Guest: Julian Griffith
Thanks for having me here today, Mychael! I’m very excited, because today is the day my first novel, Love Continuance and Increasing, comes out from Storm Moon Press. It’s a historical m/m/f ménage romance set in England during the Napoleonic Wars.
I wanted it to be very firmly grounded in the historical reality of the time, so I did a lot of research. The characters’ lives are shaped by outside events, from peace treaties and their breakdowns, to troubles in Parliament, and new army training schemes, all the way to the battle of Trafalgar. What I didn’t realize is that the story would become grounded in legend as well. Major Rockingham may only be a viscount, not a king, but his relationship with William Thorne is as deep and as trusting as King Arthur’s was with Lancelot. (And this time it’s not just subtext.) Like King Arthur, Lord Rockingham marries because it’s expected of him, and he’s a good husband to his wife Caroline, just as Arthur was to Guinevere. But that didn’t keep Lancelot and Guinevere from falling in love…
It always seemed to me that the three of them ought to have been able to work something out, rather than have Camelot come crashing down around their ears. This time? They did.
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!