How I made do and mended

An author guest blog by Adam Fitzroy

The book that eventually became MAKE DO AND MEND started out very differently. It was originally going to be about four brothers, living on a not-entirely-successful family farm in Wales, fighting off a land-grab from a consortium that wanted to build a golf-course – and it was emphatically going to be taking place in the ‘present day’. However some elements of the story were in place even then; there would be conflict between the two elder brothers because Two was a nasty resentful piece of work and would undermine everything One was attempting to do, but Three and Four would turn out to be – perhaps to their own astonishment – good and sensible men who could be relied on in a crisis. There would also be a mysterious stranger to the village, a quiet, dignified older man, who would draw the attention of the hitherto flighty One and with whom he would eventually form a romantic relationship. Two and Three would be firmly heterosexual; Four’s preferences were still unknown.

I hadn’t written any of this before the plan changed dramatically. I’d been thinking about it and discussing it with friends for some considerable time, but there was something about it that just wasn’t gelling in my head. I don’t know, now, precisely what it was that prompted the change of direction, but one day it suddenly occurred to me that setting it during the Second World War would make it a more interesting project and radically change the dynamics of the situation. For one thing, there was huge pressure to produce food and other necessities for the war effort (flax, wood, etc.) so that even a farm that was struggling beforehand would enjoy a period of relative prosperity. For another, it would enable One to have a perspective on life and love that didn’t just revolve around the narrow confines of his familiar Welsh valley.

The valley itself was one of the constants. Being a regular traveller on trains between Newport and Chester, I’d always been intrigued by a village north of Abergavenny. There ought to be a station there, I thought, so that I could get out and explore – but there wasn’t. So I did my initial exploring online and on the OS map, and eventually managed to tour the area by car as well. I found the perfect site for the house, which ended up being called Hendra, but what was there was less prepossessing than I had in mind. Therefore, in a move I’m sure English Heritage would deplore, I picked up Stokesay Castle, made some alterations to its layout, and transported it a little matter of fifty miles down the road. I tacked on a somewhat rickety Home Farm a short distance away, and a couple of quarrymen’s cottages higher up the hill, and that was that – I had my location!

The joy of writing something like this is the research. Wanting a box-bed for Jim’s cottage I found just the thing online, which turned out to be in a rural museum on Orkney. Years later I got to meet it in person … and that was the trip which ended up inspiring IN DEEP. I also managed to fit in a visit to Western Approaches Command and chose one of its mysterious closed doors to be Harry’s decoding office. (I have no idea what was really behind it; it could have been a store-room or a doorway into Hades for all I know!) When I decided to make Jim a conscientious objector – because I’ve never forgotten the Dad’s Army episode in which Godfrey is revealed to be a conscientious objector – I researched the Peace Pledge Union, their white poppies, and the advocacy work they did. I hope that if I was ever in the position of being ordered to fight (unlikely now, given my age!) I would have the courage not simply to do as I was told but to say that I thought it was wrong and find another way of serving instead.

I could go on. The hotel in Liverpool exists, and has been the scene of numerous fannish conventions. The pub where Harry lodges sort-of exists; there is a pub there, but I transported a building in from another location because I liked it better. The road over Sermon Pass is a real road now, but at the time the book is set it was little more than a track. And as for Birkenhead Park … it’s a jewel, and was reputedly the model for Central Park in New York.

There are, of course, loose ends in MAKE DO AND MEND. Jack (Three) will stay at Hendra, married to Kitty, and their children will farm there in their turn. Thomas (Two) is likely to move away after the War, to some place where his predictable lack of success will be less visible to his family and he can be the person of importance he so clearly thinks he is. Harry (One) will emigrate, Jim at his side, to a country where nobody will care who they were before – possibly Canada. Jim will write books and teach; Harry will no doubt go into broadcasting in some capacity. They won’t be rich, but they’ll be happy. As for Freddie (Four), his future is more opaque; there is, somewhere in the back of my mind, a whole new set of adventures for him – one of which I’m hoping will coalesce into a short story for Manifold Press’s World War Two anthology CALL TO ARMS. In fact it would be fair to say that I have no idea, at the moment, precisely what happens to Freddie, but I’m very much looking forward to finding out!

[Oh, and the land-grabby golf-course-builders may well make an appearance at some point, too… ]

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.

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Four

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

And we have the results for Day Three! Chris‘s name was chosen via random.org. Chris chose a copy of MAKE DO AND MEND by the ever popular Adam Fitzroy – which will be heading your way shortly, Chris!

To enter the giveaway, click here for the Book Giveaways form. This will open in a new window or tab. You’ll be asked for your first name, an email address, which title you’d like, and in which format. All these fields must be completed before clicking the Submit button.

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any comments made on this post are not screened other than via the usual WordPress security. All comments on this post will in effect be public.

All our current titles are available for the giveaway, but only in electronic formats.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. That includes Andrea, Chris and Jen! You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Three

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

And we have the results for Day Two! Jen‘s name was chosen via random.org. She chose a copy of MAKE DO AND MEND by Adam Fitzroy – which will be heading your way shortly, Jen! We’re particularly proud of this excellent story, we have to admit.

To enter the giveaway, click here for the Book Giveaways form. This will open in a new window or tab. You’ll be asked for your first name, an email address, which title you’d like, and in which format. All these fields must be completed before clicking the Submit button.

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any comments made on this post are not screened other than via the usual WordPress security. All comments on this post will in effect be public.

All our current titles are available for the giveaway, but only in electronic formats.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. That includes Andrea and Jen! You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

EXTREMELY RANDOM HARVEST – DAY FOUR

XRH

Congratulations to our Day Three winner, Chris, who asked for a copy of Adam Fitzroy’s MAKE DO AND MEND; this will be on its way to you shortly – and thank you for taking part.

– – – – –

This is the third day of our new Extremely Random Harvest giveaway! We are giving away seven books over seven days, with the next one being drawn at random 24 hours from now. To win, all you need to do is give us (in a screened reply, below) your first name, your e-mail address, and the title of the book you’d like to win – which includes our two new titles being published on 1 August, RANDY by Jane Elliot and HUNTED by Liz Powell.

One entry per day only, please – and nobody is allowed to win more than twice. Also, please don’t forget to tell us which format you’d like to receive! We’ll do our level best to draw the winner at the same time every day, to give everyone an equal chance of winning – so come and join in the fun, and don’t forget to tell your friends; this is a great chance to discover a new author or a new book, or to complete the back catalogue of an old favourite. After all, what have you got to lose?

New reviews of THIS MEANS WAR

THIS MEANS WARJust before all the madness started ahead of UK Meet – which we’ll be telling you about when we’ve got our breath back properly! – we were notified of a couple of new reviews of Jane Elliot’s recent title THIS MEANS WAR. Taking them in chronological order, the first appeared on Boys In Our Books on 2 February but unfortunately slipped through the net. Reviewer Ami wrote:

It was a nice read – I still enjoyed it, especially because Brian could surprise Jasper when it came to pranks. But was it a needed sequel? Not so much, unfortunately. And would I actually recommend it? Uhm, only if you are okay with slice-of-life and enjoyed the first book…

Clearly it didn’t quite push all her buttons, which is a shame, but we appreciate her comments anyway!

More recently, Portia de Moncur at MM Good Book Reviews had this to say:

This story has a bit of everything, fun pranks, snarky jasper, a broken Brian a cute, funny cat, and mystery. The sex scenes while hot are very tastefully done and for the most part off page.

If you like, a fun, fast-paced story with romance and mystery, like pranks, broken men, ex-military men, smart men, good friends, adorable cats, and committed couples this is for you. I can’t wait for the next one.

Which only goes to prove that tastes differ, and it’s quite impossible for everyone to like everything equally! Thank you, too, to Portia for her comments.

– – – – –

On a slightly different topic, we don’t think we’ve mentioned yet that two of Adam Fitzroy’s books, STAGE WHISPERS and MAKE DO AND MEND, are now available in PoD editions and can be bought directly from CreateSpace or from your local Amazon Marketplace – see links on the appropriate pages of our website. We understand that Adam is also planning to offer some copies on eBay in due course.

New review of MAKE DO AND MEND

MAKE DO AND MENDDelightfully, some of our more venerable titles are still finding new readers and coming to the attention of new reviewers. Recently, Jenni at Boys in our Books turned her attention to Adam Fitzroy’s MAKE DO AND MEND, which seems to have been a pretty positive experience on the whole.

A very strong cast of supporting characters—including Harry’s jerk of a brother and other more likeable folks—helped to move things along and kept the story interesting enough that I ended up really cheering for Harry and Jim to find a way to be together. It was a story about finding yourself and learning to accept who you are, and I enjoyed the experience very much.

Thank you, Jenni, we’re really pleased you liked it!

Third Day winner

Our winner today is Dianna, who asked for Adam Fitzroy’s MAKE DO AND MEND – we’ll be sending that on to you within the next few minutes, Dianna.

Thank you to everyone else who took part – there are a few more of you each day, and we’re delighted to see you all here.

The Fourth Day of Christmas giveaway will be opening shortly, so please do come along and try your luck again!

Rainbow Awards winners announced

We’re absolutely thrilled to announce that the Rainbow Award winners were revealed overnight, and that the Press has had some quite outstanding successes this year.

We were still reeling from the news that Adam Fitzroy had won ‘Best Gay Historical Romance’ for MAKE DO AND MEND – with Jane Elliot taking third in the same category for MONTANA RED – when we opened a further e-mail and were knocked sideways yet again by the news that MAKE DO AND MEND had also taken the award for ‘Best Gay Novel’. We can only imagine the utter chaos prevailing in the Fitzroy household this morning – we have it on very good authority that Adam celebrated by having a massive cheese sandwich for breakfast, but there’s heady talk of a bottle of wine for later on!!!

Manifold Press has also been honoured for the following:

Julie Bozza – THE APOTHECARY’S GARDEN – runner up in ‘Best Gay Contemporary Romance’
Adam Fitzroy – BETWEEN NOW AND THEN – runner up in ‘Best Gay Paranormal Romance’

In the excitement it’s not impossible that we might have missed something else (please tell us, if we have), but these are certainly the headlines – and what headlines they are! Many many – indeed manifold – congratulations to all our authors for making such a strong impression on the judges; we’re quite excessively proud of you all, and will only say (at the risk of seeming greedy!) more of the same next year, please!

New review of MAKE DO AND MEND

It’s always a delight when, some time after a book’s release, a brand new review pops up unexpectedly. We’ve just been made aware of Gerry Burnie’s review of Adam Fitzroy’s MAKE DO AND MEND which appeared recently on the website Gerry B’s Book Reviews and garnered a prestigious “five bees”.

It reads with all the credibility of opening a time capsule.

Surely no author could ever dream of higher praise than that? It must make all the hard work of researching seem worthwhile! So thank you, Gerry – and well done, Adam!