Meet the Author: The Flowers of Time by A.L. Lester

Today we travel to rural Somerset in the UK to chat with A.L. Lester about how chickens, plotting, Kew Gardens, growing up on a horticultural nursery, making butter-lamps, Roobard and Custard, and an inability to quit come together as part of their past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Ally and I write as A. L. Lester. I live in rural Somerset in the UK, on the edge of the Quantock Hills with Mr AL, our two children, a variety of chickens and animals and an unsuccessful permaculture vegetable garden.

In which genre do you write?

I write queer, paranormal, historical romance.

How many published books do you have?

Three, with a fourth coming out in April.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always written, but I didn’t hit my stride and find a publisher until 2017.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I’m not sure I have any interesting ones…I can never remember the difference between it’s/its and I loathe plotting. But they’re not interesting quirks, per se, more irritating ones, I’m sure my editor would say!

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

Dachshund. Morris the Emotional Support Dachshund is my real life mascot.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Empty of people wanting me to brush their hair or find their socks or remember whether they’ve paid the gas bill.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading a really fab gay historical romance by Lillian Francis called Under the Radar. It’s set on a WW2 submarine and the details are amazing.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

· I can pluck a chicken in twenty minutes

· I have no sense of smell

· I used to run a farmer’s market stall selling eggs.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

My most recent book is called The Flowers of Time and is a romance between a lady botanist and a non-binary explorer set in the Himalayas in the 1780s. The idea was jump-started by a picture of some 1920s plant-collectors from Kew Gardens. I grew up on a horticultural nursery, so I felt very drawn to the whole botanical thing.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I knit, I home educate my frighteningly articulate twelve year old, I care for my life-limited eleven year old.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Dorothy Dunnett. I’d want to ask her about her historical research for the Lymond series.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I’m non-binary. The Flowers of Time is basically me working that through!

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

I’ve got a really nice circle of online friends from social media.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot or to help you remember something if writing a memoir?

Erm. I made my own butter for the butter-lamps in The Flowers of Time. I separated the milk, made the butter, clarified it and then used it with a wick for light.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Be less bothered about what other people think about you – just crack on and be yourself.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Roobarb and Custard would probably be most realistic if I’m perfectly honest. Slapstick comedy and a dog and cat creating chaos.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Very much so. I believe very strongly in reincarnation and karma. Not karma in the ‘instant payback’ kind of way, but I believe that we get back what we put out, eventually, and that life is a series of learning experiences. If you don’t learn a lesson the first time the opportunity arises then you are presented with more opportunities to learn as you go through your life.

I think this is why I find questions like ‘what one thing would you change about your life if you could’ so hard. I wouldn’t change anything, really, not even the bad stuff, because it’s all shaped me in to the person I am and given me the life I have today.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

· Why did you kill that chicken?

· Why do you keep digging a hole out of the corner of the garden and getting stuck down that badger hole?

· Why do you only jump on the bed when you’re muddy?

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Probably my inability to quit, even when that would be the best thing to do. I just keep plodding on and a lot of the time it doesn’t occur to me that I could give up!

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Rural places with lots of trees and streams. But I don’t mind too much where, so long as it’s in nature somewhere. I love Exmoor and the Quantocks, which is where I grew up. Similar places really resonate with me.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

In the morning, sunny but not hot, somewhere I could sit outside in nature with a pot of coffee and write, without interruption.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a romance set in the 1970s between a disabled farmer and a disgraced stockbroker. I’m about ten thousand words in and I’m aiming to have it finished by the end of March.

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Flowers of Time is the third in my Lost in Time magical universe. It’s a paranormal-historical-romantic suspense set in England and the Himalayas in the 1780s. It’s a love story between Edie, a determined lady botanist and Jones, a non-binary explorer. They travel across the mountains searching for rare flowers and trying to work out what killed Jones’ father three years before. There are monsters and yaks and a dog and mysterious caves and kissing. You can find it on all the major ebook platforms!

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Ally! I listened to the clip of you reading a chapter, and what a lovely voice you have. Captivating! All the best to you! –Camilla

Blurb:

Jones is determined to find out what caused the unexpected death of her father whilst they were exploring ancient ruins in the Himalayas. She’s never been interested in the idea of the marriage bed, but along with a stack of books and coded journals he’s left her with the promise she’ll travel back to England for the first time since childhood and try being the lady she’s never been.

Edie and her brother are leaving soon on a journey to the Himalayas to document and collect plants for the new Kew Gardens when she befriends Miss Jones in London. She’s never left England before and is delighted to learn that the lady will be returning to the mountains she calls home at the same time they are planning their travels. When they meet again in Srinagar, Edie is surprised to find that here the Miss Jones of the London salons is ‘just Jones’ the explorer, clad in breeches and boots and unconcerned with the proprieties Edie has been brought up to respect.

A non-binary explorer and a determined lady botanist make the long journey over the high mountain passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with perils for both of them, not least those of the heart.

Where to buy Flowers of Time: http://books2read.com/flowersoftime

The first book, Lost in Time,  is currently free for the next few days as part of a bundle the publisher has put together collectively for people stuck at home. They are mostly queer romance: https://www.jms-books.com/free-c-440/

Flowers of Time booktrailer:

A.L. Lester reading an excerpt of The Flowers of Time:

Social Links:

Website: http://allester.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CogentHippo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CogentHippo

Find books: https://allester.co.uk/lost-in-time/

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Meet the Author: Rogue’s Holiday by Regan Walker

Today we travel to San Diego, California in the United States to chat with Regan Walker. She and I discuss how a career as a lawyer, an Irish Wolfhound, reviewing historical romance books, Margaret Queen of Scots, Winston Churchill, a historical schooner, and the ocean come together as part of Regan’s writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in San Diego near the coast and I love it. My career as a lawyer was pretty intense. I still practice law part time but, since 2011, I also am a writer of historical romance novels. For my stories set in the Georgian, Regency and Medieval eras, I do considerable research to make them authentic. Each of my novels includes real history and real historical figures.

In which genre do you write?

Historical romance: Georgian, Regency and Medieval eras.

How many published books do you have?

With this new one, it’s 15 (3 series and related books).

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I have always been a writer, even as a child. As a lawyer, I wrote legal-related opinion pieces and articles. But I didn’t turn to writing fiction until 2011 when I did so at the suggestion of my best friend. That led to my first novel, Racing with the Wind.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I don’t plot for one thing. I let the history and the characters lead me. I like to see how the story unfolds and I’m often surprised. I recall a 5-star review that was effusive in its praise for my “complicated and wonderful plot”… Ha!

What would you choose as your mascot and why?

My constant companion is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named “Cody”. I’d choose him or possibly an Irish Wolfhound like “Magnus”, a character in my medieval story, Rogue Knight. It’s comforting to have a big dog alongside you and they are fun to hug, too.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

More room than I have now. I like a large rectangular table (say 5 x 7 feet) where I can set up all my stuff. However, when I moved into a small condo I had to give up that table. Sigh. Deep regrets.

What are you currently reading?

Likely a Victorian romance. I have a blog, Historical Romance Review
(https://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/), where I review books (a different subgenre each month). November is Victorian month and December is “Favorites” month. From my monthly reviews I prepare “best lists” from those I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars.

What do you do when you are not writing or marketing your books?

I practice law part time; I walk my dog on the beach in the early morning; I visit with friends (I make killer popcorn for “movie night”); I read every night; I attend weekly church services; and I watch period historical dramas.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

There are so many. I loved Margaret Queen of Scots who was married to Malcolm III, King of Scots (both characters in my novels Rebel Warrior and The Refuge). I would ask her about her faith and the Scotland in which she lived. I would also like to visit with William Wilberforce, the British statesman who led the anti-slavery movement in the Georgian era in England. He, too, was a great man of faith and, having read some of his writing, I would have to ask about his relationship with God. But, since I named my son after Winston Churchill, I have to include him. He was a visionary and a great leader who, more than any man, was responsible for defeating the Nazis in WWII. I’d ask his view on the world today. I’m certain nothing that has happened would surprise him.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

How much I love the research and look forward to entering the world of my characters. When my legal work picks up, I miss my writing.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene?

The most unusual was taking a ride on a historical schooner like those in my novels (many of my books have scenes set on a ship). I wanted to get the feel of the moving deck and the wind in the sails. I did a blog post on it:
https://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-challenge-of-setting-story-on-ship.html

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

No, but I do take notes when the muse alights and I keep a yellow pad and pen near my bed for late night inspirations.

What is the most crazy thing that has ever happened to you?

If we are speaking of my writing, it would be when I was writing Rebel Warrior, set in 11th century Scotland. I stumbled across a real historic figure that could have been the hero in my story. He was an Anglo-Saxon who fled William the Conqueror to live in Scotland and rose to be a mormaer, the equivalent of an English earl. He even had a home in the area of Loch Lomond where my hero ends up! It was like falling back in time to realize my fictional character had been a real person.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking?

I always write to music and sometimes for special scenes, I pick a certain song. For the battle scene on the English Channel in To Tame the Wind, I listened to “The Courier” from the soundtrack of Last of the Mohicans. That’s what inspired the scene and likely what I would listen to before reading it.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?

Lady Mary Campbell from Racing with the Wind. I’d go riding on her Friesian stallion and have tea in her grand estate with her good friend, Elizabeth.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Courage, determination and perseverance. All three have come in handy.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

The ocean near where I live. I love the smell of the sea and the sand beneath my feet. I have traveled to over 40 countries but I always love coming home.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My newest release is Rogue’s Holiday, a Regency in which the bad boy of the Powell family and a spy for the Crown takes a holiday in Brighton as the guest of the new King George IV where he encounters a beautiful hellion and great danger.

It was wonderful learn more about you and your writing style, Regan. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Even a spy needs a holiday…

Robert Powell’s work as a spy saves the Cabinet ministers from a gruesome death and wins him accolades from George IV. As a reward, the king grants him a baronetcy and a much-deserved holiday at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton where he thinks to indulge in brandy, cards, good horseflesh and women.

But when Muriel, Dowager Countess of Claremont, learns of Sir Robert’s intended destination, she begs a favor…to watch over an “errant child” who is the grandniece of her good friend living in the resort town. Little does Robbie know that Miss Chastity Reynolds is no child but a beautiful hellion who is seemingly immune to his charms.

Chastity lives in the shadow of her mother and sisters, dark-haired beauties men admire. Her first Season was a failure but, as she will soon come into a family legacy, she has no need to wed. When she first encounters Sir Robert, she dubs him The Rogue, certain he indulges in a profligate lifestyle she wants no part in.

In Brighton, Robbie discovers he is being followed and senses the conspirators who had planned to murder the Cabinet have discovered his identity. Worse, they know the location of Chastity’s residence.

Where to buy the book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YQ55RNQ 

Connect with Regan:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Regan-Walker/e/B008OUWC5Y

Author website: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450403.Regan_Walker

Pinterest boards: https://www.pinterest.com/reganwalker123/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RegansReview

Regan’s Blog (Historical Romance Review): http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/

Regan Walker’s Readers FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReganWalkersReaders/

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Meet the Author: The Orange Grove by Kate Murdoch

Today we’re traveling to Melbourne, Australia to chat with Kate Murdoch. We’ll talk about how a secret desire, a dream about a vivid character, painting, tenacity, and tarot cards come together as part of Kate’s background and her writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an artist turned writer living in Melbourne, Australia.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Two

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’d always had a secret desire to write a novel and had written stories since I was a child. However, I was swept up in various careers along the way, mainly as a visual artist, but also as a graphic designer. It wasn’t until after my children were born and I had reached a pivotal moment in my art career, that the impetus to finish a novel came. I had a dream about a vivid character and began to write about him. Eight months later I had the first draft of a supernatural thriller. I never looked back.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would be a couch with a lap desk, looking out to the sea. There would be potted plants around the room, paintings, scented candles and a blazing fire. A small dog would be nuzzled up next to me as I worked.

What are you currently reading?

Imperfect, by Lee Kofman. It’s a book about people who have scars or other imperfections, and how this influences their sense of self, along with the way they interact with the wider world. The author’s honesty and candor, along with her astute observations, make this a wonderful read.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I paint, read, travel, lunch with friends, spend time with my family, and keep up my yoga/pilates/running.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Unlimited time to be creative along with the lack of inhibitions and self-doubt in my creativity. I miss the feeling of unlimited possibilities.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Yes, I do. It’s played out in my life in a number of ways. One example is the fact that I came to writing after a career in painting. I feel that being an artist prepared me, in a much gentler way, for being a writer. In both professions, you have to put yourself on the line, because what you create is so personal. Yet in writing, there’s a lot more self-disclosure surrounding this. In coming to writing later, I had time to win and lose, try and fail and become accustomed to being visible in the arts.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m tenacious and determined – I rarely give up when something is important to me. Many things I value in my life have materialized as a result of this trait.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Port Douglas, Queensland. It’s full of intensely-coloured tropical plants, it’s very warm and the people are relaxed and friendly. It has style and also a spiritual heart – you can buy designer clothing, have a reiki session, then amble along Five Mile Beach at sunset, listening to the roar of the waves.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I taught myself to read tarot cards so that I’d be able to write the tarot reading scenes in The Orange Grove. Initially, I was sceptical, but now use them regularly to guide me.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I do a number of things because I do feel anxious about public speaking. I meditate, listen to binaural beats and read through my notes at length. I find it’s getting slightly easier and I hope the nerves continue to lessen.

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Orange Grove is about the rivalries and intrigues of mistresses in 18th century France. Henriette d’Augustin lives in the chateau of the Duc d’Amboise with four other mistresses. When the duchesse undermines a new mistress, Henriette is forced to choose between morality and position.

It was wonderful learning more about you Kate. Your ideal reading space sounds nearly identical to mine. I also love that your taught yourself to read tarot cards for The Orange Grove, and that you continue to use them! Thank you for being a part of MTA! –Camilla

Book Blurb for The Orange Grove:

Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue.

Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.

The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for supremacy.

In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.

Where to find the book:

Available online and in bookstores.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VEXbqx

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2OL6WlO

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone CircleShe exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.

Kate has been awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel, The Glasshouse.

Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, was published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.

Connect with Kate:

Website: https://katemurdochauthor.com/

Blog: https://kabiba.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katemurdochauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateMurdoch3

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/katemurdoch73/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katemurdoch2/

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Meet the Author: Finding Rose by Julie Ryan

Today we welcome Julie Ryan to Meeting the Authors. We’re headed to rural Gloucestershire to talk about what a degree in French Language and Literature, the Greek Isles, chocolate, the local amateur dramatic society, and Robin Hood mean to Julie.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire, England. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and I lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. My spirit enriched, my imagination fired, I started a series of mystery romances; thrillers set in the Greek Isles.

In which genre do you write?

I write the kind of books I enjoy reading. As I love thrillers, romance, mystery and historical novels my books don’t fit neatly into any genre. My first three books have been described as ‘ not quite thrillers, not quite chick-lit’ and my latest book is a historical novel told from a contemporary viewpoint.

How many published books do you have?

Three in the Greek Island Mystery series, a Christmas rom-com and a historical novel.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’ve always loved cats ever since we got our first pet when I was 10. I adore the big cats too, although not as a pet obviously, so I’d choose a tiger or a leopard for their beauty and grace in the hope that some of that would rub off on me.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

The opposite of my current writing space. At the moment I’m writing this on the edge of the cluttered dining table as I have breakfast. In my dreams, I have my own room overlooking a garden or water and the room is tidy but I’m surrounded by all my books.

What are you currently reading?

Having read ‘Mythos’ by Stephen Fry, I’m just about to start his other book,’Heroes‘. I love anything about Greece, fiction or non-fiction and as this book has been on my TBR shelf for months, I’m really looking forward to it.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I belong to our local amateur dramatic society and when not reading or writing, you’re likely to find me treading the boards in panto! Oh yes, you are! Last year in Robin Hood I had a whale of a time playing the baddie Soothsayer.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d probably be so overawed my mind would go blank and I’d clam up.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Having my mum cook all my meals and do my washing. Adulting is pretty hard! Seriously though, life seemed much more carefree when I was a kid than it is for kids today.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Worry less, enjoy life more and take every opportunity.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Definitely. As a child, I always wanted to be a writer but as an adult, I’d only ever written a few short stories when I crossed paths with another author who moved into my very small village. She became my mentor, helped me navigate my way through self-publishing and when her job was done, she moved on. I’m convinced we were meant to meet and become friends.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

I’ve just come back from the perfect solo date to an unspoilt part of Crete. There I would wake early without the aid of an alarm to take photos of the most beautiful sunrise from my balcony. Then I’d go back to bed for a couple of hours or read for a while. After a leisurely breakfast, I’d go for a stroll into town enjoying the views and the warm, sunny weather – just perfect in May or September. I’m not a beach person but sitting watching other people is great for plot ideas. With no one to disturb me, I could write to my heart’s content. I’d have dinner in a fish restaurant with a sea view before watching the sunset with a cocktail and counting my blessings.

What are you currently working on?

A new series set around a hotel in Greece.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Finding Rose’ tells the story of three estranged sisters who are brought together at their father’s hospital bed. There, they are forced to confront not only the prospect of a life without him but also the secrets of a past that have kept them apart.

Their father, drugged up on morphine, seems to be rambling but could he, in fact, be reliving previous lives as a Tudor monk and as a soldier on the Front in WW1? Struggling to speak he reveals that he has a secret and urges his daughters to ‘Find Rose’. Can the sisters put aside their differences to fulfill his last wish?

I enjoyed learning about your history and writing style Julie! Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

More About Julie Ryan:

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and rescue cat. She manages to write a book a year although without their help, she would probably write more quickly. She is a book addict and will soon need either a bigger house for her collection or a new husband!

When not writing or reading or eating chocolate, she can be found treading the boards in the local amateur dramatic society – Oh yes she can!

Where to find the book:

‘Finding Rose’ is available on Amazon as an ebook and a paperback.

UK Amazon

US Amazon

Connect with Julie Ryan:

Twitter @julieryan18
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/julieryanauthor
Blog https://www.allthingsbookie.blogspot.com
https://www.JulieRyanBooks.blogspot.com
http://www.julieryanwriter.com

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