All posts by Narrelle

Quintette of Questions: MC Baker

This week’s new romance release interview is with MC Baker:

MC Baker

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

Romance Amongst the Roses:
The rebirth of Dennis Brownfield. The title sort of picked itself. The Rose festival in Tyler is a huge event and suited the story to a tea. The rebirth of Dennis Brownfield describes the main characters journey.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Hugh Jackman would make a great Dennis. Raquel Welch is the red head for Pam, although I would love to hear who others pick. Jackie Weaver for Gloria – a younger version than now though. Maybe even Noni Hazelhurst. (My playschool days may be clouding my thinking.)

3. What five words best describe your story?

Romantic, touching, sexy, funny, heartwarming.

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple or team?

Thelma and Louise always get a run in my mind, I wish I’d written that story. Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting hill too.

Can I sneak in Mork and Mindy?

5. What song always makes you cry?

What a Wonderful World. It’s so beautiful and descriptive. I hate seeing the video clip on tv though as it’s always with footage from good morning Vietnam.

I could have The Yellow Rose of Texas as the book’s theme song.

That’s a joke.

b. Or What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

Islands in the Stream. Dolly has a part in the story but the song is relevant to the story.


About Romance Amongst the Roses

Emerging from a dark period following the heartbreaking loss of his wife, Dennis Brownfield is coaxed into embarking on a trip to Texas to visit his son and new daughter-in-law. An errant luggage trolley pushed by Dolly Parton impersonator Gloria almost ends his journey early. She proves instead to be the ideal companion for the long flight to Dallas.

Arriving in the Rose Capital of America, Tyler Texas, right at the time of the annual Rose Festival, provides Dennis with the best chance to meet his son’s new family, and explore his new home.

Accompanying widowed family friend Pam on a simple day trip to Dallas, however, changes everything. Quick action by Dennis avoids a disaster and he is hailed a hero. This opens the door for a cast of characters both real and surreal to have a massive impact on this Aussie widower’s journey as they reveal to him that love hasn’t finished with him yet.

Like the people he touched in this story of his rebirth, you too will fall in love with Dennis, and laugh along with his quirky Australian humour.

About MC Baker

MC Baker lives peacefully in rural Victoria, indulging in his favourite past time of entertaining with his stories. Romance amongst the roses is his first published novel.

Follow MC Baker

Buy Romance Amongst the Roses

Queer Victorian London

In preparation for working on a short story collection set post-The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, I’ve picked up some books to give me insights into late-Victorian queer culture and society’s attitudes towards it.

Victorian attitudes to sex and sexuality (and to a whole bunch of things) is usually deeper and more textured than a cursory glance would indicate. And while it’s true that terms like ‘gay’ and queerness as it’s currently lived and experienced were not how Victorians understood them, that doesn’t negate the fact people who would probably now identify on that spectrum were managing their lives, one way or another.

Which all brings me to this reading matter, designed to help me understand more about how queerness was experienced and lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so that I can translate those experiences for Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in a world where they have declared their love and physical desire for each other.

I tend to read books on these topics with a block of sticky notes at hand, so I can mark ideas I want to get back to.

The book pictured in the header, Catharine Arnold’s City of Sin: London and its Vices, is already festooned with notes for me to return to when I do the next round of research, which will be to go over marked passages and decide what to use and how.

One note in City of Sin refers to the pornography people could obtain in Holywell Street, including homosexual and lesbian representations. William Dugdale is noted as a “prolific publisher of filthy books” and further on, Arnold refers to the practice of pornographers having to smuggle their books into the UK, risking fines and imprisonment.

I have made a note that the unexpurgated copy of Richard Burton’s The Arabian Nights is very probably in John Watson’s private book collection. He’s an earthy man, after all, with a penchant for gambling and whisky. Why not a little saucy literature?

Further on I’ve marked the pages about the ‘telegraph boys’ who made extra money by having sex with men. The role of the Turkish baths (which Holmes and Watson frequent in canon) in homosexual liaisons is discussed 25 pages on from that.

I expect to read more queer-specific details of London life in the three other books pictured above, and will doubtless leave those pages bristling like a paper-based porcupine in due course.

I’ve already started with Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb, and even the introduction has provided some valuable insights.

How will these snippets and suggestions be used? Will they become significant plot points or background detail?

At this point, who knows? But by filling up my brain with some of that colour, texture and depth, I hope to introduce just enough research to make the stories feel authentic and engaging without presenting them as a series of lectures of What I Learned About Queer Victorians This Summer.

NB: A version of this post originally appeared in my Patreon on 2 February 2018.