Today I am so pleased to welcome David C. Dawson to Joyfully Jay. David has come to talk to us about his latest release, A Death in Bloomsbury. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving David a big welcome!
David has written some questions and answers to share with us today!
What’s it all about?
Simon Sampson reads the news on BBC radio in 1932. One cold December night he’s on his way from work to the pub when he stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot to assassinate King George V on Christmas Day. But no one believes Simon.
Simon is gay, but in 1932 they don’t use that word. He’s “other” or “a man in search of homogenic love”. He has to keep his “other” life a deep secret. But now he must choose between protecting the king and outing himself.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I picked up a book – it’s always a book, isn’t it? – about gay men in 1930s London. It was fascinating. I’ve never written a period piece before and wanted to see if I could do it. There was a lot of research to do, to make sure that all the references I made were accurate for the time. For example: one of my characters used the phrase “from the get go” until I discovered it wasn’t in use until the 1960s. The book also takes actual events of the time and lays a fiction over the top of them. For example, Hitler was on the rise in Germany, but Fascism was also on the rise in Britain. I explore this threat in the book.
What’s your core motivation in writing this book?
There’s a man in the London Gay Men’s Chorus who’s in his eighties and described to me the terrible, secret life he had to live during the 1950s. A life in the shadows, he called it. It was a time when, being gay meant never being yourself in everyday life. It struck me that there are parallels between life for gay men in the past in Britain, when a man was forbidden to love another man by law, and for many gay men around the world today. Men for whom coming out can at the least mean public vilification and at the worst state execution.
Which secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
Florence Miles or Bill as she prefers to be called. Florence is a work colleague of Simon’s and she’s a very strong woman. She wears her hair in a short, Eton-crop, always wears trouser suits, and chain smokes. Like Simon, she too has a love affair that must be kept hidden from the law. In 1930s Britain lesbianism didn’t officially exist. The powers that be considered it impossible for a woman to love another woman. Hence there were no anti-lesbian laws, although parliament had considered introducing them but decided against it “for fear of encouraging certain women to experiment”.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Keeping the dialogue authentic. There were so many words that we use now that weren’t in current use in the 1930s. The word gay meant happy or carefree. The word homosexual was hardly used at all, even in medical circles. There were so many euphemisms. Gay men would refer to themselves as being ‘other’ and spoke of ‘homogenic love’. Love between women was called Sapphic love. The radio was called the wireless of course, and in Britain there was only the BBC. In the book I do refer to the threat to the BBC of a new commercial station called Radio Luxembourg, which came into service in 1933. When I researched this, I was thrilled to discover that the head of programmes was a woman who enjoyed Sapphic love.
Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes. What makes them tick?
Simon is driven by the need to prove himself in the face of his overbearing father. Despite the resentment he feels that he must keep his sexuality secret from his father, and despite his father’s dismissal of any of Simon’s achievements as being inadequate, he continues to strive to impress him. It’s a sad frustration I’ve seen in many adults over the years as a result of unsupportive parents.
What was the weirdest thing you had to Google for your story?
If the secret services were monitoring my search history, I’m sure they’d be very concerned about the number of times I looked for fascist or Nazi references! The hardest was researching the interior of Noël Coward’s country house (the protagonists end up hiding there). I spent quite a while scrutinising old plans and a few old photographs I was able to discover, thanks to two very good biographies of Noël Coward.
Is there going to be a sequel?
Definitely! This first book might end on a cliff-hanger of decision for Simon Sampson, but I’m happy to reveal that he does accept the offer he’s made and goes to Berlin in 1933. And that was a city that was about to see tumultuous change…
Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.
1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.
But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.
This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.
David C. Dawson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker. He writes gay romance and contemporary thrillers featuring gay heroes in love.
His latest book The Foreign Affair was published in 2020. It’s the third in the Delingpole Mysteries series.
The first in the series: The Necessary Deaths, won an FAPA award in the best suspense/thriller category.
David’s also written two gay romances: For the Love of Luke and Heroes in Love.
He lives near Oxford, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.
You can find out more at: http://www.davidcdawson.co.uk
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David is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
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