alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

First interview of 2016 goes to Dr Jo Stanley, FRHistS, for her fascinating blog Gender, sex, race, class – and the sea.

“Using a cultural studies approach, this blog explores the impact of women, LGBT people, working-class people and people from a range of ethnic backgrounds, on the sea and shipping. And it questions the ways that the sea and ships in turn affect such people’s lives and mobility.”

I find Alex’s novels about this world deeply enjoyable and satisfying. And I’m intrigued that they are written by woman who isn’t even a boatie; read by metropolitan men who certainly didn’t sail in the 18C; and relished by straight landswomen.
The bizarre nature of this phenomenon is why I have just interviewed Alex by email. Here are the replies she kindly sent:

Q. Why did you start writing queer Age of Sail books? Did you feel something should be explored about the hidden potential sexual extent of those close on-board relationships in history books and in novels such as those by Patrick O’Brian?

Read more here

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

A giveaway and two posts in one week. Where will it end?

The Novel Approach were kind enough to interview me about The Reluctant Berserker, so I am over here today explaining why Viking helmets did not have horns and why I like the Saxons so much – hint, it involves elves :)

If you would like to read an excerpt and possibly win a copy, hie thee over there and say hello!

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

LOL! It looks like we planned this as a swap, but actually it just turned out this way. Charlie’s one of the first people I ever got to know in this genre, and still one of the nicest. It was a great experience, coming in as a new author to have a posse of people to hang out with and keep each other encouraged. Much has changed since the days when Charlie, Erastes, Lee Rowan and I set up The Macaronis and were mostly of one mind about historical fiction, but the friendship doesn’t wane.

Anyway, enough of that, and on to the interview :)


What upcoming project of your own are you most excited about?

 You’re going to see a theme for my answers, in that you’ll ask me for one example, and I’ll give you three. Or more. Maybe I’m generous or maybe I’m just too loquacious. I was the same in exams, always wrote too much.

The definite thing I’m most excited about is the next Cambridge Fellows book, Lessons for Suspicious minds, which should be out around September. It goes back to 1909, so Jonty’s parents will be swooping in on Mrs. Stewart’s broomstick!

The indefinite things are even more exciting, but they’re all “don’t know yets”. I have a story long listed for a mainstream anthology, another entered in a competition and a story submitted to an agent.

 Who is your favorite fictional character created by someone other than yourself?

Going to have to give more than one.

Aragorn, of course, because he’s handsome and tough and noble and heroic and just…cor.

Laurie Odell, because he’s beautifully depicted, wonderfully authentic and just a bit tragic.

Miss Marple, because she’s so well observed. In terms of wheedling out sensitive information, MI5 would be better off employing old ladies than young studs.

What are you enjoying reading at the moment?

My bargain basement treasures. I picked up six volumes of illustrated yearbooks from 1911 through to 1916, full of news and pictures and wonderful stuff. The fact that they came to £3 in total gobsmacked me. Clearly this is an era I read and write about (most of my books are set in the early years of the twentieth century) so not only will they be great for research, they’ll hopefully provide a plot bunny or two.

I always say you can’t beat contemporary sources for both research and inspiration purposes. You get a feel for the cadence of the language, for one thing.

Tell us about the books you have out

 Blimey. There are so many of them, from short stories through to series – where to start? I’ve written about Weresloths, cross dressers, Regency curates, Paralympic swimmers and, of course, Cambridge dons who like to do sleuthing on the side. My most recent book takes me back to what seems to be my comfort zone, WWI. Promises Made Under Fire is about what happens when just about everything you knew (or thought you knew) about your best friend turns out to be a lie.


There are more stories, of course; the easiest way to find a list of/links to all my stories is down the left hand side of my blog!

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Any and everything, so long as it requires no concentration. Sometimes I listen to sport (football is especially useful as it’s pretty bland) or audio books/radio drama, but they tend to be a touch distracting. I’m listening to Stylo by Gorillaz at present, but that could as easily be the Beach Boys or Luciano Pavarotti.

Do you think you have specific themes you continue to return to?  If so what are they?

I have certain eras, definitely. Writing 1900 to 1920 feels like coming home, maybe because I’ve always read and enjoyed so many stories from around that time (Jerome K Jerome, Conan Doyle, etc). As for themes, I guess that one I tend to return to is a pair of manly men, if that makes sense. My heroes are rarely in the outwardly effeminate end of the spectrum (except for Francis from “All That Jazz”) and usually like sport and showing their affection by insulting each other.

I suspect a faith element usually plays a part in my plots, although maybe that’s my own spirituality coming out?

 What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?                          

 I should probably say producing (with the help of the long-suffering Mr. Cochrane)  my three beautiful daughters, but if I’m allowed to be entirely self centred and shallow I’d say

a) my double first from Cambridge

b) having fed Red Rum a Polo mint

c) the fan e-mails I get from gay men

Do you characterize by observation or introspection?

 Alex, I don’t even understand that question. I am the world’s worst at analysing my writing (or plotting a story or anything else which is remotely sensible). What did Adrian Plass say? Something like “Writing is easy, you just sit at a typewriter and open a vein.” I just sit down and see what appears on the screen. (Do not try this at home, folks!)

 Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

How long have we got? I read all sorts of stuff, fiction and non-fiction. Among my favourites are:

Jerome K Jerome, for his humour. Jonty and Orlando are heavily influenced by the three men in their boat.

Patrick O’Brian for use of language, breadth of vision and fantastic characterisation.

Mary Renault for being able to say more in one line than most writers can in a whole page.


Have you seen those ‘author’s cave’ photos that show the office/study/corner of the table where famous writers work? What does yours look like?


The Cochranes had a bit of a move round last year, swopping three rooms about, so our study is a converted bedroom. It’s east facing so gets lots of morning sun, is light, airy and has a view over both gardens and fields and the M27. (I’m a London girl, I don’t mind watching a bit of traffic.)

There’s a desk in here, a bookcase, a couple of comfy chairs, a filing cabinet and a Bose system, for that all important music and sport. I “Cox and Box” in here with Mr Cochrane, who is very tidy, which is just as well. It could be awful if one of us was a neat freak and the other wasn’t!

Charlie Cochrane author pic 

You can reach me at (maybe to sign up for my newsletter?) or catch me on Facebook, twitter, goodreads, my website or my blog. All over the place like a rash, really. I tend to blog about anything that takes my fancy, so I can promise that it isn’t all “Buy my book”. I have author guests every month, which is smashing fun (they always have such interesting answers) and I may just mention rugby occasionally. Sometimes. Once or twice a year.














Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

So, my dry spell continues, as you can tell from the state of the blog. But I can at least manage to rouse myself and say “Look! I’ve been interviewed by Charlie Cochrane, the star and inventor of sweet m/m, the author of the well beloved Cambridge Fellows series.”

Charlie always thinks of really good questions, so if you ever wanted to know which imaginary fellow of mine to take along on a potentially perilous date, you can find the answer here:

As for me, I am finally writing again – working on Blue Eyed Stranger – but I haven’t yet got enough tension in my spring to manage blogging as well. It will come, eventually. In the mean time, thank you ever so much to Charlie for having me :)

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Well, her blog title is “Alex Beecroft put to the question,” so I thought I’d follow the theme ;) I’m guesting today on Elin Gregory’s blog, where she asks me all kinds of fascinating things such as “what makes a hero?” and “is everything better with elves?” and “your characters – which would you snog, marry or avoid?” Even though I’m not a great blogger, it’s hard to be boring when asked such interesting questions. To see whether I managed it nevertheless, go here


Thank you, Elin.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Charlie Cochrane, as well as being an amazingly prolific and talented author is also a whiz at thinking up ideas for places to promote.  Recently she suggested that as we were both members of the RNA (the Romantic Novelists’ Association – the UK equivalent of the RWA) we should write a piece about gay historical romance for their in house magazine.

Since we joined the RNA, neither of us have noticed any difference between the way they treat gay romance and the way they treat straight, and here again they have proved their quality (or should I say their equality) by printing the feature.  You can see a scan of the shortened article here:

(Click to enlarge.)  Or the full, unedited text is up on the Macaronis here: Writing Breeches Rippers

Massive thanks to Charlie for being the brains of the outfit, and to the RNA for their inclusiveness :)

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Treat yourself and help Japan

First of all, I was going to post about the wonderful birthday present I got from Mirien, which I absolutely love.  I’ve put it on a black thong to wear it because that seems to go better with the feeling of wearing something out of antiquity.  I tried to take a photo of it, but failed to get one that was good enough to show it off properly.  You can see what it looks like at her post here. Or, since I borrowed her photo, here:

So, as I say, I was going to post about that, but then Mirien decided to make some charms for sale in aid of the Japan relief effort, and I thought it would be better to post about that instead.  She has made some lovely sakura-blossom shaped silver charms stamped with a leaf pattern, suitable for wearing as a pendant or a bracelet or phone charm, or as earrings if you get two.  They’re available for £14, which is not much for a handmade piece of jewellery from an up and coming designer.  Of that, £4 is the price of the silver, and £10 will go to Japan.  So you can buy yourself (or someone else) something nice while also doing a good deed.  Win/win :)


I am interviewed on Sharita Lira’s blog

It’s been a long time since I did an interview, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing this one, as Sharita’s questions were very interesting and up to the minute:

You can find that here

Thanks Sharita!


UK Meet – 23rd July

Advance notice of the UK Meet – a con for writers and fans of GLBT Fiction, whether that’s M/M romance, F/F romance or any other genre featuring GLBTQ characters.  That’s being held on the 23rd of July in Milton Keynes.  You can find details of the venue and booking information on the UK Meet website.  If you know anyone who you think would want to come, do pass the info on.  Thanks!

When I say “con”, mind you, what I mean is “it’s a meeting with a few talks, and you can stay for dinner afterwards if you like.”  We’re not promising anything huge and highly polished, so much as a chance to come and meet some of the UK authors and hang out :)



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