An Interview with Elin Gregory
Welcome to Elin Gregory, an old friend but a new author. Elin has just had her first solo book published, and has all sorts of interesting things in the pipeline – I’m particularly looking forward to On a Lee Shore, and A Fierce Reaping. Elin and I seem to back opposite sides in history, but that just makes her ideas more interesting to me. She’s one of those writers in whose historical accuracy I have complete faith, so I can read her books hoping to learn something, as well as to be entertained.
Enough blathering from me. I’ll hand you over to Elin now:
Hello, Alex. Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. It’s great to be here.
1. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m married with a live at home adult daughter and a very elderly parent living nearby so family matters take some keeping up with. Also I work 4 days a week in the local museum. Apart from that I read, a lot, dabble a bit with drawing and painting and never seem to do enough housework. Show me a creative person who has a perfectly spick and span house – I think most of us can think of more interesting things to do
2. What are you enjoying reading at the moment?
After saying nasty things about Diana Gabaldon’s Crosstitch and getting recommendations from friends – actually I think it was you, Nan Hawthorne and Erastes – I bit the bullet and bought a £0.01 copy of Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. I was really surprised by the quality of it and was enjoying it a lot until Lord John started whimpering about that long streak of deus ex machina, Jamie Fraser. Now I’m growling “For goodness sake have some pride, man!” Other than that I have books to review and I am reading anything I can get my hands on re: 1920s London [Queer London by Michael Holroyd has a fund of stories] and 1940s agriculture [2 books by Charles Bowden about shepherding and working the land with heavy horses are proving to be most inspiring]. And there’s other things too. I’m usually part of the way through one of my Terry Pratchetts. I picked up a battered copy of Nation last week on a stall in the covered market and adored it, but I need to read it again to take in the fine detail. That’s usually where the greatest treasures lie.
3. Tell us about the books you have out.
THE book I have out 😀 Just the one, though I have a couple of stories in last years UK Meet anthologies, British Flash and Tea and Crumpet.
“Alike As Two Bees” is set in ancient Greece and revolves around a yardful of jobbing sculptors who are carving the fiddly bits for a rich man’s house. The main protagonist, Philon, has a particular aptitude for carving horses and finds one perfect mare to use as a model. Her rider, Hilarion, isn’t nearly as pretty as the horse but neither of them care. Both are happy souls most of the time. There are supporting characters, little bits of angst, humour, a healthy diet. I hope some people might like it. I enjoyed writing it and I hope that shows.
4. Who has been the biggest influence upon your work?
Ooh difficult question. There are several authors of gay lit whose work I marvel at, envy and would love to emulate. But, in general, Rosemary Sutcliff was a huge influence. I adore her characters, her plots, her style, her scholarship. She also wrote Sword At Sunset, the first book I ever read that had a positive depiction of gay characters. That things ended sadly for them, as was usual in books of that period, was a grief to me when I was about 10. Mary Renault is another favourite – don’t think that’s much of a surprise – and I love the way Dorothy Dunnett takes an historical period and milks it of every possible opportunity for drama. Also her hero – Francis Crawford of Lymond – is tough, funny, civilised, intelligent, and canonically sexually ambiguous. That he’s utterly gorgeous doesn’t hurt.
5. What works in progress have you got on the go at the moment?
LOL – too many! “On A Lee Shore” early 18th century pirates. “A Fierce Reaping” Dark Ages warfare set in Northumbria. “Eleventh Hour” – secret intelligence caper set in 1928 London. “The Long Secret Summer” – romance against the backdrop of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the shepherding year. Some are more advanced than others. The piratey one is almost finished.
6. While doing research have you ever done anything really exciting or
I’ve made chain mail. It’s really boring and hurt my fingers. I’ve also worn it and that sucks too. No wonder the Normans were so stroppy. I’m married to one of the few men in Britain to have a framed certificate of Mastery from the Craft Guild of Bowyers and Fletchers on the wall, so I have a houseful of bow and arrows and used to shoot them regularly. It’s a beautiful sport, very instinctive and calming. One day I’ll write about medieval longbow men, but not just yet.
7. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? What do you do then?
I have a whole barrage of things to do but, honestly, blocks clear when they feel like it. It depends what’s causing it. At the moment I have a back problem which means writing is uncomfortable. Can’t do much about that. Otherwise Write or Die can be enough of a shock to get the words going again. Or a sufficiently strident beta reader. Or sometimes ‘drawing’ the story in comic book form. Hand writing on paper rather than typing is good. Skipping a ‘hard’ scene to do something else can help. If all else fails, I have a notebook with an over the top police procedural fantasy novel in it and I add a chapter to that. Writing something crazy that nobody will ever see is great fun and reminds me that I’m supposed to be enjoying the process.
8. Alpha males, do you – (a)love them? – (b)think they should be shot? Why?
I loathe alpha males in person. To often alpha male type of behaviour is diplayed by a form of boorish bullying that is horribly unattractive and threatening. But I do enjoy writing them, if you define alpha male as a supremely confident man who is certain that there’s nothing about more bad ass than he is. Then, naturally, I prove that he’s wrong! 😀 If I make an alpha character I like to give them hidden vulnerabilities. It’s such great fun breaking down all that arrogance and confidence then building it back up again into something more moderate and benign.
9: How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?
Complete sensory overload! No really. I’d arrived at the 2011 UK Meet after an incredibly stressful morning and there it was – Tea and Crumpet, with a very friendly tea pot on the front and a mass of stories inside, including one of mine. Unbelieveable. I love ebooks – so convenient and so easy to store – but as a keepsake you can’t beat paper! I particularly like having all the signatures of the authors. That was a lovely souvenit of a super day and I’m looking forward to the next Meet – 15th September, 2012 in Brighton – brilliant.
So questions answered and thank you very much for having me. Below there are some details about Beeeees!
Alike as Two Bees
By: Elin Gregory
Published By: Etopia Press
Published: Mar 02, 2012
ISBN # 9781937976194
Word Count: 19,664
Heat Index: mildly spiced – korma rather than vindaloo
Horses, love, and the tang of thyme and honey…
In Classical Greece, apprentice sculptor Philon has chosen the ideal horse to model for his masterpiece. Sadly, the rider falls well short of the ideal of beauty, but scarred and tattered Hilarion, with his brilliant, imperfect smile, draws Philon in a way that mere perfection cannot.
After years of living among the free and easy tribes of the north, Hilarion has no patience with Athenian formality. He knows what he wants—and what he wants is Philon. Society, friends and family threaten their growing relationship, but perhaps a scarred soldier and a lover of beauty are more alike than they appear.