Author interview: Adam Fitzroy

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONThis series of mini-interviews features the authors who contributed to our Austen anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION.

Next is Manifold Press stalwart Adam Fitzroy, who wrote the story One Half of the World, inspired by the novel Emma.

Blurb: How much more romantic must it be to be stolen away in the night by a lady dressed as a man, to be thrown across the saddle of her horse and to be galloped off with across the moors by moonlight?


Q: How did you discover Jane Austen and her works? What was the initial appeal?

It was the 1972 BBC TV version of Emma which first took my fancy; I was never an Austen fan growing up because I was far too invested in the Brontës, and I’d got it into my head that it wasn’t actually possible to like both. (I had a pretty strange childhood, so it’s probably best not to enquire further!) Not knowing the stories, of course, the fact that Emma ends up marrying Mr Knightley initially took me by surprise – and I remember being similarly astonished years later when (spoiler alert!) I found out that Marianne married Colonel Brandon. This wasn’t the standard boy-meets-girl template I was used to at the time from TV and movies, and I suspect I was initially wowed by the idea of an experienced older man being selflessly in love with someone considerably younger.

Q: Has she surprised you since then?

Yes, by being funnier than I originally expected. The Brontës, bless their hearts, may be many things, but ‘funny’ isn’t really on the list! There’s a wry, waspish humour in the creation of characters like Mrs Elton, Miss Bates and (elsewhere) Mrs Norris which makes them laughable on the surface but also gives them a deeply unhappy core. Who would envy Mrs Norris’s lot, after all, being sent off into what sounds like the dreariest possible exile? And can we really imagine that Mrs Elton and her caro sposo will ever truly be happy? And the putting-on-the-play sequence in Mansfield Park, which gets more and more out of control as it goes on, just feels like slapstick to me – complete with the sudden glowering intervention of the comedy villain to bring it all crashing to a halt!

Q: Which Austen character do you like best? Which do you identify with most?

No doubt about it, right at the top of my list is Mr George Knightley. I like him because he embodies so many of the restrained virtues of an English gentleman; he’s gracious, charming, attentive to old Mr Woodhouse (who is another of the comical characters with sadness inside – not only is he a widower, but he’s probably also struggling with the onset of dementia), fair, patient, slow to anger and generous to a fault. Some of these qualities are of course also shared by Colonel Brandon, but Knightley is more at ease than Brandon in a social setting and less burdened by an unhappy past – although it’s also fair to say that he’s had less of the suffering which is supposed to be so good for the development of a person’s character!

I don’t think I identify strongly with any of Austen’s characters, but I have great sympathy with Harriet Smith’s romantic ineptitude; her persistence in falling for the wrong person and being damaged by it, and her daft obsessions such as saving Mr Elton’s court-plaster, definitely ring a distant bell with me. In the present day Harriet – who is, after all, a teenager – could get this sort of thing out of her system early by having crushes on TV or film stars; in the narrow world of Highbury she’s restricted to having futile obsessions for unsuitable men. Her crush on Mr Elton is largely Emma’s doing, and although Harriet’s deeply upset by the ending of her hopes I’ve never really been sure how much of her heart was in it in the first place. Her crush on Mr Knightley, on the other hand, strikes me as being perfectly reasonable – if transient – not least because he’s clearly the finest specimen of manhood to be discovered in the area. Her first-and-last love for Robert Martin, however, is a combination of teenage crush and grown-up decision-making; in modern parlance she ends up marrying the boy next door, and when that’s a clear-eyed choice arrived at with a bit of perspective the chances are it’s going to turn out rather well.

One more thing I’d like to add about Jane Austen’s work is this: it’s no surprise to me that a ‘spin-off culture’ has emerged from it. Her characters are so deep and richly-drawn that it’s natural to want to know what happens to them next, what would happen if characters from different books met up, or how they would deal with the sudden arrival of either Jemima Rooper or a zombie plague; there are enough characters, enough plots, and more than enough wonderful writing in Austen to provide those who enjoy her work with talking-points to last them quite happily from now until Doomsday – or beyond!


adam-fitzroyAuthor bio: Imaginist and purveyor of tall tales Adam Fitzroy is a UK resident who has been successfully spinning same sex romances either part-time or full-time since the 1980s, and has a particular interest in examining the conflicting demands of love and duty.

Links: BlogSpot; Twitter


A CERTAIN PERSUASION buy links: AllRomance; Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords

Three new titles now available!

1 November is here at last, and our three new titles are now available! This includes two New Adult novels as well as an anthology featuring modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by the novels of Jane Austen.

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONA CERTAIN PERSUASION showcases thirteen stories by eleven authors, each of which takes something of Jane Austen’s as its source – and from that point on nothing at all is certain. We meet compelling reinterpretations of canonical characters such as Elinor Dashwood, William Elliot, Emma Woodhouse and – of course! – Fitzwilliam Darcy, and are also introduced to new ones who will linger in the memory – Adam Ashford Otelian, Robert Oakes and the enigmatic Lint, to name but a few. For anyone who has ever ‘thought beyond the page’ about Jane Austen’s work, this book is a real goldmine of intrigue and adventure. (And you will also make the close acquaintance of Mr Beveridge’s Maggot – really, need we say more?)

The authors include some familiar names and some new to the Press: Julie Bozza; Andrea Demetrius; Sam Evans; Lou Faulkner; Adam Fitzroy; Narrelle M Harris; Sandra Lindsey; Fae Mcloughlin; Atlin Merrick; JL Merrow; and Eleanor Musgrove.

Buy links:


SUBMERGEIn SUBMERGE by Eleanor Musgrove we meet Jamie, wandering innocently into the web of friendships and intrigues that surround a popular local club. Soon accepted as one of the ‘family’ he finds himself beginning to fall for manager Miles, but events occur which make him very reluctant to trust either the new man in his life – or, indeed, anybody else around him.

Buy links:


TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STARTO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR by Michelle Peart takes us to the unfamiliar world of Abaytor, where Edward and his new friend Burn are thrown headlong into a series of adventures and perils in the course of an extraordinary river journey – one which will leave them both profoundly changed, and also looking for answers to a greater mystery.

Buy links:

Manifold Press in the Rainbow Awards 2016

Yesterday was a mighty fine day for the Press. Not only did we announce three new titles – each of which we’re rather excited about for various reasons – but we also found out that two of our earlier titles have earned themselves Honourable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards 2016!

Before we get into the details, though, I’d just like to add that for the first time, the Press has entered our book covers in the Rainbow Awards’ Best Cover contest. We’re proud of our new designs, courtesy of Michelle Peart, and we wanted to say that loud and clear.

The Best Cover contest is decided by popular vote, so do drop by and have a look at all the beauties on display. The only rule is that you have to vote for at least three covers. Somehow we don’t think you’ll have any problems finding enough to vote for … Indeed, Miss Bates was relieved to hear that this time there would be no difficulty, and she will not be limited to only three at once.

That link again: elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/covers.php

So, on to the Honourable Mentions!

IN DEEPFirst mentioned (honourably) on Elisa’s blog was IN DEEP by the always reliable Adam Fitzroy. Not one but three of the judges were very impressed!

1) Plot was a bit slow to get moving, as the reader doesn’t learn the protagonist’s goal/agenda for far too many pages, imho. Once that comes out, the stakes are clear and this complex “isolated village” story lights up. The fierce setting is a major character in the story, literally a force of nature. The nuanced and believable main characters are well drawn in a writing style both dense and elegant, especially the protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant, measured, thoughtful read. A very satisfying mystery.

2) This was a carefully constrained story, unfolding step by step as the protagonist searches for answers in the death of his step son. Fitzroy does a beautiful job creating a world isolated both geographically and emotionally, the characters are roughly hewn from the landscape and finely detailed and nuanced in character so that everything, every step the protagonist takes, seems compelling and inevitable, and the love affair realistic.

3) I loved the writing style and the realism of the book. It was slower moving, but highly entertaining.

ACROSS YOUR DREAMSAnd then Jay Lewis Taylor was (honourably) mentioned in dispatches for ACROSS YOUR DREAMS – this time by four judges!

1) What a beautiful book! It is full of vivid imagery, well-drawn and unique characters, and the story–oh, so heartbreaking but yet appropriate for the times. War is hell, and it took its toll on the young men caught up in it. I felt like I was there with Alan, Lew and Russ, experiencing what they did right alongside them. I reveled in their stolen moments together with their beloveds, and cried for their devastating losses. This story will definitely stick with me for a very long time. I loved it. All the points.

2) I awarded top marks to this book because I thoght the writing was exceptional. I was transported back in time to the Great War. The sense of time and place were outstanding. The language of the book perfectly fitted the setting and the lives and opinions of the characters all felt true to time and place. An exceptional read.

3) This is a convincing, well-researched historical novel about a very closeted network of gay men who don’t have access to a community of like-minded people. The homophobia of the surrounding society is extreme, and so is their anxiety about sexual contact with other men, including kissing. The drama of warfare and the great flu epidemic, which together destroyed millions of lives, all seem true to life, and they could hardly be exaggerated. As a historical novel, this book is a solid achievement.

4) Touching and tender love story. A very real sense of the time and place. Excellent story.

Needless to say, we are very proud of these responses for two very fine books. Thank you kindly to Elisa Rolle and her team of judges for the honourables!

Announcing three new titles today!

These are exciting times at Manifold Press! On 1 November 2016 we’re not only launching our New Adult imprint – introducing fascinating debut novels by two very talented writers – but also bringing to fruition a long-cherished anthology project featuring modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by the novels of Jane Austen.

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONA CERTAIN PERSUASION showcases thirteen stories by eleven authors, each of which takes something of Jane Austen’s as its source – and from that point on nothing at all is certain. We meet compelling reinterpretations of canonical characters such as Elinor Dashwood, William Elliot, Emma Woodhouse and – of course! – Fitzwilliam Darcy, and are also introduced to new ones who will linger in the memory – Adam Ashford Otelian, Robert Oakes and the enigmatic Lint, to name but a few. For anyone who has ever ‘thought beyond the page’ about Jane Austen’s work, this book is a real goldmine of intrigue and adventure. (And you will also make the close acquaintance of Mr Beveridge’s Maggot – really, need we say more?)

The authors include some familiar names and some new to the Press: Julie Bozza; Andrea Demetrius; Sam Evans; Lou Faulkner; Adam Fitzroy; Narrelle M Harris; Sandra Lindsey; Fae Mcloughlin; Atlin Merrick; JL Merrow; and Eleanor Musgrove.

SUBMERGEIn SUBMERGE by Eleanor Musgrove we meet Jamie, wandering innocently into the web of friendships and intrigues that surround a popular local club. Soon accepted as one of the ‘family’ he finds himself beginning to fall for manager Miles, but events occur which make him very reluctant to trust either the new man in his life – or, indeed, anybody else around him.

 

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STARTO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR by Michelle Peart takes us to the unfamiliar world of Abaytor, where Edward and his new friend Burn are thrown headlong into a series of adventures and perils in the course of an extraordinary river journey – one which will leave them both profoundly changed, and also looking for answers to a greater mystery.

Back from the abyss!

You may have noticed that we vanished from Facebook some time over the weekend. This was apparently because we’d originally set up our account as a personal one, not a business-type ‘page’, so FB deleted us without warning. (We’ll leave you to imagine the muttering and gnashing of teeth resulting from this decision.) Rather than mess about trying to appeal it/retrieve our information, we decided to bite the bullet and create a page from scratch. You can now find us at the new Manifold Press Facebook page.

To celebrate our return here’s a special offer; ‘like’ us on Facebook before 12 noon on Friday 16 September (UK time) to win one of four Manifold Press paperbacks: BUTTERFLY HUNTER or THE ‘TRUE LOVE’ SOLUTION by Julie Bozza, or GHOST STATION or THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE (not due to be published until 1 October) by Adam Fitzroy. If you have a preference, please let us know in the replies to this post – otherwise you’ll receive a random book. We’ll pick out the four lucky winners as soon as we can after the closing deadline, but ‘like’ our page now to be included in the draw. As the saying goes, “You have to be in it to win it!”

[NB: people who have already ‘liked’ us are of course included automatically!]

More price reductions on old favourites

Continuing our year of changes throughout MANIFOLD PRESS, we’re introducing another set of permanent price reductions on classic titles.

BETWEEN NOW AND THENBETWEEN NOW AND THEN by Adam Fitzroy – now $4.95!

It’s 1991, and a group of English football fans are driving across Belgium; their trip takes them through the site of a former battle, and that’s when a strange sequence of events begins. For Dennis and Allan, colleagues who cordially dislike each other, this means journeying further still – into what appears to be the past, and into the lives of two men who travelled this way seventy-five years earlier, whose unfinished love-affair remains to be played out in full. As they move backwards and forwards in time Dennis and Allan have only themselves to rely on, no markers to show them where they’re going, and no real certainty of ever finding their way home again.

MONTANA REDMONTANA RED by Jane Elliot – now $4.95!

It’s out of the frying-pan and into the fire on the day Henry first meets Red. He’s happy enough at first to be having sex with a man – Heaven knows, it’s better than what he’s running away from! – but it isn’t too long before Red’s sexual extravagances are driving the two of them apart. It’s only when Henry’s trying to manage on his own again that he at last begins to achieve a little perspective – on inversion in general, on himself in particular, and even on his relationship with Red. That’s when he starts to wonder if maybe there isn’t a way back for them after all, but this time it will definitely have to be on his terms…

THE EAGLE'S WINGTHE EAGLE’S WING by Cimorene Ross – now $5.95!

Roman Gaul: Lucius Valerius Carus isn’t naturally impulsive; when he suddenly and unexpectedly buys a slave at a market it’s because he feels sorry for a man who has obviously been maltreated in the past. However he’s taken on far more than he bargained for with Keret – intelligent, educated, and a great deal stronger than he looks. Roman society wouldn’t think twice about Lucius using Keret for his sexual pleasure – indeed, it would be astonished if he didn’t – but it’s likely to be horrified if it ever learns that Lucius has started to respect his slave, and absolutely disgusted if it discovers that he’s gradually beginning to fall in love…

HUNTEDHUNTED by Liz Powell – now $6.95!

As a professional footballer it looks like Adam Hunter has it all, but when the secret of his affair with midfielder Louie Jackson begins to leak out he’s plunged into the depths of misery – prompting a desperate series of manoeuvres to conceal the truth. Injured, distrusted by his team-mates and plagued by personal tragedy, Adam goes from hero to zero – and by the time Louie’s transferred to a German side he’s running out of reasons to stay alive. If there’s any way back from the brink of suicide, it isn’t clear to him at the moment…

THE WALLED GARDENTHE WALLED GARDEN by F.M. Parkinson – now $6.95!

William Ashton, retained as a gardener by Edward Hillier, discovers his new master to be a detached and driven man. Over the years, as travail and tragedy bring them closer together, he understands that they have more in common than he first realised, but the affection they feel for one another will be sorely tested by boundaries both of class and of rigid Victorian morality. Like the private garden behind the high walls their love must flourish only in the strictest secrecy – or else it will not do so at all.

If you missed any of these diverse and fascinating titles earlier in their illustrious careers, this would be a wonderful opportunity of making their acquaintance!

Manifold Press paperbacks

The Press doesn’t issue paperback editions of all our titles, as the decision to do so is driven by the individual authors. That being said, we’re delighted with the twenty titles that have made it into print thus far! There are new ones on the way, so it seemed to be a good time to take stock of what we have so far.

A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!
A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!

Our current paperback titles are listed here, along with Amazon US buy links:

The Apothecary's Garden paperback coverAlways With Us by Morgan Cheshire

The Apothecary’s Garden by Julie Bozza

Between Now and Then by Adam Fitzroy

Butterfly Hunter (#1) by Julie Bozza

Of Dreams and Ceremonies (Butterfly Hunter #2) by Julie Bozza

The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3) by Julie Bozza

The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy (incorporating all three novels plus the free short story Like Leaves to a Tree) by Julie Bozza

Dear Mister President by Adam Fitzroy

Make Do and Mend paperback coverThe Definitive Albert J. Sterne (incorporating the novel and the stories published separately in the eBook Albert J. Sterne: Future Bright, Past Imperfect) by Julie Bozza

Ghost Station by Adam Fitzroy

Homosapien … a fantasy about pro wrestling by Julie Bozza

Make Do and Mend by Adam Fitzroy

Mitch Rebecki Gets a Life by Julie Bozza

A Pride of Poppies Modern LGBTQIA Fiction of the Great War – anthology including stories by Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove and Jay Lewis Taylor

A Pride of Poppies - paperback coverRavages by R.A. Padmos

Solemn Contract by Morgan Cheshire

Stage Whispers by Adam Fitzroy

A Threefold Cord by Julie Bozza

The ‘True Love’ Solution by Julie Bozza

The Valley of the Shadow of Death by Julie Bozza

We hope you’ll enjoy these paperback editions and – like us! – are looking forward to more titles coming soon.

GHOST STATION paperback giveaway

Ghost Station by Adam FitzroyAdam Fitzroy very kindly made two copies of his paperback GHOST STATION available, hot off the presses, for a giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered!

This morning, we drew the two lucky winners at random from the entries … and they are Carolyn and Dianna! Congratulations to both of you. We have emailed you to ask for your postal addresses, and Adam is waiting with pen poised to sign your copies, if you wish it.

Thank you again, and we trust everyone’s Sunday is going swimmingly.

GHOST STATION paperback giveaway!

Ghost Station by Adam FitzroyManifold Press stalwart Adam Fitzroy has very kindly made two copies of the paperback edition of GHOST STATION available for a giveaway!

There are no hoops to jump through. Just click here for the entry form, fill in your first name and email address, and click the Submit button. (All information will be treated strictly confidentially, though unless you request otherwise, we will publish the first names of the winners on this blog.)

The giveaway will run from today, 23 July, through to Saturday 30 July.

Blurb: It’s 1976, the Cold War is still at its coldest, and retired agent John Dashwood is persuaded to return to supervise one last mission. However nothing at Ghost Station is quite the way he remembers it and everybody seems to have something to hide – including his two valued colleagues, Rick Wentworth and Harry Tilney, and his enigmatic boss Sir Charles Grandison. When operational necessity requires Dashwood to send Rick and Harry into a dangerous situation, the boundaries between friend and enemy begin to blur and he’s left isolated and wondering which of his so-called allies he can really trust.

GHOST STATION received an Honorable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2012, and reviewer Sirius at Jessewave called it “An exciting and fun spy thriller, which had me on the edge of my seat …”

Please do take this opportunity to enter this giveaway, dear Readers!

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG NUMBER TWENTY NINE – Adam Fitzroy

GHOST STATION

GHOST STATIONIt would probably not be letting too many cats out of too many bags to admit that books in general and characters in particular are usually inspired by someone or something the author has encountered in the course of everyday life.  It may be a poem, a snippet of history, a person met at random at a bus stop or in a hospital corridor, a picture discovered on the Internet – or, indeed, just about anything else.  (More than one book, for example, has been written as the result of someone playing a quest-type game, either online or with pencil and paper and a series of multi-faceted dice.)

My inspirations, on the whole, tend to be visual.  It would be disingenuous to pretend that I haven’t, in my time, written a considerable amount of fan-fiction, some of which I’m extremely proud of, but the problem with fan-fiction is that it only works if both the author and the reader are familiar with the source material.  That way there’s a kind of shorthand operating by which, for example, the name ‘Spock’ immediately conjures up a set of known reference points – he’s a Vulcan, his blood group is T-Negative, his parents are Sarek and Amanda, etc. etc. etc.  It isn’t necessary to explain why Spock does certain things in a fan story, because his character is so well established already that the reader knows what to expect from him.

When you want to branch out and start writing your own original fiction, it’s immediately necessary to explain things about your characters that the reader can’t possibly know in advance.  If you call your character ‘Tock’, say that he’s from a planet called Eros, his blood is X-Positive and his parents are Derek and Nora, you need to give your reader a chance to get to know him; the short-cuts offered by fan-fiction are no longer possible and, although you may have taken the TV (or indeed film) version of Spock as your inspiration, the reader has no way of knowing that and you are basically starting out to create your character completely from scratch.

On the other hand, this is also incredibly liberating; it means you get to discard features of the character you aren’t particularly fond of – you can get rid of an inconvenient spouse or partner or an irritating personal habit such as smoking – and reshape him or her to suit yourself.  At what point he or she ceases to be the one you remember and becomes an independent creation is, of course, a moot point; by the end, all you may be left with is a vague memory of a certain actor in a certain film or TV series – but the character on the page is no longer that person, if he ever was.  He has grown beyond that, and become uniquely himself.

This long preamble is by way of an explanation; I had unfinished business with the characters who eventually became Rick Wentworth and Harry Tilney, in the form of a piece of fan-fiction which was only ever half-written and was on my conscience for roughly thirty years.  I can’t begin to tell you the tumult those thirty years represented in my life – probably best if you don’t know, actually, since I’d like you to be able to sleep at night – but, when the dust settled and I began writing seriously at last, it was important to me to return to that world and finish what I’d started there.  Even if that meant going back to the very beginning and making the story over with characters who only superficially resembled the TV originals they’d once been.

If you start from scratch like that, it follows that you pretty much have to invent the details of the organisation the characters work for.  In both the original TV show and the book they are employees of a British organisation responsible for national security which is perpetually starved of funds.  They are cut-price James Bonds, the guys who do the day-to-day work and are more likely to end their day filling in forms than bedding a glamorous Soviet agent in a Mayfair hotel.  They have their American counterparts, too, who are always better-resourced – but which side they’re on is anybody’s guess!  And of course this is all set during the Cold War and it runs in parallel with John Le Carré’s ‘Smiley’ novels, because who wouldn’t want to write about the nitty-gritty of fieldwork in those days?  I once stayed in an East German hotel where the listening devices had only recently been removed; it isn’t difficult to imagine what it must have been like just a few years earlier.

Constructing the London headquarters of Ghost Station in my mind, however, was the best fun of the whole book.  I happen to be very fond of railways, and ghost stations in particular.  (If you’re not familiar with the expression, see abandonedstations.org.uk.)  Very few abandoned Tube stations seem to have been repurposed, at least as far as the underground sections are concerned, and it seemed that such a station would make an ideal secret base.  It would be very similar, in fact, to Western Approaches Command in Liverpool, which I visited when I was writing MAKE DO AND MEND.  Locating it involved a happy few hours poring over Tube maps, and inventing a spur line in a part of London I know reasonably well, to give my characters somewhere to operate from; Mr Le Carré has his famous ‘Circus’, and I have my ‘Ghost Station’.

It would be tedious to go into all the details of the book and describe the inspirations behind them – although a gentle online stroll around the abandoned sanatorium at Beelitz-Heilstätten is always worthwhile.  Suffice it to say that, for any book, ideas can emerge from a bewildering variety of sources; the trick is combining them into something that will entertain the reader without taking too many liberties with anybody else’s copyrights.

Ray Lonnen and Roy Marsden in 'The Sandbaggers'
Ray Lonnen and Roy Marsden in ‘The Sandbaggers’

On which note, I feel it’s probably safe to reveal that the original inspirations for the characters in GHOST STATION, thirty years ago when it was intended as fan-fiction (and pure action-adventure without any sex!) were Roy Marsden and the late Ray Lonnen in ‘The Sandbaggers’.  That Rick and Harry grew a very long way beyond them and became other people goes without saying, I hope, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind they still look rather like Roy and Ray – as they were in the late 1970s, anyway – and for those who are not familiar with them this is how they looked back then.  (That’s Ray Lonnen on the left, Roy Marsden on the right.)  I really hope this revelation hasn’t ruined the book for anybody, though!


We’re delighted to announce that the paperback edition of GHOST STATION has just been released!

You can find it at: