Hi folks! A. L. Lester here, on the third stop of my five-station blogtour! Thank you so much for coming and reading. My first novel, ‘Lost In Time’ is out this month and I am on a five-stop Blogtour to introduce myself. Today I’m going to talk about The Year Of Hell.
I will admit to asking for a few prompts to start off my blog posts and this one was ‘what year of your life would you redo if you could?’. This is a really, really easy thing for me to write about, but not necessarily and easy question to answer. OH and I have a year that we describe as ‘The Year Of Hell’. Partly because we are Star Trek Voyager fans. And partly because, well, it was.
We had Child One in autumn 2007. It was all rather unexpected. We’d just completed the rigorous two year adoption procedure and were about to be matched with potential children. When we discovered I was knocked up, we were delighted on the one hand and on the other a bit confused, because we had put all that work in to getting ready for a family in one way and now it was happening in another.
So, Child One arrived and that was great. And because I was knocking on a bit, we thought it would be a good idea to try to ride that alleged post-pregnancy fertility and got for Child Two. To our surprise, this worked, when Child One was three months old. Go me. Yay. At age thirty-seven, at the beginning of 2008, when I’d resigned myself to never having a tiny baby, there I was, not only with a tiny baby, but with another one on the way. I was exhausted, pitifully sick and with awful, awful post-natal depression. Retrospectively I have NO IDEA why any of it seemed like a good plan. But eh, hormones.
At the time, OH and I were working together in the audio-visual industry, mostly doing work for conferences. It came as a genuine surprise to me that no-one would let me climb ladders whilst pregnant or with a baby strapped to me in a sling. OH still trotted off to work for days at a time and left me in rural Wales with the baby, climbing the walls. He couldn’t understand why I was virtually bonkers each time he came home from a tour.
And then, because the post-natal depression was so debilitating, I didn’t keep track of who had paid us and who hadn’t. A big customer that we trusted screwed us over. They got us to do a second large job for them before they had paid us for a large job a few weeks earlier and then they went bankrupt. They knew it was coming and they hung us out to dry, owing us about thirty grand. They opened up under another name a few weeks later and we had no recourse. That left us with a small baby, me unable to work because of small baby/pregnancy/depression, and an enormous mortgage on our idyllic rural house.
Then OH’s parents went crazy. OH’s mother picked up a lot of slack for us when the first baby was born. We were incredibly grateful. But when I started to recover, she didn’t want to give the baby back. One day I found her trying to get the baby to call her ‘Mum’. And there were various other things that happened that led to a complete breakdown of the relationship between us all. Including her taking hold of my breast and attempting to put the nipple in the baby’s mouth. That’s not just crossing to the other side of the line, is it? That’s ignoring the line’s very existence, leaving it in your dusty rear-view mirror and recording a loud, repeating message that it never existed. It was grim.
And then there were the deaths. My Pa died. He was elderly and it was expected. I was still devastated. I nearly went in to labour in the Chapel of Rest when I went to say goodbye. Then the mother of a dear friend died. That was unexpected and terrible. And two friends in their forties died out of the blue, one from a brain aneurysm and one from a heart problem.
We lost the idyllic house in our own bankruptcy, three weeks before the second baby was due. We found somewhere to live, but it was a very near thing. OH crashed the new-to-us car Ma had given us money to buy and wrote it off. In the autumn, Child Two was born with pneumonia and at eight weeks old was on a ventilator. We spent the winter going to and fro to hospital in ambulances, with her on oxygen.
So, if I had to have a do-over for a year, it would probably be that one. But having said that, I don’t know exactly what I’d do differently. I feel very strongly that what happens to you forms you as a person. I love my life as it is, despite its difficulties and that was the year that did a great deal of the excavating of the inner me. I don’t take bullshit from people as easily these days and I am more cautious who I trust. If someone lies to me, I cut them out completely. I am more vocal and I stand up for my family more quickly and perhaps too aggressively.
I don’t think any of those things would have happened as they did or in the same way if The Year Of Hell hadn’t happened.
Next up on January 16 I will be visiting Diverse Reader and talking about the The Hardest Part Of Writing.
Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Cover Design: JM Snyder
Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 54,000 words approx.
The Gate (a FREE short story introducing the characters from Lost In Time)
Amazon US | Amazon US | JMS Books
Lew’s life is pleasantly boring until his friend Mira messes with magic she doesn’t understand. While searching for her, he is pulled back in time to 1919 by a catastrophic magical accident. As he tries to navigate a strange time and find his friend in the smoky music clubs of Soho, the last thing he needs is D etective Alec Carter suspecting him of murder.
London in 1919 is cold, wet, and tired from four years of war. Alec is back in the Metropolitan Police after slogging out his army service on the Western Front. Falling for a suspect in a gruesome murder case is not on his agenda, however attractive he finds the other man.
They are both floundering and out of their depth, struggling to come to terms with feelings they didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. Both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures, and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?
January 7 – Book Review By Virginia Lee
January 8 – The Novel Approach – Blog Post
January 9 – Valerie Ullmer
January 10 – Alpha Book Club – Blog Post
January 11 – Mirrgold: Mutterings & Musings
January 12 – Love Bytes -Blog Post
January 13 – Padme’s Library
January 15 – Drops Of Ink, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, MM Good Book Reviews
January 16 – Diverse Reader – Blog Post
January 18 – MM Good Book Reviews – Blog Post
A. L. Lester likes to read. Her favorite 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 a chaotic family life and small children, and she 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 lives in a small village in rural Somerset and is seriously allergic to both rabbits and Minecraft
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