Tag Archives: history

Quintette of Questions: Welton B. Marsland

This week’s new romance release interview is with:

Welton B. Marsland

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

It’s called By the Currawong’s Call, though it didn’t get that title until quite late in its development.

For the longest time, all its bits and pieces had no actual title at all, but they lived in a computer folder called ‘Dinbratten’ – the name of the town in the book.  Then for another long while, it had the working title Ratties (the nickname for the town’s residents).  Briefly, I considered various Biblical references, due to my main character being a priest, and Australian Football references, but nothing really fit well.

Finally, I started throwing around ideas involving various bush birds and settled on the currawong because it’s not only a beautiful bird with a beautiful call, but its name is beautiful, too.  I don’t know if anyone will notice, but the first occurrence of “currawong” in the book is actually made in reference to Jonah Parks (and he certainly does some calling!).

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

If I could cross early ’70s John Waters (the Australian actor, not the American film director!) with Jensen Ackles when he’s got a beard, I think the result would make a pretty good Jonah Parks.  For Matthew, my Anglican priest, 1939-era Tyrone Power would be just the ticket (have you seen him in that year’s “Jesse James”? Mercy!)

3. What five words best describe your story?

Intimate. Hopeful. Quiet. Sexy. Australian.

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple?

Several spring immediately to mind, but I must go with Agron & Nasir from the TV series Spartacus.  They flew under a lot of the mainstream’s radar, but they were magnificent characters, gifted with a story arc that was so carefully and lovingly woven, shunning practically every stereotype that might’ve got in their way.  Just so satisfying and narratively tight, it’s hard to believe they were “only” secondary characters.

Amazing work and commitment from three straight men (writer/creator Steven DeKnight, Australian actor Dan Feuerriegel and New Zealand actor Pana Hema-Taylor) in bringing this oh-so-untypical, heroic, badarse, complicated queer couple to the screen.

Dan and Pana set the bar so high for two-people-believably-falling-in-love that I’m just completely spoilt for all screen depictions of love stories from here on out.  I could shower accolades all day!

5. What song always makes you cry? 

Forever Autumn from the War of the World’s double album never fails to turn the waterworks on.

About By the Currawong’s Call

A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

Victoria, Australia, 1891

Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.

A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.

Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?

About Welton B. Marsland

A queer-punk history geek who flits between nature walks, dinky bars, footy matches and live gigs, WBM lives in the great city of Melbourne with an ex-Army sword-slinger and three idiosyncratic cats.

Follow Welton B. Marsland

Buy By the Currawong’s Call

The Lady Novelist follows a Roman Road

Londinium. Roman Baths. All roads lead, etc. I’ve been in various parts of the former Roman Empire, from Hungary, Egypt and Jordan to Rome itself.

It’s always fun to find little bits of older civilisations in layers under the current one. It’s like etymology for landscapes – the backstories that help to describe, to a degree, how the current narrative unfurled.

Londinium

This trip, besides burrowing into Sherlock Holmes and Richard III, Tim and I have been poking about the remains of Roman Britain. In London we went on a self-guided Roman London walk and visited the remains of a Roman bath house located under an office building at Billingsgate.

The guide was brilliant at bringing stones and dirt to life, describing the uses of the larger buildings that once stood here, and the remaining chambers, and drawing parallels with modern life (dodgy builders, cost-cutting measures, lovers’ trysts, unsolved mysteries).

Very much worth the visit!

Hadrian’s Wall

Of course, the Romans inhabited Britain for several hundred years, from the southern end right up to the Antonine Wall, north of the more famous Hadrian’s Wall, built in AD122.

Which, not coincidentally, is the number of the bus that runs in a circuit between Hexham and Haltwhistle, enabling those short on time or the inclination to hike to visit key sites along the remains of Hadrian’s Wall.

Our first stop was Chester’s Fort, which predates the wall, then boarded the bus again for Housesteads. The remains of a Roman fort are here too and, key for us, a large segment of the wall.

Tim had done a little googling. A walk between Housesteads and the next stop, Steel Rigg, should take about an hour and a quarter, claimed Google, giving us a topography map and a false sense of confidence. It’s only 4.6km, said Google slyly. It’s a sunny day. Go on. Walk a bit of the wall.

Off we went, wreathed in sunshine, the wall on our right, a song in our hearts. We were striding hilltops where nearly 1900 years ago, men from across Rome’s vast empire piled up stones to mark the extent of their Empire’s territory.

They served as citizens, or in the hope of becoming citizens. They maintained the border, defended it as required. They waited for letters from home, looking out over green hillsides and the vistas of all that weather rolling in, clouds gathering and parting, looming and clearing.

Black-faced sheep eyes us warily; very large cows were more sanguine. Energetic people with hiking poles passed us in either direction, cheerily saying it was hours to go until Steel Rigg, and with much rougher and muddier terrain.

We would have thanked them, but we were too busy negotiating steep rises and falls and trying not to face-plant among the rocks.

Finally, two hours into our one hour walk and still only half way to our destination, we came to a little farm, with a lovely little road leading right back out to that wonderful main road that had buses on it. We decided it had been fabulous. Beautiful and breathtaking and thoroughly worthwhile to have walked those hills alongside that amazing wall.

Then we went straight on down that farm road and caught a bus to the next stop. Sandwich and soup in the brand-spanking-new centre at The Sill fuelled us for a final bus ride to Vindolanda.

Only the preceding week, the news had announced that digs at Vindolanda had located a cavalry sword – a rare find, since such weapons were very valuable – and the brass fittings of riding harness. And not quite a month after being dug up from the site, these pieces were on display at the Vindolanda museum.

Weary with our triumphs, we got the bus back to Hexham – transported by AD122 back to 2017 and the joys of a hot meal at a Hexham pub and a hot shower at our B&B.

On the morrow, the AD122 took us to a brief stopover at the Roman Army Museum, which makes brilliant use of audio visual and a little 3D movie to bring the people of the Roman Empire to life. In the process, all those stones along which we tramped, all those walls razed to a few feet high, were depicted evocatively as the lonely outposts, for these soldiers far from home.

Carlisle

From AD122 to Haltwhistle and thence to Carlisle, where the Tallie House Museum gives up a little more of the region’s Roman history – including a murder mystery! The body of a man found dumped in a well was doubtless done in by foul play.

I’m sure Richard III would empathise, even if Sherlock Holmes is unlikely to ever solve it.

Tim and I visited all these museums thanks to Visit Britain; accommodation in Carlisle was courtesy Accor Hotels.


All roadslead to Rome, and also to my most recent fiction.

  • Ravenfall, a paranormal thriller and gay romance set in contemporary London,
  • Near Miss, a short lesbian love story with yarnbombing, set in Melbourne.
  • If het love/adventure stories are more your thing, check out my spy series, Secret Agents, Secret Lives.