Thank you for taking some down time and spending it with us. Let’s start this off with a beverage. We have coffee, tea, some sort of juice (I think it’s been in here a few weeks) and soda. What would you like?
Oh, tea, please! I need my morning cup of coffee, but I go through a liter of tea a day when I’m writing, or sometimes more. My thermal pitcher is one of the best things I ever bought.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve had the sort of checkered work history that always looks so entertaining in author bios: I’ve worked as a receptionist, the head of the gift baskets department at a gourmet natural foods store, a professional baker with a 4AM start time, and I’m currently studying for my certification exams in medical billing and coding. I’m also the parent of a college-bound teenager, which has been taking up a lot of my attention lately!
When you received news that your manuscript had been accepted by Storm Moon Press, what were the first words that fell from your mouth?
Probably “Storm Moon wants to publish my novel!” Creative, I know. When I emailed my beta-reader about it, the subject line read “OMG KERMITFLAIL SNOOPYDANCE”, though, and since I got the news on December 24th, the message included the line “Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.”
What forces brought you over to the GLBT Genre? Do you focus on one part of the QUILTBAG or do you write various identities, expressions, or orientations? What made you want to write what you do?
I’m not going to lie: I came here by way of slash fanfiction. I wrote mostly m/m there, though not exclusively, but in my original fiction I find myself writing all over the spectrum. My novel Love Continuance and Increasing is MMF menage, I’ve got a story coming out in the Wild Moon het anthology Turning the Tables, I’m working on a lesbian story right now, and my next project will be a novel featuring a trans* protagonist, though I may attempt a story for the Uncommon Valor anthology featuring m/m stories set in WWII.
One of the things that spurred me to write my novel was the way that slash fanfiction so often erased the few women that existed in the original stories to focus on the relationship between the male characters. Although I got my start in Harry Potter fanfic, as so many did, most recently I was active in Age of Sail fandom—things like the Horatio Hornblower and Aubrey-Maturin series—and I noticed especially that people were either ignoring the fact that a nobleman would be expected to marry, or else making his wife a horrible person to justify the men having an adulterous relationship, or brushing her aside entirely as if she didn’t matter. I decided that I was tired of her getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop, and I set out to tell a story where there would be enough love and desire to make everyone happy.
Would you care for some cookies? We have chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal with or without raisins and a package of mystery ones. We have cake too. Your choice.
Ooh, let’s see what’s in the mystery package. *opens it* Butter shortbread, caraway knots, Shrewsbury cakes, and ratafia biscuits! Somebody’s been at the recipes from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple. It was written by Hannah Glasse in 1741, and it’s a fantastic resource for me when I’m writing historical romance. I’ve got a paperback reproduction copy, but you can read it for free on Google Books.
You should try some of these! The coriander and saffron in the Shrewsbury cakes makes them kind of unusual, and I know a lot of people aren’t wild about caraway, but the ratafia biscuits are basically almond meringues, and I think they’re great.
How many hours a day do you spending writing?
It really varies. Some days I’ll put in four or five hours. Some days I won’t write at all. I try to get in at least an hour on the days when I do write.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I definitely revise. I tend to write my scenes out of order, because I often write from the emotional center out, which means that I have to do a certain amount of adjusting as I fit everything together. Also, I work very closely with my beta reader, showing her scenes as I create them, and she’ll often point out ways that I could improve them, and I’ve learned to follow her advice.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I write very freely. I know where I want the story to end up, and I know the crisis points, and I can generally figure out where the story starts, but as for the middle, I only have the vaguest idea before I write it! I spend a lot of time telling the story to my beta before I create the scenes in their finished form—that way she knows what I’m trying to get across and can help me over places where I get stuck.
Of your characters, do you have a favorite and why?
It’d have to be Anthony Rockingham from Love Continuance and Increasing. He has a lot of privilege—he’s a viscount—and he could easily be selfish and entitled because of it, but he isn’t. He doesn’t treat his lover, Lieutenant Thorne, as a lesser person even though Thorne’s background is humble, and he doesn’t treat his wife, Caroline, as a child, though she’s a good deal younger than he is. He doesn’t treat her like a possession, either, though the laws and customs of the time almost expect that of him. And it’s his generosity of spirit that allows the three of them to form a solid relationship together, instead of being torn apart when Thorne and Caroline fall in love. He’s everything that a nobleman ought to be, by his culture’s stated ideals, and yet so rarely is.
In my head, he also looks and sounds like the actor Samuel West, which doesn’t hurt a bit. ;-D
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
Oh, yes. I do two things: I pester my beta, telling her what I know ought to be happening but don’t know how to show it, and I make myself write in timed sprints. I took inspiration from Unfuck Your Habitat, and I do it in sessions of 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off. I’ll often post my wordcount for each 20 minutes to tumblr, to get a little bit of instant feedback and encouragement. I need a lot of that!
Do you have a particular spot in your house that you call your comfy zone? (The place where you write.)
My spot is on the right-hand side of the living room sofa. It’s where I sit for everything, really; our house is very small, and we use the kitchen table as a worktop rather than an eating space, and I prefer to write on my laptop because my desktop is only inches from the television, and I prefer writing in the living room to writing in bed.
When you’re in the mindset to write, do you put a sign up that warns others not to disturb you while at work?
Sometimes I’ll put on my big over-the-ear headphones and listen to classical music, and those function as a do-not-disturb sign. If I’m doing timed sprints, I often post a photo of a quill pen on my tumblr to announce that I’ll be writing. And sometimes I’ll put up an away message on chat programs. But I don’t make a big deal of it.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I have no idea how to describe it. What makes me laugh? Monty Python. In-jokes. Extremely nerdy things. Literary or historical set-ups with dick jokes at the center. Debauched sloths. That crab from the Honda Element ads who says “I peench.” The Incredible Hulk saying “PUNY GOD.” You know, the usual.
What question is your most frequently asked as an author?
I’m a very new author, so I don’t have one of these yet! While I was in the process of writing my novel, I blogged a lot about the research I was doing, so I tended to get questions about that.
What are you working on now?
By the time this interview is published, I hope to be done with my story for Storm Moon’s anthology call for An Improper Arrangement, lesbian romances set in England’s Regency period. My story—which, at the time I write this, doesn’t have a title—is about two young widows who find love with each other, and who are able to use the custom of a paid “lady’s companion” to give respectable-looking cover to what is emotionally a marriage. I’m still in the planning stages for the novel with the trans* protagonist; it won’t exactly be a sequel to Love Continuance and Increasing, but it will take place after it, and focus on a female-assigned-at-birth soldier in Lord Rockingham’s regiment—the 43rd Light Infantry, a real British regiment that played a significant role in the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. There were more than a few soldiers like this in history, and probably more than we know of—we only know the stories of those who were caught, and even then, we don’t always know their reasons or how they identified. I’ve decided to imagine the life of one who identified as a man.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your lifestyle as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive, both in your work and out of it?
Prompts. And research. Really, everything I see and read and watch goes into the stew, and bits will bubble to the top. I still write fanfiction; I was watching the 1993 Three Musketeers with some friends, and one asked why she’d never seen any good Athos/D’Artagnan slash, because the subtext was right there in the movie, and I said, “I can do that!” The next day, I had a little 2000-word drunk-sex scene written in Athos’ voice, and she was very happy with it. Also, I roleplay. I write letters in character, and I have a Twitter account where my 1812 nobleman interacts with Shakespeare and the Eighth Doctor and people from Gotham, and things like that. I’ve always done that—my housemate and I, who have been living together for seven years now, originally met over the internet in a play-by-email roleplaying game, and we co-wrote fanfiction, too.
What kind of books do you like to read outside of the GLBT Genre?
I’ve loved science fiction and fantasy since I encountered Tolkien when I was seven; some of my favorite authors in the genre are Lois McMaster Bujold, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman. And Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman can’t be said to be outside the GLBT genre, really. Swordspoint was written in 1987 and featured a same-sex couple as its protagonists, something pretty unusual in the fantasy genre at the time. I also read a lot of mysteries. Oddly, I don’t read a great deal of romance. I like to say that I came to romance writing because in fanfiction I was writing the romances that the stories in other genres left out.
Pick one: Scientist, Astronaut, Retail, or Horse Trainer.
Horse trainer! I only have a tiny bit of riding experience, but I’ve read every mystery Dick Francis ever wrote, and I was a huge fan of Marguerite Henry’s horse books when I was a child—do you remember Misty of Chincoteague? And Snowmane’s death at the Pelennor Fields makes me sob every time. And horses are such an important part of the historical settings I love to work in. I’d love the chance to have more opportunity to be around them.
Besides. I’m terrible at calculus, and I’ve done retail and don’t want to go back. So all the other choices are right out.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I’m a huge fan of roller coasters. And by “fan”, I mean the sort of geek who can tell you the names of the major companies, the engineers who design the rides, and the names of the different loops and turns. I live less than an hour from Six Flags New England, and I had a season pass for several years running, and I once made a pilgrimage to Maryland to ride an antique wooden coaster that had originally been at Paragon Park in Hull, Massachusetts, and was the first roller coaster I’d ever ridden, back when I was thirteen.
I also like to knit. I love eyelet knitting and cabling, but I’m also working on a Fourth Doctor scarf that I hope to have done by the end of the decade.
Any special projects from you at Storm Moon Press that came out recently or will be coming out soon we should watch for?
*ahem* As I said above… my debut novel, Love Continuance and Increasing, is due out on August 2 (though it might be a little delayed; crossing my fingers!), and my story “Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant”, featuring a British naval officer and a woman Barbary pirate captain, is in the brand new anthology Turning the Tables, from Storm Moon’s heterosexual Wild Moon imprint. They’re my first professional sales, and I’m very excited about them!
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
julian_griffith.livejournal.com (mirrors Dreamwidth)
@julianxgriffith on Twitter
Julian Griffith on Goodreads
and you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love getting mail!
It was a pleasure having you here with us today. Please come by and let us know how you’re doing from time to time. OH! And before you leave, can I get your help here in the kitchen? Thanks!!
*grabs a dishtowel* You wash, I’ll dry? Thanks for having me here!