My fourth interviewee is ‘new to me’ author Ellie Musgrove. Welcome, Ellie, and thanks for answering my questions.
What inspired you to write your story for the anthology?
When I saw the call for submissions, it caught my interest. What was it like for LGBTQIA people in the First World War?
Two particular stories leapt out at me – the story of people like my own great-great-grandfather, who spent time in a British internment camp for having a German father, and the possibilities the changing roles of women might present for those who didn’t quite fit other people’s expectations of their gender.
Once those got lodged in my mind, I just had to write them, especially knowing that my stories would make a difference to current and former service members in the here and now, as well as commemorating LGBTQIA people from a hundred years ago.
Could you tell me a little about it?
‘Inside’ is the story of a British man with a little too much German blood in him, who starts questioning everything he thought he knew about himself while he’s stuck in a civilian internment camp, and a German who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now has to find his place in his new surroundings.
‘The Man Left Behind’ follows Henry, a farmhand who feels like the only man in England who’s not in the trenches fighting for King and Country.
Could you please tell me about your other work?
Usually, I write short slice-of-life stories (many of which I post for free on my blog) while working on longer novels. I’m in the middle of a series called ‘The Perfect Garden’, which is romantic literary fiction, I suppose, I’ve got a horror novella in the editing process, and I write high fantasy stories for an exciting new project called Caladria. I’ve also been published in a previous charity anthology, ‘Lupus Animus’, which is about wolves.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo, which means writing an adventure novella, in this case. I’m also working on a couple of stories for Caladria at the moment, which I can’t say too much about, but I can tell you that in among the goblins and dragons I’m currently writing a very lovely couple I think ‘A Pride of Poppies’ readers would enjoy meeting, when their debut story is published later in the year.
Please could we have an excerpt?
“Stiorax had every right to be worried, Varjan supposed. After his most recent battle, he’d been sent to a healer – more accurately, Stiorax had had to carry him to a healer – and told that it was time to stop fighting altogether.
‘But I’m a soldier,’ he’d protested, ‘I can’t stop fighting. It’s what I do.’
‘Well, you can fight, or you can live. You’re in no condition to keep battling.’
‘I don’t mind dying on the battlefi-‘ Stiorax had accidentally poked him right in a bruise, turning to the healer while Varjan was busy trying to catch his breath.
‘He understands. He’ll be taking things slowly from now on. Fortunately he has an excellent servant.’ Well, he couldn’t argue with that – most of the time – but when the healer had left he’d glared at Stiorax, waiting for an explanation.
‘Since when do you give the orders?’
‘Since I’m the one who’d lose you.’ Varjan had wanted to fight his corner, but he was weary to the very bone, and one look at his devoted servant’s face convinced him that it would be kinder to let Stiorax have his way in this matter.”
(Extract ©Caladria, used with permission)
Eleanor Musgrove has done many things in her life, but writing has always been one of her great loves. She recently graduated from university, and now lives with three other humans and a grumpy old cat, who happens to be an excellent model for when she’s writing about dragons.
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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: