Questioning Lesbians: A L Lester

Questioning Lesbians: A L Lester

A. L. Lester likes to read. Her favourite books are post-apocalyptic dystopian romances full of suspense, but a cornflake packet will do there’s nothing else available. The gender of the characters she likes to read (and write) is pretty irrelevant so long as they are strong, interesting people on a journey of some kind.

She has two and a half degrees, a BA in Archaeology and History; a MSc in Geographical Information Systems; and a few half-arsed courses as part of a Science and Science Fiction undergrad. In galaxies long ago and far away she has coded GIS, taught computing skills in the community, was a very expensive secretary and worked as an audio-visual technician. It came as a great surprise when health and safety got upset about pregnant people climbing ladders to do rigging; and so she gave all that up to breed poultry, bees, plants and children.

Now she has a chaotic family life and has become the person in the village who looks after the random animals people find in the road. She is interested in permaculture gardening and anything to do with books, reading, technology and history. She has stress-related seizures and lives in a small village in rural Somerset with Mr AL, two not-quite-teenage children and various animals and birds. She is seriously allergic to both rabbits and Minecraft and struggles to find time to write, but manages anyway, because it’s what keeps her going.

In today’s “Questioning Lesbians”, A L Lester has popped in to chat about her forthcoming novel, The Flowers of Time.

Welcome, please tell me a bit about the book.

Edie, a lady botanist, and Jones, a non-binary explorer, travel over the Himalayas in the 1780’s.

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 botanist make the long journey over the high mountains 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 dangers for both of them, not least those of the heart.

Sounds Exciting! And I am thrilled there will be lesbians, as people Googling “Lesbians” or even “Questioning Lesbians” may well find this interview, and we wouldn’t want them to be disappointed. But tell me, are your fictional lesbians questioning anything?

Gosh, yes. Edie isn’t really a questioning type person, she’s very practical and pragmatic. Jones questions everything though. Her gender, her sexuality, her intellect, her life’s work following her father’s studies.

And what about non lesbians, do you think they too have questions?

Yeah, I should think so. So long as they do it quietly, that’s fine.

Yeah, that’s fair. I mean, most non lesbians are men, anyway, and no one likes it when they get loud. What about bisexuals, though? Do they by default have twice the questions? Or only half?

I think that depends entirely on the bisexual in question. And if you have two bisexuals in a relationship, does that quadruple the uncertainty?

Crikey, my mind is utterly blown. Let’s move onto something simpler, dogs or cats?

We have one of each, but I definitely prefer the cat at the moment because he isn’t peeing on our bed.

Er, on that charming note I feel like I need to ask your views on pet couture. Nappies aren’t couture, but you can get them, FYI, but you’re cheaper buying tena pants and cutting a hole in for the tail. We had to do that for our boxer/pointer x when she became incontinent, bless her.

No. Absolutely not. Why do you need any explanation for someone rejecting this abomination?

I mean… judgemental, much? What about sandwiches? Do you have strong views on them?

Has to be toasted cheese-and-something. Gluten free for preference, which I accept isn’t ACTUALLY BREAD, but it’s the next best thing.

OK… I mean, cheese is always worth the pain in my view, anyway. So, tell me, other than cheese, who or what inspires you?

I’m not sure these days. Mostly the desire to have a nice fantasy life, maybe? I seem to like writing characters with emotional repression and subject them to lots of angst. Plus I think writing The Flowers of Time allowed me to work out some of my own gender/sexuality stuff.

So, is that what inspired you to write this one, then?

I started off writing it with two side characters from a previous novel and it was going to be set in the 1920s. I read an article about plant collectors from Kew and other botanical gardens and it seemed really interesting. Plus my Mama is a professional horticulturalist who went to a Crazy Lady’s Horticultural College ™ in the 1950s and I grew up in a botanical sort of household.

When I began writing though, it turned out that the characters really didn’t sit in the 1920s so I changed the location and time to one I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT. This seemed a super idea the time, but it actually meant I spent ages diving down research rabbit holes and the whole thing took aeons to write.

I never spend more than an hour writing a book. So far no one’s noticed. So, tell me, if this book was an animal, what would it be?

Ferret. Twisty, pretty looking but with vicious teeth.

It’s like you’ve met me… and speaking of books, gimme your top 3 lesfic reads. Do it right now!

I’m pretty keen on Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff. It has MENOPAUSAL WEREWOLVES. I felt very seen.

Deadline by Stephanie Ahn has a witch on the outs with the witching community, who’s dating a demon. I particularly like the alligator-moles and the BDSM.

The Ninepenny Element by Kristen Noone… a paranormal with a witch, a lawyer, a hexed earring, and a ghost puppy. Loved this. It was gentle, lovely, just perfect.

Alligator moles?! What’s not to love, I guess… Tell me, if you could question absolutely any lesbian(s), who would it be?!

I’d probably want to ask the Ladies of Llangollen about their garden!

You want to ask about their lady garden…? I knew if I kept you here long enough the entire tone of my website would be lowered. Moving on… Who would you like to see questioned next on Questioning Lesbians?

I’m just interested to read my way through whoever is brave enough to answer

Well, I’m thrilled to announce that I can exclusively reveal (who am I kidding, it’s only exclusive because no one cares) that the next person being interviewed on Questioning Lesbians is Barbara Winkes.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank A L Lester for popping by and being such a good sport. If you loved this (and why wouldn’t you?) you can track her down on her website, allester.co.uk, and across her various social medias as follows:

I haven’t got a pre-order link for The Flowers of Time, but if you sign up for my Very Infrequent Newsletter (once a month, usually) it’ll keep you posted. https://www.subscribepage.com/allester

You can catch me on Twitter & Instagram as @CogentHippo and FB at https://www.facebook.com/ALLesterAuthor/. I interact most on Twitter.


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