“On Earth, Annie’s voice brought her fame and fortune. In Aerisia, it brings her magic, but the cost of that power may mean the destruction of Aerisia itself.”
Hi, Sarah. I’m so glad you’re here! I want to thank you for agreeing to chat with me about your career as a writer and your latest fantasy work. First, though, tell me about you and why you write fantasy. What is it about the genre that you love?
I grew up loving Disney fairytale movies (Sleeping Beauty was my favorite), and that drew me into loving and reading fairytales. Loving fairytales drew me into loving fairytale related themes, such as knights and castles, warriors, dragons, fairies, etc. Along with that, a favorite book of mine growing up was the time travel book Max and Me and the Time Machine by Gery Greer, where two boys buy a time machine and accidentally travel to 12thcentury England. Actually, I still love that book! It sort of introduced me to the idea of travelling back and forth between worlds. As I got older, I fell into Lord of the Rings, Robert Jordan, and others of the fantasy greats. All of these things together produced an enduring love of the fantasy genre, specifically portal fantasy, which is what I tend to write. I guess the main things about fantasy that I love is how it combines a little bit of everything!
What inspired your latest new release? Tell me about those characters.
Several things inspired it. I enjoyed the male MC, Cole, so much in my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy where he was a side character that I wanted to tell his story. He is Simathe, which is a non-human race of immortal warriors in my fantasy world, Aerisia. At first glance, the Simathe appear very cold and dispassionate and emotionless, but if you dig deeper you see they have a strong sense of honor and are committed to the preservation of their homeland, even if their methods are sometimes considered suspect by outsiders. Out of all my Simathe, Cole was the most…outgoing, I guess you could say? And I wanted to showcase him in his own book.
Also, in this new series, which is related to my first Aerisia trilogy, I wanted to take a closer look at some of Aerisia’s unique races and their worlds. Aerisian Refrain, the first book of my brand-new Beyond the Sunset Lands series,delves heavily into the world of Aerisia’s fairies, their mysteries and their magic. Subsequent books in the series will deal with the Moonkind, people of the moon; the Warkin/Dragonkind, people who live with dragons; and then the Simathe culture itself.
Lastly, I wanted to explore a connection between music and magic, so I created the female MC, Annie Richards. She’s a powerhouse singer/entertainer on Earth, who is brought to Aerisia by creatures straight out of her nightmares. Here, she discovers the power behind her voice is magic, the legacy of creatures long-banished from Aerisia. Along with all this, Annie is part Cherokee, so I really enjoyed waving aspects of Cherokee folklore into this book as a celebration of her heritage.
As a writer, what is the hardest part of the creative process for you?
Whew. Well, finding time to write when my kids—3 boys, ages 6, 4, and 2—are otherwise occupied. Like at naptime or bedtime.
What feeds your creativity? What do you do if you have writer’s block? Does that happen to you?
I would say reading and music both feed my creativity. Also working out and running. That really freshens my mind, I think. If I get writer’s block, going for a nice run will open my mind. If I can’t get out of the house to run, I’ve been known to find inspiration while housecleaning. Honestly, just the act of getting up and moving around helps.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve been?
Oh my, that’s hard to say. I’ve actually visited 49 of the 50 United States, so I’ve been lots of interesting places. The giant Sequoias in California, Multnomah Falls in Oregon, Niagara Falls, and the Grand Canyon are some of my favorite places I’ve visited.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
Oh Rome, for sure. I’m obsessed with the ancient Roman Empire. It’s a life goal to visit Rome someday.
What do you hope readers take away from your books?
Good feelings, I hope. Also a sense of good triumphing over evil. I deal with some hard issues in my books, but I do not like sad endings, so I never plan to write a book that leaves readers with a sense of hopelessness or despair. We have enough of that in real life.
Remind me once more about your latest release and where we can find your books.
My latest release is Aerisian Refrain. It’s the first book in a brand new series, Beyond the Sunset Lands. Although it is related to my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy, you don’t have to have read the one to enjoy or understand the other.
Brief description: “On Earth, Annie’s voice brought her fame and fortune. In Aerisia, it brings her magic, but the cost of that power may mean the destruction of Aerisia itself.”
You can find all of my books here on my website!
About Sarah Ashwood
Don’t believe all the hype. Sarah Ashwood isn’t really a gladiator, a Highlander, a fencer, a skilled horsewoman, an archer, a magic wielder, or a martial arts expert. That’s only in her mind. In real life, she’s a genuine Okie from Muskogee who grew up in the wooded hills outside the oldest town in Oklahoma and holds a B.A. in English from American Military University. She now lives (mostly) quietly at home with her husband and three sons, where she tries to sneak in a daily run or workout to save her sanity and keep her mind fresh for her next story.
You can also read some of Sarah’s marvelous work here.