Today, I have a guest visiting here on my blog; the fabulous A.L Lester. They are here to talk about their latest release, The Hunted and the Hind, and they bring a deleted scene for you to to enjoy, and a giveaway!
Without further ado, please help me welcome A.L. Lester!
Knitting a universe versus snappy dialogue
Thank you so much for having me here today, Nell! Happy new year to you and to all your readers! I thought I’d talk a bit today about the differences between writing historical stories and paranormal stories. Most of my stories have magic and the paranormal in them, but I see myself as being more a historical writer than a fantasy writer—I try and get my history right and then throw in the extra ‘what if’ of the magic.
One of the things I like a great deal about my paranormal universe is that no-one, not even me, knows exactly how everything fits together. This is great as a writer because you can basically darn up plot-holes as you go along, but it is also a bit nerve-wracking, because you can write yourself into those same plot holes and it’s excruciating trying to dig out of them. Plus you have to keep extensive notes, which takes a lot of mental energy! Someone on twitter asked how I kept track of my magic system recently and my answer was that I didn’t really, but in my head it looks like a room full of balls of wool and excited kittens. This is still true, although since that conversation I’ve started keeping extensive notes because it was all getting a bit out of hand.
Writing the historical parts of the stories is completely different. I like to have a clear idea of the period I’m writing in—for the 1920s now I think I’ve got quite a grip on it. I started off with family stories about the period and then did lots of reading around, about specific areas of London, specific things that happened that I wanted to touch my characters in some way. It’s a much more measured approach. I sometimes get sidetracked by research into things that seem to blow up in my mind as immensely important and might only have a sentence in the finished book. In The Flowers of Time, for example, I became obsessed with how to make light in the Himalayas in the 1700s and ended up making not only my own butter-lamps, but my own butter.
For The Hunted and the Hind I got sucked down a sea-travel rabbit-hole that seemed to be endless. The characters take a liner home from Egypt to England and I needed to satisfy myself that I’d got the detail right before I started shoving magical happenings into the story. That seems to be the way it works for me—I get the historical period straight in my mind, I have my characters and then I say ‘what if this happened?’. It’s my own particular version of the writer habit of killing your darlings.
As the writer though, one of the most fun things about the 1920s books is the snippy dialogue between the main characters. It was really nice to get back into that when I began to write again. However, I didn’t want Hunted to be another Alec and Lew book, they’d had their turn and I wanted to focus on Fenn and Will. I ended up cutting quite a bit of Alec and Lew scenes because they were just there so I could write snarky dialogue that ending in shagging. Which is what I have as a deleted scene for you today!
“No,” said Alec, very firmly.
“I think you should,” said Lew, mildly. “It would be very helpful.”
“No,” said Alec, again.
“Please?” Lew tried.
Alec sighed. He was going to lose this battle. “Honestly, I have no idea what I’m going to do about it,” he said. “We can’t go on much longer…his mother…,” he trailed off.
“Well, yes,” Lew said. “You’ll have to speak to her. But…,”
“She must know about the border, mustn’t she? Grant had training from his father.”
There was a thoughtful pause.
“Yes…,” Alec said, finally.
“So, and forgive me if this seems in any way less simple than it seems, we could just tell her the truth.”
That honestly hadn’t occurred to Alec. He stared at Lew.
“Yes. The truth.” He paused. “Horrific thought that seems?”
There was a relatively long silence.
“Well…,” Alec was just making noises with his mouth whilst his brain processed.
Lew turned his head on the pillow and looked at him enquiringly. “Yes…?”
“The truth? I suppose…,”
“Yes…,” Lew’s tone was one of exquisite patience. He was taking the mickey.
“Oh, do be quiet,” Alec conceded. “Fine. We’ll tell her the truth.”
“Will said she was away,” Lew said. “Can you find out when she’s back?”
“I’ll telephone her house,” Alec conceded. “And make some inquiries.”
“Good plan,” Lew said. “Well done for coming up with it!”
Alec punched him in a friendly fashion on his naked shoulder and things quickly deteriorated in to activities that meant words weren’t very necessary.
Inadvertently tumbling through the border after Fenn and then thrown into the middle of the internecine political disputes of their people, Sergeant Will Grant of the Metropolitan Police has spent three months in prison in the Underhalls of the Frem. When Fenn comes to free him and return him home through the border, he has very little time to work out what’s going on before the sudden appearance of Fenn’s missing younger sibling, Keren, throws Fenn for a loop.
Instead of returning them to London as planned, the trio step through the border to the Egyptian desert. Once they work out where they are, it’s a two week trip back to England with the possibility of pursuit both onboard ship and when they reach home.
Will the journey give Fenn and Will time to resolve the feelings they have been dancing around since the day they met? How will they keep Keren from recapture by the faction who tried to persuade Fenn they were dead? And has Will’s friend Alec forgiven Fenn for lying about their motives when they first traveled to London four months ago?
The Hunted and the Hind is the third and final book in the 1920s ‘Lost in Time’ trilogy. The books need to be read in order.
- Tag line: The third in the Lost in Time series. Queer British, Lovecraftian romantic suspense set in the 1920s.
- Genre: MM, gay, non-binary, romance, historical, paranormal, suspense
- Length: 40,400 words
- Publisher: JMS Books
- Release Date: 30 Dec 2020
Excerpt: At the Stables
“Can I ride the one over there, please, Will Grant?” Keren called across the yard, pointing at creature with a white stripe down it’s face that they’d become enamored of earlier.
Will Grant nodded and came across the courtyard toward them. “You may. That was my intention, anyway.” They looked at Fenn. “Do you have animals you ride in the Outlands?” they asked.
Fenn stroked Olive’s nose. “Not like these,” they said. “These are beautiful creatures. We sometimes ride the antacas we use for pack animals. Some people breed them for meat, too. They have horns and a very sharp spine. And are extremely bad tempered. They’re smaller than these, though. Bumpy.”
Will Grant leaned against the stable door next to Fenn, as Keren took themselves across the yard to quiz the horse-keeper. He rubbed at Olive’s ears absently. “You’re not bumpy, are you girl? No-one would dream of accusing you of such a dreadful thing!”
The horse shook its head and buffeted Will Grant’s stomach. He staggered a little against Fenn’s side and blew out a laugh. It was very strange to see them like this, out of their city clothes, in what Fenn assumed were special clothes for riding. The humans seemed to have a variety of different clothes for each task, rather than sensible clothing that would serve for most things. Here in private, both Fenn and Keren had donned the extra clothes made for them in Port Said, patterned more or less on their usual loose trousers and robes.
It was even stranger to see Will laugh like this. After the conversation with their parent this morning, Will had seemed to let go of a little of the tension that had gathered round them since this trip had been mooted. It was a nice look on them, Fenn decided. Underneath it all was the tension and sadness that was Will’s permanent signature. But a little of that had eased. Fenn wondered what it would take to ease the rest of it.
“Come on, then,” Will Grant said, straightening. “Let’s get Keren up and we can go out for a wander through the woods and down to the lake. And once we’re there we can try our kias out near the water. We’re lucky Mama has kept the stable going, with no-one but her here to ride.” He glanced around. “The men coming home needed the work.”
Fenn nodded. “Your parent is a good person,” they said, cautiously. “They reminded me of Ana. Very…,” they searched for an accurate, polite word.
Will Grant laughed. “Very, yes,” they said. Their eyes had softened. “I haven’t done right by her,” they said. “I’ve been too wrapped up in my own head. I should have come home before.”
“It doesn’t sound like you were ready,” Fenn replied. “Home is a difficult place to be, sometimes.”
Will Grant shook their head. “But still. She’s my mother and she lost all of us. Father died a few years before the war and she missed him dreadfully. It was a love match, I think. They spent a lot of time together, anyway.”
Both of them were leaning against the stable door now, talking quietly whilst they watched the bustle as the horse-keepers got animals out for them all to ride.
“Is that not always the case, here?” Fenn asked, curiously.
Will looked at them over Olive’s nose. “For Mama’s generation, not always. Sometimes, marrying well is more important than whether you have strong feelings for your potential partner. Making the marriage and producing children is the thing, you see.”
Fenn looked at him.
“Not for me,” they hastened to add. “Mama has given up trying to marry me off. She made it clear this morning that she has no expectations in that direction at all.” They hesitated. “She said, you are welcome to visit here, too. She knows that I…have feelings…for you.”
Fenn was silent for a moment. “I would be honored to visit them,” they said. “Whether or not you have feelings for me, Will Grant.” They felt the shiver of embarrassment in Will’s kias. Humans did not talk about this sort of thing, apparently. Probably because most of them didn’t have kias and had to articulate everything verbally. It was very graceless and left a lot of room for misunderstanding. How did people without any kias at all between them manage?
They gently opened the edges of their kias to Will Grant and allowed their own feelings to be felt. Admiration, friendship, desire, love. All of it. Will glanced over and smiled, clearly picking some of it up without even trying to reach back.
The two of them stood against the door in amicable silence until the chief horse-keeper called across the yard, “Ready, Mr William? I’ve got Peter tacked up for you, here!”
Will Grant started. “Coming, Ralph. Thank you.
About A.L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.