GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Interview: LGBTQ+ Weird West Author: Julie Bozza (Writ in Blood) + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Interview: LGBTQ+ Weird West Author: Julie Bozza (Writ in Blood) + giveaway

What are the pitfalls of basing your characters on real people?
Well… Where do I even start? Obviously I am drawing on real, if historical, people here, with the main characters being John Ringo, Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. Not to mention the cast of hundreds that take part in their stories. There are only a handful of entirely fictional characters in my novel; the rest were living breathing people who deserve to be treated with respect.

I sincerely believe that an author must make the effort to earn the… I was going to say “right”, but perhaps that’s better as “opportunity”. You must work hard to earn the opportunity to work with real people as characters. It’s not enough to simply use a well-known name or public figure as a one-dimensional cipher, and move them about at your will with no regard to their own lived realities.

Complicating that, of course, is the fact that we can never really pin down a historical figure’s “realities”. We are still debating over who these people might have been, and widely recognized names such as Wyatt Earp still generate heated discussion about whether he was a hero or a villain. Even where a scholar, author or reader has a less black-and-white take on who Wyatt was, they will still have a complex view of him which probably won’t be a neat fit for anyone else’s view let alone mine.

Added to which, a lot of the historical record is blatantly partisan and/or self-serving. Wyatt himself avoided telling his own story until quite late in his long life – and frankly, the resulting works from Forrestine Hooker, John Flood, and Stuart Lake often only add to the confusions.

And then there’s the question of the sensibilities of their family descendants who are alive today and naturally protective of their ancestors’ honor. None of my three main characters had children of their own – or not that we know of (which is a pity because, you know, that means no Wynonna Earp). They all had siblings and/or cousins, though, who did continue the family line – and those families are interested in and no doubt proud of their great-x-uncles and cousins-x-removed.

While my story is ultimately a result of my imagination, I did try to honor the historical people involved. Not everyone’s going to like how the characters are portrayed, of course, but I always worked with respect and made my choices as carefully as possible.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
This is one of those “how long is a piece of string” questions… The book of mine that took the shortest time to write is Butterfly Hunter. That might not surprise anyone! It was a gift from the Muse. A chance remark from a reader happened to gel with some ideas already floating through my head – and suddenly the game was on! It required further work and editing, of course, but the first draft poured out of me in less than two months. I wish it always happened that way!

In contrast, Writ in Blood has taken the longest time to write, by far. Going by the “created” dates in my earliest documents, I began making notes in September 1994, and started writing in March 1995. That sounds about right! But then I gave up at the end of Chapter 9, in about September 1995. I just wasn’t ready yet to deal with all the complexities of Tombstone. I saved everything, as always, but put it aside thinking that there was a good chance I’d never come back to it.

Fast-forward to late January 2020. We’d come through the stresses of that summer’s bushfires, and the disruption of my previous few years which included a move from the UK back to Australia. I was thinking about which of my five works-in-progress I should pick up and run with – and it wasn’t a hard decision. I already had 49,000 words of Writ in Blood, and I was keen to work on it. So off I went! And when the pandemic anxieties hit, I was determined that they’d not get in the way of me writing, like the bushfire anxieties had. I persevered, and ended up with a good first draft in September 2020. And here we are, a year and several rewrites later, finally about to publish!

Or, in total, 27 years later! Golly gosh. Definitely my longest project to date. And given that the years ahead of me are definitely fewer than the years behind, I’d say it will hold that record for aye.

What other artistic pursuits do you indulge in apart from writing?
It’s more a craft than an art, but I do a lot of knitting. Most of what else I do is on the computer, so it’s really good to instead actually make something with my hands. I wouldn’t call it relaxing, as it requires time and effort, and it presents its own challenges, but I enjoy it very much.

The only real downside of knitting is that I only need so many sweaters and shawls and throws, and there are only so many knitted things I can foist on family and friends as gifts. I’m not keen on making things for no purpose… So, thank heavens for knitting for charity! I made crochet nests for a local woman who rescues birds, so that’s a thrill. I’m currently knitting little teddy bears which are given as part of a care package to people who have survived or been bereaved by suicide (the idea being that it’s a cuddly symbol of the community’s care and support). And I’m about to launch into baby gear and blankets for an Indigenous maternity ward.

I’ve also started attending a local art group, along with my sister, which is a low-pressure and supportive environment in which to practice my rusty skills. I was never great at it, but oh boy I would love to be able to draw properly, and perhaps get into watercolor. Maybe one day! For now, it’s a social and experimental thing…

Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
This is an interesting question, because I’ve changed from one to the other lately. I’d been a Star Wars fan since I saw the first screening of the first film in Canberra. I was 15 years old, and fell hard in love with Luke Skywalker. And as I came to know Carrie Fisher over the years, I just adored her. (I can’t even tell you of the crying I did that day when I watched Rogue One at the cinema and then came home to the news that Carrie had died. “Hope.”)

I am the loyal sort, though I didn’t avoid Star Trek. Impossible to, really, in my circles! I loved and admired Spock, and Jean-Luc Picard. The first real fanfic I wrote was Kirk/Spock, as is traditional. I can’t say that I’ve actually seen all the original series episodes – a lack which I should remedy someday.

But then along came Star Trek: Discovery. I fell hard. This was what I’d always been waiting for! The motley mix of characters, the values, the diversity and representation, (most of) the storylines, the cast, the aesthetics. Fantastic stuff. Then my sister prompted us to watch Star Trek: Voyager during lockdown, and I fell in love with that, too. Captain Janeway was awesome, and I love Chakotay so damned much.

Anyway! The great thing about Star Trek is that it is full of hope, and it takes an optimistic view of our ingenuity and our willingness to work together for the common good. I didn’t used to appreciate that so much, but in the direness of recent years – due to politics and pandemics – I have been very much in need of that optimism.

What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
One of my works-in-progress is an Arthurian novel, set in an alternate version of Elizabethan times. I have been an Arthurian fan since my early teens. It probably started with T.H. White’s Once and Future King, and the musical Camelot, but I basically devoured anything Arthurian I could get my hands on. I always knew that if I was ever lucky enough to become a writer, then I would have to write my own take on the tales. And one day I will!

I know the story I want to tell, but I need to do lots of research before I get started. This is the one project I absolutely must finish… otherwise my ghost will be haunting you, trying to get you to take dictation for me.

Writ in Blood
by Julie Bozza
October 26 2021
Publisher: LIBRAtiger
ISBN: 9781925869293
Word Count: 110,000
Cover Artist: Magdalena Kulbicka (illustrator), Lyrical Lines (designer)
Genres: LGBTQ+, Western, Speculative, Historical, Weird West
Courage. Honor. Loyalty. All fine things, but they’ve led John Ringo to kill a man. He was raised right and he knows he’s not a murderer, but otherwise he’s a mystery even to himself. Doc Holliday claims to have some insights, but Doc is too devoted to Wyatt Earp to spare much attention for the man who’s already lost his soul.

Which leaves Johnny Ringo prey to the distractions of a demon. Imaginary or not, if this creature abandons him, too, then surely his sanity is forfeit – and what will his life be worth then?

This Queer Weird West novel follows these three along the complex trails that lead into and out of Tombstone, Arizona in 1881.

“And baths,” Doc Holliday was saying, standing tall in the center of their hotel room. “We are in desperate need of baths, and I apologize if you are already aware of that fact. Can you arrange that for us, my dear?”

“Of course, sir,” the girl replied, apparently awed by all this to-do. Holliday was behaving as if he were royalty. “The bathing room’s down the hall on the right, sir. There’s some water heating already, but if you can wait half an hour, sir, there’ll be plenty for both of you, and I’ll build the fire up. I can bring the pot of coffee you wanted right away.”

“Half an hour it is, then,” he declared, handing her a generous gratuity and ushering her out the door. Holliday turned to John. “What do you think, pilgrim? A fine room, considering its surroundings. Though I do believe this town will prove quite a rich lode. I can smell money in the air, and fools waiting to part with it.”

John let his saddlebags drop to the floor, looked around him at the lace curtains, at the porcelain jug and bowl standing before the mirror. At the wide bed with green padded silken spread. Everything looked fragile and ridiculously expensive and dangerously seductive. “And you reckon they won’t care about us both in the same bed?”

“Of course not, people do it all the time. There is a distinct shortage of beds out here in the West, especially in new towns such as this. We were lucky this room was available.”

“I guess I always figured if they said I’d have to share a room they were politely telling me to get lost.” It felt foolish now, having taken umbrage at something that was apparently quite accepted.

Holliday, in the midst of unpacking, cast a look at John. “Are you really one of those half-wild people who rarely visit a town?”

“No, but… maybe I’m more myself out there,” John said, indicating the world stretching beyond the outcropping of humanity. “This is... small –”

“I don’t find it so.”

“– and my earnings have been pretty irregular lately.”

“Don’t fret about that,” the man murmured.

“Who the hell are you, Holliday?” John demanded. “Is this your world? Because you sure seemed comfortable out in the wilderness last night.”

“You like that about me, that I belong in both?” He waited until John shrugged, then continued, “Well, if you do, why don’t you learn to belong here as well, and then you can like yourself for it, too. Share the luxury with me, Johnny. As you said, I shared the darkness with you last night.” The man smiled, walked over to stand before John, reached up to run a hand back through John’s hair. “There’s a handsome face hiding behind that long hair and the trail-dirt, I’ve already worked that out. Now, take your clothes off, pilgrim, and bathe with me. I want to see what those rags hide.” He leaned in close and whispered, “I’m sure you’re quite beautiful naked.” There was a knock at the door – and Holliday stole a kiss from John’s mouth.

John pushed the man away, glaring fury. Holliday let the girl in, and John waited impatiently as she arranged a tray of coffee and cups and a whole lot of unnecessary fixings, waited as Holliday chattered inanely with her. “You’re crazy,” John said once they were finally alone again. The man just laughed, at ease. In fact, it seemed he was enjoying himself immensely. “Are you always like this?” John asked, wondering how long he could suffer it.

“Oh yes,” Holliday said airily. “Well, actually I suppose I’m in unusually high spirits. I promised myself, for these couple of months, complete abandonment. And you do seem to be the kind of fellow I can completely abandon myself to...”

“Don’t talk like that, maybe people can hear us. And – what you did before she came in – if she caught us we’d get run out of town, if they didn’t hang us first.”

“Now there’s an ambition: to be so absolutely debauched we get thrown out of every town we visit. What’s the matter, pilgrim? With your reputation, you must be used to finding yourself unwelcome.”

“Yes, but for gunfights, not for something like that.”

“You don’t care about them, do you? Surely it doesn’t matter to you what they think.”

“No, but it’s personal, it’s private.” Under Holliday’s interested gaze John shrugged again, uncomfortable.

Smart enough to change the subject at last, Holliday headed for the coffee and began pouring two cups. “How do you want it, pilgrim? Let me guess... you like it just as it is. Now, I like coffee with cream and sugar – though they only have milk here, I’m afraid – but that’s too civilized for you, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said. Holliday brought one of the cups over, and John eyed it dubiously. The thing looked so delicate it might shatter in his hands, though of course it looked quite safe in Holliday’s fine fingers.

“Take it, pilgrim. It’s either this lovely little cup, or drink straight from the pot.” Holliday laughed. “But you would, wouldn’t you? Don’t let me give you ideas.”

John quickly swallowed the coffee, felt the heat of it spread through his chest and the strength of it clear his head. He poured himself another cup, then sat cross-legged on the floor, pointedly ignoring the chair opposite the one Holliday sat in – avoiding even the rugs. The wooden floorboards, though polished, were the most natural part of the room.

They sat in silence for a while, finishing the pot of coffee between them. Then Holliday asked, “Where were you from before Texas? You don’t speak like a Texan.”

“California before that. We traveled west from Missouri. Before that, Indiana.”

“And before that?”

“My family?” John shrugged – but such things had mattered in Mason County, when it was the newer German immigrants versus the longer-settled Americans. “The Dutch part of Belgium, if you go back far enough, but that never made no difference to me.”

“I see…” was the response. However, Holliday didn’t ponder on it long. Instead he sat up as if about to stand, saying, “Let’s inspect the bathing room. I haven’t felt clean for a couple of weeks now, and tonight I want to make the best possible impression.” Perhaps he saw John’s reluctance, for he said, “I suppose from the look of you, my dear, that your ablutions involve jumping in a river once a year whether you need it or not. But would you indulge me? I like that you are so vivid to all five of my senses, that you assault me so thoroughly, but I’d like to see your handsomeness as well as your wildness.”

“Don’t call me ‘dear’,” John said sullenly. “I’m not made for words like that. I don’t know what you want from me, Holliday, but I’m not your dear.”

“We just fuck, yes, and keep each other company between our amorous bouts. But don’t mind me if I treat you affectionately.” The man confided, “Most of the time, I promise you I don’t mean a word of it.”

About the Author:
Ordinary people are extraordinary. We can all aspire to decency, generosity, respect, honesty – and the power of love (all kinds of love!) can help us grow into our best selves.

I write stories about ‘ordinary’ people finding their answers in themselves and each other. I write about friends and lovers, and the families we create for ourselves. I explore the depth and the meaning, the fun and the possibilities, in ‘everyday’ experiences and relationships. I believe that embodying these things is how we can live our lives more fully.

Creative works help us each find our own clarity and our own joy. Readers bring their hearts and souls to reading, just as authors bring their hearts and souls to writing – and together we make a whole.

And that’s me! Julie Bozza. Quirky. Queer. Sincere.

Julie is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour


  1. Congrats on your new release, Julie!

    1. Thank you so much, Stormy Vixen! I'm really delighted to have this novel out there in the world at last.