The Fog of War: Walter Kennett
Thank you so much to Addison 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 Addison is one of the stops. You’ll be able to find the other posts listed on my website as they come out this week. I’ve also had a Facebook Release Party in my group with drop-ins from similar genre authors, so please do pop over and see what giveaways and the like are still running!
Walter Kennett (Walt)
Born: 1880, East End of London.
Profession: Nurse. Joined army at age of fifteen in place of their twin brother, who joined up and then changed their mind. Army nurse (orderly) with Royal Army Medical Corps until discharge in 1919. Served in Second Boer War in South Africa among other places.
Smokes: A pipe.
Drives: Does drive. Not much bothered about it.
Lives: Went where army sent him during his service. Now living at Bradfield, with Sylvia.
Appearance: Small, running a little bit to fat now he’s forty, dark brown hair and eyes, London accent.
Personality: Sarcastic, loyal, competent, secretly in love with Sylvia. Pansexual, transgender. Can cook. Reads travelogues for pleasure. He’s never found a woman he liked enough to marry and the chap he liked like that died in the war.
So the first thing to say about Walter is that he’s trans. It’s not relevant in this first book, but he’s having his story told next, so it will be then. And it’s a massive plot fudge. When I was sketching out the characters for the trilogy I wrote a short scene for each of them, to work out a bit about who they were. However I approached it, Walter was trans. And by the 1890s, there were medicals for army admission. There are certainly women and trans men who have served in the military—James Barry is the most well known, but there were a few soldiers in the American Civil War and someone called Phoebe Hassel, who was discharged in 1817 when she was flogged and discovered to be a man (bottom of page seven, you have to register, but it’s free). But you only ever find out about the ones people noticed, not the ones who went through their whole career without being found out.
Walter is trans. There was no way of getting round it—I’ve been trying to start the sequel to Fog and without him being trans I can’t write it. So I’ve fudged it. He joins up in place of his brother, who bottles out after signing the papers. And if I can use enough creative license to write a story with creepy howling creatures who come from the great beyond and people enjoy it, I hope I can be allowed enough wiggle room to let him go through his army career without being found out. Or if he was found out, for people to cover up for him.
The other thing Walter doesn’t want people to find out is that he’s deeply in love with Sylvia. He met her in 1915 when he was seconded to the hospital at Royaumont to help the Scottish Women’s Hospital people set up. For some inexplicable plot reason he was never un-seconded. When he was discharged in 1919, he went to work with Sylvia as her Practice Nurse. He knows he doesn’t have a chance with her, but she knows his secrets, he knows hers and they’re very good friends. He keeps his feelings under wraps and he’s very happy to watch her developing relationship with Lucy.
I hope you like him! As I say, he’ll have his own book, now I’ve worked out his gender!
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.
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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.
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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.
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A.L. Lester is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card!