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Interview: Richard Bowes on “In the Eyes of Jack Saul”

Tell us a bit about “In the Eyes of Jack Saul.”

“In the Eyes of Jack Saul” is an amalgamation of Victorian fiction and reality. Jack Saul was a real person and served, at one point, in a male brothel that was visited by several elites including Prince Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria, for whom the era is named. The fictional inclusion was Oscar Wilde’s “The Portrait of Dorian Grey”, seen through the eyes of Jack Saul, as real a figure as the gay world has ever produced.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

The Rent Boys and Mary-Ann’s in somewhat different circumstances appeared throughout my life. As a kid in Boston I realized that I wasn’t like the other boys. I sought out the attention of other men and found myself in situations not unlike Jack Saul’s. Later when I became a writer, I discovered that these experiences grabbed me above all else.


Was “In the Eyes of Jack Saul” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

Gay material was fairly uncommon when I began writing stories like this one. People didn’t imagine there was much of a crossover between historical and gay stories. I knew it was working because it captivated me.


Can you tell us anything about your writing process, for this story or in general?

My writing process is this: I get an idea, I jump on it until I strangle it to death.


Why do you write?

It’s a bad habit, one I find hard to break.


Who do you consider to be your influences?

Many people write, I steal from my influencers. It gives me a jumping off place to begin my own stories.


What are you working on now?

Something I am calling “My Old Inner Life”. What that may amount to, I have yet to find out.


“In the Eyes of Jack Saul” appears in the May/June 2020 issue of F&SF.

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