I am pleased to have Sarah King do an author interview in celebration of her new book Of Ash and Shadow. A young adult fantasy that dives into the world of the Fae.
Here are some amazing things she has to say about the new book, her writing process, and herself. Check out the interview below.
Can you tell us a little bit about your book and what makes it unique?
The Fae stole everything from Wyn. Her home. Her family. Her soul. Now they want Her help. A murderer for hire, but this mission––kill the Shadow Queen, the boogeyman of the realm––is a suicide mission. At best! If she doesn’t say yes, they’ll steal more of the small family she’s piecemealed together since dragging her ass out of Faerie three years ago. Guided by a vaguely familiar dark elf, Wyn must traverse the Shadow Court, a barren wasteland with toxic air populated by nightmarish creatures. Faerie warps everything it touches. And helping them? Means giving them the last part of herself. Her humanity.
I think what makes Of Ash & Shadow unique is the voice. It seems to be what others, who have read it so far, have commented on the most aside from certain plot points (not gonna spoil them haha). It’s something that came about with this book after I got a revise and resubmit from a publisher.
The R&R prompted me to learn more about voice and writing in general, with some more in-depth courses provided by the Margie Lawson Academy. After I’d worked through all the lecture packets available, I rewrote the entire book incorporating both what I learned and the suggestions given in the R&R. I ended up producing almost the story as it is today––obviously, there were still edits to be done at the time – which has, I think, a very unique voice.
My brother calls it Noir, I just call it gritty and dark. The closest thing I can compare my voice to is a deep beat, as if someone were banging their fist on their chest in a harsh and unnerving rhythm. The anthem for this book, the song I listened to the most while writing, was In the End by Black Veil Brides. It has a similar backbeat.
The resonance from the beat playing in my chest/head while writing, became this amalgamation of staccato sentences and then a very lyrical viewpoint which is a mix of Wyn and me, seeing as voice within a story is always a mixture of the character and the writer. I ended up really enjoying the juxtaposition of those different kinds of sentences and then filtering them all through my desire to make the world and the characters as real as possible.
It ended up becoming Dark Fantasy, because, in my opinion, to show the world as realistically as possible, I didn’t want to shy away from the true horror and despair of what happened to Earth and Faerie when the barrier fell. The same went for Wyn’s background. I felt like it would be an injustice to her character to water her story down in any way.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
My stories always tend to spring into my mind as the first chapter of the novel. Whatever scene I see, that’s how the book begins. So, this story came to life as what is still the opening chapter, however, it originally began with Wyn driving her dagger through a fae’s heart. After my R&R, I pushed the scene back just a bit to settle the reader into the world more. Once I had the opening chapter written, I thought about where the story was going––unfortunately I didn’t plot it out, like I normally would, and got about five chapters in before I got super stuck.
I think what kept me writing was Wyn. I loved her voice and I liked how flawed she was at the beginning of the book. I felt for her, but I also sort of recognized some of the issues she was going through. Not because she and I have suffered the same, but living with anxiety, I felt like I had a little more comprehension of her attitude and what was upsetting her so much.
I also found I was inspired by the thread that was showing up in the book about choices. About the choices we make, the choices we have taken away, and sometimes how we can be blinded by pain or fear or the situation and make the wrong choices.
At the time that I was writing this story, I had just started taking medication to help with my own anxiety and I realized many of the choices I made pre-medication were fueled by my anxiety. They weren’t choices at all. I needed to reevaluate a lot of the things that scared me to decide whether I was actually afraid of those things or if I had been misled/prejudiced against things by my own mind. Part of me recognized that Wyn was going through the same issues, in her own way, and so I think for me and for her, writing her story was a bit of a catharsis.
What was the most fun part of writing this book?
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