasy Eowyn and historical Deborah Sampson (the ones I encountered first) but then later learning about the jazz musician Billy Tipton's story made me see that there were more narratives than one folded into that "passing woman" category. My soldier's name comes from a traditional ballad, but my Jack's story isn't the same as the ballad at all.

Well. Except for "I know my waist is slender, my fingers they are small / I swear I would not tremble to see ten thousand fall". That? Hasn't changed.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:15 am (UTC)

That "waist it is so slender, fingers are so/too small" crops up in many a ballad. *Spends rest of day singing "Banks of the Nile"*

Posted by: julian_griffith (julian_griffith)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:23 am (UTC)

I'm sure it does! I was working from Jack-A-Roe, and possibly admitting to a bit of my misspent youth that way.

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: August 3rd, 2013 05:14 am (UTC)

"Write what you want" is a great maxim!

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