Interview: AL Lester

Ally Lester writes queer romance across the rainbow spectrum as A. L. Lester. Parent, queer, gardener, author, spouse, daughter, beer-maker, disabled, ex-goose-keeper, carer, procrastinator. Short tempered enby control freak.

Firstly, thank you so much for having me visit your blog today Renee! I’m really delighted to be here and to get to chat with your readers.

Your 16th book, Warning! Deep Water!, comes out on 7th May. What was the inspiration for the story?
Well! Where do I start? Warning! Deep Water! is part of a project I’m doing with four other friends, Holly Day, K. L. Noone, Nell Iris and Amy Spector. It’s a set of novellas based around World Naked Gardening Day on 7th May. Holly is one of the pen names of Ofelia Grand, and Ofelia created her to write stories based on holiday themes (Geddit? Holly Day?). She and Nell and I try and write together in the early mornings—5 ‘til 8 my time, ouch—and one morning we were joking that some of the days in the calendar are a bit peculiar. National Wingman Day, anyone? We started off saying we should write for Naked Gardening Day as a joke…and then we got a couple of other friends together and here we are.
My story is set on a horticultural nursery just after WW2 and I had great fun writing it. The setting is essentially the place I grew up and some of the characters are loosely based on people I remember. All five stories are gay romance novellas that feature someone being naked in a garden somewhere.

How do you select the names of your characters?
They sort of select themselves. I start writing with a name that feels right and if it doesn’t continue to feel right as I go along I swap it. Or other characters end up using a nick-name for them and I realise that actually, that is their name! I think I’ve only ever deliberately changed names a couple of times…once when a beta reader pointed out to me that I’d used a name very similar to a previous book; and once when I realised I’d named someone after a friend.

Which author would you most like to meet?
Ursula le Guin. Such an interesting person. She was kind. And she understood people. She wrote about outsiders. Her parents were anthropologists and I think she brought such a lot of that to her writing and understanding of her characters. She’d be fascinating to spend time with. I’m really looking forward to her upcoming biography.

What is your ideal writing space?
I do like café-writing. At home I have a small house and a noisy family, so pre-plague my Mr and I would go out whilst the spawn were at school, leave all the household chaos behind and drink coffee all day and have lunch. He also writes and we’d get loads done. Now…I’d just like a flat surface where things stay where I’ve left them! I’m really hoping once things open up properly and it’s safe, we can go back to doing that. Plague-rates in the UK are rocketing again though and our Littlest child is very vulnerable and we are doing our best to stay at home. So the dining table it is again for now.

Aside from books, what can you not resist buying?
Erm. I’m an eco-tech-nerd, I think. I’m pretty embarrassed about it. I’m a permaculture-gardening sort of person, I buy nearly all my clothes (except underwear and shoes, because eww) second hand, my crockery is all mis-matched, I pull pallets out of skips to make bits of garden, I trade eggs and poultry and plants and IT support and chicken-keeping advice to people in my village for veg and bits and bobs. I just don’t care about new things except…tech. I love new, small, fast tech. I love having a fast phone and a fast laptop. I try and resist and I do manage for months at a time sometimes. But then…I cave in. Which is why we have a bluetooth dishwasher. I know it’s ridiculous and I should wind my neck in and make do with older things. But I guess if everyone is allowed one weakness, this is mine!

Thank you so much for having me visit, Renee. These are great questions and I’ve really enjoyed answering them!

If you want to find out some more about me and my books, my website is, where you can sign up to my newsletter for a free paranormal-historical novella; or you can find me on social media, mostly as @CogentHippo.

Warning! Deep Water!

It’s 1947. George is going through the motions, sowing seeds and tending plants and harvesting crops. The nursery went on without him perfectly well during the war and he spends a lot of time during the working day hiding from people and working on his own. In the evening he prowls round the place looking for odd jobs to do.
It’s been a long, cold winter and Peter doesn’t think he’ll ever get properly warm or clean again. Finding a place with heated greenhouses and plenty of nooks and crannies to kip in while he’s recovering from nasty flu was an enormous stroke of luck. He’s been here a few days now. The weather is beginning to warm up and he’s just realised there’s a huge reservoir of water in one of the greenhouses they use to water the plants. He’s become obsessed with getting in and having an all-over wash.
What will George do when he finds a scraggy ex-soldier bathing in his reservoir? What will Peter do? Is it time for them to both stop running from the past and settle down.

Buy: Warning! Deep Water!

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