It's Day 10 of Queermas and we have another author interview for you today, this time from Eule Grey, author of festive sci-fi romance, When the Glow Lights the Woods. If you like your Christmas with a dash of something different and dystopian, this one's for you, so lets dive in and learn more!
Eule Grey (she/they), author, has travelled all over and settled, for now, in the UK. Her mind, however, is often in the clouds or away with the fairies. Some might call her fey.
Eule loves books, pets, and happy endings. Adversely, she also enjoys reading a creepy horror story, though she isn’t very brave.
Best of all, Eule adores creating cuddly, sparkling romances. She also writes all kinds of other queer stories and refuses to be squeezed into only one genre—she's not tidy enough.
Eule currently writes for NineStar Press and JMS Books.
Thank you so much for featuring on our website! First of all, let’s get to know you a little better. Tell us about you and your work.
Hello! Thank you so much for having me. I’m Eule Grey and I write all kinds of queer stories including YA, Adult, Fantasy, as well as contemporary. I include diversity of all kinds. Even when it’s not intentional, my work is wrought with the subject of inequality. Outside of writing, I’ve worked in some tricky places where the effects of inequality are apparent, so I think that’s why I feel compelled to try and include characters you don’t often see within queer books. I’m a passionate, genuine sort of person and I put my heart and soul into my work. I’m published with four presses, including NineStar Press and JMS Press. Next year I’m concentrating on Romance! I’m a romantic gal 😊
Your latest release, When the Glow Lights the Woods, is a YA sci-fi and fantasy romance out now. Tell us about the book and what inspired you to write it.
I had this chaotic idea of creating a range of stories with the same premise: A wall runs around the planet, dividing many countries. Some of the stories are romantic, others are not. Barriers and divides interest me, not least because they inspire people to cross the divide, however they can, as well as being a hive of art, literature, and drama. I have a friend who lived in Berlin when the wall came down, and others who lived in Ireland during the partition. The Glow is my second story from this universe. The other is due Feb 😊. In The Glow, two countries come together once a year at Christmas time. One lucky person gets a date with someone from the other side. In this case, the date leads to romance and love, which in turn lead to a more sustainable future for both lands.
It’s rare that we get a festive backdrop in sci-fi and fantasy works. What was the reason behind choosing Christmas as a celebration and how does the seasonal setting impact the story and world-building?
To tell you the truth I never do what I’m told lol. People advised me against this setting because they said the book won’t sell. I do enjoy a challenge and here it was to create a hopeful, happy story within a dystopian world. Because humans find happiness, love, peace and joy wherever they are 😊. It was a fun story to write and I really hope readers give it a try.
Tell us about the main characters, Kite and Manu. Which one resonated with you most and why? What can we expect from their dynamic and connection?
Kite and Manu come from opposite lands. One is poor and from a loving community, the other is from a rich land who favour a solitary life. Kite Ripples loves animals, is the bro of the community leader and is absolutely dying to kiss another boy 😊. Perhaps he resonates with me most because he is pulled to and fro by his desire to do good, as well as fighting off his own desires. To me, Kite is like most of us😊 Manu tends baby birds and believes Kite’s people are sex addicts. Both boys come to the date with stereotypes on their minds but all of the preconceptions go out the window when they share a deep attraction. I love writing YA stories because of the hope inherent within the genre, and the freedoms it allows in terms of structure and form.
Can you tell us more about the world in which the book is set? Which aspects were most interesting to write when it came to world-building? How does Manu and Kite’s environment affect their story?
The story takes place many years after a war nobody can remember. Kite’s side has grown up without adults and has created its own lore and belief system which is based on community and planetary concerns. They won’t do anything which could risk another war. The wall serves as a reminder of how stupid humanity can be. To me, the most interesting aspect of this world is the way the two lands have evolved. Because the story is a Romance, I didn’t have much time in which to set the scene or make the world realistic, so I had to come up with a symbolic coming together of lands: the Christmas date. When Kite and Manu meet, they only get one chance. When the sparks fly, they’re both prepared to break the rules because love cannot be denied. Love is such a force, despite all the odds.
What’s your greatest challenge as a fantasy and sci-fi author?
Combining the factors of diversity, art, creativity, with the constraints of the more typical fantasy queer books. Readers either ‘get’ me or they don’t. It’s not often I get mediocre reviews – they’re normally love or hate lol.
Do you take any real-life inspiration from the sci-fi setting? If so, what?
Yes, definitely. In my last sapphic YA, We, Kraken, I drew on my experience as an artist who makes sculptures. Art is not something I leave behind; I bring it into my work.
What is your favourite trope of festive fiction as a reader, and is your favourite as a writer any different? If so, why?
Is it awful to say I don’t have one? I love difference in all forms, including in story structure, theme, and voice. As a writer, I do enjoy writing opposites 😊
Do you have any holiday traditions/activities, and do they also feed into your work?
At the beginning of every year, I write a poem. Poetry is a biggie in my books. In The Glow, each chapter begins with a line of a poem we only see at the very end.
Speaking of feeding, how about festive food and drink?
My kid has reached the age where they can drink alcohol 😊 we both love eggnog, sparkling wine, and Pina colada.
Do you have a favourite festive movie, show, and/or book and has it influenced your own work at all? Bonus points if it’s queer!
Not really. I’m a very, in the moment sort of reader.
With New Year just around the corner, can you tell us anything about your next project, even if it’s just a little hint? What can readers expect from you in 2023?
Lots! I’ve signed contracts on three books with JMS Press. The first is a sapphic Cinderella-type Romance I’m excited about because I actually think readers will like it 😊. The second is a sapphic Pinocchio lolol. I’m trying to bring out a book every couple of months next year, so there’s lots to look forward to! 😊 I love trying new things and treat every new project with enthusiasm, even when it’s doomed to failure lolol.