Guest Author Anna Butler—Interview and Giveaway
Today, I’m please to have Anna Butler stop by for an interview. I love finding new Science Fiction and Fantasy authors and Anna writes great Sci-Fi. I convinced her to sit down for an interview and she’s coming to my blog with two different giveaways. Be sure to read through to the end for more details.
Welcome Anna, let’s start with you telling readers a little about yourself.
Thanks for hosting me, Andrew!
Well, I’ll start with the obvious: I’m British and female. Possibly the most interesting things about me is that I live in London, which is one of the most vibrant and exciting places in the world. There’s always something interesting going on if you have an interest in the arts, writing and theatre. I’ve lived here with my husband, David, since university. We don’t have children, although we have seven nephews and nieces between us. A couple of years ago, we brought my mother here to live with us, and another recent addition to our household has been an over-energetic cockapoo, whose demands for exercise at least keep me fit. At least Mum doesn’t make me take her out twice daily for walks!
I worked for many years in communications for the UK government. My main speciality was in Internal Communications, but I’ve also run some successful public information and marketing campaigns. I chose early retirement recently and now I’m focusing on writing as a full time career.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember not being a story teller, although writing them down came later. I’ve written stories since childhood, starting with the adventures of Jimpy, the toy chimpanzee I took everywhere with me. I moved on to fanfiction in early adolescence, with some shamefully Mary Sue stories set in the Star Trek universe. I still dabble in fanfiction, now and again.
What was the first story you wrote?
I’ll take that as the first piece I thought was good enough to share with the world. I self-published FlashWired a couple of years ago. It’s a sci-fi novella set in a future where Earth is expanding across the galaxy. The Carson is a Pathfinder-class starship, committed to planetary exploration and designating planets for development as human colonies. Cal Paxton and Jeeze Madrid are the top scouting team on the Carson. They’re wingmen, best friends and lovers. When Jeeze is shot down over a planet inhabited by a race Earth has never before encountered, it’s weeks before the Carson can finally mount a rescue mission. Cal and his brother Noah lead the rescue, only to find things are not going to be as simple as they hoped…
Describe how it felt when you saw your first book published?
I was dizzy with it! I had The Gilded Scarab (a steampunk romance published by Dreamspinner) published on the Monday, and Gyrfalcon (Wilde City Press) followed on the Wednesday of the same week. I barely had time to breathe for a month! Honestly, my main impression is of being slightly punch drunk.
I will admit that when the ebook popped into my in box from the publishers and I went to look at my Amazon page, I may have got a little tearful. The sense of “I’ve done it!” was very strong.
Let’s talk Taking Shield. Tell us about the series and Book 1, Gyrfalcon.
The series is set thousands of years in an alternate universe. Earth’s a dead planet, dark for more than ten thousand years; lost for so long no one even knows where the solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, founded long after the destruction of Earth, is fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.
Albion has become a regional galactic power in its own right, but its expansion has brought it into conflict with an alien race, the Maess. No one has ever seen a Maess and lived to tell the tale. All they see are fighting drones, cyborg constructs that have slowly become more humanoid in appearance. Bottom line: humanity is losing.
The series combines science fiction adventure with an intense love story (although I wouldn’t call it a romance). Shield Captain Bennet is both a warrior on—and behind—the front line and an analyst with the Military Strategy Unit. He not only leads behind-the-lines raids, he plans them. Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. It won’t leave him unchanged and some days, he won’t even sure what victory looks like.
To quote the blurb for Gyrfalcon, the first book of the series: Bennet has planned a dangerous infiltration mission behind enemy lines to garner priceless intelligence. His task is complicated by the changing relationships with his long-term partner, with his father—and with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life; that’s acceptable, to give Albion a military advantage. He expects that what he brings back from the mission will alter the course of the war against his people’s faceless enemy, although he’s realistic enough to know it may not necessarily be the outcome he hopes for. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life and that Flynn will be impossible to forget.
Who are the main characters?
Shield Captain Bennet, who is the second child and eldest son of a prominent member of the Fleet (i.e. the space navy). He has a very strong military background. He says that ‘duty, honour and service’ make up the family’s triple goddess. He’s dedicated and serious, committed to finding ways to help Albion survive and win the war. He’s also gay, which has been a source of conflict with his religious, more conventional father.
Fleet Lieutenant Flynn is an orphan following a raid on Thorn, one of Albion’s largest and oldest colonies. Although he and his mother survived the attack and returned to Albion, she never recovered and committed suicide when he was 8. Brought up in an orphanage, Flynn won his way into the Military Academy on a series of scholarships. He hides his intelligence and hard-work behind an insouciant, devil-may-care exterior, claiming his greatness derives from being the best Hornet pilot in the entire Fleet. He may be right, there!
Book Two, Heart Scarab picks up with the main characters from Book One, what’s happening now?
It’s set around a year and a half after Gyrfalcon. Bennet and Flynn have not met since.
Bennet’s Shield unit is involved in the evacuation of a small colony planet in the teeth of a Maess invasion. Injured in shellfire as the last cutter leaves, Bennet is left behind, believed dead. In reality he’s found by colonists who’ve also missed the last boat out, and he builds up a small collection of people for whose future he becomes responsible as he tries to find them a way home.
The book covers the reactions of his family, of his partner Joss, and of course, of Flynn to his supposed death. When Bennet’s found and brought home, the impact of his return from the dead changes a lot of relationships, not all of them for the better. But it also gives him and Flynn another chance to be together, for a short time.
How many books do you envision in the series?
Five or six. I’m wavering, because the last section of the series is proving difficult! It all depends on how long book 5 turns out to be and where I can, reasonably, end it. There’s a lot to cover in it, but it looks like it may be one of those odd animals that will make either one very long book or two unsatisfying shorter ones. Believe me, I am glaring at the first drafts and swearing a lot.
The third book, Makepeace, will be published next January, and I’m currently finalising book 4, The Chains of Their Sins, which should be out sometime next July.
Tell us something not in the blurb.
You get a much deeper insight into Bennet’s relationship with Joss, what started it and what’s sustained it for over nine years. Joss wasn’t a sympathetic character in Gyrfalcon, but I hope that in this book, his anguish as well as his faults are in better balance. Joss comes to represent Bennet’s past, and he gets what I think are some of the most poetic sections of the book as he reflects on what he’s lost.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
The moment when I fire up Scrivenor, and Bennet and Flynn spring up to grin at me and press in close to make sure I get the story right. I never get over how lucky I am to be able to do this.
What’s your least favorite?
Fighting my tendency to want to go over the previous day’s writing before I start today’s, and tinkering. I could spend hours worrying over a few sentences, polishing and honing them, when I should be just getting the words of the next section down. I suspect we all have to fight against this bad habit.
Since there is always another story to tell, what are you working on now?
The fourth Shield book, The Chains of Their Sins. In book three, Makepeace, Bennet has recovered from his injuries and is now on his rotation out of Shield, the regular ‘rest’ Shield officers are given in the normal services. Bennet chooses Fleet, and is sent to the dreadnought Corvus for a year. While there, his analysis of the T18 data he got in book one leads eventually to a horrific discovery on Makepeace, once a colony owned by Albion and now a Maess base. In Chains, the political and personal consequences of that discovery start to unravel, and Bennet has the added pressure of being sent to the Gyrfalcon for his final year of his rotation out, where he has not only to cope with his father’s expectations, but manage his relationship with Flynn. Remember that Bennet is dedicated and serious and won’t break the fraternisation regulations. That doesn’t make things easy.
What have you read lately that most people haven’t read but should?
One of the most under-rated books I’ve read recently is Elin Gregory’s A Taste of Copper. It’s not a long book, a novella really. I like historicals where I get a real sense and feeling for the time being written about. All too often, it’s modern people in fancy dress pretending to be gay men in Regency London or the American Civil War. But this is a perfect little gem that just feels right. Elin’s caught so much of the period that I was never jarred out of the narrative. And a big, big plus point for me is that Elin treats her readers with respect, paying them the compliment of respecting their intelligence by not dumbing down the language or the terminology. A lovely little book, and highly recommended.
If you could meet any writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Barbara Pym. She wrote books on a narrow canvas, set just after the war or in the 50s, and her heroines live quite narrow lives, revolving around church or around anthropology (and sometimes both). It’s hard to explain, but she reminds me of Jane Austen. She takes the same premise of a very few people as her cast, and writes with the same sort of ironic mind and eye. Her books are populated with wonderful characters and funny situations. They are very English, I suppose, but I reread them constantly.
Besides reading and writing, what else do you enjoy?
Gardening and embroidery, although I don’t have a lot of time for either now. I designed our (very small) London garden and I’m looking forward to a bigger challenge when we move to the country later this year.
Last question is all yours – feel free to talk about anything you want your readers to know about you, your book, anything at all.
Woah, but that’s a hard one. The most revealing one, too.
I’ve pondered what to say here, but I think I’ll end with something that smacks of a little irony. I write science fiction set in a future so many thousands of years hence that Earth is gone. Yet my deepest and most abiding love is history. If you’ve read any of the Shield books, you’ll have noticed that they’re laced through with references to classical Greece (all the provinces have Greek names) and, most of all, with Egyptology. Their gods are the Egyptian pantheon, the leaders who led their ancestors from a dying Earth were Pharaohs. I had a lot of fun with that! I love museums, and of course London has dozens, from very large to small. For several years now I’ve been a volunteer docent at the Geffrye Museum, one of the smallest. I love meeting and talking to people, and taking them on tours of the museum certainly gives me lots of opportunity. Sadly for my museum work, as I mentioned above, we’ve just made the decision to move out to the country. I’ll have to find a local history museum there that needs a talkative writer on staff!
About the Book:
Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Shield Captain Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can—a task that leaves him lying on Telnos while the last cutter of evacuees escapes in the teeth of the Maess invasion.
Bennet is listed missing in action, believed dead on a planet now overrun by Maess drones. His family is grieving. His long-term partner, Joss, is both mourning and guilt-ridden.
And Fleet Lieutenant Flynn? Flynn is desolate. Flynn is heart-broken… no. Flynn is just broken
Heart Scarab: Book 2 in the Taking Shield Series
(series should be read in order)
Release Date: July 22, 2015
Publisher: Wilded City Press
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas
Flynn liked kissing. In fact, Flynn considered himself something of an expert in the art of kissing. He’d tried it in all its forms, from the first tentative pressing together of juvenile lips that had you wondering what all the fuss was about, to the discovery that if you just opened your mouth and, you know, kind of moved everything, your tongue suddenly had a lot more positive uses than just allowing you to articulate clearly and swallow things without choking. Flynn got the hang of it, ran with it, and never looked back.
Soft kisses and hard kisses; kisses that were wet and slobbery with people who didn’t know exactly how to hold their lips to get the best and sexiest effect, and wet and sexy kisses with people who did. Kisses that turned the blood to molten lava and kisses that cooled you as you came down. Kisses that inflamed and kisses that soothed; feverish kisses and languid after-sex kisses. Kisses that meant only good fellowship and casual affection, and kisses that were desire incarnate.
Flynn had not only tried them all, he’d made them his own. He was considered by all the relevant authorities to be rather a specialist in the area.
Flynn really liked kissing. He had been gratified by the discovery that Bennet liked it too. Because now he could add slow kisses to the repertoire. Kisses so leisured and intense the world came to a stop while a hot tongue moved over his lips, explored each and every tooth down to the last molar, while teeth pulled at his bottom lip, biting it gently until it was swollen and hot and heavy, and he had to lick his lip to cool it and met Bennet’s tongue with his. Only then, would Bennet’s mouth close over his and start a real in-earnest kiss that lasted several more centuries. Those were kisses Bennet seemed to specialise in.
Flynn was always willing to take tips from another expert. A man should always try to extend his technique.
From Wilde City Press as an ebook or paperback.
About the author:
Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.
Where to find the author:
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7037247.Anna_Butler
Tour Dates & Stops:
Anna is doing two different giveaway:
Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a copy of her novella, FlashWired (epub, mobi or pdf). Anna is giving away one copy at each stop, so check out the other stops for more chances to enter.
Also, click the Rafflecopter link below to be entered in the a drawing for the following:
(i) top prize of an Amazon gift voucher (is $50 overdoing it? It makes for a decent prize!)
(ii) second prize, winner’s choice of a Heart Scarab ipad cover or kindle cover
(ii) third prize, a Gyrfalcon iPad cover