QUEER COMPANY 3 – another registration reminder

A final reminder that ‘early bird’ registrations for QUEER COMPANY 3 in Manchester will be ending on 30 September, so if you’d like to register at the discounted rate of £50 you will need to grab the opportunity quickly.

Details of how to register are to be found here, but if you have any difficulty with the form or any other questions we will be only too happy to hear from you – contact us by e-mail or in the comments below.

We’ll be announcing more details of our plans for the event through the winter, so watch this space (or one like it!) for information as and when it becomes available.

We’re still counting the days…

QUEER COMPANY 3 – registration reminder

Don’t forget that ‘early bird’ registrations for QUEER COMPANY 3 in Manchester will be ending on 30 September, so if you’d like to register at the discounted rate of £50 you will need to grab the opportunity quickly.

Details of how to register are to be found here, but if you have any difficulty with the form or any other questions we will be only too happy to hear from you – contact us by e-mail or in the comments below.

We’ll be announcing more details of our plans for the event through the winter, so watch this space (or one like it!) for information as it becomes available.

We’re counting the days…

 

 

 

Spirituality and Place

A guest blog post 
by Julie Bozza

When I wrote OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES, the sequel to BUTTERFLY HUNTER, I wanted to explore a couple of questions of spirituality. I don’t think I found any firm answers, mind you, but then maybe there aren’t any. Or maybe there are as many answers as there are individuals. We all have our own belief systems, after all – even those of us who are atheists. So maybe an exploration of the questions, and an honest ‘thinking / feeling things out for ourselves’, is all we can do.

Locations

Those of you who’ve read BUTTERFLY HUNTER will remember that Dave Taylor is surprised to find that he has some kind of connection with a particular location in the Australian Outback. This is the isolated waterhole where Nicholas finds his blue butterflies, which is known to Dave’s Indigenous friend Charlie as a Dreaming site. Because Dave can find this secretive place when others can’t, Charlie suspects that Dave has a spiritual connection with the waterhole, despite Dave being a white fella.

Indigenous cave paintings of waterholes on Uluru, photographed by Kim Dingwell, and sourced on Wikimedia Commons

Being a white fella myself, many might sincerely believe I have no business writing about such things, and I apologise for any offence given. To quote from my acknowledgements in the novels, I wrote these stories ‘with nothing in my heart but a love of and a wish for interdependence between all our peoples – and for that perhaps any infelicities will be forgiven’.

I remained all too aware that I was approaching this with a white fella’s understanding, and I made sure that Dave himself expressed the same awareness. I’ve read a fair bit about the Australian Indigenous people’s Dreaming, and it feels pretty much impossible for a white fella to get her head around. It involves such a different way of thinking about time, let alone anything else.

So Dave and I were interpreting and applying ideas from our own perspectives. On the practical side of things, Dave was both conceived and born near the waterhole, despite his parents living in Brisbane. On the mystical side of things, the Barcoo grunter ancestor sleeping in the waterhole must have felt some kind of affinity with Dave’s soul, and created the connection between them. And thus it was all very much tied to place, to a specific location in a particular country.

Before all this unfolded, Dave never thought of himself as a spiritual person, and it’s probably still something that doesn’t quite sit neatly within him. He probably thinks of it all as something strange (though not unwelcome) that happened to him, rather than something that happened because of him.

So, I pondered – finally coming to The Question I wanted to explore in the sequel – how would Dave react to spiritual things connected to other locations, other countries?

The Duloe Stone Circle in Cornwall, photographed by Philip Halling, and sourced on Wikimedia Commons

In OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES, Dave has followed Nicholas to England; Nicholas promptly proposes marriage and Dave just as promptly accepts. They spend their honeymoon in Cornwall, near a circle of standing stones. While (the English) Nicholas is drawn to the stones, and finds them eerie and unsettling, (the Aussie) Dave reacts to them with no more than mild interest. To him they’re a human construction that happens to long predate the nearby cottage they’re staying in, and that’s all there is to say about that.

So my answer to that question was that Dave is a spiritual creature within a particular context – within a country that he considers home – but that doesn’t necessarily make him sensitive to spiritual things associated with other locations steeped in other traditions and understandings. Whether that’s a misguided notion or not, I leave you to decide!

Ceremonies

The Other Question I wanted to explore a little was what kind of ceremony it would take for these two men to feel married. At the time in England, the only legal option available to them was civil partnership, involving a ceremony performed in a civil or non-religious location. Nicholas declares that he thinks of this as marriage regardless of the legalities – but, while I don’t think he’s any more religious than Dave, I suspect Nicholas would have chosen a church service if he could.

The spoken vows required at that time certainly lacked poetry:

I declare that I know of no legal reason why we may not register as each other’s civil partner. I understand that in signing this document we will be forming a civil partnership with each other.

I had Dave and Nicholas each speak their own vows as well, which were based on the stories of their lives, to supplement those dreadfully prosaic words.

A threefold Celtic symbol, created by Tinette, and sourced on Wikimedia Commons

Returning to The Original Question for a moment … I was less explicit in the novel about another spiritual aspect of their stay in Cornwall. They befriend Margaret Widgery, a local woman who acts as caretaker for the cottage, along with her mother Joan and her daughter Maeve. The three women can be seen as representing the Maiden, Mother and Crone. While there’s some contention about the historical basis for the neo-pagan Triple Goddess, it is a potent idea.

Even though Nicholas never indicates whether he sees the three Widgery women in this way, he jumps at the chance of a handfasting ceremony led by Joan, to supplement his and Dave’s civil partnership ceremony. The novel also mentions other ways in which Dave and Nicholas affirm their vows to each other, in other times and other places. Indeed, between us we make it as thorough as we know how, bringing in both the practicalities and the different strands of spirituality to which they are connected.

They can hardly claim they weren’t thoroughly married to each other by the end!

New review of COINS NOT ACCEPTED

Our good friends at The Novel Approach have recently given their verdict on Chris Quinton’s latest title, COINS NOT ACCEPTED.  While we think it’s fair to say that the reviewer, Lindsey, was a little baffled at first, the end result is a charming and thoughtful appraisal of the book.

“I quite enjoyed this fairly unique story with its intriguing world building and interesting plot, even if I had to spend some time on the internet to figure out some of the historical and geographical references.”

Thank you, Lindsey – we totally agree that it’s an unusual tale and we’re glad you gave it a chance; as you’ve discovered, the magical world of Chris’s imagination is always well worth delving into!

New review of A CERTAIN PERSUASION

A brief, but Austenishly elegant, review of A CERTAIN PERSUASION has appeared on The Historical Novel Society’s website, concluding with the words:

“The original Jane Austen characters’ full-throated independence, intelligence, curiosity and bravery serve these wonderful tributes well. Reimagined, one and all discover “there are many different ways of living in this world.” I think Miss Austen would be delighted, and I highly recommend this enchanting collection.”

As endorsements go, we can’t imagine how this could possibly be bettered – and we’d like to thank reviewer Eileen Charbonneau for her good opinion!

 

Reviews for THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS

Reviewers are loving THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS, the new, contemporary story from Elin Gregory, and we can’t even pretend to be surprised! Delighted and grateful, of course, but not surprised at how well this novel is being received.

Dianne at It’s About the Book concluded:

I want everyone to read this story. Where goodness intersects with greed and grief. Where the past helps mold the future. It is a beautifully written encompassing of humanity – from the wonders of The Find, to the old and new Pemberland, to the families, the friends, the lovers … the individuals.

Fiona at Books Laid Bare Boys said:

A fantastic array of support characters enhance this story and I really enjoyed the message of ‘community’ that was highlighted by their acts and deeds throughout. The dialogue is humorous and witty. The sex scenes are naughty and very well described without being overly explicit, and there isn’t too much angst.

Thank you, both! You make this tale, quite rightly, sound nigh on irresistible.

Release Day review for THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS

We’re delighted (but not overly surprised!) to see the praise already starting for THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS by the wonderful Elin Gregory. It seems that Natalie at Hearts on Fire Reviews loved Elin’s story as much as we did:

What an utterly delightful time I had reading this! Another new-to-me-author, Elin Gregory completely lived up to the glowing reviews I’d seen for other books. She transported this Florida lady into the middle of a small Welsh village and if it wasn’t so cold, I’d move there.

Thank you very much to Natalie and to all the Hearts on Fire team! It looks like that Welsh village is going to need to hurry up its development of the new housing estate …

Our new titles are now available!

It’s release day at last! Our three new titles are from Manifold Press stalwarts Morgan CheshireElin Gregory and RA Padmos. We have also released a free anthology of extracts in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 in England and Wales.

The new novel from the exceedingly popular Elin Gregory is THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS.

There’s dirty work at the dig when museum curator Malcolm and contractor Rob become entangled in one another and in also the machinations of money-mad developers and treasure-seekers. Extraordinary measures may need to be employed, in what we’re calling a ‘Gregorian classic’…

Buy links:

Morgan Cheshire tells stories that are both thoughtful and entertaining – and she’s done it again with A TIME TO KEEP.

This is the bitter-sweet story of Matthew, workhouse boy turned lock-keeper, whose love for Ben is cruelly interrupted by the First World War. Fans of English Edwardiana and Great War fiction should enjoy this one very much.

Buy links:

As we have come to expect from R.A. Padmos, her LIKE PEOPLE is a superb historical novella which really tells it like it was. Karl Meisner has been fighting for five years in a war he never wanted, for a nation-state Karl knows very well wants him dead – for Karl Meisner is a man who loves men. We follow him through the last days of the war as he survives being shelled by the Russians, manages to walk in a state of exhaustion with other soldiers and refugees to the river Elbe, and surrenders to the Allies. From there he ends up in a prison camp in England – where he meets Nathaniel Cyfer, a man who must have no reason at all to ever like let alone love him.

Buy links:

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: EXTRACTS FOR AN ANNIVERSARY 1967-2017 acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 in England and Wales.

This is a free anthology of extracts from Manifold Press titles that illustrates in a modest way the changes experienced by gay men over the centuries in Britain, and how the social and legal situations may have affected individuals. The extracts begin with the Romans in the 1st century CE, and bring us right through to current issues such as marriage equality and gender-fluid pronouns.

Download links:

We hope you enjoy reading these new stories!

The 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967

Today, 27 July 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalised private homosexual acts between men over 21 in England and Wales. As is obvious from the length of that description, this was only a partial victory, and we can hardly pretend that gay men and other people in the LGBTQ+ spectrum enjoy full equality even now.

Despite those caveats, the legal victory in 1967 and all the progress made since are things to be celebrated. The Manifold Press team was surprised and delighted by how many of Britain’s cultural institutions are acknowledging the milestone of this anniversary during 2017 – and we wanted to celebrate, too.

Hence, OUT OF THE SHADOWS: EXTRACTS FOR AN ANNIVERSARY 1967-2017. This is a free anthology of extracts from Manifold Press titles that illustrates in a modest way the changes experienced by gay men over the centuries in Britain, and how the social and legal situations may have affected individuals. The extracts begin with the Romans in the 1st century CE, and bring us right through to current issues such as marriage equality and gender-fluid pronouns.

The anthology also includes a detailed timeline of gay history in England, from 17 BCE through to the present day, written by Fiona Pickles.

This free eBook is available to download directly from Smashwords and its distributors, in all available formats. We plan to also make free paperbacks available at Queer Company 3.

We’d like to thank all the Manifold Press authors for supporting this project, and in particular the following authors for agreeing to us sharing their work: Julie Bozza, Morgan Cheshire, Adam Fitzroy, Elin Gregory, Sandra Lindsey, Eleanor Musgrove, R.A. Padmos, F.M. Parkinson, Cimorene Ross, and Jay Lewis Taylor.

We hope that readers will find much to ponder in this volume, and if you are inspired to explore further – whether in our titles or elsewhere – that would be marvellous, too!

New reviews of OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES and THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING

Tori (Vicki) of Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews has continued reading my BUTTERFLY HUNTER trilogy, and has now published reviews of the second and third volumes, OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES and THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING.

In response to the second volume:

I loved seeing the relationship further develop between Nicholas and Dave, and how they interact with their respective family members. The sex scenes between them are wonderful, gentle yet hot. The little bit of mystery was a nice addition …

And the third volume:

What a great wrap up to the series! … What really made this whole series work is Nicholas and Dave, and their close bond.

Now is a great time to give this trilogy a try, as all our backlist titles are 25% off at Smashwords, for the whole month of July.

We wish you happy reading!