How did you discover the MM/gay romance genre?
That question could result in a very long answer!
Even in my very early and rather innocent teens I was feeling the frisson between Romeo and Mercutio, Darcy and Bingley, and (ahem!) Judas and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar – though there’s no denying I enjoyed the ‘straight’ romances in these stories as well. Eventually, during the weekend I was meeting my future mother–in–law and her family for the first time, we were sitting around watching an old Star Trek episode, and I felt rather more than a frisson between Kirk and Spock given the situation they were in… I began scribbling a story about them getting together, which turned into quite the angsty soap opera. When I confessed this to my sister, who’d followed a similar path of her own, she told me that we weren’t the only ones. Hence my introduction to fandom, fan fiction and slash!
I became a bit of a fannish butterfly in terms of fandoms, having a few significant ones and all kinds of small or obscure ones. I thought of myself as a ‘multimedia fan’! But I was always into the slash, that was certainly a constant. Eventually, at 29, I began writing an original novel. Back then, the MM romance genre didn’t exist, and there was a fair bit of resistance against apparently ‘straight’ women writing gay fiction. So basically what I ended up trying to do was write mainstream fiction which happened to have a gay romance subplot rather than a straight one. Alas, I didn’t get very far! The Definitive Albert J Sterne was the first pro novel I wrote, and at least it earned me a mainstream literary agent for a while, but eventually he gave up trying. While I continued to write other novels and screenplays for a while, I ended up giving up, too.
For a few years all I wrote was fan fiction – much of which was doomed to remain in my bottom drawer, too. When I finally poked my head over the parapet again, lo and behold, MM romance had come into being. Hurrah! I ended up getting in touch with the good people at Manifold Press as a result of my Romeo and Mercutio fan fic, which rounds off the story rather nicely back where I began… and here I am.
What made you start writing in the genre?
Pure instinct. Gut instinct. Soul instinct.
One of the things I took from the UK Meet 2013 was how many of us started reading or writing MM romance without knowing that other people out there were reading and writing it as well. By which I mean people who aren’t a neat fit with what many would assume are the ‘obvious’ readers and writers of gay fiction.
For me, the Muse simply insisted – out of the blue, as it were. I know now that I’m not alone in that, but at the time I didn’t have a clue. Other writers have found themselves, much to their surprise, writing about two men rather than a man and a woman. Readers have stumbled across books such as Maurice by EM Forster, and been inspired to look for more. I don’t know what it says that so many of us have ‘invented’ this genre for ourselves before finding our fellows, but I think that’s intriguing.
Where do you base your books?
My earlier novels were all set in the US, as that seemed to be the only setting possible for the stories I was telling: serial killer thriller, cops ‘n’ mobsters drama, professional wrestling drama. I’ve since started writing stories based in Australia and in England, which are the two countries in which I’ve lived. I’ve also set a story in Italy – specifically Rome. (The latter is literary fiction, but as Lord Byron is involved naturally there is a gay subplot.) The next few projects will be set in England or Australia, and then I guess we’ll see after that!
Tell me about your current/forthcoming novel.
My next novel to be published is Of Dreams and Ceremonies on 1 November, which is a follow–up to Butterfly Hunter. The first was set in Australia, with Nicholas being the ‘fish out of water’; this one is set in England, with Dave being the one needing to deal with a strange land. It is set in 2012, and the two are planning a civil partnership ceremony, while Dave tries to cope with living in a mansion house with Nicholas’s family and their servants. Dave and Nicholas are, in many ways, still getting to know each other. We follow them on their honeymoon, which brings with it an adventure or two (and not just in the bedroom).
The plan is for Dave and Nicholas to then settle in Australia, and I intend to write a third book which is set about seven years into their future there.
What are you writing at the moment?
I am writing a novel set in contemporary London, about three twenty–something actors who end up in an on–going threesome relationship. It’s quite a challenge, but I’m enjoying it! The three main characters are all used to the conventional notions of what love is, including monogamy between two people, but find themselves in a situation where the definitions need to be broadened to encompass what they genuinely feel for and need from each other. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m hoping that readers who try it will come to believe there couldn’t be any other answer for them.
Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is madly in love with Colin Morgan and John Keats. Fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, and unreasonably excited by photography… she is the author of Butterfly Hunter, The Apothecary’s Garden, The Definitive Albert J Sterne, and other MM romance novels published by Manifold Press.
Manifold Press: manifoldpress.co.uk
Blurb: It seemed like a great idea at the time… Aussie Dave Taylor has followed Nicholas Goring to England, and the lovers have become engaged. But now Dave has to cope with living in a mansion full of family and servants, making wedding plans, getting his head around visa applications, and wondering why on earth he’d ever want to wear a ‘mourning suit’. He’s not sure if it will prove any easier, but right now Dave would love to just skip ahead to the honeymoon…
Available from: 1 November from Manifold Press.