Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau, authors of the new post-apocalyptic romance King of Dublin. We’re touring the web talking about Ireland, the post-apocalyptic genre, a behind-the-scenes look at our book, and even a sneak peek or two! And what would a blog tour be without a contest? We’re giving away two ebooks and a souvenir from Ireland to one lucky commenter, so read on!
Thanks so much to
Prism Bok Alliance for having us, and to all you readers for following along. And now without further ado, today’s look at King of Dublin!
Today we bring you an exclusive excerpt from The King of Dublin, where our two heroes meet as equals for the first time . . .
This place was like a rabbit warren. Following the path he was currently on led him to a huge stone building, several of its many windows broken and boarded shut. It definitely wasn’t the way to the barracks where the men—and Darragh—made their bunks, but as he continued walking to the building’s central door, he realised he wasn’t too keen on spending his free time with the men anyway. Maybe this dark, deserted building could give him some time away from them all. Although God knew the quiet would just give him more time to think up examples of his newfound hypocrisy and why he ought to hate himself. Ah well, better to spend the time contemplating his misdeeds than committing more of them, as he was sure to do if he spent any more time than strictly necessary with the king’s men.
The building’s main door opened up onto the wreckage of what appeared to have once been a gift shop, if the rotted rack of postcards and selection of old guidebooks were any indication. A hideous, miserable place, a monument to an Ireland that was once part of a greater world and not just in shadowy trade with it. The sight of it depressed him, and he could still hear the voices of men outside, their callous tones making his skin crawl.
He fled deeper into the building, up a flight of stairs into a long, cavernous room, dim and musty. A library. A massive, two-storey library with thousands of old, leather-bound books that nearly reached the high arched ceiling. Dark except for a flickering light from somewhere deep inside.
Darragh walked towards the light, curious. He rounded a fallen shelf, and stopped.
Boy was sitting on the floor, his legs crossed, with a book open on his lap. The glow of the small lamp made his skin appear golden, and made his golden ornaments appear like flames. As Darragh watched, Boy lifted his hand from the book and raised it to his face. Scrubbed it furiously against one eye and then the other.
Boy was crying.
“Hey,” Darragh said before he could stop himself. He shouldn’t be going near Boy, and he shouldn’t be getting involved, but Dublin hadn’t hardened him yet. You saw someone crying, you stopped. You offered comfort.
Boy jolted, sprawling backwards. The book fell to the floor.
“I scared you,” Darragh said. “Sorry.”
He felt big and clumsy and dumb.
“I’m not scared,” Boy said, tilting his chin up defiantly.
“You have tears.” Darragh risked stepping closer. He crouched down.
Boy wiped at his face again, flushing red, but he didn’t look away. “It’s none of your concern.”
“You’re hurt maybe,” Darragh said. “From what happened.”
“No. I’m not hurt.”
“Why do you cry if you’re not hurt?”
Boy scowled at him and reached for the book. “Because of this! Because it’s falling apart. Every page I turn crumbles, and then it’s gone forever, but if I don’t read it, it’s gone forever anyway, without anyone ever . . . reading it. Knowing it.”
Crying for books. Darragh felt a stab of sympathy for the strange boy, and for the books themselves. Entire shelves of them, slowly rotting away. Another bridge to the past falling into the abyss. “These are old books, older than we have at home.”
Boy’s scowl faded. His grey eyes widened. “You have books?”
“The library,” Darragh said. “We learn from them. A lot we don’t understand. Too much English, maybe.”
“You’re from the Gaeltacht.”
That was a word Darragh hadn’t heard in a long time. “That is what they called it once.”
“There are books here in Gaeilge.” Boy’s face grew animated for a moment, then fell again. “No matter. They’re rotting too.”
“You read them? The books here?”
“Some of them.” Boy looked away. “Someone should. Although knowledge . . .” He smiled strangely. “It was knowledge that brought us to this, wasn’t it? They say it was something that escaped a lab. Maybe, or maybe . . . The Black Death killed a hundred million, but it was limited by how far and fast ships could travel. But we had planes, didn’t we? The sky was literally the limit. Either way, it was knowledge that destroyed the world, but I still can’t stop from reading these books.”
Darragh watched him for a moment, unease gnawing at his gut. How could the king’s naked little slut be a . . . a scholar? “What are you called?”
“I’m called Boy.” Boy’s frown returned.
“What are you called in your home?” Darragh pressed.
Boy opened his mouth and then clamped it shut again. He shook his head.
Darragh didn’t understand that response at all. But then, he understood almost nothing when it came to Boy. “You are from here?” he asked.
Boy showed him an odd smile, hugging his knees to his chest. “Thought I was.”
Darragh wrinkled his nose. “You made a mistake?”
“I made a big fucking mistake,” Boy said. “Thought I belonged here. Thought I could help. Thought I knew better than my da.”
Now Boy was shaking his head. “Forget I mentioned it. Him. Why are you here?”
“Am I not allowed to be?”
A shrug. “You can go wherever you please, according to the king’s whim. But as a rule, the men don’t usually come here. Because it’s stuffy and it stinks, but mostly because I think it forces them to confront how stupid they are.” There was a jagged edge to Boy’s smile, a sort of fierceness Darragh had never seen in him, but it was gone again soon enough. “If they had it their way they’d probably burn it down, like they’ve destroyed so much else of the old world.”
“They don’t have their way?”
“They don’t. This place is mine. The king decreed it.”
“A gift,” Darragh murmured. Maybe there was fondness between Boy and the king, intertwined with the cruelty and pain and sex. Maybe that was why Boy was so loyal to him. Of course, Darragh’s meagre upbringing had taught him that true affection didn’t need lavish gifts, which once again cast doubt on everything he thought he knew about Boy and his king.
“From the ard-rí to his hostage,” Boy said with a nod.
Ard-rí, now that was an Irish word. High King. Strange to hear his own language here, and spoken by Boy, no less. Hostage, though, that was English, and Darragh didn’t understand quite what it meant or how it fit.
Boy must have seen the confusion on his face, and matched it with a strange smirk that seemed almost proud. “It’s complicated, culchie.”
It was more than the word that Darragh didn’t understand. Boy was a twisted knot of contradictions that Darragh didn’t even want to unravel. To understand him would be to understand this place. And to understand this place would be to be corrupted by it.
As suddenly as the smirk had appeared on Boy’s face, it vanished. Boy traced a rubric letter with his index finger. He looked up at Darragh furtively. “My name is Ciaran,” he whispered. “Forget you heard it.”
Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away a great pair of prizes! Up for grabs are: a book from BOTH of our backlists (that’s one Lisa Henry title and one Heidi Belleau one!) and a King of Dublin-themed souvenir from the National Irish museum, mailed straight to your door! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! Two weeks after King of Dublin’s release, on March 8th, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win this awesome prize!
About King of Dublin
Twenty years after a deadly pandemic ravaged the world, Darragh Fearghal Anluan and the people of his village have carved out a hard but simple life in the Irish countryside. But with winter comes sickness, and Darragh must travel to Dublin in search of medicine. What he finds there is a ruined city ruled by a madman, where scavenging is punishable by death . . . or conscription.
Ciaran Daly came to Ireland with aid and optimism, but instead was enslaved by the so-called King of Dublin. After months of abuse from the king and his men, he has no reason to believe this newcomer will be any different. Except Ciaran finds himself increasingly drawn to Darragh, whose brutish looks mask how sweet and gentle he really is.
The tenderness Darragh feels for the king’s treasured pet is treason, but it’s hardly the only betrayal brewing in this rotten kingdom. Rebellions and rival gangs threaten the king’s power, but not nearly as much as Darragh and Ciaran—whose only hope for freedom is the fall of the king.
You can read an excerpt and purchase King of Dublin here.
About the Authors
Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
You can visit Lisa her website, at Goodreads, or on Facebook or Twitter.
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.
Her writing reflects everything she loves: diverse casts of characters, a sense of history and place, equal parts witty and filthy dialogue, the occasional mythological twist, and most of all, love—in all its weird and wonderful forms.
When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her daughter or sipping a drink at her favourite coffee shop.
She also writes queer-flavoured M/F as Heloise Belleau.
Chat with her on Twitter using the handle @HeidiBelleau.
Check out her books on Goodreads.
Or contact her using good old-fashioned email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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