Today my interview is with R.A. Padmos, aka Raymonde. She is a Dutch author, and lives in Rotterdam with her wife, two sons and five cats.

 

CQ: Can you tell me something about the origins of ‘Ravages’ and why you decided to write it?

 

I had this idea about a man taking a stroll through a city. The man’s silly in love with another man. That other man loves him right back. Both men are professional footballers in the highest level of the English competition.

 

Not having seen the inside of a closet for over 30 years, it was hard for me to miss that there are absolutely no openly gay (at least not as far as the wider public is aware of) and still active high(est) level professional footballers in any of the biggest competitions. And that’s despite the fact that in recent years we see more and more gays of all walks of life coming out of the closet, in a growing part of the world.

 

I blindly believe it when they tell me there are relatively far fewer gay men in professional football in England than in the fashion and entertainment industry, but none, as in zero, not even a single one? Not even I am that naïve.

 

I knew a story situated in the amateur or lower leagues wouldn’t work for Ravages (not spoiling, but it’s obvious why if you read the story).

 

I also wasn’t interested in the “young footballer discovers he’s gay scenario.” A very important theme, absolutely, but personally not very inspirational for me as a writer.

 

Steve and Daniël are (I would almost say happily) closeted for practical reasons. Why take a potential risk to their career/transfer possibilities if it’s all private and personal anyway?  They’re happy in love and lust, and keeping their distance in public is no big drama. But then Steve gets confronted with the most vicious form of homophobia imaginable and that changes everything, and not just for him and Daniël.

 

I guess, looking back on the whole process, I simply wanted to write an intimate, taking-it’s-time story about love, friendship, life and death.

 

CQ: Are you directly involved in the campaign to combat homophobia in professional football? Feel free to add any website links you think appropriate.

 

Not directly, no, because I don’t consider myself the most suitable person for such a job. I’m obviously not a footballer, hardly a fan, and I think there are two groups who should speak the loudest at this moment: gay-friendly straight players and fans, and gay/lesbian/bi footballers themselves.

 

But I’m very aware of the work of a group like international internet-based Red Card Homophobia and support it wholeheartedly.  I think it’s a positive sign Red Card is very much a grass root organization, started by (mostly, but far not exclusively) straight fans. I consider that one of their strongest points, because football fans have a bad reputation when it comes to being GLBT friendly, and that’s not always deserved.
There are several other initiatives as well, like British based The Justin Campaign, named in honour of Justin Fashanu. They launched the international “Football v Homophobia” day. It was held on 19 February 2010 for the first time, and gives everyone (footballers on all levels, fans and those who simply don’t like homophobia) an opportunity to speak out and be heard, all on 19 February.

 

And I know that in several countries initiatives are being taken to deal with homophobia in football and other sports, or to create welcoming places for GLBT athletes and fans.

 

So, if anyone would like me to mention/link to any group or initiative against homophobia in football on my R.A. Padmos blog, I’m more than happy to do so.

 

CQ: Did you have any particular players or team in mind when you created your characters?

 

Yes and no. As footballers, that was bound to happen. As characters? All my own and no one else’s.
When I created Kinbridge Town, the club Steve and Daniël play for, I knew it would be a relatively small, originally working class  club, supported by the locals all through their history of many downs, and fewer ups, in a city lacking any form of glamour. Being at mid-table is considered a reason to be insanely proud, avoiding relegation a miracle and winning the Premier League an impossible dream.

 

CQ: How long did ‘Ravages’ take you to write, and did you do a great deal of research?

 

I wrote the first words in 2008 and it took me about a year to complete the first version. Then there were several revisions. Manifold Press accepted the manuscript in January this year, and recently it became available as an e-book.

 

Having had my first coming out in 1979, I know about being gay in a straight world. Having been in a committed relationship since 1981, I know about love through good and bad. But the football side of the story… I was very lucky to have the help of Joanne, who was kind enough to read the manuscript and tell me when I had written utter football nonsense. Any nonsense left is still my own, though. But I did my homework.

 

Ravages doesn’t actually have much, if any, real football action. And still this story couldn’t have been written in quite the same way, had Steve and Daniël been anything else but highest level professional footballers in a country where football means far more than simply being an interesting game.

 

CQ: I understand this is your first full-scale work in English.  Did you write it in Dutch first, and how easy or difficult was translating it?

 

Writing it in Dutch first wouldn’t have worked. Translating fiction really is a totally different discipline/art from writing it. So, if a Dutch publisher should ever be interested in Ravages, then I’m afraid I won’t be the one doing the translations, funny as that may sound.

 

CQ: What other projects do you have in mind?

 

A few, actually. In November my erotic novella, Three, will be published by Totally E-Bound, under the name S. Dora. Another story is in the process of being accepted.

 

I plan to rewrite an older work, a historical novel about Dutch working class m/m lovers during the Depression and German occupation. I hope to be able to show the manuscript to Manifold Press by the end of this year.

 

And I’m doing research for a novel about a football mad gay man (who plays a very minor role in Ravages) who thinks and talks more about football, and his beloved Kinbridge Town in particular, than about pretty men.

 

CQ: Do you incorporate some of yourself into your characters? Personality traits? Likes? Dislikes?

 

I tend to keep a certain distance to my writing. I haven’t felt the need to write about my own life, or a version of it, since I was 12. I guess that’s why I almost never write lesbians as main characters. But of course every character and every story originates in my own head, so…  My characters are often quite introvert, and live very much inside their own heads, and it’s not hard to see where that comes from.

 

And I do wonder if I could have written the same story in quite the same manner had I been straight or 30 years younger. At least some of Daniël’s anger, and not just at the homophobes, gets pretty close to home.

 

CQ: Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block? If so, how do you break free of it?

 

Good question. I learned not to panic when it happens, because I know it comes and it goes away, pretty much no matter what I do. A (not too strict) deadline also helps. If I know others are waiting for my next story/novel, that’s just about the best motivation for me. Inspiration? That’s nice, but there’s always the hard work too.

 

CQ: Are you a by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer, or do you have to use an outline to put your collective thoughts into some semblance of common sense?

 

Most of the writing goes on in my head, and most of it mercifully dies even before I put it to “paper” I’m a slow writer, and I change a lot of details during the revision stages, but I almost never use an outline, except for what I already have in my own head. I do however write down names and information about characters, because I’m hopeless at remembering names and details.

 

CQ: Is there anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t covered?

 

There’s still people reading? (laughs) But, seriously: thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I enjoyed answering the questions tremendously.

 

CQ: Thank you, Raymonde, this has been a fascinating interview, and I’m certain your answers will resonate with a lot of readers!

 

Ravages by R.A. Padmos, is available now from Manifold Press

 

Buy Link: Here

 

Her website is Here

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