Quintette asks writers five quick questions. This week’s interview is with:
Jay Lewis Taylor
Dance of Stone. I can’t honestly remember how hard the title was to pick, because the germ of the story came to me in about 1990 – I know the title came some while later, but how much later I can’t now say. It had its origins in someone – I forget who – describing architecture as frozen music. I’ve always been fascinated by the great cathedrals, and each of them has its own rhythm – the great Norman arches that bound down the nave at Southwell feel entirely different from the vaults of Lincoln.
2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest story?
Hah. I was in Wells market place on Saturday morning, about 60 feet from the site of Hugh’s house, and a 21st-century reincarnation of Arnaut stepped out from the gateway of the Bishop’s Palace, juggling clubs and balls. Until that moment, although I had a vague idea, I couldn’t ‘see’ Arnaut’s face; but of course I didn’t have a camera with me… Hugh – for working purposes he has been looking like a poet friend of mine, who deserves his privacy, so I won’t say. The_Geographer is close enough, although Hugh has grey hair.
3. What five words best describe your story?
I can’t do it in five! May I cheat and pretend & isn’t a word??
Love & cathedrals; strength, time, perseverance.
4. Who is your favourite fictional couple?
That’s a hard one – I try to see people as individuals rather than as attachments, however loving, to each other. In traditional terms, I think Beatrice and Benedick, from Much Ado About Nothing. But otherwise, Jim & Russell from Elizabeth A. Lynn’s A Different Light, which is the one book that always makes me cry. It’s brilliant, but you’ll need Kleenex in industrial quantities.
5. What song always makes you cry?
Despite what I said about A Different Light, in general I’m disgustingly English and stiff upper lip, and don’t cry. The one song ever to make me cry in public is Bill Caddick’s Cloud Factory, which I heard June Tabor singing live about a week after my grandmother died. June recorded it, and it’s on YouTube. “He sang that dreams were everything, Can’t be bought and can’t be sold, More than silver, more than gold…. “
I think we can write dreams too…
About Dance of Stone
Late twelfth-century England: a country of divided loyalties while the Lionheart is on crusade. Hugh de Barham, master mason at Wells, walks a dangerous path between Glastonbury and Wells as the two vie for supremacy, a path made more dangerous still by the fact that Hugh, if he could, would share his bed not with women but with men.
The only way to stay safe is to keep his head down, but building the church of his dreams is no way to do that: and then there is Arnaut l’Occitan. What does this stranger from Provence want with Hugh? And can he, or anyone, be trusted?
Despite having spent most of my life in Surrey and Oxfordshire, I now live in Somerset, within an hour’s drive of the villages where two of my great-great-great-grandparents were born. Although I work as a rare-books librarian in an abstruse area of medical history, I am in fact a thwarted medievalist with a strong arts background.
I have been writing fiction for over thirty years, exploring the lives of people who are on the margins in one way or another, and how the power of love and language can break down the walls that we build round ourselves.
- Jay’s page at Manifold Press
Buy Dance of Stone
Would you like to answer a Quintette interview? Email me at email@example.com!