This is the first of a series of interviews with the authors who contributed stories to the Manifold Press anthology, A Pride of Poppies.
My first guest is Adam Fitzroy.
What inspired you to write your story for the anthology?
I know very little about military matters so it was obvious I wasn’t going to be writing anything technical with a battlefield setting. Much of my family history revolves around a particular small English village (in Suffolk, as it happens), and I started wondering what life in such a place would have been like with all the young men away at war. Initially the idea was to look at four families of different social classes, but that turned out to be a grandiose idea which needed to be pruned severely in order to fit the required word-count!
Could you tell me a little bit about it?
Mrs Mercer, widowed after an unhappy marriage, has reconciled herself to sending her only son Simon to fight for his country. In his absence she lacks a purpose in life and drifts through her days in genteel poverty until, following a visit from her friend Miss Woakes, she’s inspired to visit a friend of Simon’s who has returned from the Front badly wounded. As much as anything, A ROOTED SORROW is about a woman brought up to be respectful of and obedient to men, who finally emerges from their shadows to become a person in her own right.
Could you please tell me about your other work?
I’ve got six novels to my name so far, and I’m working on my seventh. BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, published in 2013, features a party of British football fans who – thanks to the collapse of a ferry company – unexpectedly find themselves driving across the battlefields of the First World War, where the fabric of time seems to have become particularly thin and brittle. Two of them, in particular, slip in and out of the past, discovering that they have unfinished business from a previous era.
MAKE DO AND MEND, which was published in 2012, seems to have struck a chord with a lot of readers; it won two Rainbow Awards (Best Gay Historical Romance and Best Gay Book) in 2013. It’s about Harry, a former submarine commander, who comes home on convalescent leave and forms a relationship with Jim – a conscientious objector working as a farm hand, who has generally been shunned in the village for his anti-war stance.
My other books are DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT, in which the President of the United States becomes involved with an Air Force Colonel who has inadvertently saved his life; STAGE WHISPERS, about two actors and their on-off relationship over a period of eleven years; GHOST STATION, a Cold War story featuring two members of a maverick spy network who finally get around to expressing their attraction for one another; and last but not least THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE which tells of a chef, Rupert, who becomes involved in helping his friend Jake to unravel the mysterious death of his brother and the odd behaviour of the people on the neighbouring Welsh farm.
What are you working on at the moment?
It’s a book called IN DEEP, the story of a retired police officer named Ted who – having reached a crossroads in his life – is determined to find out how and why his stepson Kieran ended up dead in the harbour of a tiny Scottish island four years earlier. Ted teams up with Athol, a loner who runs a diving school in summer and drives a taxi in winter, in a friendship which is scratchy at first but gradually deepens as they build a relationship of mutual trust.
Please could we have an excerpt?
[from A ROOTED SORROW in A Pride of Poppies]
Alfred Jessup’s first appearance in the diary was in 1904, when he would have been about ten. Both ‘only children’ in a village which generally ran to large families, they had somehow gravitated together – Mrs Mercer did not know precisely how – and after that, whenever Simon was at home, the boys had been inseparable. When Simon was away at school, observing a chaffinches’ nest from his dormitory window, there were occasional mentions in his notebooks of letters from Alfred detailing the progress of village animals. At an age when the majority of boys almost had to be whipped to write at all, Alfred had voluntarily maintained a correspondence with Simon – one of whose existence the school had not seen fit to advise his parents, and of which she and Leonard had therefore been unaware.
Mrs Mercer turned the pages slowly. If Simon and Alfred had observed a badger sett in Four Acre Wood, as Miss Woakes believed, there would undoubtedly be a drawing or a sketch map to enable her to find it.
“People do such dreadful things to badgers,” Simon had said once. “They’re harmless, and quite intelligent, but the farmers dig them up and torture them purely for amusement – and it takes them a dreadfully long time to die,” he’d added, with a catch in his voice. “Why would anyone do a thing like that to an innocent animal?” And she had been unable to answer him: cruelty was arbitrary; he had known it as well as she had, even then.
About the Author:
Imaginist and purveyor of tall tales Adam Fitzroy is a UK resident who has been successfully spinning male-male romances either part-time or full-time since the 1980s, and has a particular interest in examining the conflicting demands of love and duty.
A Pride of Poppies – an anthology from Manifold Press
Modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War
Ten authors – in thirteen stories – explore the experiences of GLBTQI people during World War I. In what ways were their lives the same as or different from those of other people?
A London pub, an English village, a shell-hole on the Front, the outskirts of Thai Nguyen city, a ship in heavy weather off Zeebrugge, a civilian internment camp … Loves and griefs that must remain unspoken, unexpected freedoms, the tensions between individuality and duty, and every now and then the relief of recognition. You’ll find both heartaches and joys in this astonishing range of thought-provoking stories.
An anthology featuring authors:
- Julie Bozza
- Barry Brennessel
- Charlie Cochrane
- Sam Evans
- Lou Faulkner
- Adam Fitzroy
- Wendy C. Fries
- Z. McAspurren
- Eleanor Musgrove
- Jay Lewis Taylor