Heart Scarab, by Anna Butler (Taking Shield, Book 2)
Publisher: Wilded City Press (Release Date: July 22, 2015)
Word Count: 102,431 words
Genre: Gay (M/M) Science Fiction Romance
Last week marked the release of the next book in Anna Butler’s awesome Taking Shield sci-fi series, called Heart Scarab! I’m so excited to be hosting the blog tour today, and to be brining you an excerpt from the novel, along with an interview with Anna herself! And don’t forget to read to the end, because there’s some amazing giveaways that you can enter (yes, you read that right… multiple contests!).
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.
Interested yet? Jump below the cut for the interview, excerpt, and giveaway link!
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Anna Butler, author of Heart Scarab.
Hi Anna, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
First, thank you for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be here.
Heart Scarab is the second of the Taking Shield series, which charts the life and loves of Shield Captain Bennet. Taking Shield is both a sweeping sci-fi story (old school sci-fi with spaceships and lasers, aliens and handsome heroes) and an equally sweeping love story. I should warn you, though, that it isn’t a romance in the sense that it won’t be what most m/m romance readers would expect.
Thousands of years after an alternate-universe Earth went dark, the people of one of her colonies, Albion, are struggling in a war that’s probably unwinnable, against aliens called the Maess. Although humans have been fighting the aliens’ cyborg drones for over a century, they haven’t seen a real, organic Maess. Set against the war, is the love story between Bennet and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. They meet in the first book, Gyrfalcon, but for various reasons theirs isn’t going to be an easy love. They meet and part several times before the end. In Heart Scarab, Bennet’s return after being declared missing in action, presumed dead, puts intolerable strain on his relationship with his long term partner, Joss, but paves the way for a reunion with Flynn.
As for me, I worked for the UK civil service for many years as a communications specialist, working on everything from marketing employment programmes to running an internal TV service. These days I’m concentrating on trying to make it as a writer, combining my love of old school science fiction and m/m themes. I live in London with my husband and our cockapoo, Molly. We’re currently house hunting, looking for a country retreat.
How difficult was it to get into the main character’s head?
I’m not very like Bennet. Not just because I’m not male, but because he’s from an old military family, and I’m not; and he’s been brought up almost from birth to worship what he calls the family’s ‘triple goddess’ : service, duty, honour.
He’s not in the military out of real choice, but because his planet is in danger and he sincerely believes everyone should do their part in its defence. His part involves the dangerous behind the lines jobs in the Shield regiment that he is brilliant at carrying out. I’d be pants at that! But Bennet’s an historian and archaeologist by training, and that’s the point at which we coincide. I have a passion for Egyptology, so I gave that to Bennet to share. I too believe that if we’re threatened, then everyone should do what they can to protect their own people and families. Those points of contact help me understand how Bennet the scholar can immerse himself in Shield, and use his academic’s training to analyse what’s going on. They help me understand Bennet better and get him down on the page.
Is this book a standalone or do you plan on visiting it again?
It’s the second of a series of (probably) six stories that tell the story of what the humans’ enemy, the Maess, are up to. 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.
I’m currently working on book 4.
Why did you choose to write M/M stories?
I’ve seen all the arguments for it: it’s easier to write men than a strong woman character, because conventions make us hedge the strong woman around with caveats and constraints (toughness in a man is valued, but in a woman translates in people’s minds as bitchy and aggressive and it’s hard then to win the readers over to her side); or it’s interesting to explore characters who are marginalised and ‘outsider’, because they’re inherently subversive and challenging; or the dynamics in a m/m relationship are fasinatingly different to het, more equal when both can mount *and* be mounted sexually.
All that. But I think the not-too-philosophically-deep answer is that these are the stories that are in me right now, and these are the people who want me to write about them. The people who come and whisper their tales in my ear, whose eager hands clutch at my arm and whose smiles are there when I turn to them… they’re men and they love other men.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Taking Shield is rooted in all the old school science fiction stories and series : Star Trek, Star Wars, BSG, Independence Day, Doctor Who. I grew up with those, with Heinlein’s and Clarke’s novels. They’re part of my warp and weft. So mostly I’m inspired by the idea of humanity coming up against an enemy they can’t fathom, and having to dig deep within themselves to find the skills and fortitude to survive.
Flynn liked kissing. In fact, Flynn considered himself something of an expert in the art. 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.
Where to Buy the Book:
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:
Today we have not one, but TWO chances to win! I’m so excited about these prizes, and I think you will be too. Here’s what we’re giving away to Anna’s fans:
- Anna is giving an e-copy of her novella, FlashWired, to one winner from each of the tour stops. All you have to do is comment on this post… it’s that simple! So pop down to the comments now and let us know that you’d like to win a free e-book!
- And right after that, head over to Rafflecopter for a chance to win one of three pretty incredible prizes:
- Top place will win a $50 AMAZON GIFT VOUCHER!
- Second place is winner’s choice of a Heart Scarab iPad cover or Kindle cover!
- Third place wins a Gyrfalcon iPad cover!