Tag Archives: gay fiction

Day 68 Harrow to Haringey – a London life

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When I left University many aeons ago now, I moved to London, not too far from Haringey actually, and started work in my first permanent job. The city was a complete culture shift for me and even now I’m not really certain I ever found my feet. I’d been brought up in the countryside, and then in the suburbs outside Colchester, so finding shops that were open to 11pm and people who didn’t dress or even act like everyone else was a real eye-opener.

And, my dears, so many buses and all going to a hundred places I’d never heard of, at least!

I enjoyed the few years I spent there (and also met my husband in the Big City, so it was so definitely worth it!), but I was always very conscious of the dark and gloomier sides of city-life. It didn’t shock me at all but it had a huge effect on me. Looking back, I think I’d led a very sheltered existence in the countryside and suburbia.

So when it came to writing my second novel, gay psychological thriller A Dangerous Man, I found the deeply disturbed voice of my main character Michael was inextricably linked with his London setting (and the way I’d reacted to it) and there was no way I would ever be able to separate the two of them. In some ways, the city developed a voice and character of its own as I wrote the book.

Here’s the blurb:

Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, he finds himself having to fight for all he holds dear and in the only way he knows how …

And here’s an extract for you:

The quickest way to the City from Hackney was by bus, though given a choice I would have preferred to walk. It always cleared my head. But I had no time for doing what I wanted so I jumped onto the first bus that came along, finding a seat by myself and staring hard at anyone who looked as if they might want to join me. While the London pavements and people flowed past the window, scaled down through the streaks of dirt on glass to impressions from the side of my eye, I went through in my memory what was in my portfolio—it was way too big to open up on the bus—and tried to think what might work best.

It mattered so much. Drawing was the one thing I’d been able to do all my life. It had got me through some bad times, and some not so bad times, and I wasn’t intending to let go of what I spent long nights and longer days dreaming of. Not ever. So I considered in my mind the pictures I’d done, one by one.

First, a street in Hackney, near where I lived. I’d drawn it as if I was on fire, I remembered, hand ranging over paper as I sat in the tiny box garden at the front, the breeze making me shiver, and brought into the tips of my fingers the road I walked so often. Wild pencil strokes showing the untamed boundaries of tarmac, litter shifting in the acrid spin of traffic fumes, here and there a hunched figure shuffling towards an unknown destination, and always and everywhere the cars. So many cars, sometimes I felt as if they’d never stop. You could always hear them, even at that point in the night between today and tomorrow. Other London scenes followed as I continued to track my portfolio, such as it was; the South Bank, Westminster Bridge, the Embankment on a night when I’d got lucky twice and gone home richer than when I’d arrived.

Sometimes London could be easy money if you were prepared to flaunt it a little. More so on a Friday night with commuters spilling like wild dogs out of the late bars and heading home to their wives and families. Some of them had no idea what they were doing, but who cared? As long as they paid for it, and I always made sure they did, that was fine. Probably most of them didn’t remember me the next day they were so rat-arsed. Then I thought again of that night at Embankment. No, some of them would remember. No matter what they liked to tell themselves in the morning.

You can find out more at: http://www.gayreads.co.uk/novels/a-dangerous-man/

In the meantime, enjoy the London torch parade!

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Day 10: North Wales (via Deneb)

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Do you recall, if you’ve seen that movie, what Captain Kirk says in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, when asked if he’s from outer space? “I’m from Iowa. I only work in outer space.” Well Alyn Evans, one of the heroes of a work in progress of mine could say “I’m from Gwynedd. I only work in outer space.”

Yes, he’s a “Gog”, a lad from North Wales. For most of the story he’s going around being captain of a spaceship and having captainly adventures and, of course, a romance. But the story brings him in the end back home to Wales, where he takes the time to make his choices about love and life and how he goes forward.

It’s key, I think, to know about where characters come from, what kind of place they grew up in, because a person will always takes their culture with them, wherever they go, for the rest of their lives. This is true, even if they reject that culture, even if they are escaping from it when they leave. It will always shape them.

Alyn’s a man from a place of hard rock and few people. He’s tough and self-reliant. But he knows that no-one can survive alone, that his community is what keeps him going, however harsh life becomes. He takes that with him in his work, and in this story is rebuilding the community aboard the ship – the Indiaman — he takes command of.

Below is a sneak preview of a scene from the WIP. It’s a while away from being submitted anywhere yet, but I hope one day you’ll have the chance to read the book, and then the rest of the planned series! Because Alyn Evans and his lover Jarvez are not men I can write only one book about. I will definitely try to bring them back to Wales again. Maybe for the wedding…

Read the rest of this entry

Day 5 – Bristol to Cheltenham

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The Matthew

Bristol – home to the Matthew, John Cabot’s tiny ship. In 1497 he was supposed to sail to Asia and trade there. Instead he reached Newfoundland, beating Columbus.

SS Great Britain

Then there’s the SS Great Britain, the great iron ship – the first of its kind, created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the man who also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge, an engineering marvel of its time.

Bristol was a thriving port for centuries, and with a history stretching back into the mists of time. Stone Age hunter/gatherers left traces behind, in the pre-Roman Iron Age the local Dobunni tribe created hillforts around the area, the Romans built a town – Abona. But Bristol itself began round about 1000 AD as Brycgstow, meaning The Place at the Bridge in Old English. The Rivers Avon and Severn, and the Severn estuary made it one of the most important maritime towns in Britain for nearly a milennia. Today it is a huge, sprawling metropolis, and it’s the UK’s eighth biggest city.

 

 

 

 
Okay, enough with the factual. I used the city in The Psychic’s Tale – Mark Renfrew works as a researcher for The Dominic Waldron Experience, a reality TV show in the stable of Goldstream Media, based in Bristol. Mark himself lives in Staple Hill, a suburb of Bristol, and Jack Faulkner, his lover, studied archaeology at Bristol University.

The Psychic’s Tale – First part in The Fitzwarren Inheritance Trilogy by a trilogy of authors – Chris Quinton :: RJ Scott :: Sue Brown

from Silver Publishing

“I curse you and your children’s children, that you shall all live out your allotted years, and that those years shall be filled with grief and loss and betrayal, even as you have betrayed and bereaved me.”

Four hundred years ago in rural England, a mob burned two men to death, but not before one of the victims, Jonathan Curtess, hurled a dreadful curse at the mob’s leader, Sir Belvedere Fitzwarren. The curse has followed the family through the centuries, bringing grief and loss to each generation.

Mark Renfrew is a closeted psychic and openly gay. When his grandmother discovers a family link to a 17th century feud and a still-potent curse, she insists he investigates and do his best to end it. He travels to the village of Steeple Westford, and meets and falls for Jack Faulkner, an archaeologist. He also meets the Fitzwarrens, who are facing yet another tragedy.

Then Mark learns that the man who cursed them had twisted the knife by leaving three cryptic conditions that would lift the curse, and he knows he has to try to break the curse his ancestor had set.

 

 

The Pump Room, Cheltenham

Cheltenham Spa – the discovery of mineral springs in 1716 brought royal patronage in the 18th centuary, though it never quite overtook Bath as the fashionable choice, and Spa was added to its name. It seems to have taken that name from the River Chelt, but the actual meaning of Chelt is lost. The town was a thriving community long before the Regency period, receiving a market charter in 1226.

 

 

 

Cheltenham Racecourse

The town is possibly most famous for its racecourse – the Cheltenham Festival draws the finest racehorses and jockeys from around the world, and huge crowds flock there.

 

 

 

 
My story, Home and Heart, is set in the area – the business base of Home-Safe Pet and House-Sitting is in the town itself, and Ben Elliot lives above his uncle’s shop in Charlton Kings, a suburb of the town.

Home and Heart

From Silver Publishing

Deep in the Cotswolds in the heart of England, Ben Elliot settles in for a quiet Christmas house-sitting and caring for an elderly woman’s two dogs while she’s away. When her black-sheep grandson, Adam Prescott, turns up on the doorstep, Ben takes in the human stray as well. Destitute and betrayed by family, boyfriend, and Fate, Adam has lost all faith in others, and in himself.

Determined to help, Ben soon loses his heart to the other man and believes Adam has feelings for him, too. Then Adam’s ex shows up, offering him the world if only Adam will come back to him. Now Ben must choose whether to step aside, or reach for the only gift he wants this Christmas.

Christmas may not be a time of celebration for Ben.

Olympic Blog: Exeter to Taunton – the joy of cream teas …

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I’ve always loved Devon and have had some of my best ever holidays there. The pace of life is much slower than here in Surrey where I live, and of course the Devon cream teas are to die for.

I can honestly say that the best cream teas I have ever tasted can be found in the Cathedral Café in Exeter Cathedral, and teach me more about the joys of heaven than any number of pitch-perfect choirs and stunning stained glass. And I say that as a committed Anglican too.

Exeter also has the best public toilets I’ve ever experienced – I do believe that a society can be judged entirely on the standards of its public conveniences – so the Olympic procession will have a lot to enjoy in their journey from Exeter to Taunton. Then again, I must admit that I did happen to be in the city on the first day of opening the new facilities, and it was a joyous occasion of flowers and cleanliness, and they even had very chatty staff who were happy to show you around. I went back three times, and I didn’t even need to …

So when it came to writing my gay thriller The Bones of Summer, realising I had a significant back story to tell when it came to my hero, Craig, I knew I had to set it near Exeter. This is where Craig grows up, in a farming household traumatised by the narrow religious faith of his father, and where he meets Michael, the first man he falls in love with.

Even later on when Craig is settling in to his new life in London, the memories of what happened in Exeter and why he had to leave are never too far away. When a threatening letter arrives, Craig knows he must return to his childhood rural home in order to face and overcome his past if he’s to have the chance of a future at all.

Bearing our Olympic theme in mind, I’m also proud to say that The Bones of Summer was Commended in the UK Writers’ Conference in 2008, and placed third in the 2009 Rainbow Mystery Fiction Awards. So not quite a Gold, hey a girl can dream …

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK