Author Interview: Talbot Finch

Talbot Finch: “The queer community has suffered far too many tragic endings in literature and film as it is, and it’s important, I think, to be reminded that misery isn’t our birthright.”

I’d like to welcome Talbot Finch to the BLOG. Talbot is a skilled and imaginative queer author and artist residing in the southeastern region of the United States. With a passion for exploring the rich tapestry of the LGBTQ+ experience, Talbot’s captivating work delves into the realms of romance, fantasy, and gothic horror. Through vivid storytelling, he weaves intricate and compelling narratives that transport readers to new worlds filled with complex characters and thought-provoking themes.

My reviews of Talbot’s work can be found in earlier BLOG posts.

Regarding the genesis of your writing, both for self-fulfillment and as a vocation, who or what do you credit as the inspiration that led to it? When did you know it was time to move beyond writing for yourself toward the intimidating world of publishing? How do you handle anxiety about showcasing your work to a global audience?

Truth be told, I find it hard to call myself a writer. I’m certain “imposter syndrome” is partly to blame, but I generally prefer to think of myself as a storyteller. I’ve always had a rich inner world and a love for creating stories, but the medium through which I shared them has varied dramatically over the years. When I was young, I typically explored my stories through drawing, songwriting, and play. In fact, I cannot recall a single instance in my formative years when a grownup told me I wrote well or encouraged me to put my ideas on paper.

This may be why I discovered my love for writing much more recently. It wasn’t until December 2020, many months into the pandemic, that the threat of cabin fever and a budding existential crisis compelled me to dive headfirst into a new project—any project—to maintain my sanity. So, one night, I opened a blank Google Doc more or less on a whim and typed up the first scene of Violet Reverie. At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing and had no idea where the story would go. I later found out that what I was doing was called pantsing. 

But it was ultimately through this process of writing the first draft of the novel that I slowly fell in love with the craft. At the beginning, publication wasn’t really a thought in my mind. But by the end of several rounds of revisions and editing, I knew I wanted to share the story with others. Of course, publishing is an incredibly intimidating and vulnerable thing. You are effectively sharing a small piece of your soul with the world and opening yourself up to criticism.

Fortunately, in college, I was afforded the opportunity to grow a thicker skin than the one I was born with. I was a Fine Arts major, which, for those who may not know, means that my grades were largely determined by critiques rather than traditional exams. Every few weeks, I would pin my latest artwork onto the wall and listen as my professor and peers shared their thoughts and feedback. My first dozen critiques or so were absolutely terrifying, but I eventually grew to value the critiques more than anything. For me, publishing would’ve been much harder had I not had that experience.

What about the genre of Gay Romance inspires and excites you? What are the integral elements of composing a compelling love story? How does being a gay/queer romance affect or transform these elements, especially when looking to adapt conventionally heteronormative romance themes for a same-sex narrative?

For as long as stories have existed, heterosexual romances have abounded. Now that we live in a world where queer romance is not only acceptable but also finding itself in mainstream media, I think that we as a community have a lot of catching up to do. That, to me, is the most exciting thing about the genre. I’m ready to see queer relationships and stories of every calibre, in every subgenre, one hundred times over. So many of the gay films I saw growing up seemed to fall into one of two categories—devastating art house drama or hyper-raunchy campy comedy. Don’t get me wrong, both types of film have their place, but I’m excited to have more than that. And from a literary perspective, I’m excited to have more than just subtext and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it queer background characters. 

As for composing a compelling love story, whether it’s of the queer or straight variety, I believe that strong characters are paramount. If I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care what happens to them. On the other hand, give me a pair of three-dimensional characters with goodness in their bruised hearts and an aching need for warmth and love in their lives, and I’ll move mountains to ensure they get their happy ending.

There are, however, considerations one must keep in mind when writing a same-sex relationship, especially if the writer isn’t queer. One cannot insert two same-sex characters into a heterosexual romance and expect the same results. To do so would be to ignore the realities of gay relationships. I advise any heterosexual authors who are interested in writing queer relationships to do as much research as possible before beginning. Even with the best intentions, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of stereotypes when writing characters who belong to a community separate from your own. Consume media that was made by queer people, for queer people, and listen to what they have to say. 

Your novel Violet Reverie and novelette The Housekeeper are period stories set in the 19th century, steeped in Victorian sensibilities. Violet Reverie, however, goes a step further into the domain of Gothic Romance, utilizing many beloved tropes the genre and era are known for. Your main protagonist, Nathan Hambleton, is besieged by anxious feelings of being stalked and pursued, that darkness and shadow seem to manifest shape and form, reminiscent of such works as Sheridan le Fanu’s Carmilla and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Also, the state of being haunted by disembodied voices and ghostly figures, elements found in Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, texturize your novel’s gothic narrative. How does writing your book with these dark, atmospheric elements elevate the story in Violet Reverie beyond austere romance fiction? Why did you set this work within the Victorian Gothic period instead of a contemporary Horror setting?

First of all, thank you for such a thoughtful question! My literary interests have always been divided, rather contradictorily, between romance and horror. Both genres are rife with uncertainty, caution, and anticipation. I’ve also always been fascinated by the blurry line between reality and fantasy regarding perceived paranormal phenomena. Though the story is told in the third person, we see the world through Nathan’s eyes; however, at times, his perspective becomes unreliable as he’s been made to doubt himself by his family and doctor throughout his life. I feel this lends itself to his journey overall as the cloud of anxiety and uncertainty that pervades the earlier chapters eventually lifts when his confidence in himself grows.

Among other works, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman also served as inspiration for me. The idea of being trapped inside four claustrophobic walls and slowly losing touch with reality was, I suppose, a hot topic for me during the pandemic. Unlike that story, however, it was important for me that Violet Reverie ended happily. The queer community has suffered far too many tragic endings in literature and films as it is, and it’s important, I think, to be reminded that misery isn’t our birthright. Besides that, I was much too fond of Nathan and Peter to give them anything less than a happily ever after.

As someone with a love for the Victorian era and who has studied Gay/queer representation in 19th Century literature, I know that overt expressions of homo/bisexual male desire were sparse, indeed. Lesbian representation was more forward present, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Christabel” and the abovementioned Carmilla, to name just two. Using Queer Theory to “queer the narrative,” it becomes possible to unveil subtextual queer male desire by interpreting coded language and author slippage. John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray are applicable cases (and, of course, Dracula). How freeing was it, as a contemporary queer author, to write a gay romance set in the Victorian era and not have to resort to coded language and textual sublimation of homoeroticism?

Truthfully, it was immensely freeing! Throughout the writing process, I was very aware that this story could not have existed in the era it was set in without serious consequences. I’ve often envied that straight folks have so many wonderful period romances to read or watch at their leisure that are void of coded language, subtext, and sad endings. With Violet Reverie, I suppose I was writing the sort of book I always wished I could read when I was younger.

In your work, you acknowledge the homophobia of the times: the dangers of living authentically and of being outed. However, you adhere to these conventions only to a degree. Your work is fabulously transgressive in that you flawlessly apply a more modern temperament to many of your characters; how they react to the queer characters upon discovery of their queerness is refreshing and bold. I especially appreciate how certain characters ultimately reject homophobia, internalized or not.

Queer people have always existed, as have free thinkers, and I think it’s only correct to showcase that not every person, when presented with queerness, goes straight to hatred and intolerance. Shared minority hardships, though still recognizing their unique differences, can create a connection between oppressed people. Was this aspect of your novel, this open-mindedness over fear, planned, or were these reactions and personality traits more organic, a narrative determination as you wrote? 

This was definitely a choice. I knew very well that if these characters were real, even the kindest among them were likely still capable of rejecting Nathan and Peter for their love, given the general attitude toward homosexuality at the time. And though we’ve come a long way as a society, this is not just a footnote in history. Being ostracized by family and friends is still a cruel reality that many queer folks deal with today. For that reason, I gave many of the supporting characters a more modern temperament. While I could not completely ignore the pervasiveness of homophobia during this period, as I wrote, I chose to believe that love and compassion are a much stronger force than hate in the end.

Queer representation is the main thrust of your work, but when it comes to inclusivity, you don’t stop there. In The Housekeeper, your main protagonist, Andrew, is disabled, having lost a limb in a childhood accident. Having written characters with disabilities into my stories, I know how important it is to write respectful representations, showing that all types of people have desires, ambitions, and frustrations. I groan whenever I see a writer who has intentionally “othered” a character, using a disability, even queerness, as a plot point for sensationalist melodrama bereft of complexity.

With Andrew, you’ve brilliantly written a fully realized character with a disability that adds to his unique identity, and you’ve done so within a relatively short narrative. What was the impetus for writing a character with a disability and focusing the story around him? Do you have advice for authors on how to successfully and respectfully navigate the inclusivity of disabilities, showing that it’s about acceptance and living positively with them, not constantly struggling to overcome them? 

Early on, while writing Violet Reverie, I knew one of my character’s primary motivation for their actions was their younger sibling. However, at the time, I didn’t really know who Andrew was, and I couldn’t have imagined the story I would’ve eventually written about him! During my research for the book, I learned a lot about the dangers of living in the time period, not just for adults but also for children. Whether they lived as farmers, miners or labourers, there was no shortage of harsh working conditions and dangerous equipment that could’ve easily taken a limb or a life—and they often did! These dangers also existed within the home itself. I read a particularly horrifying article about the prevalence of fire-related deaths in children during the Victorian era due to the popularity of flannelette—a cheap and warm yet highly flammable fabric—and the presence of open flames in the house from candles and fireplaces.

In some ways, surviving a hardship such as Andrew’s was both a blessing and a curse. While he’d lived to see another day, the options for a poor, disabled person were extremely limited. Many ended up in poorhouses. Andrew’s sibling was determined to see him have a full and happy life, no matter the personal sacrifice. And as the author, I wanted that for him as well. Moreover, I think it’s important to tell stories of characters with intersectional identities, as I feel this is often underrepresented in media.

For anyone wanting to write characters with disabilities, avoid telling stories in which the disabled individual is magically “healed” in the end. The idea that disabilities are curses that must be fixed for the character to be happy and whole is harmful to those actually living with them. On the other side of the coin, writing a disabled character whose primary purpose is to be a constant source of “inspiration” and unyielding optimism to everyone around them is insulting and trite; disabled folks don’t owe it to anyone to be a saint. Lastly, for the love of all that is good, please do not use a character’s disability as their reason for becoming a villain. That is not to say that villains cannot be disabled in some way, but it should not be the thing that makes them wicked in the first place. 

I’m a big fan of your covers. The playfulness with colour and the elevated cartoon-like quality of the illustrations create a whimsical, welcoming, eye-catching product that’s not overly busy. Using this illustration style is quite trendy right now, and I’m on board with it; I prefer illustration over real-life models on book covers. What was the cover creation process like for you, and why did you go the route you did? Do you think a fabulous cover can draw potential readers in, or are you a “Don’t judge a book by its cover” person? 

I’m happy to hear you like my covers! Truthfully, I am proud of them. I went to college for visual art and have always loved drawing. I had an idea in mind for Violet Reverie and made a rough sketch that looks very similar to the final cover. However, I wasn’t confident in my digital art abilities at the time—my concentration in college was traditional media—so I hired an illustrator to bring the sketch to life. The artist is Luisa Galstyan, and I cannot recommend her enough. Her work is amazing. 

For The Housekeeper, I decided to take a stab at digitally illustrating it myself. I watched several online tutorials on different colouring and rendering techniques. It took much longer than was probably necessary, but I got there in the end. And I’m happy with how it turned out.

As for the saying “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover,” this is a philosophy I live by when it comes to people, but I find it rather difficult to do with actual books. Part of the issue is that so much media is fighting for our attention. New books, shows, and movies are being released daily, and no one could possibly enjoy it all. We have to be selective about how we invest our time, and that process typically starts with judging the cover. For self-published books especially, I think a good cover subtly communicates to the reader that this author has invested some degree of time and resources into this book, which means they likely also invested in an editor. Mind you, this isn’t always the case. 

Once a cover initially catches my eye, I look at the reviews to see the general consensus. However, if a book’s cover is terrible but comes highly recommended by a friend or an online community I follow, I will, of course, give it a chance! 

On your website, one can find several brilliant short stories with themes ranging from historical queer liaisons to a child’s introspective narrative around a Christmas backdrop. My favourite is the 1st person horror short, “If The Father Calls,” a tense tale of backwoods religious zealotry, murder, and madness. When an idea pops into your head, how do you decide what suits a novel, novella or short-story format for its telling? Do you have a preference between long or short narratives, or is it based solely on how expansive you feel your idea can get before it feels forced to fill a word count?

Since writing Violet Reverie, my writing process has changed a lot. These days, when an idea comes to me, I try to imagine the story’s climax as quickly as I can. Once I have a sense of the ending, I work backward and think of what needs to happen to get our characters to that place. Sometimes, I can get them there in a short story; sometimes, it requires something longer. Generally speaking, though, I do have a slight preference for shorter narratives. My imagination can be so overactive that sitting in one story with the same cast of characters for weeks or months at a time can be challenging. I’m often eager to chase the latest “plot bunny,” but I also know how rewarding it is to see a longer piece through to the end. [Above Right Image: Victorian Country Estate, much like the setting for Violet Reverie.]

If you could be one of the characters from any of your works, who would it be? How do you relate to this specific character over others?

If I could be any character, I think I’d want to be Violet Watts. She’s kind, wise, and content with herself and the life she’s lived. In reality, though, I’m probably much more like Nathan—prone to anxiety, consumed by his dreams, and still figuring himself out. But I like to imagine that Nathan eventually matures and evolves into a wise mentor in his later years, similar to Violet. So, maybe there’s hope for me yet.

What book(s) are you currently devouring? Do you have a go-to genre, or are you quite diverse in your reading preferences?

I enjoy reading horror, romance, and nonfiction! Typically, I work from home, but recently, I had to travel for a conference, and for things like that, I really enjoy having an audiobook to listen to in the car or on the plane. I just discovered that Spotify has loads of audiobooks available with a premium subscription, so I chose a book by an author recommended to me by several friends: Keira Andrews. The book was Kidnapped By The Pirate, and it was a highly entertaining read. Maybe not a good choice for a family road trip, though, as the heat levels are quite high.

What does the future hold for author Talbot Finch? Can we expect to see more period gay romances or perhaps a move toward more modern narratives? Even more Horror, maybe? I’d love to see a continuation of stories set in the 19th century, within both the Victorian and pre-Victorian eras, gothic or otherwise; furthering the connectivity of your previous works—this shared world—would be amazing. But whatever you do, whichever direction you go with your work, know that I’m a fan and along for the ride.

Thank you for your kind words! It really means so much to me. I have several story ideas in the works at the moment, and one of them is definitely horror, although there is still romance at play. I also have plans to explore other genres, like fantasy, as well as write a story that spans several books. This will be a genuine test of my ability to stay focused, but I’m already in love with the characters, so it must be done. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tentative dates in place for releases yet. Every deadline I’ve given myself lately has been pushed further and further back due to life getting in the way. But I hope to have a more substantial update in the coming months. For anyone interested, please subscribe to my mailing list for news on future releases! [Above Left Image: Victorian London Flat, much like the setting for The Housekeeper.]

Thank you, Talbot, for taking the time to chat with me so candidly and with such enthusiasm about the Genres of Gay (Paranormal) Romance, Gothic Horror, and Queer Historical Fiction. I am eagerly anticipating what lies ahead as there appears to be many thrilling developments in the pipeline. I hope that your artistic pursuits continue to flourish and bring you further success.

Violet Reverie is available for purchase at and

The Housekeeper: A Gay Victorian Novelette is available for purchase at and

For more information about this author, follow Talbot Finch on Instagram & Facebook. Also, visit his Website.

For information on artist Luisa Galstyan, find her on Instagram and visit her Behance page.



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