Today I’d like to introduce the lovely Shona Kinsella to you! Shona writes children’s books as well as fantasy novels, and today she’s here to talk about her devut novel, Ashael Rising – an epic fantasy story which will be released later this year ^-^
Hi Shona, and welcome to Cookie Break! I’m excited to hear more about your first novel, Ashael Rising!
Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉
Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.
The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on Ashael’s world 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.
Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.
Ashael begins to experience strange visions and magic that she cannot control. A group of foragers from her village go missing, forcing Ashael to explore the true nature of her powers.
Only when she is a prisoner of the Zanthar does she discover the true nature of their plan, the terrible danger facing her world and her own role in protecting it.
Ashael Rising is a story of finding our place in the world, a story of relationships, with each other and with the land we live on.
Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?
“Muttering another quick prayer, this time to the All-Father, Sirion once more centered himself and sent out his mental vine. He imagined it anchored to the top of his head, rising into the sky, straight towards the sun. Energy flared in Sirion, driving him to his knees before he was able to regulate what he was channeling. This was like nothing he had ever done before. The power came in waves, crashing over him as if he lay on the sea shore. Panting, Sirion pictured a second vine, growing out of his chest, reaching towards Ezre. When it connected to Ezre, the Flores leader began to glow. He seemed to swell to twice his former size and when he released his next spell he roared.
Sirion’s vision was closing in, everything disappearing into a dazzling white light. He heard shouting, something about killing the slave. Then the energy was no longer just flowing through him, Ezre was actively drawing on it, pulling the power of the sun through Sirion. The filidh felt the flare and a searing heat when Ezre cast his next spell and he collapsed to the ground. The last thing he saw was Daven, engulfed in a ball of flame, then his eyes fluttered shut.”
Do you remember what sparked the idea for Ashael Rising?
It was a dream that I had, around nine years ago. The details are hazy now but the final image of that dream has never left me and it was that image that was in my mind when I first sat down to start writing Ashael Rising. The book diverged a lot from the dream but the image will still come. I can’t tell you what it is though because *spoilers*
What are you working on right now?
At the moment, I’m getting Ashael Rising ready to send to my editor at the end of the funding period but my mind is impatient to get started on the sequel so it’s percolating away in the background while I edit.
What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?
I have always loved fantasy. One of the earliest things I remember reading is Puddle Lane, a UK TV show and book series about a magician with a pet dragon! Magic is a big draw but I also think that fantasy gives us the opportunity to explore real-world issues in a way that is somehow less threatening, allowing us to look at situations without the same level of judgement and defensiveness that we might otherwise have.
Who/what is your writing inspiration?
Hmmm that’s a tough one. Many details of the setting in Ashael Rising are inspired by my interest in ancient history and my love of nature. If we’re talking about which writers inspire me, well we would be here all day but I would have to mention Stephen King, Raymond E Feist, Stephen Donaldson, Janny Wurts, LE Modesitt Jr and Brandon Sanderson. Listening to the Writing Excuses podcast often inspires me to look at my work from different angles and has led to some really interesting changes.
What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?
At first, I’ll usually try working on something else, writing a short story or creative non-fiction piece that day. If I’m really struggling, I might take a day or two away from my computer, read some fiction and go for a lot of walks. I always find my groove again, sometimes at really inopportune moments, like while I’m cooking dinner, or settling down to sleep.
Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?
My favourite part is the initial discovery of the story; the joy that comes when it’s all flowing well. I don’t really have any parts that I dread, though cutting words can be tricky. I am nervous about getting my first professional edits, does that count?
What is your number one distraction?
My kids. I have two daughters, aged ten and two, and they like to keep me busy and away from my computer. Occasionally Twitter.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Tea or coffee?
What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?
1 – I don’t need external validation. I am a writer because I write, not because anyone else says I am.
2 – It’s important to have a publisher who’s excited about your work.
3 – There are always extra words to cut
What’s your favourite quote on writing?
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
-Stephen King, On Writing
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
It’s your story. Listen, take advice if you like, but remember that it’s your story. Tell it how you like.
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