Author Interview: Sarah Ashwood

Q: How did you get into fantasy? 

As I was watching Disney’s Sleeping Beauty the other night with my kids, I was reminded all over again why I love the fantasy genre. The magic, the grandness, the awe, the sweeping larger-than-life experiences that are unlike any other genre. Of course, Sleeping Beauty is technically a fairytale, but fairytales and fantasy are closely linked and overlap in many respects. I grew up devouring fairytales in books and movies, and I believe that was the foundation on which my love for fantasy was eventually built. In fact, hints of fairytales tend to find their way into all of my fantasy novels.

Q: What is your latest fantasy release? 

So far, I’ve released my fantasy novella, Amana, followed by my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy. The third book in this trilogy, Aerisia: Field of Battle, is my latest release, but I have several more books in the works.

Q: What inspired you to write your first fantasy book? How long did it take? 

Basically two things: a love of speculative fiction and a sunset walk down a country road. If you’ve read (or eventually read) Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset, you’ll find both influences in the novel. The scene in the opening chapter where Hannah meets the Moonkind elder, Risean Wy’ Curlm, who whisks her away from her Colorado home to Laytrii’s palace in the land of Aerisia, was inspired by an incident in real life.

I used to walk/run country roads at evening when it was cooler, I had a neighbor who raised horses and had a huge, old stump in his pasture, and my overactive imagination sometimes tricked me into thinking that stump was something it wasn’t. Once, it was a bear, once a dog, once a stranger in flowing robes…which got me to thinking. What would happen if I actually ran across a stranger from another time period or world? Put all these factors together, and Aerisia was born. It took me a little over a year to write the rough draft of the entire trilogy, but much longer to revise and revise and revise it.

Q: What makes your series stand out?

I like to think it’s the aforementioned fairytale elements that snuck their way in. Even though it is a fantasy series, fairies, giants, and even unicorns are featured. They simply felt natural at the time, and now I love the fact that I went ahead and included them.

  

Q: Do you have a favorite character from your books and/or series?

Absolutely. I love all of the Simathe—a race of mysterious, immortal warriors. Little is known about them, and they are feared, in spite of their longstanding service to the land of Aerisia. My favorite of the Simathe is Ilgard, their High-Chief and ruler.

Q: Which of your books do you believe resonated with readers the most? Why do you think it received that attention? 

Book 3 has definitely received the best reviews and highest praise from readers. I was told by several that it made them cry, or that they cried all the way through it. I think this is because Book 3 deals the most with the more human side of a fantasy world: pain and sorrow and loss, but, finally, a glorious happy ending. It’s my favorite of the series, as well.

Q: What fantasy book are you reading now? Are there any new authors that have caught your attention?

Right now, I’m reading Coiled, a new release by H.L. Burke. This is a retelling of the Psyche and Eros myth, or the fairytale East of the Sun and West of the Moon—both of which are two of my favorite stories. I’m loving it so far, and will be reading more of Burke’s works. Before Coiled, I finished The Firethorn Crown, by Lea Doue, which is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. (I told you like fairytales!) It was great, and I can’t wait to continue the series.

Q: What is the next project you’re working on? When do you hope to have it available?

Currently, I’m polishing a historical fiction novel set in ancient Rome. When I’ve completed that project, I’ll be starting a follow up series to my Aerisia trilogy. Enough readers have asked whether I was planning to continue the story that I have finally decided to do it. My goal is to write the first book during Nanowrimo and release it within the next few months—wish me luck!

Thank you Sarah Ashwood for participating in this author interview.
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