For today’s author chat I welcome L.J. LaBarthe, who is most likely sweltering in Adelaide while we shiver in England! None of which stops us talking about books, of course. And today that book is Song of Song, L.J.’ s latest novel, which promises a tasty, spellbinding blend of sci-fi and romance. So without more ado, let’s jump right in and find out.
Song of Song
Hi Jackie and thanks for having me! I’m L. J. LaBarthe and I’m talking today about my current release, “Song of Song.”
“Song of Song” is a science fiction m/m romance novel, and writing it was a labor of love for me.
That’s not to say that none of my other books are labors of love—they are—but I’ve never quite worked up the courage to write science fiction despite loving reading and watching it.
The idea for the story came to me quite quickly, in one flash I knew I was writing about a scientist who’d fled a Utopian Earth with his pride and joy, the only organic space ship developed.
At first I’d thought that Song, who is that scientist, was going to be the primary character, but as I was writing I realized that no, it was going to be Dex, a man who was raised to be a servant for the wealthy citizens of Earth, who lived, ate and worked in a giant concrete building, called a Box Tower. Dex and others like him are known as Boxies and had no knowledge of or understanding of things such as love or compassion—until they were given an artificial intelligence pet. Dex didn’t want to give up his pet who is also his only friend and so he runs away, and through a series of adventures, meets Song and his magnificent ship and crew.
One of the things that I wanted to look at as the background universe was the idea that Earth of the future rather than being dystopian is utopian. The wealthy own and live on the planet, and occupations such as farming or fishing are considered the trades of the rich seeking to emulate what they consider the simplistic lifestyles of their ancestors. The poor citizens of Earth have been sent off-world to live on a secondary planet called New Terra, or on other planets that are not governed from Earth itself.
Future Earth as a Utopian ideal is something I very much wanted to look at because we do live on a beautiful planet and there are incredible wonders and beauties that are awe-inspiring and breathtaking.
Places like the stone forest of Madagascar or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the Grand Canyon in the United States or the Lake District in the UK, and feats of human ingenuity like the Egyptian pyramids or the Great Wall of China or Machu Piccu. Earth is covered with incredible sites and sights, treasures of the natural world on land and in the oceans and wonders of human endeavor.
I allude early on that there was a war which led to society being the way it is in the book. I’m toying with the idea of writing a prequel to “Song of Song” set in that war, but I need to percolate the idea a little more. I’m also toying with an idea for a sequel. I’d like to write them, but when it happens, I have no idea.
The romance between Song and Dex isn’t easy—but not because of issues of class. They’re both strong-willed men, both passionate and both intelligent. Song as a scientist comes from a background of privilege, he knows what it’s like to live a life of wealth on Earth. Dex, prior to running away with his AI friend, knows nothing outside the boundaries of the Box Tower he has lived all his life in. Their life experiences are vastly different, but they’re both interested in technology, science, and in earning and keeping loyalty, friendship and love.
I hope readers enjoy “Song of Song” and I hope visitors here today enjoy having read this little bit about the book and are intrigued to buy it!
On, and Dex’s best friend, the AI? His name is Manx, and he’s a black and white cat.
Thank you, L.J. LaBarthe! If you’ve enjoyed the peek into the writing of Song of Song and would like to find out more… you’re in luck!
There’s an excerpt of Song of Song under the picture!
Excerpt of Song of Song by L.J. LaBarthe
“Why?” Dex asked. “This ship is a marvel.”
“She is, and she’s not a weapon. They’d make others like her, and they’d use her cousins to conquer. They’d use them in actions that enslave others. Earth has done enough of that. I saw it while I was making her, listened to it while she became aware. The riots on Io, the history of the Solar Wars, the deals and backroom bargaining in the United Authority chambers, the murder of innocent people trying to leave the planet and make a new life for themselves. All of it played out for me as I uploaded history and politics to Fa’a. And Fa’a asked me a question that I could not answer. Her first words to me, Dex, were, ‘Why is there so much hate?’”
“It’s a bloody good question,” Dex said.
“And I had no answer,” Song replied.
“There isn’t an answer,” Dex said. “I mean, I don’t think there is. Hate is just… it just is. It isn’t rational most of the time. I hated living in the Box Tower. I hated my life. Manx gave me a tiny speck of joy, and I didn’t want to lose that, lose him. So I left. But you know that. Maybe that’s the point of life, that we find our joy and our hope as we can, and keep striving for more of that without resorting to hate and violence in the process.”
“And that’s why I will not give her up,” Song said. He sounded exhausted, and Dex took a few steps closer.
“Maybe you should take your own advice and get some sleep before we reach M’Jaffa.”
“Perhaps.” Song shrugged. He shifted, and Dex realized they were a hand’s width apart. His heart began to pound.
“Don’t you sleep?” Dex asked.
“When I can. I have nightmares.” Song looked down at the floor.
Dex closed the small distance between them and rested a hand on Song’s shoulder. He didn’t think; he acted. The compassion that he had learned from having Manx in his life flared bright and shining, like the streaks of starlight outside in the slipstream. “We all do, Song.”
Song looked up. “I never did before I made Fa’a.”
“Welcome to humanity, I guess,” Dex said.
Song wrinkled his nose. “I would have preferred a fruit basket.”
Dex laughed and the tension that had built between them was broken. Song grinned and he looked younger, as if the cares of the moment had been pushed aside. Dex had the feeling, though, that they’d return and Song would be shrouded in the shadows of them again.
“It’ll be okay,” Dex said. It was quite possibly the lamest phrase in the history of language, but Dex really believed it at that moment.
“Perhaps,” Song said. “You’re an interesting man, Dex. I’ve never met anyone like you before.”
The next thing Dex knew was the gentle pressure of lips on his own, warm, soft lips, the light touch of the tip of Song’s tongue, and he opened his mouth, leaning into the embrace, his arms sliding around Song’s shoulders. The kiss deepened quickly, as Song pressed close to Dex, and Dex could feel Song’s arousal pressing against him. That only fueled Dex’s own, and Dex, emboldened by Song’s reaction to him, did what he’d wanted to do since he’d first laid eyes on him and slid one hand up to tangle in Song’s hair.