character sketch: Will Grant

Cecil Beaton and Gary Cooper, some time in the 1930s.
Cecil Beaton and Gary Cooper.

Detective Sergeant William Grant is in all three of the Lost in Time 1920s London books. He is Alec Carter’s second in command. He was invalided out of Military Intelligence (“Contradiction in terms, old chap!”) after he got caught out in a gas attack in 1915. Before that he was working in the Middle East–Palestine and Egypt. He’s in his early forties by the time The Hunted and the Hind begins.

He comes from a wealthy family who were bemused by his decision to go into the police when he came out of the army, but he really didn’t feel like he wanted to do the Foreign Office thing he’d been offered. Boots on the ground and not too much responsibility seemed like a good plan for a while.

He’s always known he wasn’t attracted to women and has reached his own internal peace with that. When he meets Fenn at the beginning of Shadows on the Border, he’s a bit confused because Fenn is so androgynous and that’s not the type of chap he’s previously been attracted to.

Oh. And he’s a worker, or in his boss, Alec’s, terms a bloody magician. It runs in the family. His grandfather was apparently a skilled worker who disappeared some time in the 1860s whilst involved with the Regent’s Park group. So his father never learned all that he should have. He passed on as much as he could to Will, so Will’s not entirely ignorant, just not as well prepared as he’d have liked to be when all these peculiar things start to happen in London.

The picture I’ve included is of Cecil Beaton and Gary Cooper, some time in the 1930s. In my mind’s eye, Will is Beaton, on the left. Cooper is pretty similar to Alec, although they never flirt like these two are.

Previously in Lost in Time character sketches… Lew Tyler, Alec Carter, Ella Fortune.

Interview: Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell

Please welcome Anne Barwell to the blog today!

Thanks for hosting me today.  I’m in the process of republishing my backlist. Shadowboxing is the first of my WWII Echoes Series. It released on 8th November, and book 2 (Winter Duet) and 3 (Comes a Horseman) will follow in January and March. I’m excited to be re-leasing this series.

It’s lovely to have you! Now let’s plough into the questions…first, what started you writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. In primary school I got impatient waiting for the next book in a series so a couple of friends and I wrote our version of it.  So I guess I was writing fanfic way before the event of the internet, or even computers as this was back in the 1970s.

When I got my first PC in 2000 and discovered the internet one of the first things I found was fanfiction, and thought, I could that. I have been doing that.  And after honing my skills doing that for several years, I moved onto original stories. I’d already written original characters, and AUs so it wasn’t that much of a jump.

Where do you write?

I have my dining room table set up as my office space.  Although I write on a laptop, it rarely moves from its spot there.

What do you like to read?

I read the same way I write, across several genres. If something looks interesting I’ll pick it up.  That can be quite dangerous as I work in a public library as my day job. I do have a leaning towards paranormal/fantasy, with a preference for psi powers and urban, and I love historicals, particularly those set in the early to mid 20th century and around the world wars.  If I read detective, it usually crosses genres. 95% of what I read these days would be MM, but I still have my favourites that aren’t.  I also read YA, graphic novels (huge Bat family fan) and the occasional children’s fiction series.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, one of my all time favourite books. I can’t shelve it without picking it up and re-reading passages from it.

Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon. I love the combination of characters, time travel, and historical. Reading this book was one of the things that pushed me into writing my own.

Badlands by Morgan Brice, which I still need to grab in paperback.  I love the mix of relationship and paranormal.

This question was a difficult one. So many good books and not enough time to read.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I love my online groups. The ones I belong to are very supportive, and provide a wonderful community. I wouldn’t have taken my first scary step into indie publishing without them.

Apart from the wider LGBTQ writing community, I need to give a shout out to the New Zealand Rainbow Romance group. I’ve had the privilege to meet many of them real life which has been great, and I consider them not only writing colleagues but friends.   I’m also a member of RWNZ.

A few months ago a couple of local writer friends and I set up a group on Slack where we check in daily and provide support and a sounding board. We also meet up on Zoom once a week with awesome accountability goals.

I also have a great alpha reader, and brilliant co-writers.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have a tortie cat called Kaylee. She’s nearly 16 years old and has mellowed a bit as she’s got older. Thankfully she’s stopped bringing home dog bones stolen from the neighbour’s dogs. It’s never a good sign when you’re chatting with the neighbours, she walks past, and they respond with “oh, that’s your cat.”

I play violin in a community orchestra, and still play piano when I have time. I was a music teacher for ten years, which is why a lot of my characters are musicians.

I’ve also been a member of a science fiction club for over twenty years. We meet once a month for a catch up, and in between that for movie watching etc.

I also have regular catch ups with friends for movie nights, and the occasional board game evenings.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Shadowboxing is the first in my WWII Echoes Rising series. I first started writing this book almost twenty years ago, and after releasing my first book, dusted it off and finished it, and the rest of the three book series. It originally published in 2012.

I’ve always loved stories set during WWII, and couldn’t find anything with gay protagonists, so decided to write what I wanted to read.  These guys, and this series, will always hold a special place in my heart. I enjoyed getting to know them as I wrote their story, and I learnt more about the time period than I wanted to know.  Although the research was somewhat daunting I enjoyed it, and it’s left me wanting to write more historicals. So I blame this for my WWI story, On Wings of Song, as well as my bunnies for a 1920s historical paranormal detective series, and eventually a 1950s detective (in which one of these guys will have a supporting role).

Shadowboxing: Echoes Rising Book 1

Complete their mission or lose everything.

Berlin, 1943

An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.

For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined.

Author’s note: This is the third edition of Shadowboxing. The first and second editions were released by another publishing house.  This story has been re-edited, and uses UK spelling to reflect its setting.

Buy Shadowboxing

About Anne

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with Kaylee: 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 honourable 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 three times in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy, once for Best Historical, and once for All-Time Favourite M/M Author.

Website & Blog—Drops of Ink : Facebook : Facebook group : Twitter : Goodreads : Bookbub : Sign up for my newsletter

Coming 30th December 2020!

The Hunted and the Hind, coming 30th December 2020

Finally, I hear you say! On December 30th, the third and final book in the Lost in Time 1920s series will be published!

Lost in Time was my debut novel. Initially I self-published it, without professional edits, and the faults got deservedly called out in reviews. I had no idea what I was doing and was learning as I went along.

After a few months, Mr AL suggested I withdraw it and submit it to publishers for consideration. I was lucky enough for JMS Books to pick it up despite it’s previous release, and it came out with them in January 2018. I’ve always felt that it had a satisfactory ending–a happy-for-now, which is about the best one can hope for in a historical set in London in the early 1920s with the second world war looming.

But…I ended up writing a sequel, Shadows on the Border, which I think brought more resolution? However, it also introduced a new character, who then ended up with a love-interest of their own.

The Hunted and the Hind finally ties up all the loose ends and resolves Fenn and Sergeant Will Grant’s story. It’s had two rewrites, I’ve gone through months of loathing it; but I’ve now got to a place where it all feels right. I have honestly never felt so relieved to type THE END in my entire life.

For this weekend, Lost in Time is $1.99 (or your equivalent currency) across all the major ebook platforms: you can find it here!


This week’s reading! You can also follow me on Goodreads for these as I’m trying to be better as saying something about what I’ve been reading on there.

Stray Fears by Gregory Ashe
Cover of Stray Fears by Gregory Ashe

I am not normally a seasonal fiction person, but I made an exception for this, because a) Gregory Ashe and b) the seasonal touch is very light. I love the spookiness of it, which echoes the weird magic of his Hollow Folk series whilst being a completely different universe. As usual the characters are real people, flawed in some ways and wonderful in others. The paranormal aspects are completely my bag and very well imagined. Five stars.

Restored by Joanna Chambers
Cover of Restored, Joanna Chambers

Restored takes Kit Redford, gentleman’s club owner, glimpses of whom have been woven in and out of the Enlightenment series since the beginning, and gives him to us whole. He’s always struck me as a brittle character with an interesting back-story and this is an extremely satisfying culmination of years of wondering what formed him. The MCs are mature, which these days is a big draw for me as I’m knocking on a bit too. It’s easily read as a stand-alone, but if you’ve read the earlier books in the Enlightenment universe this will be particularly engaging. Again, five stars.

His Name was Wren by Rob Winters
Cover, His Name was Wren by Rob Winters

I don’t know why I picked this up, but I’m so pleased I did. It’s labelled as YA, but I think it stands anywhere you want to put it, despite the MCs being children. It’s got a perfect balance of history and sff that landed in my sweet spot with a big thump. The characters are very well drawn and the flip between 1944 and the present was done beautifully. I loved the visiting aliens, their personalities and their tech, but it’s the children who really make the story beautiful. It’s a story about humanity and I really think you should read it!

That’s it for this week! I’m going to try and make this a weekly thing, because we’re all desperate for reading recs, right?

Interview: Louisa Mae

This week, we welcome Louisa Mae to the blog. Hello Louisa! To start with, can you tell us why you’re doing this interview?

I’ve got a new release out this week, Voyeur Vol V, and you haven’t interviewed me before –so why not! OOH I’m also part of the trio of authors who run Talking RoMMance with a British Accent and we’re planning an amazing event running through December for our members!

What started you writing?

I’ve always loved reading, and found my way into the world of Fanfiction, and from there decided to have a go at writing. It was a good way to try it out with no expectations or pressure.

Where and when do you write?

Where ever the mood takes me! At the moment in my day job, I’m working from home in the space I had set up as my home office and writing sanctuary, so at the end of the working day, I  just don’t want to spend any more time in there, so at the moment, so I’m finding myself writing sat in front of the telly most days.

What do you like to read?

I nearly exclusively read MM now, but in that genre I love anything that pulls me in and captivates me from the first page. There are some tropes I just can’t get into and don’t “float my boat”, but given the amount of books out there, there’s no shortage of books to read.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Oh, this is a toughie. I’d take Don’t by Jack L. Pyke, it’s honestly a book that when I first read it really made me think and question everything I thought I  knew was happening. Knights to Remember Collection by Nicole Colville, I’m friend with Nicole and was lucky enough to be her beta reader on this. It’s a good combo of humour and angst. The final book would be Stephen King’s IT. It’s such  huge book, I’ve never got around to reading it despite loving the films.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I’m not, I have some really good friends who also write and we support each other.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Reading, listening to audio books. I love baking too. Writing is a bit of a rabbit hole, once you go down it, you ain’t coming back out anytime soon. I have a furbaby, Max, who’s a Syrian Hamster, he’s the most stubborn and determined creature I’ve ever met.

When I have some “me” time I end up watching films or TV. Depends what’s on, or what’s been recommended.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Voyeur Vol V, is as the name suggests part of a series. The first book was a short story for a charity compilation following the Pulse Nightclub shootings. It didn’t make it into the anthology as they were overwhelmed, so I decided to expand it, never expecting it to turn into this series.

Vol V took me about 2 months on and off, it’s a complex backstory and I had to be so careful to track back through four books and make sure everything fitted in. That was tough and I hated it at times. I also went straight on to write the final volume, so they were done back to back.

I enjoyed this one as it’s from a new POV for the series, and this person is so guarded it’s untrue. I’m hoping the readers enjoy it, and forgive me for putting one of the characters through the wringer, again!

Voyeur Vol V

Voyeur Vol V

Nathaniel plays dangerously on the edge of deceit and truth. He’s had to.

But when he walks through the door of the V Lounge and casts his shadow over Joe and Kian’s world, he knows the truth is about to hit harder than the lie. And now, after years of protecting Joe, he might just be the one who tears Joe’s world apart.

Venture once more into the world of Voyeur and watch as deep, dark secrets are played out before your eyes.

Buy Voyeur Vol V