Interview with Julie Bozza

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. An astonishingly well-crafted book about a young woman looking for a good solution to an impossible situation, and winning through almost despite herself. Elizabeth and Darcy's individual journeys are a very snug fit with two of my favourite tropes.

Possession by AS Byatt. A terrific pair of intertwining stories allow for the full gamut of triumph and tragedy. Absolutely gorgeous.

Cyteen by CJ Cherryh. An intriguing detailed look at personality, politics, morality, and who knows what beside. I find more to ponder every time I read this.

Amgalant by Bryn Hammond. She's my sister, I should say, but I'd love these books anyway. A vivid, funny and heartfelt tale of the life of Temujin, whom history knows as Genghis Khan, with a scope that effortlessly shifts from the intimate to the epic of the Steppe and beyond.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Another detailed wonderful epic. Are you sensing a pattern here? I first read this too early at 13, but then I came back to it a while later, and have re-read it countless times since. I have always been so very much in love with Aragorn, but for me Samwise is the real hero of this tale. Not a perfect book, I have concluded, but I love it unconditionally.
What do you read for pleasure?
I do love revisiting old favourites, though I don't often indulge myself thus. I mostly write male-male romance, and of course I very much enjoy reading in that genre, too. I love reading literary biographies - and, really, anything to do with the Romantics. Otherwise, I read quite widely, often non-fiction, depending on the necessary research for whatever I'm writing at the time, or merely on whim.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Keyboard... I love having the physical keyboard available. Though I have to say I am starting to change my mind about the need for a backlit screen... I suspect my poor old eyes would actually be better off with one!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
It can sometimes be hard to tell exactly what has worked, and I suspect it often comes down to an accumulation of things. However, I think what works is a combination of word-of-mouth, reader reviews and professional reviews... It seems to me that word-of-mouth is the real key. So it's therefore up to me to try to write the kind of darned good books that get people talking about them and recommending them to their friends!
Describe your desk
Oh! I have a laptop in front of me, with a second monitor beside it. I can't do without my second monitor these days! I also have a separate 'contour' keyboard which I find easiest to type with. To my left there are various reference books, starting with an Oxford dictionary and thesaurus, and then my diary (such as it is). To my right is a purple lava lamp - which I don't turn on very often, because I find it utterly mesmerising - and a box of tissues. On the wall above my desk are photos I've taken of some of my heroes, just to remind me when I need it that I can occasionally be both creative and blessed. They inspire me - or at least make me smile - whenever I glance up!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Wow. I spent my first seven formative years in England, then moved to Australia with my family. Then in 2004 I moved back to England with my Australian husband, whose name (of course) is Bruce. I like that I feel I belong to both countries, and I think living somewhere quite different for a while helps broaden the mind a little - which is obviously a good thing for a writer. It helps you realise that there are more variations than constants in life and in people.

One thing I have on my mind at the moment is that I very much liked Australia's multiculturalism. While that includes the obvious things such as a variety of people around you, and a variety of cultural goodies such as food and stories and so on, I also mean more subtly in terms of language. On television, for example, Australia not only has its own quality programming, but also looks both to the UK and the US for content, as well as elsewhere. The Aussie viewer has access to a whole range of shows, in ways that a British or American viewer doesn't. I like that.

However, what that means is my vocabulary has ended up being rather a jumble of Englishes, with not only Australianisms layered into my native English-English, but also spice added by a happy diet of Buffy, West Wing, and such. I still like that. But it sure creates work for my diligent editors at Manifold Press!
When did you first start writing?
Occasional stories from when I was about ten, though I was so very easily discouraged - by my own critiques! I didn't actually show them to anyone else. I started trying a bit more seriously when I was about 19 or 20, and then I started writing my first 'proper' work - the novel The Definitive Albert J Sterne - when I was 29. So I was rather a late bloomer!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Manifold Press are going to release the sequel to my novel Butterfly Hunter on 1 November, so I'll talk about that. It's called Of Dreams and Ceremonies. I envisaged the basic structure of the story while I was writing Butterfly Hunter, because to write that happy ending I had to look into Dave and Nicholas's future and decide how it would all work. I had to believe in it myself, if that makes sense. I offered Butterfly Hunter to the Press as a stand-alone novel, though, because it was something a little different for me, and I wasn't sure how it would be received. It was my first attempt to simply write a romance. For better or worse, it's been my best-received book (so far?), so it seemed clear that I should write the second and third parts of Dave and Nicholas's story rather than just day-dream about them for myself.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I write in an indie genre, basically! My first novels were written back before there was a male-male romance genre. The gay fiction genre was a bit wary of a writer like me, apparently a straight female, so that didn't seem to be an option. And so I tried to write mainstream books that just happened to have a gay romance in them rather than a straight one. I thought of the Albert novel as a 'gay Silence of the Lambs', for example. It's probably needless to say that while I did get a bit of interest, and even had an agent for a while, ultimately I wasn't successful.

For a while I let things be, but then next time I looked around, male-male romance had blossomed into being - and it's very much a genre that is built around small presses and self-publishing and ebooks. So here I am!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
While I can't claim that Smashwords has been responsible for a large proportion of my sales, I think its strength is that it provides ebooks across a wide range of formats and not only directly but also to a wide range of distributors. The options are reader-friendly, and that makes it a great way to make my work available!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Those moments in which the writing flows as if I'm simply channelling the Muse... that's when I'm at my very happiest. It takes me away from myself and the pettiness of day-to-day life. But then it also enables me to explore in thoughts and words the life that I have lived and learned from. If any of what results is of use to people who read it, whether for entertainment or for meaning, then that's humbling and wonderful. As a reader myself, books have brought me so very much. I don't presume that I can 'give back' or 'pay it forward' an equivalent amount, but it's my vocation to try.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The fact that the coffee is out of reach from my bed. Indeed, it's in another room entirely. I obviously didn't plan that very well.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
My parents, bless them, encouraged my sister and me in reading from the earliest age. So, no, I don't remember the very first one, as I suspect it was a very very long time ago!

There is a novel I read as a youngster that still haunts me, though, so I'll talk about that, if I may. I can't remember what it was or who the author was, but it had 'moon' in the title and the cover featured a moonlit sea with a rocky shore. It was set in Cornwall or somewhere like, and began with a shipwreck, and the nearby villagers coming down to the shore to help - and to plunder? I think there was one lone survivor. Anyway, it became a story about the survivor and the friend he makes on shore. Basically it's an older man who becomes a father figure for the younger, and is absolutely devoted to him, even ending up in a prison camp in order to protect him. And it ended tragically with another shipwreck.

It was all about the nobility and the futility of self-sacrifice for another, oblivious human being. The ships weren't the only thing that was wrecked. It just tore me apart, heart and soul. I never dared read it again, and I hardly dare look for it now, even though I am curious. I suppose that was a very formative early lesson in how a story can affect the reader!
Published 2013-09-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

No Holds Bard: Modern LGBTQ+ Fiction Inspired by the Works of William Shakespeare
Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 68,870. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2018 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Drama/Theatrical, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » General
Ten authors, twelve extraordinary stories. We have marriage proposals and murder; subtle scheming villainy; a missing manuscript; a haunting… Whether set within the framework of a play, or spotlighting actors, characters, or the Bard himself, these stories will have you viewing Shakespeare in a whole new light. It’s definitely not the kind of thing they taught us in school…
Call to Arms: Modern LGBTQ+ fiction of the Second World War
Price: $6.95 USD. Words: 97,710. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2017 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » General, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
Seventeen stories, thirteen authors, a second war. Once again Manifold Press's writers explore the lives of LGBTQ+ people and their war-time experience in cities, towns and countryside across the world. Amidst war and peace, in the thick of violence or in an unexpected lull, these stories of the Second World War take the reader far and wide, from loss and parting to love and homecoming.
Out of the Shadows: Extracts for an Anniversary 1967-2017
Price: Free! Words: 30,870. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2017 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
It is 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised private homosexual acts between men over 21 in England and Wales - a partial victory, but also a deeply significant one. This free anthology of extracts from Manifold Press titles illustrates in a modest way the changes experienced by gay men over the centuries in Britain, and how these may have affected individuals.
A Night with the Knight of the Burning Pestle
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 38,990. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2017 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Mashups, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » General
It's the last night of a well-received run of Beaumont's play. Dale loves playing Rafe, but is plagued by niggling doubts raised by Topher, who plays Jasper. Topher thinks something is missing in Dale's life. Dale sees no point in reprising the one night on which they were not-really-friends with benefits. Maybe this joyously chaotic play can provide them with answers as well as distractions...?
A Certain Persuasion: Modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by Jane Austen's novels
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 114,060. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2016 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » General, Fiction » Historical » Regency
Modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by Jane Austen's novels. Thirteen stories from eleven authors, exploring the world of Jane Austen and celebrating her influence on ours.
A Pride of Poppies: Modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War
Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 67,630. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2015 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » General
A London pub, an English village, a shell-hole on the Front, the outskirts of Thai Nguyen city, a ship in heavy weather off Zeebrugge, a civilian internment camp … Unspoken loves and griefs, unexpected freedoms, the tensions between individuality and duty, and every now and then the relief of recognition. You’ll find both heartaches and joys in this astonishing range of thought-provoking stories.
Mitch Rebecki Gets a Life
Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 49,230. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2015 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Investigative journalist Mitch Rebecki loves his job and loves New York - but when he makes an enemy of a crime boss, Mitch’s editor sends him out of harm’s way to Sydney. In exile and working on lifestyle pieces, Mitch is miserable. But he makes a friend or two, meets a man - and discovers that Australians do organized crime too, in a small way. Mitch soon finds himself in too deep on all counts.
Albert J. Sterne: Future Bright, Past Imperfect
Series: Albert J. Sterne. Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 61,500. Language: English. Published: August 26, 2013 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Three young boys on a collision course: Albert Sterne – isolated, driven, fiercely intellectual; Fletcher Ash – bright, dedicated, with a strong sense of justice; John Garrett – hurt, marginalised, determined to repay the world in kind. The eleven stories in this companion volume expand on the lives of the characters from the author’s "The Definitive Albert J. Sterne", which should be read first.
The Definitive Albert J. Sterne
Series: Albert J. Sterne. Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 165,970. Language: English. Published: August 26, 2013 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Albert Sterne, forensics expert with the FBI, is so obnoxious on the surface that no-one bothers digging deeper. When he’s sent to Colorado to investigate a serial killer he meets Special Agent Fletcher Ash and they end up reluctantly joining forces to unravel the case. It’s only a matter of duty, though; it can’t be more, because Albert doesn’t do friendship – and he certainly doesn’t do love!
Homosapien ... A Fantasy About Pro Wrestling
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 66,530. Language: English. Published: July 27, 2013 by Manifold Press. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Patrick and David are friends who run a gay bookstore, and life seems simple enough until the day when unexpectedly he walks in – six feet tall, gorgeous and built like a dream. But Homosapien isn’t welcome in their world; he’s a professional wrestler, and everything he does is fake. So he can’t really be gay, can he, or interested in either one of them? Can they even trust a single word he says?