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The Author Spotlight will focus on a different author every few weeks – it may feature an experienced writer who has a long history of published books, or a new author who is destined to be a future star. Today our Author Spotlight will be on Anna Butler. You can keep in touch with Anna at the links following the interview!
Author Spotlight: Anna Butler
First off, I want to thank Anna for taking the time to answer these questions for me. Please feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comment section below!
ABOUT THE BOOKS:
What is the title of your newest or upcoming book?
The Gilded Scarab
What publisher is this book being published by?
What is the publication date?
The Gilded Scarab by Anna Butler
THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Anna Butler worked for many years as a communications specialist in the UK government, working a range of central government departments on everything from marketing to running an internal TV service. She is now a professional author, indulging her love of old-school science fiction. Anna published the first of the steampunk Lancaster’s Luck series, The Gilded Scarab, with Dreamspinner Press. Her Taking Shield series is published by Wilde City Press, with Gyrfalcon published in February and Heart Scarab scheduled for July.
Can you give the readers a brief summary of your latest book?
When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s AeroCorps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, he arrives in Londinium in late 1899 with no career, very little money, and no idea about what he wants to do for the rest of his life. Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Museum. In a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful families, Rafe must navigate House politics, deal with jealous lovers, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium and fend off assassination attempts before he can find love and happiness with the man he loves.
What genre does it fall in?
Will you share a few words about your latest book, other than the usual blurb?
The first book in the Lancaster’s Luck series, The Gilded Scarab, started life a short less-than-20K word novella on my hard drive, set in a coffee shop in the streets next to the British Museum. When I was casting around for something to cleanse the palate, so to speak, when I’d just finished the second Shield book, I thought about my coffee shop novella, where a young man falls for an archaeologist working at the museum. But heigh ho, how many contemporary coffee shop m/m romances are out there? What could I do with it to make it different? And a little voice said, “You always wanted to write something steampunky. Not all goggles and corsets, but a world where aeroships and laser guns are just part of the scenery, unremarkable. So maybe your little story could be a steampunk m/m romance; your coffee house owner could be an ex-aeroship pilot and your archaeologist could be an Aegyptology specialist—you can get away with odd spellings in steampunk—and there’ll have to be some sort of adventure going on there and hey! why not have it all mixed up with dicey politics and an odd system of government…” And so the steampunk, coffee house, adventure/mystery m/m romance series was born.
Give us a little insight into your main characters! Who are they?
Rafe Lancaster, the hero and narrator, is a chancer: fond of gambling and racehorses, isn’t fond of taking orders (which made life in the military interesting), really doesn’t like the system of government by an oligarchy of rich Houses. His house considers him iconoclastic and subversive. He hides his light under a bushel – he took his degree at Oxford at an early age and did extremely well. He’s cynical and can be sharp-tongued. At the same time he’s sociable and charming, generous and intensely loyal. Despite the subversive exterior, he has a strong sense of right and wrong , honesty and justice.
Daniel Meredith is an Aegyptologist, is (like Rafe) a member of a cadet branch of a Minor House. Also like Rafe, Daniel is also dependent on his own earnings, with no House funding to support him. He sells the best of the antiquities he finds, to private collectors. His relative poverty and his history of failed affairs makes him insecure.
Ned Winter is is the eldest son and heir – the First Heir – of the head of House Gallowglass, the richest and most important Convocation House (the oligarchy of 8 Houses that rule the Britannic Imperium under the Queen). He too is an Aegyptologist, but unlike Daniel, he doesn’t have to scramble to find backers. He’s rich enough to pay for his own expeditions. Despite his high social position(!) Ned is principled and loyal to his friends.
Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon? Is this book part of a series?
Yes. The first in the Lancaster’s Luck series
Tell us a little bit about your writing style. When and where is your favorite time/place to write?
I have converted one of our spare bedrooms into a study. It’s quiet up there and I can get a lot of work done. I write best in the afternoons, after walking the dog in the mornings and doing the housework (bah!).
What sort of book do you enjoy reading in your free time? What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
I’m currently rereading Tolkien, after buying the last part of The Hobbit on DVD and having a marathon Hobbit/LoTR movie fest. I love Tolkien’s worldbuilding. I just have to read that first sentence, and I’m plunged right into Middle Earth.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Have you held any interesting jobs while you worked on your books?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. At first, dreadful Mary Sue inserts into my favourite books and TV series, and I cut my writing teeth on fanfiction, later. Until I took early retirement five years ago, I worked for the UK government as a communications specialist. My last job was in the Cabinet Office, which was quite an experience.
What does your writing process look like?
I’m somewhere between a plotter and a panster. I love Scrivener and find it a great help for storing notes and research. I usually know where the story is going and have a rough outline to follow – I have big bits of paper stuck to the wall covered in post it notes that chart the main story – but I can be seriously sidetracked when a character says or does something I wasn’t expecting. I go with the flow then!
Why did you choose to write GLBTQ romance? Why not another genre?
The characters who stand by my side, plucking at my sleeve to get my attention and whose voices I hear, are men who love other men. I love the dynamics of that relationship, and the whole ‘outsider’ element of it is fascinating. More than that, it feels like taking down another brick in the wall, every book in which GLBTQ characters are not marginalised, but are centre stage. Bottom line, though, is that these are the characters whose stories I want to tell.
One last questions…totally unrelated to books! I am a passionate foodie. Is there one thing in your pantry that you would be horrified for people to know that you eat?
Er… sardines. They’re so stinky and antisocial, that they’re a very rare treat, but there’s always a tin on hand.
Thankyou so much for answering my questions. I think my readers will enjoy learning more about you! Good luck in your future writing!