Hi guys, we have Anna Butler and her brilliant release Heart Scarab stopping by today, we have a great interview with Anna, a tasty excerpt and a brilliant comment giveaway and an awesome rafflecopter giveaway so enjoy the post and leave a comment and click that rafflecopter link <3 ~Pixie~
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
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.
Hi! And 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.
Do you pay attention to literary criticism? If so, how do you handle it?
Oh boy. Reviews and criticism.
When I first started out, I really wanted people to review my stuff. I can’t tell you how often I refreshed the Goodreads page those first couple of weeks! And then I got a stinker of a review on Amazon that cost me my sleep for the next two weeks. It *hurt*. As if the reviewer had scraped me raw and rubbed salt into the exposed patches.
But this is what I learned from it: you can’t please everyone. Not every reader will like your style or your plot or your characters. And what’s more, they don’t have to. They’ve paid their money for your work and they have every right to tell the world what they think of it. Even if that isn’t very much. And you, as writer, have to take it on the chin, and just keep on going.
And one more thing I’ve learned from reading reviews and criticism: it’s okay to fail. Not every book you write will be a best seller. Not every book will win prizes. Not every book will be noticed. But remember you’re a writer and nothing and nobody can deny you that, and write what makes you happy.
You can’t please everyone so you may as well please yourself!
How do you come up with your titles?
If they don’t come out of a theme that’s strong in the book, or something (like the heart scarab) that is a significant object that will crop up again in later books, then they’ll come from a quotation. For example, running through the Shield series—not as imagery, precisely, but something I used a great deal to colour many of the scenes—is the Requiem Mass. In Gyrfalcon, I quoted some of the wording of the Mass as part of the service for the pilots killed in battle. Part of that wording has become the title for book four: The Chains Of Their Sins.
To be honest, most people won’t recognise how interlinked the titles are with the themes, but I know it’s there!
What new authors have grasped your interest?
You know, I’ve found this the hardest question to answer! I’ve taken it to mean, “new to you, Anna” as opposed to new to everyone.
An author whose work I came to only this year is Elin Gregory’s. She writes both stupendous, intelligent m/m historicals and hilarious contemporaries involving werewolf plumbers or similar. Her historical novels (I loved A Taste of Copper) are beautifully researched and don’t dumb things down. I appreciated that she writes on the assumption that her readers are intelligent and don’t need to have every last thing explained to them. As for the contemporary stuff, I can only marvel at the wry, sardonic humour that has her plumber-werewolf remarking “I’m good at blow-jobs—anything to do with pipework and it’s my speciality.”
Very British, very funny. I can recommend her books.
What is the hardest part about writing?
Not to edit as I go along. I have a terrible habit of tinkering with what I’ve written so far, trying to perfect it, rather than ploughing on to the end and then editing in its entirety. It is a bad habit, because I can spend hours dithering over word choices and syntax when I should be forging on with the plot.
The writing programme, Scrivener, helps me curb that tendency, because each chapter is in a separate folder, so going back to the beginning to read is several steps more complex than in a word processing programme like Word. Scrivener is breaking me of some bad habits!
Name your four most important food groups.
White chocolate. Dark chocolate. Milk chocolate. Any of these, flavoured with mint.
That makes four, right? As you may guess, I’m rather fond of chocolate.
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.
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: