Hiya guys, we have Alex Beecroft and her new release Angels of Istanbul, we have a incredible guest post, a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway, so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! <3 ~Pixie~
Angels of Istanbul
Wallachian nobleman Radu is recently arrived in Bucharest with his vampire parents. Welcomed as an eligible bachelor, he’s introduced to the enchantress Ecaterina, whose salon is Bucharest’s centre of magical expertise.
But when Ecaterina’s brother dies of a mysterious new plague, it’s clear to Radu that his parents have not been idle. Soon Bucharest is in the grip of an undead epidemic—a less than ideal time for Ottoman Sultan Mahmud, Wallachia’s overlord, to call Bucharest’s nobility to assemble their armies in Istanbul for a holy war against Britain.
The Wallachians have long resented their Ottoman overlords, so Radu seizes the chance to eliminate them while also ridding Bucharest of the undead: he leads an army of vampires to Istanbul and sets them to feed on the Turks.
As Radu’s demons gut the city of Istanbul, their plans become horribly clear. This is only the start. With the Ottoman armies under their control, the undead are poised to suck the life out of the whole world. Radu, his lover Frank, and Ecaterina are appalled at what they’ve unleashed. But they may be too late to stop it.
So, as of the date of writing this, I go in for a full hysterectomy in two days. I have a lump, and there is the possibility that it is cancer. I won’t know until after the operation, when they’ll be able to get at it enough to analyse it.
This means that I have recently been contemplating my own demise. It’s funny – when the possibility of a future is taken away, it also becomes difficult to think of doing anything in the present. It takes me at least three months to write the first draft of a book. Will I be alive long enough to finish it? If not, is it worth starting?
I don’t mean to be morbid, but I am also aware that I might die on the operating table, or I might have cancer and die a few months down the line. Or I might live and not have cancer, and recover enough to have another forty years. We’ll soon find out.
I had lots of books I still wanted to write – a Trowchester murder mystery comes to mind. I haven’t tried a proper murder mystery yet (unless The Wages of Sin counts, but the ghosts might rule that one out.) Heart of Cygnus Five and Pride of Cygnus Five need editing – though I’m sure someone else could do that. I should probably make a note to ask the person I can think of who I would trust with it before the end of tomorrow.
If I do die, I think I’m content with my life. I really only had one item on my bucket list, and that was “get a book published.” I consider False Colours, for which I had an interview by Rolling Stone Magazine to have blown that out of the water, and everything else is gravy.
But looking at my books in the light of maybe never doing any more, I feel that I want to give a shout out to the ones that were most me.
I love history – I don’t think that’s a secret! And I’m very proud of my age of sail books. I’m five chapters into writing a new age of sail novel at the moment, and rediscovering my enjoyment of the 18th Century. I can’t help but be thankful for the life of reenactment that went into The Reluctant Berserker, and the fascinating reading that went into Labyrinth. I like the ease and the freedom of writing contemporaries. And who doesn’t love a space opera?
But really where my heart is is somewhere in the centre of all the genres. It’s historical fantasy with queer heroes and romantic elements, or it’s fantasy romance with queer heroes and historical elements.
As such, the books that are most perfectly the kind of thing that I write – the most accurate snapshots of the weird mishmash of stuff that goes on in my imagination – are the Under the Hill books (Bomber’s Moon and Dogfighters), in which a temporarily displaced WWII airman saves the world from the Queen of Faery.
And the Arising books: Sons of Devils and Angels of Istanbul.
When you write a book, you rarely end up with the same book you intended to write. That’s become slightly less true for me since I started writing a plot plan first and then sticking to it. But both of these door-stopper stories expanded uncontrollably under my hands, dragging in things that I thought were entirely unrelated, ramifying, growing organically into something much greater than I originally intended. It was quite an adventure writing them – a voyage through my own head.
As in all things, that time has gone now. That me has gone now, and today’s me is different – improved, I hope! I also hope that there will be more books like these, more phantasmagorical mix ups of things I love. But if not, they’re not quite enough. They’re not everything I meant to say. But they’re close. I hope you enjoy them!
Wallachia – 1742
As Bucharest’s river Dâmbovița was not navigable even by rafts in the summer, they left the boats at Râmnicu Vâlcea and transferred luggage and demonic passengers into a wagon. Frank was impressed to find that the Văcărescus maintained a town house in this large market town, where a carriage only fifty years out of date waited in a stable block, and servants and horses alike couldn’t quite conceal how astonished they were to be called on for service.
On no occasion during the manhandling of the coffins—now nailed together and disguised as a strangely shaped wardrobe—from barge to town house to cart, did Frank think how easily they might be dropped, broken open, have their dirty secret revealed like a more supernatural version of his own disgrace. These thoughts only came to him at night, when Constantin or Alaya or both climbed effortlessly aboard the moving carriage, wiping their mouths. Then he would remember he had meant to find some way of killing them when they were in the soil and defenceless. He suspected they only allowed him to think it then because it amused them to let him know he was their puppet. But he said nothing, and Alaya smiled sweetly at him, while Radu hunched on his seat like a raptor shivering on a snowy branch and looked at no one.
They took the journey easily, stopping at the inns of post that lined the roads at regular distances. These ranged from posthouses London could be proud of—beautiful white plaster buildings with airy courtyards and polished floors—to small houses with a single dormitory and straw pallets on scuffed planks.
They would draw up to one of these just after dark, have the vehicles taken to the stables. The servants—Mirela among them still, at Radu’s command—would disappear to take clothes to rooms, prepare fires, and eat their own dinner in the kitchen. Frank and the family would gather for rough, peasant stew and mămăligă—a savoury yellow maize paste that seemed ubiquitous as bread. Then he and Radu would drink a glass of wine and talk about history and pride, politics, and regrets.
At some point in this ritual they would look up and find that the strigoi were no longer there. Then the conversation would falter a little as they both tried not to think about what that meant, who they might find dead in the morning. It was worse, Frank thought on these nights, surprised, to bring the demons to little townships that had not had three hundred years of experience with them. Here death would come with horror instead of resignation. Radu’s reluctance to take the creatures out of their native setting seemed wiser now, less like a petty child saying no just because he could.
When they could get a private room, they wedged the door shut from the inside and slept together, because Frank was a new man now and had decided that his time of mourning was behind him, and he would take what was on offer and be glad of it.
“What is there to be ashamed of in this, in comparison to the blight we carry with us in the wagon?” Radu had asked, when Frank was skittish and reluctant at first, and that was God’s own truth.
Afterwards he had continued the thought, hands behind his head, staring up at the lace of dusty cobwebs beneath the sloped roof, “Besides, just think how this must choke them.”
Frank had raised himself to his elbow and contemplated the look of suppressed laughter that he had begun to find familiar on Radu’s face. “What must? They’re getting what they want, aren’t they? Because of me.”
“Not entirely.” The smile came out of hiding, white and sharp. “I understand that the laxity of our morals has been known to distress foreigners. So perhaps you’re not aware that in Romania, even for the highest of the nobility, it is perfectly acceptable to have a son out of wedlock. If the family claims that child as its own, no one can consider him a less legitimate heir than one born into a marriage.”
“So . . .?”
“My parents find me difficult. In my true-father’s day they would have simply said, ‘I wish to go to Bucharest,’ and he would have taken them. His mind was in the palm of their hands. But me, well, they have to persuade me. They don’t like that.”
“I’m not seeing what this has to do with me.”
At the scoff, Frank grinned and pinched his bedmate in the shoulder, with a pressure that would leave a little purple mark in the morning. Frank had still many layers of fragility, felt like a flaky pastry made up of devastation and guilt, but at least one of those layers had hints of contentment in it, and with the revelation of his innocence and the ending of the threat to his life, he had begun to rediscover his own ability to laugh.
“Let me spell it out, then. Suppose I had a mistress or a concubine, or two—sooner or later I would have a child. That child could be their heir. Their future possession of their estates would be secured, and I could be conveniently disposed of. Instead what happens?” He shoved Frank back. “You arrive, and you’re beautiful, and you save me from all of that.”
What had seemed about to devolve into a mock wrestling match sobered and became distressingly sincere. “Every night I spend with you . . .” He bit his lip and went back to watching the ceiling, silent, with his mouth hard shut on secrets he couldn’t yet share.
Frank thought too, giggled, in the end, remembering Alaya’s patient sweetness. It was good to think he frustrated her merely by existing. “Not quite what they wanted, eh? A son is one thing I certainly can’t give you.”
“I don’t want this to continue. I don’t want to bring another child into this situation, hand the family curse on with the estates. But I don’t want to live my life alone. You have . . . You are very . . . useful to me.”
A cold declaration, perhaps. It took Frank a while to set the words in their right context and see how the meanings changed by it. When he considered that with a mother like Alaya, his lover must associate sweet, fine words with insincerity, he gradually found Radu’s declaration reassuring enough. To be useful was good. To foil the plans of the strigoi and save some future child from slavery, and to save Radu himself from cold inhumanity and isolation at the same time—these were admirable things.
“If I can help,” he said, tucking himself back down beside the other man in unexpected satisfaction, “I am glad to.”
Read more at: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/angels-of-istanbul (Just click the excerpt tab)
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
Connect with Alex:
- Website: alexbeecroft.com
- Blog: alexbeecroft.com/blog
- Facebook: facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
- Twitter: @Alex_Beecroft
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroft