We have the lovely A.L. Lester on a visit today! Welcome, Ally!
Hello everyone! Thanks so much to Ofelia for letting me drop in today. My mission this week is to tell everyone about the release of London Calling, the box set of my 1920s London Border Magic series. It comprises Lost in Time, Shadows on the Border & The Hunted and the Hind. And I have a giveaway!
Lost in Time was the first book I had accepted for publication, by JMS Books in 2017. I’d tried self-pubbing it the year before and it hadn’t gone well—I was very inexperienced and my proofing and editing was sub-par. I was very lucky JMS took me on and beat both me and my manuscript in to shape!
When I finished it, it was supposed to be a stand-alone with a happy-for-now ending. Generally speaking I think it’s quite hard to write happy-ever-after stories when your setting is the inter-war years in Europe; and even more so for LGBTQ+ people given the law and social attitudes of the time. Looking at the book with the experience I have now, the ending was quite tentative. It’s clear Alec and Lew have reached a resolution; but I don’t demonstrate at all what that resolution might be. I had a vague idea I’d write a sequel; but again, I really didn’t know where I’d go with it.
Shadows on the Border was a bit of a surprise to me—this is one of the things, good or bad, about ‘discovery writing’…you can end up with something you really weren’t expecting. I was expecting to write about Fenn and Will, I think, for the whole book; and instead it turned out to be more about Alec and Lew, the end of their story; and the beginning of Will and Fenn’s. I then moved on to try and tie Will and Fenn’s tale up in The Hunted and the Hind. And that…well. I struggled not to write a fantasy tale set in another world—I ended up taking a load of stuff out that will be a great foundation for an otherworldly high fantasy if I want to!
All in all, although Lost in Time does work as a standalone and Shadows on the Border ties up Alec and Lew’s story nicely, they work best as a series, all three together. And I am really pleased to present them here as the box set!
I am also very happy to tell you that the three books are available in audiobook, narrated by the most excellent Callum Hale, British Narrator Extraordinaire. You can listen to him reading the first half hour of Lost in Time here. I was so lucky to find Callum as a narrator—we found each other at Audible and since then we have worked out an independent relationship. He exactly gets each of the characters in this universe. The audio for Lost in Time was being produced as I was finishing The Hunted and the Hind and eventually as I was writing it I could hear the characters talking in the voices Callum had given them.
All in all, I am really pleased to finally have them out in a box set and to have all three available in audio to accompany it. It feels like I’ve done my best for the trilogy and I hope you feel the same way after reading and/or listening! For a chance to win copies of all three of the London Calling audiobooks, pop on over to the Audiobook Draw and throw your hat in the ring!
With best wishes and happy reading,
Queer British Lovecraftian historical romantic suspense set in 1920s London.
Lew Tyler is dragged from 2016 to 1920 by an accident with border magic whilst he’s searching for his missing friend. He’s struggling to get to grips with life a century before he was born. Detective Alec Carter is trying to solve gruesome murders in his patch of London, weighed down with exhaustion and a jaded attitude to most of his fellow humans after four years of war. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures and illegal sexual desire, will Alec and Lew work out who is safe to trust?
Sergeant Will Grant, Alec’s right-hand man, is drawn to the mysterious Fenn. Is Fenn a man or a woman? Does Will care? And Fenn…Fenn has a secret. They live beyond the border between 1920s London and the magical Outlands and they need to get home. Are they prepared to achieve that by double crossing Alec, Will and Lew?
Two couples hold the fabric of reality in their hands. Will it make them or break them?
Buy London Calling now if you like murder, time-travel, grumpy detectives, the blues, magic, gay romance, m/enby romance, tea and not-quite-elves. With swords. Well, one elf. With one sword. And he’s very decent about it.
Read an Excerpt
Carter on his doorstep when he got home again was just taking the piss. All Lew wanted to do was climb into his bed and sleep and pretend he was in his comfortable flat-share in 2016 and could wake up and listen to his iPod.
He didn’t even bother to greet Carter this time, just wordlessly locked up the bike and opened the door into the flat so he could come inside. He was glowering again. Lew wished he could say it didn’t suit him. “Come in. Glowering doesn’t suit you.”
Carter grunted wordlessly and suddenly Lew had had enough of it.
“No, honestly. It makes your face all scrunched up—” he demonstrated, “—and I’m sure it’s bad for you. Wrinkles or something.” He couldn’t seem to shut up. Poking a bear would probably have been safer. He wanted to get through to him, though, he wanted to make him growl. The other day and being punched in the face had at least proved Carter had some emotion in there somewhere; he couldn’t feel anything from him, most of the time. He chucked his biking goggles onto the small settee and turned to the kitchen cupboard. “Do you want a drink? I’m having a drink. I’ve had a shit day so far…a shit week, in fact.” He paused, considering, “…maybe even a shitty two years. And so, I’m going to have a drink. You’re welcome to join me.”
He clattered the bottle and a couple of glasses out of the cupboard and smashed them unsteadily down on the counter top. He felt unsteady all over, actually, as if he’d already drunk too much. Adrenaline, and lack of sleep, probably.
He pulled the cork out of the bottle and started to slop spirit into the glasses. Then, all of a sudden, Carter moved to stand close behind him, still not speaking. He hadn’t been expecting it and it made him even more mentally off balance.
He could feel the warmth of the other man’s body through the back of his shirt, although they weren’t touching. He was boxed in by his arms, either side of him, hands flat on the counter. It was shockingly intimate, although Lew didn’t think Carter meant it to be. He meant it to be intimidating. The otherman said, softly, “Tell me. Tell me. Tell me what’s going on. Why have I got more dead men turning up with the same wounds as your friend Fornham?”
Bloody hell. More of them. That was very, very bad. “Get off me.” Lew spoke equally quietly.
There was a pause for a second. “No,” said Carter.
“You don’t know what you’re messing with. Get off me.” Again, that pause.
“No.” His voice was rougher this time.
Lew noticed Carter’s knuckles were white where he was holding the countertop either side of the whisky bottle and the glasses. He shivered.
Suddenly he could feel things coming off Carter after all: the want and the fear and the desperate sense of disgust at himself. The anger and the confusion he felt toward Lew because he wanted Lew and yet he didn’t trust him, with this or with anything, and it was all against his better judgement. The emotions hit him like a wall coming up out of the dark all at once and completely floored him; and he gasped.
Slowly, he pushed the bottle away from him—always with the drink when Carter was around, he absently thought—and turned around, careful not to touch him. They were nearly of a height—he didn’t have to tilt his head much to see that Carter’s eyes were green. Lashes long and dark. He didn’t pull back. It was mid-afternoon and his beard was coming through.
Lew swallowed. “I don’t want to lie to you.”
It came out rougher than he had intended and Carter’s eyes dropped to his mouth.
“Then don’t!” He pulled back angrily and turned away, hands shoving fiercely through his hair. “Tell me what’s going on!”
“Carter…Alistair…” He couldn’t bear the wave of confused anger and emotion coming off the man and he stepped forward and put his hand on his arm, turning him back toward him.
Carter jerked back as if he’d been burned.
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.