Thursday, June 15, 2023

Q&A with E.L. Deards




E.L. Deards is the author of the new historical novel Wild with All Regrets. Also a veterinarian, she is based in the UK.


Q: What inspired you to write Wild with All Regrets, and how did you create your characters Lucas and Jamie?


A: Basically I suffered a terrible literary loss a number of years ago where my favorite character ever was killed off in a way I couldn’t quite come to terms with. Wild with All Regrets was almost a compulsion, an attempt to sort out my feelings about love, loss, identity, the value of human life, and mental illness.


Lucas started out as a miserable and lonely creature and evolved into someone complex and tragically beautiful. Jamie began as an idealized image of love and gradually morphed into someone human and flawed.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The original title was actually Dulce et Decorum Est (how sweet and fitting it is), which is the eponymous title of my favorite poem by Wilfred Owen. Owen was a gay poet who was killed at the end of WWI, who actually largely inspired this work. The poem is ironic and brutal, highlighting the brutality and pointlessness of war.


I loved the way the meaning of the title contrasted with the imagery, and thought it fit quite well thematically and from an inspirational point with my book.


That being said, my publishing team felt a title in Latin would be alienating to audiences and asked me to change it.

Wild with All Regrets is the title of a less famous poem by Wilfred Owen, which I felt still fit thematically with the novel’s themes and plot. I was glad to find another title which still honored Owen’s influence and made sense.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I tend to have a really basic idea of what’s going to happen in a story and then just sort of write until I find out what happens. The ending was something I wrestled with a lot actually, but as I wrote it Lucas sort of decided what was going to happen at the end.


I did add some scenes and tweak some things after the first draft was done, to help with the narrative flow and pacing. Having the whole book out of chronological order was a bit tough to get exactly right, but I think it serves the narrative well and reveals the information in an interesting way.


Q: In a review for Foreword Reviews, Arianna Rebolini wrote, “Wild with All Regrets is a powerful novel in which a grieving man endures the shame of a lost love in a time and place when homophobia reigned.” What do you think of that description?


A: I’m glad to have gotten such a strong review. My aim whenever I’m writing anything is to make my reader feel something, and I hope I’ve managed to do that. I’m not sure if the main conflict is the shame over a love lost rather than more spoilery things, but I guess you’ll have to read it to find out!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My new book, To Hell and Back! It’s completely different from Wild with All Regrets - it’s an LGBT fantasy book about a pair of exorcist con artists who go around scamming people to get rid of fake demons… until one of them gets possessed for real. It’s loads of fun and I’m working on getting an agent as we speak!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: In real life I’m an autistic veterinarian! Writing has always been a secret passion of mine, but more importantly a way for me to explore and understand other people better.


I’ve struggled a lot with depression myself, and I wanted to convey the heavy and painful struggle of managing mental illness in this work. I wanted to address themes of homophobia, sexual abuse, and the lingering marks left by trauma of all kinds. I worked very hard on this book, and hope it connects with people.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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