We’re so pleased to have author Anna Butler joining us today on the tour for her latest release, The Jackal’s House, book two in the Lancaster’s Luck series from Dreamspinner Press. We have a great guest post about research to share with you, and there’s also a giveaway, so be sure to check out those details below.
Oooh! Just let me go and look that up…
I’m was a geek long before the word was invented. And yes, I am that old…
No, really. The first thing I did when I decided to write The Gilded Scarab, the first of the Lancaster’s Luck series, as a steampunk world was cheer loud enough to make the dog bark, before rushing off to read up on steampunk’s history, on the steampunk aesthetic, on coffee making, on anything I could think of. When I moved the action of The Jackal’s House to Aegypt for the 1900-1901 archaeological digging season, I was suddenly neck deep in looking at pyramids and temples, and eyeing up Anubis as he stared at me from behind his jackal’s mask.
Heaven. I was in heaven. Because I love, love, love research.
Partly for its own sake. It’s innately satisfying to learn when women athletes were first allowed into the Olympics (the second modern Olympiad in 1900 in Paris, as it happens) or who discovered and excavated the Osireion at the Temple of Seti in Abydos. Mostly, though, I love it because it helps me visualise and describe the worlds I’m building, and because those worlds are stronger and more vivid from the details I’ve been able to add to them. They give me the telling details that, I hope, make the world of Rafe Lancaster more realistic as well as more fantastic.
And yes, that is a contradictory as it sounds!
The trick is to know what to put in (only just enough) and what to leave out (probably most of it)—just enough detail to give the created world completeness and coherence and make the narrative three dimensional and rich. Do it right and the little gems of knowledge inform the story, threaded through it like beads on a string, catching at a reader’s attention—hopefully subtly and naturally. It brings the world alive. It’s all about balance: blending imagination with all that collected ‘stuff’.
Half the fun, for me, is sharing what I’ve found out. I’ve had maps created, written author notes, have a Pinterest account, write blog posts and most of all, have background notes up on my website with more added all the time. I should really think about creating a few slideshows and book trailers too, to make the background information more dynamic. It’s far easier than in the old days when all you got was a fold-out map at the end of the book, if you were lucky.
You’ll find extra snippets of information on both Lancaster’s Luck novels, The Gilded Scarab and The Jackal’s House, at my website. Do explore them to find out fascinating things such as what ‘Stravaigor’ means or why Ned Winter’s formal House dress looks like he just stepped out of an illustration for Pride and Prejudice. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
About the Series and the Book
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner
Length: 114,000 words approx.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Design: Reese Dante
Lancaster’s Luck Series
The Gilded Scarab (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
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 Majestyís 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 Londiniumís 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.
Blurb: 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 theyíre 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 Dogóthe 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?
“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.
About the Author
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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Follow the Tour
October 30 – Love Bytes
November 1 – Nerdy, Dirty & Flirty
November 3 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Novel Approach
November 6 – RJ Scott
November 7 – Gay Book Reviews
November 8 – MM Good Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook, Jim’s Reading Room
November 9 – Alpha Book Club
November 10 – Drops of Ink, Bayou Book Junkie, Padme’s Library
3 thoughts on “Guest Post and Giveaway: The Jackal’s House by Anna Butler”
Hi! Thank you for hosting me here today – I appreciate the support!
Thanks for stopping by Anna, it’s great to have you with us! :)
When I was growing up I read everything I could about archeology. I imagined it was the best job ever! This series sounds amazing. Thank you for the post!