Monday, October 30, 2017

Guest Post: The Jackal’s House by Anna Butler (Giveaway)

Title: The Jackal’s House
Series: Lancaster’s Luck: Book II.
Sequel to The Gilded Scarab
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 30 October 2017
Genre: Steampunk adventure m/m romance
Wordcount: c111,600
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Illustrator (Map): Margaret Warner

About The Book
Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy…
Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.
Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?

About The Series

Lancaster’s Luck is set in a steampunk world where, at the turn of the 20th century, the eight powerful Convocation Houses are the de facto rulers of the Britannic Imperium. In this world of politics and assassins, a world powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston and where aeroships fill the skies, Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Aero Corps, buys a coffee house in one of the little streets near the Britannic Museum in Bloomsbury.

So begins the romantic steampunk adventures which have Rafe, a member of Minor House Stravaigor, scrambling over Londinium’s rooftops on a sultry summer night or facing dire peril in the pitch dark of an Aegyptian night. And all the while, sharing the danger is the man he loves: Ned Winter, First Heir of Convocation House Gallowglass, the most powerful House in the entire Imperium.

“We have a thirty-minute window before there’s a commercial flight.” Haines gestured with his remaining hand toward the front window and the view of the aerodrome. “Shall we?”
My mouth was dry. All the moisture in me was in my hands. I had to take my hand away from the control yoke—the joystick—to wipe sweaty palms against my trouser leg.
She moved slowly under her own power down the access road to the aerostrip itself. Once at the end of the strip, I halted her, keeping the engine revs high. Haines tapped the gauge showing engine power. “She’s much heavier and bigger than your old aerofighter. You’ll need to be heavier on the throttle, push her hard until the power level hits the gold line, then pull her up sharp but smooth. Ready?”
Why did people always ask you that just before you did something massively unwise? Still, onward for Queen and country. I took a rather shaky but deep breath and started her down the runway, listening to Haines’s instructions. Throttle in hard, watch the speedometer, feet on the rudder bar to control her yaw and keep her straight, keep the paddles at the right angle to catch the headwind’s lift and keep the airflow silky and fluid, listen to the quiet roar of the aether/petroleum engine at the stern, feel the shuddering of the frame in every atom of my body… and now! Now. The gold line on the power level monitor gleamed and glinted, and I pulled back on the joystick…. Keep it smooth! Keep it smooth… and up she went, whispering into the sky with the gentle fluidity of thick cream sliding over plate glass.
Beside me, Haines kept up an unflustered monologue of encouragement. “Ease her back a trifle, let the wind catch her… good, good. Feel the turbos kicking in? That will give you all the throttle power you need. Five hundred feet… level her out now. Throttle back… bring her around to port… excellent, Lancaster. Well done. Very smooth.”
I glanced down as the edges of Londinium slid away under us and we headed northwest, out toward St. Albans. Before us were the rising Chiltern hills and the browning quilt patch of Buckinghamshire’s rich farmlands basking in the mild sun of a clear late-autumn day. Behind us and to the left squatted the great black bulk of Londinium, huddled under its usual pall of smokes and steams. The air there was so thick with vapor that the buildings were little more than a dark mass in the murky brume. But here, out over the fields, we were far enough outside the city for the air to be cleaner and clear.
The sky curved above us, a bright blue overhead fading to something yellower at the horizon, streaked with thin white clouds. The sun was climbing up toward noon a little to our left and to our stern, sending our shadow sliding and slithering diagonally up the hillsides. Beneath us, the engines throbbed, the heart of the ship beating out a gentle, monotonous thrum of mechanical life. When I touched the controls, she responded with all the eager energy of a thoroughbred in a race. The earth beneath me rolled away—remote, beautiful, an exquisitely detailed toy landscape of field and wood and little villages made by some great mechanic.
The green-brown of hills and fields blurred for a moment, and I had to blink, every limb light and every sense sharp and clear, riding out the surge of joy that had me glowing as if the sun had taken refuge under my ribs.
The skies were mine again. Icarus was reborn, thrusting aloft on wings of gold.
And just for a moment, I was a god, striding through the heavens like a Colossus.

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You mean, other than there’s corsets?!

So, said the Bayou Book Junkies, why steampunk, huh? What do you love about writing steampunk romances? Inquiring minds want to know.
My first reaction was to choke out the title of this blog post. But there are corsets, I pointed out. Corsets! All scarlet silk-satin, with laces and lace; worn with big flouncy skirts and little top hats. And that’s just the guys…
Then I stopped and thought about it seriously.
When you think about steampunk, often the aesthetic springs to mind first, with images of people having glorious cos-playing fun. Top hats and decorative brocade waistcoats, coachman’s hats and goggles, military uniforms and brass prosthetics, staid Victorian gentlemen’s suits decorated with watchparts and gears. Not to mention those red corsets.
Except not in my books. Lancaster’s Luck is indeed a steampunk series, set in a city not a million miles from London in 1900 (although a city an atom or two to one side of the London we know), with the second book, The Jackal’s House, also taking in Cairo and Abydos in Egypt. This is a world where the power sources are luminiferous aether and phlogiston; where the hero, Rafe Lancaster, flew an aerofighter in Queen Victoria’s Aero Corps; and where the political system is set up as rule by oligarchy, headed by eight frighteningly powerful families, the Convocation Houses.
Rafe occasionally wears a top-hat, but only if he’s dolled up in his best evening clothes and heading out for a night on the town. He has worn night vision goggles when scrambling across the rooftops on a mission to rescue Ned Winter, the love of his life. But he doesn’t wear things like that all the time. He is the epitome of the late Victorian gentleman in dress, and, I suspect, consequently a steampunker’s nightmare. Nothing there to cosplay at all.
So, why write steampunk if I’m not using the aesthetic?
First, because steampunk is about far, far more than corsets and watchparts. It’s about an alternative history, the chance to rewrite what happened in the (relatively recent) past. To skew it that atom or two to one side. That appeals hugely, because I love history. I love reading it, both fictional and factual. Some of my favourite books are weighty tomes tracing the history, and social history, of places like London. Writing about a period of the past where there’s a wealth of sources, written and pictorial, is gravy. It’s an historian’s idea of heaven.
Second, because I love to write speculative fiction. My other main series is a military sci-fi story set in the very, very far future where Earth went dark millennia before, with faster-than-light travel and an interstellar war against an alien foe. Speculative fiction is… well, fun. This is the ‘what if?” type of fiction. What if the Victorians had a society powered by inexhaustible luminiferous aether, rather than coal? What if they weren’t a democracy but an oligarchy? What if they have aeroships and aether/phlogiston pistols? What if…
So. Add history to the chance to speculate, to try and answer those ‘what if’ questions, and for me at least, you have the marriage made in heaven. I love the world Rafe Lancaster and Ned Winter inhabit. I love writing about them.
Of course, I do rather miss the corsets. Eyes Rafe speculatively…

Enter the Rafflecoptor draw for
1st prize—$25 or equivalent Amazon gift card
2nd prize—a signed paperback of the first Lancaster’s Luck book, the Gilded Scarab.

About Anna
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.

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  1. Thank you for hosting me here today. I appreciate it very much!

  2. Thank you for hosting me today. I really appreciate it!

    1. You're welcome! We loved having you here! <3

  3. All I can say is thank you for writing steampunk .. and scifi, and ... I love steampunk for the same reasons beyond the aesthetic that you mentioned, but from a reader's pov. - Purple Reader,
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com