Today we’re joined by Robyn Beecroft. Robyn is a phenomenal mystery author who writes a series that features an asexual sleuth named Haley. Their series is called the “Dancing Detective” series and they’re currently working on the 3rd book in the series. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate author, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’ve just started writing cozy mystery novels. I’ve written fanfiction, romance and SF/F all my life, but I was intimidated by the thought of writing murder mystery because I thought it had to be as intricate as an Agatha Christie, and I didn’t think I had that level of complexity in me.
I didn’t realize that it’s easier when you’re writing the book, because you know what happens right from the start – all you as the author have to work out is how to hide the clues.
I have two books out so far in my Dancing Detective series, and I’m currently plotting the third one.
They feature two young sleuths who are trying to find their way in the world after leaving college. Rory, a posh and nervous gay man, and Haley a more down-to-earth asexual, non-binary person, solve murders deep in the English countryside while they grapple with the challenges of coming out and living their most authentic lives.
What inspires you?
I started writing these because I moved into the English countryside myself – just outside Cambridge – and got into folk music and morris dancing, which opened up a slightly bizarre whole new world to me.
I’ve always liked cozy mysteries, and I’d read a couple that featured morris dancing – and now I knew that their depiction of the culture was completely wrong, so I wanted to bring the fun and irreverence of the dance into my novels.
That inspired Murder of a Straw Man, after which I ended up putting all my favourite things into the series. Murder of a Working Ghost is about ghost tours of the city of Ely, and the one I’m working on now – Murder of a Starship Captain – is about science-fiction conventions.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, yes. Ever since I can remember, escaping into a good book was one of life’s greatest joys, and I wanted to be able to give that to people.
I’m not too bothered about writing the next great American novel, but I just want to entertain my reader and give them a break from the monotony of real life.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I don’t do anything like that knowingly. I’m always trying to make the next book different from the last. But probably things repeat without my knowing it. The subconscious is an amazing thing.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
If you want to write a book, just do it. Don’t wait for the right time, or tell yourself that you have to have a certain level of skill before you start. Start, and then don’t stop or deviate until you’ve finished.
It’s a lot easier to write a book if you know what it’s about and what you need to write in each chapter, so writing a plot-plan first will make things much simpler.
Sometimes your brain lies to you. You will get to a point with every book where you think “I hate this. It’s rubbish. I would literally rather clean the toilet than write this. It’s not working. I’m going to give up on this one and start something new.” DO NOT LISTEN. This is a lie. It is working. You’re just getting into the slump in the middle where writing is work rather than pleasure. Carry on writing it anyway. Do not stop until you get to the end.
As long as you push through and keep writing until you reach the end, you will eventually finish the book. If you start something new, you will end up having written for years with fifteen unfinished novels and nothing you can show to anyone. As Chuck Wendig says, “Finish your shit.”
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m all the As – asexual, agender, sort of grey-romantic. To the extent that I have a romantic orientation, I’m androromantic, but I’m married and I’ve only been romantically attracted to one person for the past 25 years, so it doesn’t feel like a present and active factor in my life.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I haven’t encountered any in my field, but then I’m indie published, so my field tends to be me sitting in front of my PC.
I live in the countryside, which is about 20-30 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to understanding of queer sexualities, and I am not out to any of the people I socialize with. I listen to them talk and I know there would be so much ‘gender and sexuality 101’ to get through before they even understood what I was saying that it doesn’t feel worthwhile. My family know, which is enough.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
In my off-line life no one has even heard of it. I wear an asexual pin and sometimes someone will ask me what it’s for. At which point I’ll explain that it stands to reason that if you get people who are attracted to the ‘opposite’ gender and people who are attracted to the same, and people who are attracted to both, you must also get people who are attracted to neither – and that’s what asexuals are. Everyone I’ve got that far with has changed the subject at that point.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I would say, “It’s not a guarantee that you’ll be alone. If you want someone to share your life with, ace/allo pairings work just fine as long as you have respect for each other and consistent communication.”
I spent a long time – before I knew that asexuality was a thing – being depressed and guilty because I thought there was something wrong with me. Now that I know I was just asexual the whole time, my crops are watered, I have accepted myself and I am much, much happier in my life. I consider myself lucky to be ace. It is a nice, calm, peaceful thing to be.
I guess my advice would be, “try to accept yourself for who you are. Don’t be your own abuser. Telling yourself you shouldn’t be [whatever your sexuality is] never worked for anyone – it just makes you miserable. Why be miserable when you can be proud to be ace?”
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Well, I have a very sparse website here: http://robyn.beecroftbooks.com/
I have a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Robyn-Beecroft-Cozy-Mystery-Author-347680635791392
Facebook has purged my personal account and won’t let me back on that, so it’s the Page or nothing
I also have an Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/robynbeecroft/
Where I’ve started to put up pictures of the Fenland countryside in which the mysteries are set, and I mean to keep it for the sorts of things that Rory and Haley – my heroes – would enjoy.
Thank you, Robyn, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.