The Fog of War by A.L. Lester

A big welcome to A.L. Lester as part of their release of The Fog of War.

The Fog of War: Bradfield Village
Thank you so much to Anne 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 Drops of Ink is one of the stops. You’ll be able to find the other posts listed on my website as they come out this week.

Bradfield Village
Inheritance of Shadows, Taking Stock and The Fog of War (and An Irregular Arrangement, the freebie you get when you join my newsletter) are set in the fictional village of Bradfield. In the first two it’s not mentioned by name—the focus is more on the farm where the action takes place. The village gradually took more personality with each book until it hatched fully formed in time for The Fog of War.

Sylvia began life as a minor character in Inheritance of Shadows. When I first began to talk about writing something starring her, my editor suggested a sort of cosy mystery series, with the village almost as a secondary character. Think Miss Marple, but queer. However, it appears that I’m unable to write anything that doesn’t have some sort of paranormal aspect such as dissolving people, screaming throat-ripping monsters or time-travel.

These things tend not to happen in an Agatha Christie.

However, I think the feel is still there. The story has become a slightly peculiar combination of cosy historical love story and, erm, throat-ripping monsters (no throats are actually ripped in the course of this particular novel, I hasten to add). The village is toddling along in the background, with a church and a village green and a duckpond—which features more heavily in book two—the village constable, a shop and a Post Office. The characters you’d expect to find are there. The vicar and his wife. The blacksmith (he’s horrid, we don’t like him!), the family who run the shop, and the carrier who drives luggage from Taunton to the local villages from the railway station.

There’s a telephone at the Post Office and in some of the big houses, but people still plough with horses, they don’t always have electricity or gas if they’re off the beaten track and if you break something, you mend it or ask someone else to.

I have a terrible/wonderful feeling that I’m actually writing an ‘everyone is gay’ 1920s series…the vicar (who is retiring because he’s having a crisis of faith) and his wife are in a platonic marriage. He has a male lover, she has a non-binary love interest. Matty Webber at Webber’s Farm and his farm worker Rob Curland are together. And now Dr Sylvia and her friend Lucy are skirting around each other at Courtfield House.

It’s completely unbelievable, but so are the paranormal aspects. And I’m really enjoying myself writing about it and I hope you enjoy reading just as much!

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.

Buy | Buy from Publisher | Add on Goodreads | Find on author-website

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.

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Excerpt
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.

“Yes, yes, so it will be.” He turned his attention back to his tobacco, face straight. “Be careful on the bends.”

“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.

Well. Gosh.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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3 Responses to The Fog of War by A.L. Lester

  1. Pingback: The Fog of War, out today! – A. L. Lester

  2. A. L. Lester says:

    Thank you so much for letting me drop by <3!

    Like

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