Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In The Hot Seat With H.C. Brown : Author L.J. LaBarthe

Title: "No Surrender, No Retreat."
Release Date: 25th July 2012.
Author: L. J. LaBarthe.
Author Website:
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press.
Genre: Romance, paranormal, Archangels, demons.
Blurb: Sequel to "No Quarter"
Archangel Chronicles: Book Two
Seventy years after it began, the war between angels and demons is over. Archangels Gabriel and Michael reunite at last, but a dangerous new challenge stands in the way of their happiness: someone is kidnapping angels and selling them as trophies on the black market. When Raphael, Archangel of Healing, goes missing, his tearful lover joins with the Brotherhood of Archangels and their lieutenants to rescue him.
Without Raphael’s healing touch, disease spreads quickly through the world’s human populations. The situation only worsens when the angel Agrat is kidnapped: the number of sex crimes begins to rise and her husband, Gabriel’s lieutenant, loses himself to his grief. As they mount a rescue mission, Gabriel and Michael’s relationship will be put to the test. With the threat of the world dying around them and tragedy looming overhead, can Gabriel and Michael keep love and hope alive?

1-Welcome L. J. LaBarthe! What is your Hot New Release?
Hi there, and thank you for having me! My Hot New Release is "No Surrender, No Retreat," which is the sequel to "No Quarter." It continues the story of the ten Archangels of God, focusing on the romance between Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and the relationship of Archangel Raphael and Israfel, the angel of music. There's a lot of relationships in this book, actually, Archangels Uriel and Raziel; Shateiel, angel of soldiers and silence and his wife, Agrat, angel of prostitution and sex; Archangel Remiel and his lover, Ishtahar, an immortal human woman.
This book looks at the possible consequences of kidnapping angels who are guardians and powered by something, for instance, Raphael, Archangel of Healing. When he's kidnapped, because his power is connected to medical science, subsequently, medicine begins to fail and diseases begin to run rampant.
I also brought back the Archdemons who readers met in "No Quarter," not just because they fit into the narrative but also because they're such fun to write!
 HC: I can't wait to read this book.
2- Can you tell us a little about yourself and your books?
I'm very rapidly approaching 40. I live in Australia, in the city of Adelaide, with my cat, a black and white beastie named Castiel. I love reading, writing, films, music, abandoned places, history, and more. I love medieval and Byzantine history, and I'm working (slowly) on a novel called "City of Jade," set on the Silk Road in the twelfth century that is a sequel to my short story, "City of Gold." I also have a short story called "Capsicum Head" coming out later in the year with Less Than Three Press, in the serial Rockstar anthology.
I love a good thriller, but I'm pretty picky about what I read or watch in that genre – I love James Bond movies, for instance, especially Daniel Craig or Sean Connery as Bond. I also really enjoy "Wallander" starring Kenneth Branagh in the titular role. Another novel I'm working on is "Deliverance," which is a thriller, involving international kidnapping and rescue.
I'm working on a murder mystery set in 1920 in my home city of Adelaide, which is lots of fun to write and I've learnt SO much about my city's history that I never previously knew! Besides that, I love fantasy, paranormal, science fiction – that's reflected in not just what I write, but what I read and what I watch. I love the TV shows "Game of Thrones" and the books as well, and I really love the "Spartacus" TV show and "Supernatural."
I studied Early Church History as part of my degree, and part of that was Bible archaeology which is fascinating and the stories and legends that come from those parts of the world, the Middle East, the African continent, Turkey, all fascinating parts of the world, the history, culture and food are awesome. I also love Bollywood and Indian food, and I have a deep and abiding love for Chinese history and Chinese cinema and South Korean cinema.
Music is life, for me. I can't imagine a world without music in it. I think a world without music would be hell, so music is always part of my writing process. I have playlists for the books I write, songs that remind me of certain characters or scenes.
Finally, I love food and cooking – cilantro/coriander (it's coriander here in Australia), mint, garlic, chili, pasta, noodles, raspberries, dark chocolate, mandarins and chicken are some of the best foods ever put on the planet. Also barramundi, which is an Australian fish that is like a seafood version of a steak. It's SO good, and I could go on about food for *quite* a while!
HC. Aussie, Aussie, me :-)
3- Have you ever used events or stories contemporary or historical  in your work?
As backdrops, yes, definitely. "City of Gold" and "City of Jade" are set during a lull in war along the Silk Road – I picked a year which, much to my amazement, had no major conflicts going on. 1141 seems to be a relatively quiet year. No Crusades, no uprisings, just a lot of trade, so I've looked at the Byzantine Empire and the cities along the overland route of the Silk Road to be a background setting for the story of Gallienus, the Byzantine soldier turned merchant caravan guard and his Korean lover, Misahuen.
In "The Body on the Beach," I've used situations and places that did exist in Adelaide in 1920 – many of these don't exist anymore, but a lot of them still do, and it's been fun looking at photos from 1920 and putting them into perspective with how the city looks today.
History is really important to me, and I love research, so I put as much reality as I can into the backdrops for my stories.

HC. Me too, I read more historical novels than anything else. 

4. Is there anything you find particularly challenging/ rewarding about writing?
Titles are my nemesis. I find them the hardest thing of all. Also beginnings, I'm really bad at opening paragraphs! Every part of the writing process is rewarding, even the frustrations that come with not being able to come up with a title. There's nothing like getting the first edits back and working through them, I find that part of the process hugely rewarding. And getting the cover art is always wonderful. I really am in awe of artists, because I can't draw to save my life, unless I call myself the Rembrandt of stick figures!

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
I wanted to be a racehorse jockey! Then when I grew taller, I wanted to be a vet. Then I wanted to run a record company. I don't really think any of those childhood dreams have affected me, apart from self-amusement at how much my desires and hopes changed between childhood and adulthood.

Q: Do you have a writing schedule?
Not really – I try and write every day, unless I'm sick. Having the flu really does put a dampener on everything, though, not just writing.

Q: What kinds of books do you like to read?
Mostly fantasy novels or science fiction. I like historical novels and some murder mysteries, thrillers. I enjoy the historical novels of Lindsey Davis, whose protagonist is Roman and works for the Emperor Vespasian. I like George R. R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" books, and one of my favourite m/m romances is an Arthurian novel with Mordred and Lancelot as the protagonists, called "Mordred: Bastard Son" by Douglas Clegg. I'll read just about anything, really; there's very few books I've read that I haven't liked. There's one fantasy series in particular, not to name names, that I *loathe*. I also really enjoyed the historical vampire series by Jasper Kent, set in Russia between 1812 and 1917, the Danilov quintet.  I really enjoyed the Leo Demidov trilogy written by Tom Rob Smith, set during the Stalin and Kruschev eras of the USSR, those are fantastic thrillers, in my opinion.

Q: What can readers expect from you in the near future?
More books in the Archangel Chronicles, definitely. Book three should be out by the end of the year, also with Dreamspinner Press, and I've got notes to write three more novels in that universe. More paranormal stories, and a couple of science fiction ones too. And, of course, that short story coming out with Less Than Three Press.

H.C. Yay!

Would you like to share an excerpt?
Gabriel watched as his troops bowed, turned, and walked toward the various buildings of the shantytown that had sprung up on Oregon’s eastern border. The town was named Hope and was relatively young, only fifty years old. The buildings all had a temporary look to them, made as they were out of rusting corrugated iron and rough-hewn wood, some with flat roofs, others with sloped ones. Some of the windows had glass, others did not. There was a slapdash, “good enough” atmosphere to the place, as if whoever had built it had done so in a hurry and then not cared to make any improvements.
Gabriel's thoughts were a jumble of sadness and anger, weighted with regret. So much death and destruction caused by one man -- Bob Taytton -- whose narcissicism had led to him making a deal with a Fallen One and opening portals to Hell. So many demons had come through to Earth and wrought havoc, and it had taken years to not only close all the portals, but to eradicate the demons. In all his immortal life, Gabriel could not remember any war causing so much pain and violence. He sighed to himself and shook his head. It was over now; that, at least he was certain of. The years of the war and Bob Taytton's plans were behind them, and everyone—human, angelkind, monster, and yes, even demon—could move on.
Gabriel sighed once more and turned toward the admin building, an unattractive structure.  The concrete bricks were rough and pitted with chips and holes and had seen better days. The doors were painted green, which clashed with the rusted metal and gray brick.
Rain fell, a persistent drizzle that formed muddy puddles and slowly soaked through clothing. Not far away, beneath a broad plastic awning, a group of children were playing jump rope, and the sight gave Gabriel pause.
“They can still be happy, even after all they have endured.”
“Shateiel.” Gabriel smiled at the mental voice of his second-in-command. “I said you were dismissed.”
“I’m going, sir. I just thought I’d say that it’s good to have the conflict over with.”
“Amen.” Gabriel turned and faced his lieutenant. “Go to Agrat. Take a few weeks off, yeah? You deserve it.”
Shateiel bowed. “Thank you, sir. And what will you do now?”
Gabriel sighed. “See Michael. My kids are gone. A lot of Venatores are too.” The two human children he had adopted so many years ago had died not long into the war, killed while harvesting food, and Michael’s special unit comprised of humans and monsters had had their numbers thinned during the fighting.
“It has been seventy years, General. Human life spans are short.”
Gabriel nodded in agreement and clapped Shateiel’s shoulder with his left hand. “I know. Go home, Lieutenant. You’ve earned a period of R and R.”
Shateiel bowed again and vanished.
Gabriel turned away from the spot where Shateiel had been standing, and walked toward the admin building. He could feel Michael within it, hear the constant hum of his power’s aura and identify it easily within the morass of white noise that was the Heavenly Host. The sound and sensation were audible to angelkind only; it was their connection to the Source, to God, to Heaven, and to each other.
Taking long, measured strides, his chain mail clinking as he walked, Gabriel nodded to those humans who greeted him as he entered the building. His mud-spattered blue wool cloak billowed and swirled around his legs as he marched down the corridor, the broad silver-and-gray fur trim at the neck ruffling as he walked.
It had been six months since Gabriel had seen Michael, and he missed him terribly. The only thing that prevented him from running down the corridor was decorum—the Archangel of War should not be dashing hither and yon like a lovestruck teenager. Even if that was what he was—well, minus the teenager part.
Humans were well aware of angels now—what they did, who they were, that they existed and lived on Earth—thanks to the media’s reports of the war, which alternated between gushing and respectful, and horrified and somber. The war had taken seventy years to end, and now, finally, in the year 2082, it was over. Gabriel was tired, weary of decades of constant fighting and very much looking forward to taking a break and spending time with Michael. Preferably, that time would be spent in bed, and preferably, they would be naked.
His thoughts were brought to an abrupt halt as Michael emerged from a room to Gabriel’s left. Michael wore a loose sleeveless dark-red robe over his trousers and leather-and-steel jerkin, his sword and dagger belted at his waist. His hair was longer now, sweeping down his back, and braids at his temples kept it out of his face. His boots were scuffed and worn, and there was the air about him of one who had seen too much despair and pain in too short a time.
Michael turned, and he fixed his dark eyes on Gabriel’s own. The two of them stared at each other, and Gabriel could see the emotions rapidly chasing each other across Michael’s face. He could only imagine his own face was much the same. Six months apart had felt like six centuries, and Gabriel ached for his lover so much that it was almost physically painful.
“Gabriel?” Michael’s voice was soft, full of desperate hope.
Gabriel nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Then he was moving, closing the distance between them and grabbing Michael in a rough embrace, kissing him with hunger and need. Michael kissed him back, small noises of want coming from him as he threaded his hands through Gabriel’s hair and pushed Gabriel back against the wall.
“Gabriel,” Michael murmured between frenzied kisses. “Gabriel. You are not hurt?”
“No, ’m not hurt.” Gabriel nipped Michael’s lower lip. “I missed you. Fuck, so much.”
“Language,” Michael scolded, gasping as Gabriel nuzzled his neck and nibbled. “Gabriel….”
“Let’s go home,” Gabriel murmured roughly into Michael’s ear.

HC. Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing with us today. Come back again soon. :-)

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