My guest today didn’t just contribute stories to the anthology but also edited it, so we owe her a great vote of thanks. Please join me in welcoming Julie Bozza.
Hi Julie, thank you for answering my questions.
What inspired you to write your stories for the anthology?
I was very interested in exploring the differences in how the war affected GLBTQI people. Of course many of their experiences would have been the same as anyone else’s, such as food shortages, and so on. But there must have been impacts on them that the ‘general’ population wouldn’t have felt, or not in the same ways.
Could you tell me a little about them?
I ended up being greedy and writing two stories! One is about an intersex person who has been raised as a man, and strongly identifies as a man – and he is keen to enlist, not only for patriotic reasons but to prove himself. His lover knows what a difficult time he would have of it, but then it would also be difficult to stay at home for no obvious reason.
The other story is about a woman who is enjoying the freedom and independence of being able to work while the men are away at war – but she’s also taking advantage of the lonely wives left behind. I wanted to explore how the war allowed women to spread their wings in taking on greater responsibilities – though my main character is guilty of perhaps taking that a little too far.
Could you please tell me about your other work?
Thank you for asking! I have 10 novels published now, and one anthology of my own, as well as A Pride of Poppies. They are a bit of a mixed bag, in that some are very much romances (Butterfly Hunter) while others are more gay fiction (Mitch Rebecki, Albert J Sterne), with one alternate history thrown in for good measure (about the poet John Keats and his last months in Rome). My focus has mostly been on male-male relationships, ever since I started writing about thirty years ago. I am feeling the need to spread my wings a little wider, though, to include more letters from the GLBTQIA quiltbag in my writing. I’m probably the person most interested to see where that takes me!
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just started a sequel to The Apothecary’s Garden – which I hadn’t planned. I was sure I had told their whole story! But Hilary and Tom have stayed with me all this time, and I can see there are still many things to explore about their relationship as they start ‘coming out’ as a couple.
Please could we have an excerpt?
This is the start of story about Lena, the ‘Lesbian Lothario’, in the Poppies anthology.
Lena flew along the lane on her bicycle, knowing just what strength was needed to maintain her speed, just how fast she could take that next turn. The air was bracingly fresh in her face, tugging strands of her hair loose as it always did no matter how carefully she pinned it up in the grey light of early morning. She wore trousers, close-fitting and cropped short around her calves so she didn’t have to worry about them catching in the chain. There were still eyes in the village that looked askance at this despite her boots and socks demurely covering her ankles. Lena grinned to remember old Mr Bailey staring at her with a thrill of disapproval only yesterday – as if he hadn’t had months to get used to her doing this work and dressing accordingly. As if he hadn’t known her and her family’s tendency towards contrariness all the days of his life.
The woods on her left veered towards the road as she sped along, thickened, loomed and then leapt across it with overarching branches. Lena coasted through the tunnel of green shade, and then followed the road around the curve, steering with little more than a perfectly-judged lean to the left. Then she stood on the pedals to power down the last straight and back into the sunshine, before taking a sharp turn down a side road and at last arriving at Amy’s gate.
Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, unreasonably excited by photography, and madly in love with John Keats.
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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: