Tristram’s book On My Knees, a new contemporary m/m romance, just released with Etopia Press.
Welcome, Tristram. Let’s jump right in. Other than M/M, are there any themes that you like to explore in your stories?
Tristram La Roche: For me it’s very important to have something to say other than the falling in love and having sex (or maybe that should be the having sex and falling in love). Gay men are not aliens; we have all the usual human emotions and we face all the everyday ups and downs. In addition, we still face prejudice and this is not just in the least developed countries; even in Britain, where I live, and in the USA there is still a worrying level of prejudice and hate. My belief in fairness and freedom also comes out in other ways, in reflecting on the general direction of society and its values.
Q: Tell me a little about the characters and the conflict in On My Knees.
Tristram La Roche: Mark is a married man in mid-life crisis (actually, we live so much longer these days that mid-life may well need rethinking!). He is gay but grew up at a time and in a place where it was just not possible for his true feelings to surface. As a result he is trapped in a loveless marriage and you could say he is the victim of domestic abuse. Everything is collapsing around him, because I believe if you are not true to yourself that is the inevitable outcome. When he bumps into Attila, a complete stranger who is gay and just out of a failed relationship, Mark’s feelings are so strong that he is forced to come out and face up to it. But I’ve thrown in the prickly issue of infidelity and promiscuity to make the ride a bit bumpy.
Q: Where’s the story set? How much influence did the setting have on the atmosphere/characters/development of the story?
Tristram La Roche: I’ve set it in London; across Westminster Bridge and along the Embankment (just look at the cover!) and in leafy Hampstead. Almost everything that happens is based on experiences in and around these parts, so I reckon that the setting proved to be an organic part of the story. That’s how it should be, I believe.
Q: What is your writing process like?
Tristram La Roche: I’m not terribly methodical. I’d like to be but it just doesn’t happen. I have a rule that I must write at least 1,000 words a day unless there is some major unavoidable interruption to my schedule. I tend to begin at nine in the morning and aim to be done by five in the afternoon. During those eight hours I write, wander about, make tea, listen to music, watch TV and read. Sometimes I reach my target early in the day, in which case I will often double it, and sometimes I just make it at five o’clock!
Q: Do you prefer to extensively plot your stories, or do you write them as they come to you?
Tristram La Roche: I develop a broad outline in my head – I don’t write it down because it loses fluidity once you do that – then begin to write the story from the beginning. I let the characters develop the plot and only when necessary do I play god to keep them on the right (or the wrong!) track. I do not write random scenes out of order and stitch them together later.
Q: Do certain themes and ideas tend to capture your writer’s imagination and fascinate you?
Tristram La Roche: Greed, jealousy, selfishness and bigotry. You see these in every walk of life every single day and I feel bound to point them out and fight them to the best of my abilities. However, I don’t use them as a hobby horse and I hope they are always subtly dealt with.
Q: What do readers have to look forward to in the future from Tristram La Roche?
Tristram La Roche: A lot more stories. I love the novella and am developing several now, but I shall write a few novels. So far I’ve written contemporary, but I’m going to step back a long way in time for at least one of the stories, and I have a nagging feeling about writing a gay horror/paranormal.
Surviving on alcohol and antidepressants, Mark staggers through his unhappy marriage and watches his London architectural business head for the rocks. When another nasty argument with his wife sends him to the gym to blow off steam, a tall, dark stranger enflames a part of him he’s denied all these years, trying to convince himself he’s not “weird.” But Mark’s not weird, he’s gay. And after a taste of Attila’s lips, nothing can put that genie back in the bottle…
You can find out more about Tristram here: