I am incredibly excited about the release of my debut novel Burning Ashes. It’s been a long journey for Nat and Scott to finally reach the printed page. They began as a quietly curious ‘What if…?’ one sunny day a few years ago, as I sat with hundreds of cricket fans in Regent’s Park, watching the final match of the Ashes series on a giant screen. I love watching cricket when I get the chance, especially if I’m in London. I’ve even queued all the way round St John’s Wood to get a ticket for a match at Lord’s—but it was a fantastic match, so it was worth it!
At its best, cricket is a sublime concoction of elegance, patience and pure aggression that is hard to find in any other sport. And of course, the men who play at the highest level embody all of these qualities. While I won’t pretend every professional player is some kind of Adonis, there is something undeniably sexy about a man in cricket whites. (I’m afraid the multi-coloured one-day strips just aren’t my thing!) Perhaps it’s down to the fact that very little bare flesh is on show. The all-covering modesty of their white shirts and trousers lets the imagination run wild, and picturing the perfectly toned muscles beneath adds a whole new dimension to the game.
So back to my ‘What if…?’ on that wonderful summer’s day, as the bowlers thundered across the turf and the batsmen smashed the ball to the boundary; young men in their physical prime, giving their all to beat the old enemy. But what if those talented, powerful limbs were used for a quite different purpose? What if that intense rivalry were flipped on its head and turned into an equally intense love? Now there was a story I wanted to tell.
The characters of Nat, the supremely confident, openly gay Australian bowler and Scott, the inexperienced and utterly endearing England batsman, took shape pretty quickly. They are completely different characters, both in looks and personality, but the connection between them is immediate and I wanted to explore their story from the very beginning—from the moment their eyes meet across a cricket pitch.
Their tentative affair begins with a cold, wet week in the Lake District. (Apologies to those of you in that beautiful part of the country. I know you have some fabulous weather too!). And from the start, Nat and Scott know there are so many reasons why a relationship should be out of the question—the reactions of their teammates, the public and the media—and these pale into insignificance compared to the time they would spend apart each year. But the attraction they feel is unstoppable, and so begins a deeply romantic story of fun and passionate stolen weekends, heartbreaking months of separation and a determination to do whatever it takes to be together.
I absolutely love these characters and I hope that you will too. And if you’ve never seen a cricket match, or didn’t think it was your cup of tea, perhaps Burning Ashes might change your mind. The Ashes tour of Australia is only a few weeks away, so you’ll soon get your chance to see the real thing.
Intelligent and confident, Australian cricketer Nat Seddon is one of the world’s best bowlers. He’s openly gay, but keeps his private life to himself, with everything under control. But on the last day of his team’s Ashes tour of England, he meets Scott Alverley, England’s promising new batsman. Nat tries not to be attracted to Scott, but he can’t help finding the privileged young man handsome and endearing. Nat is tempted by a little end of tour fun, but finds himself playing agony uncle to a virgin. Instead of going home to bask on a beach, he spends a wet week in the north of England with Scott. Try as he might to resist, he can’t help falling hopelessly in love.
The hectic sporting calendar is a persistent obstacle to their growing romance; Nat and Scott are rarely even on the same continent. They make the most of the time when they can be together, but the months apart take a toll on Scott, professionally and personally. The possible solutions are nearly unthinkable, but if they are willing to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever, they might hold on to the love they found in the Ashes.
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!)