Is ‘Deviant Desire’ about Jack the Ripper?
No, it’s not as simple as that. Deviant Desire is a gay romance set at the time of the Ripper murders in London’s East End, and there are similarities. It’s October 1888, the murders happen in the East End, at night, at random and no-one knows who is behind it all. The mystery side of the story started with the thought, ‘What if Jack the Ripper killed male prostitutes rather than female?’
I didn’t set out to be too accurate about the original Ripper murders, and in Deviant Desire, the killer isn’t known as Jack, simply The Ripper. However, there are some similarities, but the original 1888 horrors were used as inspiration if one can find such things inspiring. Not wanting to fall prey to Ripperologists and other enthusiasts of the mystery, I don’t pretend that my story has anything to do with what actually happened. For a start, the city is never known as London in my stories, but only ‘the city’, Whitechapel has become Greychurch, Limehouse has become Limedock, and the locations of the murders changed to suit the story. However, vigilantes, riots and unrest, antisemitism, the method of killing, times and atmosphere all come from my avid reading of Ripper theories. There are, in the text, a few veiled nods and obscure references to some of the Ripper theories and subjects, but remember this is a novel.
The Ripper murders have been used as background/inspiration and to springboard creativity, but other aspects of the series to come are historically accurate, or as much as I can make them while bending some facts to suit my own ends. For example, I’m now fairly acquainted with Mrs Beeton’s book of household management because my main character is a viscount with two houses and many servants. Etiquette, the duties of a footman, the role of a butler and even the way a titled gentleman or lady should be addressed and approached are all in there. Along with that, came the research of homosexual life in Victorian times. It was illegal of course, ‘gay’ meant something else, and finding gay companionship was not easy. All these things give the framework for the on-going series, the overarching themes of which are friendship and loyalty.
Deviant Desire starts the series and introduces the two main characters. Viscount Clearwater (Archer), young, attractive and with a mission to help the less fortunate, sends his servants to find an East End rent boy he can speak to and learn from because he is setting up a charity with his newly acquired wealth. He meets Silas Hawkins, the 19-year-old son of an Irish immigrant, a street-wise renter who is a bit cheeky, but, of course, extremely cute. Book one, Deviant Desire, could be described as insta-love in a cold climate, but my stories are also about the mystery, clue-solving, atmosphere and adventure, so expect love, some sex (the books aren’t heavy on it), lots of intrigue and excitement, twists and action.
So, no, Deviant Desire is not about Jack the Ripper, but it’s inspired by the mystery of the time. As to who the Ripper was, in the Clearwater world as in real life, his identity was never known. Except to Viscount Clearwater, but that’s a twist you will have to discover for yourself.