Today, I welcome the lovely A.L. Lester back to my blog. She’s here to talk about her newest release, The Quid Pro Quo.
The Quid Pro Quo: Walter Kennett
Hello there everyone! Thank you so much to Nell for letting me drop in today to tell you all about my latest release.
The Quid Pro Quo is the second in the Bradfield trilogy, although it will stand alone. It’s set a few months after the end of The Fog of War and stars Walter Kennett, Sylvia’s friend, and Simon Frost, a detective who comes to Bradfield to investigate a murder. It’s a gay, historical, paranormal, romantic murder-mystery with a m/transm couple set in rural England in 1920.
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of the main characters, Walter Kennett!
Walter Kennett (Walt)
Born: 1880, East End of London.
Profession: Nurse. Joined army at age of eighteen in place of their twin brother, who joined up and then changed their mind. Army nurse (orderly) with Royal Army Medical Corps until discharge in 1919. Served in Second Boer War in South Africa among other places.
Smokes: A pipe.
Drives: Does drive. Not much bothered about it.
Lives: Went where army sent him during his service. Now living at Bradfield, with Sylvia.
Appearance: Small, running a little bit to fat now he’s forty, dark brown hair and eyes, London accent.
Personality: Sarcastic, loyal, competent, secretly in love with Sylvia. Pansexual, transgender. Can cook. Reads travelogues for pleasure. He’s never found a woman he liked enough to marry and the chap he liked like that died in the war.
So the first thing to say about Walter is that he’s trans. It wasn’t relevant in the first book, and I don’t think I even mentioned it, but as I was writing I knew in my own mind. And it’s a massive plot fudge. When I was sketching out the characters for the trilogy I wrote a short scene for each of them, to work out a bit about who they were. However I approached it, Walter was trans. And by the 1890s, there were medicals for army admission. There are certainly women and trans men who have served in the military—James Barry is the most well known, but there were a few soldiers in the American Civil War and someone called Phoebe Hassel, who was discharged in 1817 when she was flogged and discovered to be a man (bottom of page seven, you have to register, but it’s free). But you only ever find out about the ones people noticed, not the ones who went through their whole career without being found out.
Walter is trans. There was no way of getting round it—when I began writing I tried to make him a cis man and I just couldn’t, he wouldn’t cooperate. So I’ve fudged it. He joins up in place of his twin brother, who bottles out after signing the papers. And if I can use enough creative license to write a story with creepy howling creatures who come from the great beyond and people enjoy it, I hope I can be allowed enough wiggle room to let him go through his army career without being found out. Or if he was found out, for people to cover up for him.
The other thing Walter doesn’t want people to find out at the beginning of the book is that he’s deeply in love with Sylvia. He met her in 1915 when he was seconded to the hospital at Royaumont to help the Scottish Women’s Hospital people set up. For some inexplicable plot reason he was never un-seconded. When he was discharged in 1919, he went to work with Sylvia as her Practice Nurse. He knows he doesn’t have a chance with her, but she knows his secrets, he knows hers and they’re very good friends. He keeps his feelings under wraps and he was very happy to watch her developing relationship with Lucy in The Fog of War.
Now though, he’s got his own story. I hope you like him!
Village nurse Walter Kennett is content with his makeshift found-family in tiny Bradfield. However one midsummer morning a body is found floating in the village duck pond, dead by magical means.
Detective Simon Frost arrives in Bradfield to investigate a inexplicable murder. The evidence seems to point to Lucille Hall-Bridges, who lives with doctor Sylvia Marks and nurse Walter Kennett at Courtfield House. Simon isn’t happy—he doesn’t believe Lucy is a murderer but he’s sure the three of them are hiding something. In the meantime, the draw he feels toward Walter takes him by surprise.
Walter is in a dilemma, concealing Sylvia and Lucy’s relationship and not knowing how much to tell Frost about the paranormal possibilities of the murder. He isn’t interested in going to bed with anyone—he’s got a complicated life and has to know someone really well before he falls between the sheets. He’s taken aback by his own attraction to Detective Frost and angry when Frost appears to twist the spark between them to something transactional in nature.
Will Walter be satisfied to stay on the periphery of Lucy and Sylvia’s love affair, a welcome friend but never quite included? Or is it time for him to strike out and embark on a relationship of his own?
The second in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe. Stands alone. Transm/m couple.
As Simon was replacing the device on the telephone table a pretty young woman put her head out of a door at toward the end of the hall. “Sylv!” she said, “Do you want tea? I’ve boiled the kettle.” and then when she realised he wasn’t who she thought he was, “Oh, I do beg your pardon! I thought you were Dr Marks!”.
“She’s still in the surgery,” Simon nodded across the hall.
The woman emerged into the hall. “Lucille Hall-Bridges,” she said, extending a hand. “I’m a friend of Sylvia’s. I help with the house.”
Simon took her hand in his. Her grip was sure and warm. “Detective Frost,” he replied. “Nice to meet you, Miss Hall-Bridges. She had a recent bruise running from her jaw to just below her eye, entering the black-and-purple stage.
“I’ve made a pot of tea,” she was saying. “I don’t know whether anyone will want any, but I do like to feel useful and tea is so…normal-making, isn’t it?”
He nodded, slightly bemused at her chatter. “Yes, indeed,” he said. “Very normal.”
She gave a perfunctory tap on the surgery door, opened it and disappeared inside without waiting for a response. “Sylv, Walter, I’ve made tea. Would you and your detective like to come into the drawing room?” Her voice faded, presumably as she joined them in the examination room.
There was a pause. Then, “Oh!” he heard her say. “Oh.” She sounded a little shocked. “What’s happened to her hands?” she asked.
“Scraped on the bottom on the pond I think,” Simon heard Dr Marks say. “She was face-down in the water.”
“Oh.” Miss Hall-Bridges’ voice was small. “Sylvia…there’s…she’s…I can feel…do you think…?” Her voice trailed off and Dr Marks spoke over her, clearly away they might be overhead.
“Let’s not worry about that now, shall we? The policeman is sending her down to Taunton to a postmortem. You go and take the tea-things into the drawing room. We’ll just cover her up.”
About A. L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.