Michelle, thanks for having me here today! I'm Julian Griffith, and my first novel, Love Continuance and Increasing, is just out from Storm Moon Press. It's a historical m/m/f ménage romance set in England in the first few years of the 19th century, during the Napoleonic Wars. To introduce it, I'd like to talk for a minute about:
Why Historical Romance?
On the surface, that's an easy question. What's not to love about ladies in long flowing dresses, or gentlemen in dashing military uniforms with breeches and boots, or horse-drawn carriages, or tall ships? What better setting for courtship than a glittering ballroom? And then there's the appeal of manners far more elegant than the sort that we have today. It's a fantasy.
But the reality wasn't nearly as glamorous. Those ballrooms were lit by scores of candles whose flames made the air stiflingly hot, and which might drip molten wax on the unlucky dancers below. The horses pulling the carriages left London's streets choked with their droppings. And a soldier or a sailor setting off in his handsome uniform might never come home at all.
The strict manners of the day put another set of burdens on men and women who preferred their own sex. In England, sodomy laws by land and the twenty-ninth Article of War by sea imposed the death penalty on any men who were caught and convicted. There were no such legal penalties for women, but property law and economic reality meant that most women had to marry men if they didn't want to spend their lives in poverty or as the permanent dependents of their parents. How could queer romance possibly flourish in such a society?
That question is exactly what draws me to QUILTBAG historical romance. Romance is all about how lovers overcome obstacles to be together, and in a historical setting, the obstacles are built right in. I love exploring the ways that people can get around their society's rules, and find happiness with each other in ways they never would have expected, and, in Love Continuance and Increasing, that's exactly what I set out to do.
Lieutenant William Thorne, of His Majesty's Navy, was a man of humble origins. He knew that his affair with Major Anthony Rockingham of the 43rd Infantry couldn't last forever, not only because the war against Napoleon sent him on blockade duty in the English Channel while the major's regiment trained ashore, but because Rockingham was a viscount, and viscounts must marry. When Rockingham's letter reached him, saying that he'd chosen Miss Caroline Filmer as his bride, it was no more than Thorne had expected.
What he had not expected, when he returned home after the Battle of Trafalgar, was to find an invitation to the christening of Rockingham's son. He had not expected, when he met the young viscountess, that he would fall instantly and passionately in love with her. And he had certainly never expected that Caroline would fall just as desperately in love with him. Thorne was sure that their feelings for each other could only lead to disaster, even more so as his love for Rockingham had never gone away. While the war with France continued, he found himself fighting a war within his own heart...
"She's well practiced at arranging such things," Anthony said. "But I fear it was very tiring for you, even so. Do you wish to sleep?"
"I do." Caroline drew in a breath, gathering her courage. "But, Anthony, I would speak with you."
"Of course, my darling. What did you wish to say?"
Caroline curled tighter against him, trying to reassure herself that she would not soon be pushed away. "Do you remember, before we wed, when you bid me that should I ever find myself in love, I should tell you of it, and you would not reproach me?"
Anthony kissed her hair, and rubbed his hand in circles on her back. "I remember well. Are you telling me of that now?"
Caroline found that she could answer him only in the smallest of voices. "I am."
He kissed her again. "I'm glad to hear you tell me," he said. "I hoped very much that you would believe me when I said I'd not be angry, and trust me enough to do so. I'm glad you find me worthy of that trust. But you are unhappy. Will you tell me more?"
Caroline blinked back the tears that were welling in her eyes. "I did not wish this," she said. "It came all unbidden. I hoped it might be a moment's fancy, but I cannot put him from my thoughts. I fear I am in love with Lieutenant Thorne." She sniffled. "And I was right. Being in love is most uncomfortable."
Anthony held her close, resting his lips at the crown of her head as she hid her face against his shoulder. He moved his hand in slow strokes down her spine. "Oh, my darling. I'm sorry it grieves you so. I don't blame you for an instant. William is the best of men, and it's no surprise you should love him. I love him, too."
"But hardly in the same way, I think, my lord?"
"In very much the same way, I should think. I'll speak it plain: you wish to lie with him?"
The tears would not be stopped. "I do."
"As do I," Anthony said softly. "We were lovers once, and I care for him still."
The surprise was enough to do what comfort could not. Lovers? Well, Anthony had said, upon their very wedding night, that he'd lain at times with men. She'd not taken much notice of it at the time, being intent on other concerns, and he'd never spoken of it since. But he'd told her privately of Captain Birtwhistle's love for Alexander Godwin, not with any distaste, but only so that she might not trouble them with questions about sweethearts; and with Mr. Godwin one of Stephen's godfathers, it was clear at least that Anthony counted it no sin, never mind who might think otherwise. And could she fault him for desiring William, when she did the same? But that they'd once been lovers... she'd never have suspected.
Julian Griffith’s first book was a travelogue of St. Croix, lavishly illustrated in crayon. She’s been writing ever since. Meanwhile, she’s worked as a professional gift wrapper, a receptionist, a baker and caterer, a data entry clerk, and has even run a jackhammer on a construction site.
She’s been a devoted fan of Doctor Who since she was a teenager, and hopes to finish her Fourth Doctor scarf sometime before the end of the decade. She also has a strong interest in historical cooking, and a good thing, too, because there are times when her characters won’t let her write the next bit until she makes what they’re supposed to be eating.
Julian says, “I never expected to find myself writing romance, because I’ve been a fantasy and science fiction reader since I discovered The Hobbit at age seven. But I’ve always liked stories that focus on the relationships between characters more than they focus on the magic or technology they use, and the past is another world just as surely as any distant planet. And one you can research, at that.”
“I choose to write about QUILTBAG characters in historical settings because, as I and so many people close to me fall under that umbrella, I can’t help but think about how our lives would have been different in another era. How do my characters live their lives in a culture that doesn’t even acknowledge them, much less accept them? How do they think of themselves, before the terms ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ existed the way they do now? And, most importantly, how do they find happiness? Whether I’m writing romance, or just stories with strong romantic elements, or even the detective stories that two of my characters are insisting I need to write for them, those are the questions that are always on my mind.”
Julian lives in New England, sharing a house with two writer friends, six computers, and an ever-expanding collection of books. If only the collection of bookshelves were able to keep up!