MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SARAH ASHWOOD
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Hi, I’m fantasy author Sarah Ashwood. Even though fantasy is my overarching genre, I write several different subgenres within it including portal fantasy, fantasy romance, fairytale fantasy, and original fairytales. Now I’m working on an urban fantasy series to add to the list.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
The first book of my urban fantasy series is called Ashes on the Earth. I had an idea to do a book with mob bosses who lead warring gangs of shifters. Instead of using more traditional shifters like werewolves, I decided to branch out and make my shifters embody legends and folklore from all the over world. My male main character shifts into a talos, a bronze statue from Greek mythology. Others legends my shifters embody are going to include the mothman, Bigfoot, mermaids, and a minotaur, just to name a few.
I describe this series as Grimm meets The Untouchables.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I’ve always loved fantasy because I love the surreal, the supernatural, the extraordinary, the magical. I love history, I love pirates, I love Vikings, I love fairytales, I love fairies and dragons and unicorns… Writing fantasy allows me to weave any and all of these elements into my own made up worlds.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I have had to do some research into police departments and detectives, as one of the secondary characters in my urban fantasy series is a homicide detective.
Can you tell me about your Series?
Ashes on the Earth is the first book of an urban fantasy series called Stones of Fire. It follows the story of a pediatric nursing student, Ellie St. James, who gets drawn into a war between rival shifter gangs when she saves the son of one mob boss from being struck by a bus. From that point on, Ellie’s life is in danger from the rival gang. Protecting her is Carter Ballis, a lethal shifter, and head of security for the mobster who has made Ellie part of his “family.” Together, Ellie and Carter must survive and try to make sense of their places in a dangerous world.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
Stones of Fire is planned to be a four book series, and I just finished Book 1. So I guess Book 1 is my favorite at this point!
Was it always meant to become a series?
It was. I couldn’t carry out the two main characters’ storylines, plus the overarching plotline of the magical Stones of Fire, warring shifters, and shifter mob bosses in only one book. Or, if I did, it would be a reeeeeeally long book.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I’m a stay at home mom of three young boys. I also homeschool. I try to wake up before my kids, drink some coffee, and get my writing done before they get up. My daily goal is to write 1200 words a day, unless it’s during Nanowrimo, in which case I shoot for 2000 words a day. I’m going to up that daily word count to 1500 words a day, though, so I can write this series faster.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Urban fantasy is a new one for me that I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a long time. I’ve always written fantasy set in other worlds, like my parallel fantasy world, Aerisia, which is featured in my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy and Beyond the Sunset Lands series. My Stones of Fire series is set in modern day Ft. Worth, Texas, which is definitely a switch for me!
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Being a mom and having three kids!
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I think they are cool! I had one made for the novel I released last summer, Aerisian Refrain. I won’t have one made for every book, but if it’s for a new series I probably will. So Ashes on the Earth will probably be getting one.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Hearing from fans and readers!
Recently, I saw someone on Goodreads say they “shipped” one of my couples.
I also saw people discussing fan theories of my books on Goodreads. These are the moments that absolutely make it for an author.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully with many more books published! I’d also like to land on a bestseller list someday, and land an elusive Bookbub promo. We’ll see…
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Fearlessly write and self-edit. When you think you’ve edited it enough, go back and do it one more time. This is how you learn the craft. It’s how you get better. It’s also how you find your own voice.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
Oh, gosh. Well, I’m a stay at home/homeschooling mom. If I wasn’t doing that, I would be interested in being an archaeologist. Or maybe a flight attendant, so I could travel. A pediatric nurse, so I could work with babies. As it is, I work with my own babies and I travel through reading and writing. (Actually, I travel quite a bit, considering. I’ve visited Canada and 49 of the 50 United States. I’m scheduled to hit the last one with a visit to Hawaii this coming Christmas. Hopefully, it’ll be Europe after that!)
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
Yes, I do read reviews of my books. They can be a fantastic learning tool. I don’t ever respond, however. I’ve personally never heard of a good outcome of an author responding to a review. A positive review can make you feel like continuing on the days you want to quit. A negative one…well, I try to see if I can learn anything from it. Some have constructive criticism. If there’s nothing to be learned from it, either because it’s too short or just plain negative, I put it out of my mind and move on. Authors have to grow a thick skin.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
From Chapter Five in Ashes on the Earth:
Carter knew what his boss meant. The evening wasn’t supposed to have gone like this. Ellie St. James, a naive human girl from a world of naive humans, wasn’t supposed to know about their world, his world. Instead, she’d just been introduced to it in the worst possible way. Shifters existed, and they tried to kill each other. Now that she knew, they couldn’t simply let her go. More than that, she’d been seen by the itsumade. She’d thrown herself over his boss’s wife to protect her from the gryphon’s attack. Nosizwe might not know who Ellie was now, but if she and her shifters out, they’d think she was aligned with Sean Costas and his gang. They’d just as happily kill her as any of them. She’d saved the life of both Sean Costas’s son and his wife, and for that hers was now ruined.
Where did your love of books come from?
I would say from my love of reading. My parents homeschooled my siblings and me, and my dad not only taught me to read but passed his love of reading on to me. Reading was encouraged in the family both for recreation and education. Reading has always been my adventure and my escape. For me, writing grew naturally from that.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
Oh, so many! On the fantasy side, Angie Grigalinius Purification Era. C. Greenwood’s Legends of Dimmingwood. Sarah Addison-Fox’s Stormers Trilogy. Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, to name a few.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Hmmm…probably the couple in my first fantasy trilogy, the Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy. Hannah is basically me in book form, as far as her sense of humor goes. Ilgard is just—just plain awesome. He’s tough and strong and stoic, but he’d do anything in the world for Hannah. She is his entire world.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both? I get a rush after a good writing session like the rush after a good run or workout. At the same time, on the days where the words just don’t want to come, it can be exhausting to try and hit my daily word count goals.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
My personal philosophy is to write what I like. Writing isn’t easy. Writing and marketing is very time consuming. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t bother doing it. So, I guess my answer is that I write what I love and I have been lucky enough to find some readers who seem to love what I write. Now, that’s an amazing feeling.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Probably something like Fueled by Caffeine.
Coffee is definitely my friend!
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thanks for asking! To keep up to date with my work and new releases, readers can sign up for my newsletter. They can also visit my website, www.sarahashwoodauthor.com, follow me on Bookbub, or find me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. However, I am the most active on Facebook.
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
Thank you so much for hosting me!