Author Spotlight: H Lewis-Foster
Welcome H Lewis-Foster who is here today to tell us a little about her two new stories – Out in the Sticks and In the Blue Moonlight – complete with blurbs and links. Kazza has had the pleasure of reading several of her books and looks forward to adding these to the collection.
I’m delighted to be here at On Top Down Under to tell you about the release of my new stories, Out in the Sticks and In the Blue Moonlight. While they take readers in very different directions, the stories have one thing in common – they are set in the weird and wonderful world of the English countryside.
I like to think I’m well qualified to write about everyday life in England, as I’ve lived all over this quirky country, from north to south and east to west. While it has its downsides – the unpredictable weather being the main one, of course – my tales of rural romance paint an affectionate picture of this traditional yet diverse little country.
One of my favourite scenes in Out in the Sticks takes place in the village pub, and there’s nowhere more English than a pub. It’s where friends and lovers, and those somewhere in between, go to talk, laugh and relax over a pint of beer. Adam and Jim get to know each other while drinking ‘Farmer’s Lad’, and one of the peculiar pleasures of the English pub is to try the most unusually named local ale – a pint of ‘Fuggle Bunny’ anyone?
While there’s plenty of fun in Out in the Sticks, it also has a more serious side. Adam has moved to the countryside to forget about men, and as the story unfolds, we find out the reason why. As he reveals his past, we see the best and worst of people and relationships. Adam has had an eventful year, and the move to a more gentle pace of life is just what he needs – along with the friendship of Jim, a kind and generous garage manager.
Jim is the complete opposite of the lawyers and academics who made up Adam’s social circle when he lived in the city. Jim has had his own problems, but in the words of Monty Python, another great British institution, he always looks on ‘the bright side of life’. He’s a lovely character, and I hope you’ll enjoy Adam’s journey with him ‘out in the sticks’.
While In the Blue Moonlight is also set in rural England, that’s where the similarities end. It starts with a respectable thirty-year-old baring his bum to some local policemen. Fortunately for Simon, he doesn’t get arrested, but his mooning exploits have unexpected consequences, when he meets one of the officers a few weeks later. With sex, snogging and more than a touch of silliness, I really enjoyed writing In the Blue Moonlight. I’m also very excited that it’s part of the fabulously titled Bollocks! anthology, by new Australian publisher Wayward Ink.
So if you’re looking for romance with a British feel, I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Adam and Jim, Simon and Mark, with lots of love and laughs along the way.
Lawyer Adam Sibden has moved to the charming English village of Sharpley to forget about men. But when he takes his car to the local garage, he can’t help being attracted to the handsome young manager Jim Turley, who is friendly, professional and apparently gay. Adam goes to the village pub that evening, and with nowhere else to sit, he joins Jim and his mates. A misunderstanding leads to a highly embarrassing moment for Adam, but Jim thankfully comes to his rescue and makes him feel more at ease.
As the winter weather takes hold, Adam finds himself stranded with a punctured tyre, following a disastrous meeting with his ex-boyfriend Lucas. Adam calls the garage’s breakdown service, and when Jim ventures into the snow to find him, he offers more help than Adam could have hoped for.
Adam opened the fridge and peered inside. He’d never seen a less inspiring selection of food. There was an onion, a jar of capers, a chunk of Cheddar, and a tub of yogurt. He could make something edible if he chucked the lot in with some pasta, but he’d eaten the last of the fusilli yesterday.
One of the disadvantages of living ‘out in the sticks,’ as his city-dwelling colleagues called his new abode, was that the nearest supermarket was miles away. As the village store closed before Adam got home, he was left in a culinary quandary. He could order his shopping online to be delivered the next day, but for now his best option was to go to the pub.
Adam had been to the Lazy Fox once before, and it was pleasant enough. The décor was traditional without being drab, and the menu surprisingly appetizing. He’d enjoyed a hearty steak and ale pie, while couples dotted around the bar chattered as they ate.
His afternoon at work had been hectic, and Adam looked forward to another relaxing meal. When he pushed open the wooden door, however, Adam nearly walked straight out again. The place was heaving, and an overpoweringly spicy aroma pervaded the stuffy air.
Adam considered returning to the meagre contents of his kitchen, but it was past eight o’clock and he was ravenous. He made his way to the bar and caught the eye of Barbara, the unfeasibly buxom landlady.
“I’ll have a pint of Farmer’s Lad and a steak and ale pie, please.”
“No pies tonight I’m afraid, duck. It’s curry night.” Barbara grabbed a glass and shoved it under the beer tap. “I can do you a nice chicken madras if you like.”
Adam was wary of pub curries, having savoured the real thing in India, but he was so hungry he decided to risk it. He handed over a ten pound note and searched for somewhere to sit. Every seat seemed to be taken, with some people perched on windowsills; then he spied one solitary stool. He’d have to share a table with strangers, but it was preferable to eating standing up.
Taking his drink and his change, Adam strode towards his goal. He was almost within sitting distance, when he saw a familiar dark-haired young man at the table with his friends. Adam hesitated. He would rather sit with a group of pensioners than with Mr. Gay Gorgeous Engaged and his equally attractive companions. Adam looked pretty good for his thirty-three years, but they made him feel positively past it. He hovered tentatively by the empty seat, vainly hoping Jim wouldn’t recognise him.
“Excuse me, do you mind if I sit here? There’s nowhere else, I’m afraid.”
“Of course.” Jim beamed at Adam like he’d known him for years. “It’s Mr. Sibden, isn’t it? Come and join us.”
Simon has a good job and a nice house, and according to his best friend Chris, he’s turning into a boring old fart. So it’s totally out of character when Simon bares his bum to the local constabulary on a night out with his brother’s student mates. He hopes he’s put the incident behind him, when Simon bumps into one of the officers. Simon fears he’s in trouble, then thinks he’s in luck when PC Mark Timmis buys him a drink – but life in a rural English town is never as simple as it seems.
“BOLLOCKS.” Chris laughed, scooping a handful of peanuts from a bowl. “A boring old fart like you would never do something as daft as that.”
“Thanks very much.” Simon tried his best to look offended, but he knew his best friend was only joking. Or at least he hoped he was, and to be fair his story was rather bizarre, but it was completely and cringingly true.
“Give us the details then.” Chris chomped noisily, with his usual lack of table manners. “Where did you say you were?”
“High Street. Outside the town hall.”
Simon couldn’t have picked a more public place for his unlikely moment of madness. He’d been out for a drink with his younger brother, Sean, and his student mates. Simon hardly knew most of them, but they seemed a pleasant bunch and they’d had an enjoyable time in one of the town’s more civilized pubs. They’d had a few beers, but none of them were drunk, so Simon couldn’t use inebriation as an excuse for his behavior.
People of all ages and sartorial styles were ambling out of bars and pubs, under the watchful eye of half a dozen members of the local constabulary. A small rural town, Lenford wasn’t known for its anti-social behavior. Indeed, when a creative youth had painted a cock and balls on a bus stop, it made the front page of the Evening Gazette. Needless to say, the culprit was caught and swiftly dispatched to make amends with a bucket of soapy water. So it was wholly out of character for Lenford, when the town council’s deputy head of finance turned to Sean’s mates and said, “Do you know what I’ve always wanted to do? I’ve always wanted to moon a policeman.”
The teenagers looked at their friend’s responsible brother in astonishment, and Simon wished he could take the words that had popped out of his mouth and stuff them straight back in. Then a mischievous grin spread from face to face, and a voice piped up, “Go on then. Why not?”
H. Lewis-Foster has worked with books, in one form or another, since leaving university. As a keen reader of gay fiction, she decided to try writing herself, and is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel.
H. has lived in various parts of the UK and has recently moved to the north of England, where she’s enjoying city life, especially the theatres and cinemas. She tries not to watch too much television, but is a big fan of Downton Abbey, and while she’s writing, she loves listening to Test Match Special (where they spend far more time talking about cakes than cricket!)
H. has also ventured into playwriting and was thrilled to see her first play performed at the Southend Playwriting Festival earlier this year.