Today, we have a guest! Remember a few weeks back when A.L. Lester was here to show us the cover of her upcoming release? Well, it’s been released now, and today she’ll tell us a little more about it and share an excerpt. At the bottom, you’ll find a link to a giveaway.
Hello there! Firstly, thank you so much to Ofelia for having me visit today to talk about The Hunted and the Hind! And secondly, happy New Year to you all. Let’s hope 2021 brings us all thing things we deserve rather than all the things we fear.
The Hunted and the Hind is the third in my paranormal series set in 1920s London. I didn’t intend to write a trilogy when I started Lost in Time in 2015. I was coming out of a period of quite bad depression where I hadn’t had the mental energy to write anything for a while. I felt very displaced in my own self if that makes sense, and so the idea of writing about someone who was displaced himself was very attractive. And of course as well as Lew being displaced from 2016 to 1919, the other MC, Alec–and all the characters–had been through the Great War and were finding their way in the new world on the other side. At the end of Lost in Time, the pair of them found what was to me a satisfactory resolution in an uncertain world, but there was definitely more of their story that needed telling, so I moved on and wrote Shadows on the Border.
Shadows turned into a story with four MCs, two couples. We needed to know more about what Lew and Alec’s happy ending looked like, but as that was happening, Will, Alec’s Sergeant, was falling for Fenn and Fenn was…probably falling for him back?
I didn’t really know enough about Fenn at that point to be sure what was happening in their head and I didn’t want to write a fantasy novel, so poor Will and Fenn were left in limbo for a bit whilst I kicked that around and wrote other things. I think Will is the most grounded of all the characters in the series, possibly with the exception of Detective Constable Sedman, who is a very steady sort of chap (with really bad adenoids, if you happen to listen to Callum Hale’s audio interpretation!). He’s a very wealthy man, which gives him more choices and security than someone with less money would have and I think that’s part of it. Also though, he’s secure in himself and his sexuality, although of course he’s still living in a time when he could go to prison.
When I began writing the book and explored the characters further, it turned out that Fenn was also displaced in their own way. However, having a fully formed not-quite-elf throw themselves bang into the middle of my writing was a bit disconcerting. I got away with it in Shadows because they were a secondary character to a great extent. But now…why were they there? Well…they were chasing the murder-creature. But…why them? Why not someone else? What was their background? It was hard to write because I needed to put enough in to make their character sympathetic, but not so much that the story turned into a fantasy novel. It’s already got more fantastical elements than anything I’ve ever written and I didn’t want to change the tone of the trilogy like that.
A lot of the fantasy bits got cut out, which mean I have a deleted scene for you, here. Fenn, before they leave their own world to search for the Carnas.
The lower caves were lit with the same glowing lim-light as the upper living areas, but much less of it. Instead of a wall or ceiling covered with lim-moss to give enough light to see properly, here it only provided small, patchy stars to guide Fenn downward along the smooth sandy curl of the path underfoot.
As they descended the air became less arid. They scented water. Eventually the path gave one last twist and disgorged them in to the Meeting Chamber. Here the lim-light grew more strongly. The Ternants sat around the edge of the shallow pool. The moss grew under the water, giving the depths a translucent sheen and lighting their faces with an uplit, ghostly glow.
Malach rose to their feet.
“Fenn of the Hunters. The Council of Ternants greets you.” Their voice echoed around the hollow space.
“I am come as summoned, Council.” Fenn responded politely, stifling the impulse to draw Alaress and threaten them. “I seek the return of my sibling.” They bowed their head slightly.
There was a stirring of robes among the eight Council members, like the ruffling of bird feathers in the cold of winter.
“We have a task for you, Hunter.” Malach continued as if they hadn’t spoken.
There was a silence. Fenn was presumably supposed to ask what the task was. They weren’t going to oblige them; they had Fenn’s sibling and they weren’t going to let Keren go until Fenn did what they wanted. No-one in Fenn’s kindred, or even the wider Frem, was particularly happy about it, but taking a hostage against a task to be completed was not a new thing. It was a tradition that went back in to the dark reaches of Frem history and no-one could really balk at the Ternants resurrecting it.
Eventually the bird-feathers ruffled again and a different voice, dry as a raven’s rasp, spoke. Fenn didn’t recognise this one. “We need a Hunter to go through the shimmer and bring back a carnas.”
There was a little silence whilst Fenn digested the enormity of this. And then a different voice again added “and their eggs.”
Fenn drew a breath. This was very bad. Going through the shimmer would be difficult enough. Capturing and controlling a carnas enough to bring it back would be arduous. Finding and bringing back a clutch of eggs safely would be almost impossible. The eggs would be well hidden. And in the Delfland, Fenn would not have the knowledge of the country to help a search. They had always understood that taking eggs through the shimmer would likely render them infertile.
It was probably best to view Keren was already dead, given those conditions.
“To what purpose?” Fenn asked.
“That is not yours to know.” The same voice replied.
“But it is mine to know because you have Keren. What guarantee do I have of Keren’s safety? And when I return? Will you leave us alone?”
“If you return, Fenn the Hunter, your sibling will be returned to you and your family will be left alone. Provided you do not cause trouble for the Council.” The fourth voice came from a small person to the rear of the pool.
“Bring the sibling.” They turned behind them as they spoke and then turned back and gestured at Fenn. “Keren is here. You see they are safe.”
Keren was pushed forward by a stranger to Fenn, into the soft lim-light. Their arms were bound loosely behind them and their feet were bare on the stony floor, but as far as Fenn could see, they were unharmed. Fenn stepped forward, but Malach held out a hand out and Fenn felt kias pressing against their chest. “No further, Fenn. You may speak. But no further.”
“Fenn-se!” Keren’s young voice was raw with fear. “Fenn-se. Are you well?”
“Yes, Keren-ke. I am well. Are you safe?” Their own voice felt sodden with emotion. “Are you being treated kindly?” Keren was barely sixteen. Fenn did not really think the Ternants would treat the child badly. There was no requirement for needless savagery in their behaviour. Their role was simply to decide what was necessary to keep the balance of kias and to carry it out.
“Yes. They tied my arms to bring me here. But otherwise I am fed and warm and they are kind enough,” Keren replied, young voice stiff with control.
“I will return soon for you, Keren-ke. They want me to complete a task for them. And then they will release you.”
“So Lina told me. It is not good, Fenn-se. It is not good at all. Namma will be…,” they cut off as the person standing beside them took hold of their elbow and said something low and savage to them that Fenn couldn’t hear.
“Yes, I know. We will make it right between us. Try not to worry, Keren-ke. Lina will look after you. Fenn looked at Lina seriously, where they stood in the group of council members. “And I will manage. Do not worry, Keren-ke. I will do it. Carnas are not that hard to track. This will all be over before you know it.”
“Enough, now.” Malach said, in a kindly enough tone. “Take the child back now, Lina. And Fenn, you will come here and I will tell you what has happened.”
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
- Buy: http://books2read.com/thehuntedandthehind
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.
All my links are gathered here (this is by far the easiest!): https://lnk.bio/gjD5
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To celebrate the release of The Hunted and the Hind, enter the giveaway draw to win previous books in the trilogy… the winner can choose EITHER ebooks of Lost In Time & Shadows On The Border OR a copy of Lost in Time in audio!