Thank you so much to Ofelia for having me here today to talk about my new release, The Fog of War! The book is the first of a new trilogy in my Border Magic Universe. It’s a sapphic, historical, paranormal, romantic mystery set in rural England in 1920. I’m doing a bit of a blog-tour talking about the characters, settings and the history behind it and Ofelia is one of the stops. You’ll be able to find the other posts listed on my website as they come out this week.
Rob Curland and Matthew Webber
Rob and Matty first appear in my novella Inheritance of Shadows. Matty owns Webber’s Farm. The farm is loosely based on one of the farms I remember on the Quantock Hills in Somerset as a child, worked by two elderly brothers and their cousin.
Matty Webber is the owner of Webber’s Farm. He was born in 1886 and he took over the running of the farm when his father died before the war. He’s not a big man, but he’s wiry and strong from all the physical work he does; and like everyone nowadays, he knows how to kill a person with his bare hands and use a gun.
He likes reading and he likes learning. He was educated until he was sixteen and then he left school and helped his father with the farm. He’s kept reading, though, anything he can get his hands on, so picking up the books and continuing his brother Arthur’s research into the esoteric isn’t too much of a stretch for him.
Rob Curland is a farm worker on Matty‘s farm. He was born in 1884 and started working there when he was about thirteen. He’s now about thirty-five. He’s gentle and good with animals. He’s clever, thoughtful and quiet, a steady sort of person who likes to think things through before acting. If I had to use one verb to describe him, it would be stabilize.
He joined the army in 1914 when Britain first went to war with Germany and was promoted to Sergeant in the Signals by the time he was discharged in 1919. He’s largely self-educated, very eclectically. He’s a regular library user.
His wartime experience involved a lot of communications tech and he happens to find ciphers and codes fascinating and breaks them for fun. (This is extremely handy for my story in Inheritance of Shadows, I have no idea how it happened, honest!).
Rob has been in love with Matty for years, but Matty was oblivious. Neither of them said anything to each other before they went off to the war, but afterwards, Rob decided that life was too short and fragile not to take a chance at happiness and made his feelings for Matty clear.
There’s a bit of crossover between Inheritance of Shadows and The Fog of War, because Sylvia swoops in at the end of Inheritance and sews everybody up. They both stand alone, but they complement each other, I think? Sylvia is very helpful to Rob and Matty in their book. And they are very helpful to her in The Fog of War.
The Fog of War
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Editor: Lourenza Adlem
Release date: 14 Aug 2014
Word Count: 50,000 words
Genre: Sapphic, found-family, historical, paranormal romantic mystery set in 1920s England.
Content Warning: Mention of domestic violence.
The quiet village of Bradfield should offer Dr Sylvia Marks the refuge she seeks when she returns home from her time in a field hospital in France in 1918. However, she is still haunted by the disappearance of her ambulance-driver lover two years previously ,and settling down as a village doctor is more difficult than she realised it would be after the excitement of front-line medicine. Then curious events at a local farm, mysterious lights and a hallucinating patient’s strange illness make her revisit her assessment of Anna’s death on the battlefield.
Lucille Hall-Bridges is at a loose end now her nursing work is finished. She felt useful as a nurse and now she really doesn’t know what to do with her life. She hopes going to stay with her friend Sylvia for a while will help her find a way forward. And if that involves staying at Bradfield with Sylvia…then that’s fine with her.
Will the arrival of Lucy at Bradfield be the catalyst that allows both women to lay their wartime stresses to rest? Can Sylvia move on from her love affair with Anna and find happiness with Lucy, or is she still too entwined in the unresolved endings of the past?
The first in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe.
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 badly behaved dachshund, 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.
It was a beautiful late August day when Sylvia motored down to Taunton to collect Lucy from the railway station. The sun shone through the trees as she followed the lane down the hill from the village and the sky above was a beautiful summer blue. She had left the all-weather hood of the Austin down and wore a scarf and gloves against the wind, topping her trouser outfit off with her new hat, which she pinned firmly to the neat coil of her long hair.
Walter had watched her fussing with her appearance in the hall mirror, stuffing his pipe. “Are you sweet on her?” he asked, somewhat acerbically.
“It’ll be cold with the hood down,” she said, crushingly.
“I will,” she said. “She’s a beast to drive, smooth on the straights and handles well on the corners, but I’ve no desire to end up in the ditch.”
She’d bought the big Austin coupe late last winter when she’d got fed up riding her motorcycle out to some of the more remote houses she was called to in the dreadful weather. It was huge, far bigger than she needed really, although the back seat was useful to transport a patient if she had to. She still preferred her ‘cycle, but it wasn’t exactly suitable as a doctor’s vehicle. Not very staid at all. The Austin wasn’t very staid either, in that it was huge and expensive; but one of the benefits of a private income was that she could afford it; and so why not be comfortable?
She pondered all this and more on the drive down to Taunton, mind floating along with no real purpose. She loved to drive and for some reason it calmed her thoughts and allowed them to drift.
It would be lovely to see Lucy again. As Walt had said, she was a sweet little thing. Although Sylvia didn’t want to revisit the grim minutiae of some of the worst times at Royaumont, it would be lovely to reminisce about some of their happier moments of camaraderie. It had been four years of extreme stress and grim terror lightened with moments of laughter and fun. Working with a team of competent women all pulling together for one purpose had been extraordinary. She’d never experienced anything like it before and she doubted she would again. She was delighted some of the staff had set up a regular newsletter so they could all stay connected.
And so what if Lucy was sweet on her. Sylvia wasn’t interested in that kind of complication anymore. She didn’t want to cause gossip in the village for a start…although she supposed people wouldn’t make any assumptions about two women living together these days after so many men hadn’t come home from France. But anyway, even if it wouldn’t cause gossip, she didn’t think about Lucy like that. And she doubted Lucy thought about Sylvia like that, despite Walter’s teasing. He was stirring the pot a little to see what bubbled up, that was all.
Those musings took her to the station.
The train was on time and was just pulling in as she got out of the car. She walked out onto the platform as the smoke was clearing and through the clouds, she made out Lucy.
She was beside the guard’s van, directing the guard and porters to what seemed like an unnecessarily large pile of luggage. Despite the clement August weather, she was wearing an extremely smart velvet coat with a fur collar over a beautiful travelling suit that hung to mid calf, topped with an extraordinary confection of a hat.
She looked competent and sophisticated and exceptionally beautiful. Not at all the slightly scapegrace young person of 1916 who had persuaded the hospital powers-that-be she was a suitable candidate for France, although she’d been only twenty-one and inexperienced as a nurse.