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 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!

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.

New reviews

Apologies to the authors for a delay in bringing these to people’s attention, but there is a small batch of reviews we haven’t yet told you about!

To start with, Gay.Guy.Reading has delivered a verdict on Liam’s new title ESCAPING FROM HIM:

I didn’t quit and enjoyed my journey. There were times I got lost in the words and really connected with Darryl. Those were the moments I just didn’t put it down.

The reviewer ended by calling it ‘an enjoyable read’, with which we totally concur!

In addition, Prism Book Alliance have been doing a ‘Julie Bozza retrospective’ – re-reading some of her previous titles. A reader named Lirtle posted three reviews, from which we quote below:

BUTTERFLY HUNTER:
Not even halfway through this book and I knew I’d want to spend more time with Dave and Nicholas. I knew I’d want more of the quiet and oh so lovely atmosphere surrounding and running through them.

OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES:
Low angst, passionate, cheeky, and lovely. Wonderful! This is going on my comfort read shelf, without a doubt. I’m loving this series and this writing.

And also, for a change of pace:

THE APOTHECARY’S GARDEN:
Every bit of this story serves the characters. No grand schemes or setting changes in attempts to create tension and curiosity. Everything centers around Hilary and Tom. For me, this made for quite a satisfying reading experience.

That’s exactly what we’re aiming for, Lirtle; thank you for your comments!

To accompany these reviews, Prism Book Alliance also conducted an interview with Julie which you can read here. It’s all an absolute delight, and we’d like to thank our very good friends at the Prism Book Alliance for their time and trouble; we’re very glad you all enjoyed the books!

Valentine’s Day Giveaway – Day Four

ValentinesDayBanner

Good afternoon, dear Readers!

With the help of random.org, we have drawn another name out of the virtual hat: today Jess1 asked for a copy of OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES by Julie Bozza, and that will be singing its way to you shortly, Jess!

Chris, Dianna, Jess and all our other lovely readers are now very welcome to enter the fourth day of the giveaway.

Also, don’t forget to check out the new event we have planned for May: Queer Company!

Meanwhile, for seven days from Valentine’s Day, we’re giving away one free book per day, with the draws to be made as close as possible to 12.00 midday UK time starting on Sunday 15 February.

To win the Manifold Press book of your choice all you need to do is tell us – in a screened reply below:

  • your first name,
  • your email address,
  • the title of the book you’d like, and
  • the format you prefer (epub, mobi or pdf).

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

If you are successful once, don’t let it deter you from entering again; you can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway.

So come on in and join us. It’s a great chance to experiment with the work of a new author, or to complete the backlist of a favourite – and good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

New review of OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES

OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIESOver on MM Good Book Reviews, a reviewer named Cat has been taking a look at the paperback edition of Julie Bozza’s OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES.  It’s only a short review but a very positive one, and she ends with the words:

If you like sweet, sensual, emotional romances, sexy Australians, hot English dignitaries, butterflies, beautiful scenery, and a little very sensual, loving mansex, same-sex weddings and happy for now endings, this is for you.

Who could possibly argue with that?  And thank you very much, Cat, for your good opinion!

Statistics for January

Just briefly – our best-seller on all platforms for the month of January was Julie’s OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES, with her original BUTTERFLY HUNTER not being far behind; we suspect that’s probably a lot of people taking advantage of the opportunity to buy both books at once and enjoy the whole ride!

Best-seller on our website for the month, however, was F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN; it’s nice to know that new people are still finding her book – and also, we hope, enjoying it!

Seventh Day winner

Our winner today is Dianna, who has chosen to receive Julie Bozza’s OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES; it’ll be on its way to you shortly, Dianna – but unfortunately, having now won twice, we’ll have to disqualify you from the rest of the competition. Nevertheless many congratulations on your good fortune – and we suggest you go out and buy a lottery ticket immediately!

New review for OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES

We were very pleased to learn of another very encouraging response to Julie’s new book OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES which was posted at Jessewave over the weekend. The reviewer, Feliz, seems to have relished the lovely light-hearted tone of the book in particular!

From the cottage where Dave and Nicolas spend their honeymoon to the supposedly haunted stone circle right on their doorstep, from the eccentric characters they encounter in the nearby fishing village to their quirky secret-tunnels-and-hidden-trapdoors adventure – I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek references to “typically British” storylines including Enid Blyton’s Fabulous Five.

We have to assume plenty of other people agree with this, too, to judge from the speed at which customers are snapping up the book; looks like you’ve got another hit on your hands, there, Julie!