R.M Francis is a writer from Dudley. He completed his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton for a project titled Queering the Black Country and graduated from Teesside University for his Creative Writing MA.
He’s the author of four poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus’ Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018) and Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019).
Bella is his debut novel and a love song to the Black Country.
It is a text that deals with queer identity and experience, specifically in a non-metropolitan setting, showcasing the upheaval and difficulties facing the working-classes of post-industrial communities.
The novel plays with oral traditions of storytelling, using Black Country dialects and the different voices of multicultural Britain. It is also a novel that fuses different genre tropes. It is set in Dudley and follows several characters from different eras, attempting to understand the strange pull the local woods have. This rhizomatic, multi-perspective narrative is part ghost story, part social realism, part queer erotica.
BELLA is due to be published in Spring 2020.
Written in dialectical English, this multi-person narrative circles around the mysterious discovery of a skull found in a wych elm and the graffiti that appeared asking ‘who put Bella in the wych elm?’
I’ve been fascinated by this mysterious discovery since I read about it a while ago and Francis’ exploration of this mystery told through the lives of some of the residents of Netherton is clever and offers a possible answer to that question.
It’s an interesting exploration of identity, love, family and place.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.