All posts by Julie

reviews: Call to Arms

Historical Novel Society: review by Viviane Crystal

Excerpt and conclusion: “We Live Without a Future” by Julie Bozza recounts the last days of Virginia Woolf, in which she treasures and questions her relationship with her lover and husband, dispassionately thinking she needs to free them both. … Sandra Lindsey’s “Between Friends” makes a significant statement about all these relationships: “desire and lust are easy to understand and easy to answer. Love requires more care.” … An interesting, unified but fragmented, and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.

On Top Down Under Book Reviews with Substance: 5 stars from Kazza K

Excerpt and conclusion: “We Live Without a Future” – Julie Bozza … Not much I can say except it’s beautifully written, is based on fact, and definitely captures the tense mood of the characters and the period. … This is another strong, poignant, well researched and edited anthology from Manifold Press, this time set amidst and around WWII. It follows on the back of their equally good WWI anthology “A Pride of Poppies”. … There are some standout stories but across the board each short is strong and they span several countries, years, and letters within the rainbow alphabet. I would have loved more length with most of these stories but only because they’re so good.

stories: We Live Without a Future

When Manifold Press decided on a new anthology – a companion piece to our Great War anthology A Pride of Poppies, but this time about the Second World War – I thought long and hard about the subject matter. The fact is, I know far less about WW2 than I do about the Great War, so I felt it all too possible that I would have nothing to contribute.

One abiding interest of mine, though, is the Bloomsbury Group and in particular Leonard and Virginia Woolf. I love them both dearly, and for me they are indelibly associated with a great deal of the first half of the 20th century, including the Second World War.

The relationship of each member of the Bloomsbury Group with war was quite complex and individual. There’s a great little article by Roy Johnson exploring their varied actions and reactions on the Mantex site, if you want to explore further. His initial focus is on the Great War, but he includes later developments.

I knew that Leonard and Virginia were afraid of a Nazi invasion of Britain – a possibility that was very real at the time. We tend to dismiss such notions now, because of course we know it never did happen, but it was experienced by people at the time as a genuine fear.

Continue reading stories: We Live Without a Future

A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle

Full of Mirth and Delight

Blurb: Dale is proud of how his acting career is progressing. Tonight, for instance, is the last night (at the beautiful Sam Wanamaker Playhouse) of a well-received run of Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle, in which he plays Rafe. But his colleague Topher, who plays Jasper, seems to think something is missing in Dale’s life. They’re not really friends, and Dale sees little point in reprising the one night on which they were not-really-friends with benefits.

However! Despite the distractions of performing this chaotic two-plays-within-a-play, Dale is plagued by the niggling doubts prompted by Topher. Dale might be better off paying attention, though – because maybe Francis Beaumont, writing over 400 years ago, already provided the answers to Dale’s dilemma.

Genre: gay fiction; lesbian fiction; contemporary; theatre; mash-up; novel

Click here for an excerpt of text.

Word count: 38,500

Available in ebook formats:

Available in paperback format:

Published on 1 May 2017.

reviews: A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle

The Grocer Errant on Goodreads

Anna Mladen said: I don’t know what exactly I’ve been expecting from this book, but by 12% on that kindle scale I was suddenly awake and breathless to see how all of this will play out: it was like certain discourse from certain Tumblr/Twitter feeds where ‘righteous’ citizen are up in arms to lay down the law of the land. Er. Fandom world, but not only.

The good Citizen in the book/play is up by the stage by this point, demanding that she’ll have representation in the play, or else. Who can deny the RL echoes of this one with the number of ‘shoutout’ we are subjected to these days….Just like 400 years ago, it seems. Eh. Wonder what that means?

There’s little I love more than seeing history intertwined with contemporary events all over again. It brings out perspective, my ears start to sting from lessons we should have known already, and the ‘original’ and monumental game-changing concerns of these days are starting to lose something of their shiny and pressing edge. Issues become once again man-made problems, and thus seem easier to overcome. One can breathe better, hope beating again in the chest.

excerpt: A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle

This is the opening scene of my novella, which takes place in the dressing room about thirty minutes before the play is due to begin.

“Did we ever work out what this play is about?” asked Topher.

“You’re asking me now?” Dale retorted with a mild sense of outrage that was mostly feigned. “It’s our last show!”

“Better late than never.”

“We’re going on in a minute.”

“In thirty minutes,” Topher quietly replied.

Seriously.

They were sitting in their corner of the men’s dressing room, each at his own table – at right angles and far too often at cross purposes. Dale leant in to shoot Topher a fiery look via the reflections in their mirrors. Not that Dale would let Topher rattle him, of course. The friendly repartee they shared was generally for real, and the less good-natured niggling was usually for display purposes only. Dale knew that Topher knew that for Dale the work came first, and if Topher went too far, Dale would simply shut him out.

Continue reading excerpt: A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle

theatre programme: A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle

The story of A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle takes place one evening – 21 December 2016, to be precise – during and around a performance of Francis Beaumont’s play The Knight of the Burning Pestle. The play itself has many layers, being actually two plays within a play. I took it all one step further by wrapping another story around the original, about a romance between two of the actors during this modern-day production, and following them backstage.

If that sounds confusing, it probably is! But the sheer sense of chaos, the exuberant feeling that anything might happen and probably will, is one of the joys of Beaumont’s play.

As a way of helping with the potential confusion, I’ve created a mock theatre programme for the production I’m writing about. It includes short articles on Beaumont and his play, along with information about the characters, and the structure and locations of the scenes. You might care to keep it nearby while reading, just in case (like any actor on any given night) you would like a little prompt now and then.

The programme is free to download, and I’ll have printed copies (also free!) with me if you come find me at various events.

Here is that link again, for the 8-page PDF mock theatre programme!

Image credits, with thanks:

I had fun with finding portraits to serve as the actors’ headshots – which, in real theatre programmes, often look little like the present-day actor let alone the character they’re playing. But please do feel free to imagine the characters’ appearance in any way you wish!

poetry: A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle

You will often find a Poet for Hire on the banks of the Thames near Shakespeare’s Globe. You provide a prompt, they type out a short impromptu poem, and you pay what you like for it. I love the whole idea, greatly admire their creative derring-do, and have indulged a couple of times.

This time, my prompt to poet Edmund Davie was “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” – and while he didn’t already know the play, he produced something that is so very perfect for Rafe.

sweet kitchen-maid, how can you
practice cookery with mortar only?
by my troth i’ll scour the kingdom
to find another for such a damsel
as are you, fair maiden.
chivalry demands it,
and i am the knight of this realm
sworn to courtly love and service.

Isn’t that awesome…?

A Certain Persuasion

Modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by Jane Austen’s novels

Blurb: Thirteen stories from eleven authors, exploring the world of Jane Austen and celebrating her influence on ours.

Being cousins-by-marriage doesn’t deter William Elliot from pursuing Richard Musgrove in Lyme; nor does it prevent Elinor Dashwood falling in love with Ada Ferrars. Surprises are in store for Emma Woodhouse while visiting Harriet Smith; for William Price mentoring a seaman on board the Thrush; and for Adam Otelian befriending his children’s governess, Miss Hay. Margaret Dashwood seeks an alternative to the happy marriages chosen by her sisters; and Susan Price ponders just such a possibility with Mrs Lynd. One Fitzwilliam Darcy is plagued by constant reports of convictions for ‘unnatural’ crimes; while another must work out how to secure the Pemberley inheritance for her family.

Meanwhile, a modern-day Darcy meets the enigmatic Lint on the edge of Pemberley Cliff; while another struggles to live up to wearing Colin Firth’s breeches on a celebrity dance show. Cooper is confronted by his lost love at a book club meeting in Melbourne while reading Persuasion; and Ashley finds more than he’d bargained for at the Jane Austen museum in Bath.

A Pemberley-sized anthology featuring authors: Julie Bozza; Andrea Demetrius; Sam Evans; Lou Faulkner; Adam Fitzroy; Narrelle M Harris; Sandra Lindsey; Fae Mcloughlin; Atlin Merrick; JL Merrow; Eleanor Musgrove

Genre: LGBTQ+ fiction; historical; contemporary; Jane Austen; anthology

Click here for the blurbs, and here for the reviews.

Word count: 114,000

Available in ebook formats from:

Available in paperback format from:

Published on 1 November 2016.

reviews: A Certain Persuasion

Historical Novel Society: review by Eileen Charbonneau

Conclusion: Both inspired idea and loving tribute, this welcome collection has most interesting twists. Tones vary. Some stories are sly and sexy, some warm and tender, some brooding and tragic, some laugh-out-loud funny. 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.

Rainbow Awards 2017: Honorable Mention

Judge’s comments: Whew! What a long book! But I couldn’t put it down. The premise is charming, telling LGBT stories set in the early 1800’s in the style of Jane Austen. … While I enjoyed almost all of the stories, I think my favorite was by editor Julie Bozza. Most of the other stories were relatively straightforward romances, but Bozza’s contained the convoluted conflicts of Austen’s works and seemed to me the most successful of all the stories. The book was well-edited and proofed, always welcome features. I highly recommend the book to any Jane Austen fans, and really, to Dear Readers in general.

The Good, the Bad and the Unread: Grade B (Good) from Stevie

Excerpt: Pretty much every letter of the QUILTBAG is represented here, along with retellings, prequels, sequels, and stories about readers of the various novels. There are even references to Colin Firth tucked away in there. Of course, such a mixed collection is going to have some stories that appeal more than others; however, in this case none of them disappointed me. … A highly enjoyable book whether read from cover to cover in a single sitting or dipped into at will over a prolonged period.

And if you wish to read more:

Universally Civil, an article by anthology editor and contributor Julie Bozza in the online magazine of The Jane Austen Centre in Bath – a particularly supportive and friendly bunch!

Why Queer Retellings of Classic Stories Are So Necessary, an article by Lindsay King-Miller on the Vice Magazine website, which mentions the anthology.

blurbs: A Certain Persuasion

THE STORIES

A Charming Marine Prospect
Lou Faulkner
Birds of a feather flock together, they say, and William Elliot and Richard Musgrove strike up an instant rapport when they meet in the vicinity of Lyme, a few years before the events of Persuasion. But is their relationship any more to be trusted than the unstable landscape of the nearby under-cliff which they explore together?

One Half of the World
Adam Fitzroy
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?

Hide nor Hair
Atlin Merrick
Adam Ashford Otelian began to suspect something when he saw Miss Mary Hay’s beard. Though to be fair, Adam found Miss Hay’s beard only the second most intriguing thing about her.

Outside the Parlour
Andrea Demetrius
Darcy is a single man of eight-and-twenty and in possession of a good fortune. Talk of marriage and prospects crowd in on him – as do reports in the broadsheets of convictions for ‘unnatural’ crimes. He knows his fate. A decision must be made soon.

Margaret
Eleanor Musgrove
The elder Dashwood sisters have long been established in their new homes and families, but now it is Margaret’s turn to spread her wings, when Colonel Brandon asks for her help with a rather delicate matter.

The Wind over Pemberley
Fae Mcloughlin
Darcy’s life changes forever when he happens across enigmatic Lint on Pemberley Cliff.

Cross and Cast
Sam Evans
Jonathan Darcy, ex-soap-star bad boy and runner-up in the latest celebrity dance contest, has reluctantly signed on to take part in another dance show, Dance with Jane Austen. His agent is sure it will be the making of him – but the ridiculous dance they’ve been asked to learn is titled ‘Mr Beveridge’s Maggot’, the theatre they’re rehearsing in is too cold, and most worryingly the show will bring Darcy back in contact with the man who rejected him so harshly months earlier, dancer Elvin Benoît.

Jonathan convinces himself that all he needs do is get through the rehearsals in one piece, avoid Benoît, and not split the breeches he has been given to wear.

It was going to be easy, right?

Continue reading blurbs: A Certain Persuasion