Interview: Luna Tibling

Please welcome Luna Tibling today to talk a bit about themselves and their new release!

Hi Luna, thank you so much for coming along today! Why have you decided to subject yourself to my nosy questions?

I’ve recently released the first 2 books in my LGBT+ romance series, Beyond the Binary! I’m super excited to share my work, and hope it will speak to fellow members of the community and allies alike.

What started you writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing stories since childhood, and would often start random projects with no idea where they were going. I’ve now realised that my passion is writing wholesome LGBT+ stories that are accessible both to those within the community and without.

Where do you write?

I rent a room in a shared house, so that’s where I usually write, but when the weather is good I like to scribble ideas in the park.

What do you like to read? 

I don’t read nearly as much as I write, but one of my favourite authors is Jodi Picoult. The way her complex characters speak frankly to the reader has been a big influence on my work.

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

This would have to be split between one adult novel, one children’s book and one poetry book:

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult – this is my favourite of her books. It features a woman who separates from her husband and finds herself falling in love with another woman. Opposing views are presented compellingly and the lesbian relationship is treated with great sensitivity.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss – did you know he wrote this in order to win a bet with his publisher that he could write a whole book using only 50 different words?

The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear – Lear is one of the poets who have inspired me most, along with Lewis Carroll, Hilaire Belloc, Ogden Nash, Edgar Allan Poe, Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan.

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

I do an exercise routine every morning, and love going for walks, especially when I need inspiration. Besides writing, my main creative outlet is acting; I have been a member of two amateur theatre groups for many years. I also like to play the keyboard, but am not especially good.

I love cats too! Who doesn’t?

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?

Skylar, the protagonist of the series, has many similarities to me: they are non-binary, in their twenties, suffer from depression and write poetry as a means of coping. I had wanted to write a story about a character like Skylar for several years, but I had no plot to go with the raw concept. It turned out that leaving my job to focus my energy on writing was what I needed to be able to develop the idea.

It took me about four months to write the first two books. It was a great challenge, but very rewarding on a personal level: it has been a pleasure to pour my own experiences into fictional stories that represent the LGBT+ community in a positive light. Although a lot of progress has been made in recent years, we still see too much media that encourages people to see LGBT+ characters as nothing more than objects of desire, novelty or simply comic relief.

I don’t stop at having a non-binary protagonist; Skylar is in a polyamorous relationship with a trans man and a cis man, and their friends include a trans woman who comes out during the story, a pair of queerplatonic partners and an asexual person. Some of these characters haven’t been explored in great depth yet, but will be in future instalments.

How I found myself

The introductory novella to the series, How I Found Myself, is available for free here.

Barry is aggressive, abusive and the most prejudiced individual Skylar has ever met.

Following their dad’s premature death, Skylar had hoped that their mum would find a new boyfriend, but she couldn’t have chosen a worse man: it has been clear to Skylar from the beginning that Barry will not accept them for who they are.

Skylar already struggles to fight against their own depression, but now that Barry is in their life to stay, they face the possibility of alienating themself from their one remaining parent. The best hope Skylar has of overcoming both obstacles is the support from their love life, but it would be impossible to reason with Barry if he knew the nature of the relationship…

The tension and uncertainty increase with each day the issue goes unresolved. Skylar will have to face Barry eventually, but how can they do that, and what will be the consequences?

They certainly won’t be doing it alone.

The first full-length novel, How I Found Ariana, can be purchased here

Find Luna: Facebook :: Instagram

Deleted Scene: Fenn in the Outlands

Cover of The Hunted and the Hind

As you may have noticed, I’ve been round and about on the interweb with some deleted scenes from The Hunted and the Hind. I wrote a lot of extra words set in Fenn’s Outlands, before I found that I was going down a road I didn’t really want to tread and writing a fantasy novel rather than a whatever-it-actually-is.

It was really hard to take these bits out, but I felt that it made the story waaaaay too ‘bitty’. There was already a lot going on and lots of loose ends to tie up. To introduce a major new setting at this point, with all the world-building that would entail was too much, if I’m quite honest. Here’s one of the bits that didn’t make the final cut!

Fenn Arrives Home

Fenn, Hunter of the Frem. Not an elf.

Fenn felt the push-twist that was the shimmer opening and stepped forward. They shoved the carnas in front of them firmly through the gate with a sharp motion and stepped after it, feeling a huge weight lift from their shoulders as they did so. They had done as the Ternant’s asked and the council should now release Fenn from this duty and Keren along with them.
The jangling clatter of light and sound, kias manifest that they recollected from their outward trip to Delf gradually began to subside.
They stood inside the circle, surrounded by the Ternants. Guards were already ushering the carnas away down a side tunnel.
“Where are the eggs?” Malach asked, holding the necklace of gable-stones that had been taken from the carnas. Fenn sighed. Always, Malach.
“I told you, Malach, when we spoke through the shimmer. There was only one egg. And it was broken in a struggle with a human.”
Malach nodded and banged their staff, the staff of the leader of the Ternants, on the floor of chamber. “Very well. I am disappointed, Fenn of the Hunters. We set you a task and you have not completed it.”
Fenn raised their voice. “I completed it to the best of my ability, Malach. I brought you back the carnas. Now release my sibling.”
Malach shook their head. “No. You did not complete the task we set you. Under the terms of our agreement, Keren will not be returned to you. They will be executed. You knew this would happen if you did not carry out the task, Fenn.”
Fenn lunged for them across the sand, but two of the Ternant’s guards grabbed their arms and pulled them back. “No, Fenn of the Hunters,” one said, lowly, in to their ear. Do not do this. Do not.” Fenn subsided as Malach turned away. The guard was right. There were too many people. And what good would it do Keren? They stood down and the guards cautiously released them.
“I did what you asked, Malach,” Fenn called after their half-turned back, instead. “I brought back the carnas. The egg, I could not bring, through no fault of my own. You are not treating me, or my kindred justly in this!” They felt the guard who had spoken wince.
Malach stopped their turn away and moved to face Fenn again. “Do not question the Ternants, Fenn of the Hunters. Or worse things will befall you than the keeping of an agreement. Your sibling will be executed as I told you would happen if you did not bring back both the eggs and the carnas. The word of the Ternants is unbreakable.”
Over their shoulder, Fenn could see that some of the other faces of council members looked sickened. They appealed to them. “Can you not see how wrong this is?” they said. “Keren is a child. This is not the way the council should work, this is not the way the Outlands should police the shimmer. We are not cruel. We are just. This is not just!”
Malach simply shook their head and continued to turn. The crowd of Ternants and workers who had sung kias to open the shimmer for Fenn’s return parted to allow them exit and then turned as one, to follow.
Fenn dropped to their knees and watched them retreat. After a moment, when the last twitch of over-robe had disappeared in to the tunnel, the guard who had spoken before put a hand under their shoulder and pulled. “On your feet, young Fenn. You won’t do any good down there.”
Fenn turned to look at them. Neither they nor their companion were familiar. “What do you mean?” they said. “I need to help Keren. I need to either get Malach to release them, or I need to get them out. Can you help?”
The guard shook their head. “No. I am sworn to serve the Ternants in this. But you are not, and there are others. Seek your parent and your kindred, Fenn of the Hunters. Ana is waiting for you.” The other guard nodded at him in a not unfriendly fashion and the one speaking gave Fenn a gentle push toward the door. “Get moving, Fenn. There’s not a great deal of time.”
Fenn stared hard at both of them for a moment and then did as they were told.

Ana, Fenn's parent. Starting a revolution.

It wasn’t far to Ana’s quarters. They and Cora, Fenn’s other parent, had shared a set of family rooms quite high in the caves for their use when they were here in the Underhalls. Fenn and all three of their older siblings had grown up there until they had reached maturity and moved out in to the dormitories for the unattached. When Cora died two years ago, Ana had continued to live there with Keren, a constant stream of cheerful visitors sitting on comfortable couches or on the soft, deep rugs, discussing books and travel and kias and the ideas they had about everything under the sun.
Ana had clearly been pacing when Fenn chapped on the door and immediately entered.
“Fenn!” they wrapped their arms around them and they responded in kind. “I felt the working, but I couldn’t follow closely enough to know the result. Are you well?” They pushed Fenn back and looked at their face, framing it with their familiar, long-fingered hands. “You are tired? And…” they scowled, reading Fenn’s tumultuous thoughts. “And Malach refused to free Keren.” Their voice dripped vitriol. “The bastard. I knew they’d pull something like this.” Their hands dropped to Fenn’s shoulders, steadying. “Fenn, what of the one who came through behind you? There were two of you. Where is your companion?”
Fenn looked at them. “What?”
“Your companion. There were two come through. I felt them. Where is the person who accompanied you?”

Detective Sergean Will Grant. A magician.

Will Grant. It had to be Will Grant. They were closest to the shimmer when it opened and had been helping Fenn herd the carnas through. Fenn had been focused on keeping it under control and had trusted the team of humans to help open the shimmer and keep onlookers away.
“They were not with me when the gateway closed. We must have been split up in the shimmer itself.” Fenn looked up at Ana as they sank in to a chair and fought exhaustion, anger and the slight nausea left from coming through the shimmer. They shut their eyes briefly. They were so tired. “Where is Keren, Ana? Can we get them out? It will have to be quickly.”
Ana shook their head. “Perhaps. Things have happened whilst you were away.”
“How long was it?” Fenn asked. Time sometimes got twisted when you traveled through the shimmer. Some people could control it and use it to move back and forth in the when as well as between the worlds. Fenn couldn’t and had relied upon the council to pull them through in the right time. Now though…now they didn’t trust anything the Council of Ternants did.
“The third time of trying, that they arranged before you left. So three months.”
Fenn nodded. That was good. It had been their first trip through the shimmer and they had been frightened of all sorts of things. Not least Malach’s word.
“Where would Will Grant have gone? What happened, Ana?”
“I think the gate was shutting behind you as they entered. They could be anywhere. Anywhen, even.”
Fenn made a noise of distress. “They helped me find the carnas and looked after me when the Ternants would not let me through. I must search for them.”
Ana shook their head. “There is very little to be done without a circle to try to trace their kias from the closed gate. That is not a priority. I need to speak to Malach, to see if I can get them to release Keren.” They knelt down between Fenn’s feet and took their hands between their own. “Fenn, child. What did Malach say? What happened in Delft?”
Fenn told them. “The carnas was killing humans. The humans were searching for it. There are a few who use kias…Will Grant is one. We found the egg…the carnas only laid the one. I had it safe and tried to come through with it at the second meeting-time that the Ternants gave me. But Malach would not let me through without the carnas as well. They said one egg wasn’t enough.”
Fenn bent forward and put their forehead on Ana’s shoulder, allowing them to slip their arms around Fenn’s back. It was a relief to have someone else take some weight, just for a moment. Ana’s hands moved gently up and down Fenn’s back, soothing as if Fenn was still a child.
Fenn continued. “And then, Will Grant found me. They broke the egg. I had not told any of them about Keren. When I did…Will Grant was sorry. They took me to their family home and cared for me. I was…” they paused. “I was distraught.”
Ana made a comforting noise. They smelled of home.
“And then…we went back to the city and the other humans had managed to find the carnas. So…I went. And we found it and I managed to push it through.” They drew a breath. “Why do they want it so badly, Ana?”
Ana made a noise in their throat. “Not for anything good. Malach has been consolidating their power for years. The carnas…the carnas should never have been used like this. We should never have consented, when they first came up with the idea of using them to track kias and help police the border. It has been nothing but trouble. Malach uses them like a blunt weapon, aiming them and letting them go. The result is never good, for the hunted for the carnas themselves. It is cruel.”
They released Fenn from their embrace and pushed them a little apart, hands on Fenn’s shoulders, staring urgently in to Fenn’s face. “We can fix this, Fenn. Once and for all. And I need you to do as I ask, now. And not ask me questions. Can you do that? There’s very little time.”
Fenn nodded. “Will you get Keren out?” they asked. “Can you get them?”
Ana shook their head. “I don’t know. I am not even sure Malach has kept them alive this long. Keren is a threat to them. Yes, Malach can use them as leverage, to maneuverer you and I and your other siblings. But on the other hand…Malach must know that using children in these games of theirs is opening more and more eyes to their true nature. If Keren is already dead, then there is no risk of Malach’s own people freeing them.” Her hands tightened on Fenn’s shoulders. “You should think of Keren as already dead, Fenn.” Their eyes filled with tears. “Think of them as already gone and plan your actions accordingly.”
Fenn swallowed. “Namma…,” they said, slipping in to childish language. They had called both their parents by their given names since they left home. They put their hands on Ana’s shoulders, in turn. “Namma…I will find Keren.”
Ana shook their head. “No. Leave Keren to me. You search for the human. And wait. Wait. Trust no-one who is not recommended to you by me or your siblings. Do you understand?”
Fenn nodded. “Very well.” They dropped their hands from Ana’s shoulders and they both pushed to their feet. “Very well.” Fenn drew Ana in to their arms again. “Ana. I am so pleased to be home.”
Ana wrapped her arms back around him. “I am so pleased you are home, too, Fenn. Your other siblings are well. We will make this right, I promise. It may be too late for Keren and I ache for that. I am so angry. It’s time to move against Malach, and we are not alone in being poised to make that happen.” They pushed Fenn an arms length away again. “Now, go. Go back to your quarters. Assume Keren is gone. Grieve them. Rage against Malach. And wait.”

Fenn did as they were asked. Ana was no longer on the Council of Ternants, but the Hunters still had supporters there. Ana had stepped down when Cora died, saying they had both done their duty to the council. Malach had stepped up. And here they all were.

Nine Ladies Dancing

Bleak Midwinter Quiltbag Funfest!

I should have done this yesterday for the Nine Ladies Dancing day of The Bleak Midwinter Quiltbag Funfest over at Quiltbag Historicals, but as usual I’m a day late, if not a dollar short. Jones, who is not really a lady, trying to wriggle out of dancing at Lady’s Nailsbourne’s ball, near the beginning of The Flowers of Time.

Do bob on over to the facebook group if you have a moment and like queer historical fiction. Different writers are posting snippets of their work for all the twelve days, and there’s an eighteen-book giveaway draw ending on the 6th of January.

Lady Nailsbourne’s Ball

The ballroom was sweltering. Jones went to push her hair off her face and then remembered and stopped. Her feet hurt in the ridiculous tiny shoes and the corset was pinching her. Her long gloves were making her elbows itch.

The Flowers of Time

Although that might have been the conversation.

She gritted her teeth and nodded once again to the young man who was attempting to engage her interest with a tale of his morning’s fox hunt. “How fascinating!” she attempted to simper. Her simpering skills clearly needed work, because he flinched.

Luckily at that point, the music stopped. They bowed to each other with ill-disguised relief and then Jones remembered she was supposed to curtsy. Too late now. He held out an arm and she took it delicately in order to be escorted back to her chaperon.

She disguised a snort.

Fat lot of good Aunt Caroline would do to protect Jones’ virtue.

Despite herself though, she smiled at the older woman as she rejoined her small group of older ladies. Her escort, Mr Danvers, handed her off with a mutter about going to get her some punch.

She hated punch.

Aunt Caroline gave her a nervous smile. “Frances, my dear! You looked so graceful. Your partner was clearly extremely taken with you!”

Jones raised an eyebrow at her. Her aunt patted her arm in subtle admonishment and hissed. “Stop that! Nice young ladies do not raise their eyebrows! Especially one eyebrow at a time!” before replastering the smile on to her face.

This wasn’t working. She’d known it wouldn’t work and she’d told them it wouldn’t work. But she’d promised Pater that she’d try and she always kept her promises.

Danvers returned with the punch and presented it to her as if he had pulled a rabbit out of a hat and expected applause. She thanked him politely and he retreated, clearly as relieved as she that his obligation to her had been discharged.

“Aunt, I need some fresh air, I think. May I go out to the gardens? Or to the terrace?” The ballroom had been hot with the heat of hundreds of wax candles in the chandeliers when their party had arrived and as the space had filled and the dancing started, the temperature and the odour had risen and risen.

“My dear girl, of course you may. Do you wish for company?” Her ringlets trembled a little as she raised her lorgnettes and peered through them inquisitively. Aunt Caroline was positively cheering for Jones to be importuned into a compromising position by a likely young gentleman and so to have her married off before the season ended.

It was the point of the whole exercise.

“I’ll be fine, Aunt. Only for a few minutes.”

“I believe the terrace is that way.” Aunt Caroline pointed with her glasses and Jones began to make her way through the crush to the large open doors, attempting not to slop her punch onto her gloves. People were sorting out partners for the next dance and she avoided making eye contact with anyone as she moved forward through the jostling crowd. The musicians kept the music going…a piece by Bach, she thought. The music was actually outstanding, a small positive in what was an exceedingly trying evening.

It was a blessed relief to step into the cooler air of the terrace. There were liveried footmen standing on either side of each of the tall French windows that let on to the terrace. They didn’t return her small smile. She wasn’t comfortable here. Ignoring the servants might be the done thing in polite society, but it went against all her instincts.

She smoothed the fine silk of her dress down her middle in a nervous gesture she couldn’t quite suppress and stepped past them out in to the cool of the night. It wasn’t actually all that dark…there were lanterns at strategic intervals along the retaining wall that threw pools of soft light that didn’t quite meet between the sconces. Lady Nailsbourne had had her gardeners place potted trees and bushes all along the expanse. It was lovely. A perfect place for a romantic liaison, should she be seeking one.

Which she was not.

Buy The Flowers of Time

The Flowers of Time. A non-binary explorer. A determined lady botanist. Mystery, monsters and romance in the 1780s Himalayas.

character sketch: Fenn of the Hunters

The Hunted and the Hind, Fenn of the Hunters. Coming 30th December.

Fenn of the Hunters is a reluctant traveler from their world to London. At the beginning of Shadows on the Border, they are sent by the Council of Ternants to recapture and bring home an escaped carnas, on of the creatures that feed on magic the Ternants use to police the border between the worlds.

Fenn is a magical worker. The Frem call the energy they use to manipulate time and space kias. Fenn and their family are all very strong natural users. One of their special skills is to track strong sources of kias–in people, things or animals. That’s why they’ve been sent after the carnas. Fenn’s not sure what the carnas is doing lost in London; but it’s their duty as hunter to bring it home.

Will Grant’s London is very different to the Underhalls of the Frem that Fenn is used to and they are grateful for the help that Will and his team provide. Their growing connection with Will Grant himself is something that they didn’t expect and are not quite sure what to do with.

Fenn is tired of being manipulated by the Ternants. They want to finish this job, in this busy, crowded, mechanical world and return to their family.

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

Cover Reveal: The Hunted and the Hind

Today, I am very, very happy to bring you the cover of The Hunted and the Hind. It’s the third in my Lost in Time 1920s London trilogy, although as you may gather from the cover, at least some of it takes place elsewhere.

The Hunted and the Hind, #3 in the Lost in Time 1920s trilogy. Coming on 30th December.
The Hunted and the Hind, coming 30th December

At the end of book number two, Shadows on the Border, poor Sergeant Will Grant got sucked through the border after Fenn, who returned to their home in the Outlands with the murderous creature they’d finally captured with the help of Will’s police team. It took me ages to work out what I wanted to write in Hunted because I never actually set out to write a trilogy–this is one of the downsides of discovery writing, which I have now rather learned to my cost. There were so many loose ends I wanted to tie up to feel that I’d satisfactorily ended the series, for both readers and for myself. It took me three rewrites to get the story knocked into a shape that I feel happy with.

Without further ado…here’s the cover (and the blurb!) for…

The Hunted and the Hind

The Hunted and the Hind cover

Inadvertently tumbling through the border after Fenn and then thrown into the middle of the internecine political disputes of their people, Sergeant Will Grant of the Metropolitan Police has spent three months in prison in the Underhalls of the Frem. When Fenn comes to free him and return him home through the border, he has very little time to work out what’s going on before the sudden appearance of Fenn’s missing younger sibling Keren throws Fenn for a loop.

Instead of returning them to London as planned, the trio step through the border to the Egyptian desert. Once they work out where they are, it’s a two week trip back to England with the possibility of pursuit both onboard ship and when they reach home.

Will the journey give Fenn and Will time to resolve the feelings they have been dancing around since the day they met? How will they keep Keren from recapture by the faction who tried to persuade Fenn they were dead? And has Will’s friend Alec forgiven Fenn for lying about their motives when they first traveled to London four months ago?

Preorder from the publisher, JMS Books!