My name is Sarah Ashwood, and I’m a stay at home wife, mom, writer, runner, college student, and homeschooling teacher. I will graduate from American Military University this summer with a degree in English, and I like to keep busy! (In case you couldn’t tell.)
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest published book is Aerisia: Field of Battle, the concluding volume of the Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy. The idea of this trilogy is that a young college student, Hannah Winters, is taken unexpectedly from Earth to the parallel world of Aerisia—the land beyond Earth’s sunsets. Here, she’s told she is the Artan, a long prophesied heroine who must save Aerisia from the Dark Powers. Long story short, Hannah initially resists the idea, but the longer she stays in Aerisia the more she begins to discover herself, her resilience, her magic…and love.
Aerisia: Field of Battle, is the conclusion of Hannah’s long journey from girl to woman, college student to Artan. It is an epic battle of good against evil, Hannah Winters against the Dark Powers, and the stunning aftermath that holds devastating consequences for all of Aerisia. Furthermore, it is the wrapping up of a romance between Hannah and Lord Ilgard, the High-Chief of the Simathe, a band of mysterious, immortal warriors. Aerisia: Field of Battle is actually my favorite book in the trilogy, because it is the conclusion of a love story that’s been a long time in the making.
What do you have coming out in the future?
Right now, I’m in talks with a publisher for a fairytale romance novella (fingers crossed). I don’t know what will happen on that end, but my next release will be an updated version of Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset, the first book in my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy. We had so much reader feedback asking for more of Hannah’s backstory before she was taken to Aerisia, that my publisher and I decided to go back and add it in. There are a few other changes too, including cleaning up a sprinkling of editorial errors. That being said, I’m very excited for the re-release of Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset. Hopefully, it will be coming out in a couple of months!
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
The two genres I enjoy the most are fantasy and historical fiction. I love history, I am obsessed with history, but I’m also obsessed with speculative fiction. The cool thing about fantasy is I can combine these two loves into one. The cool thing about historical fiction is I can revisit fascinating times, peoples, and places of the past.
Here in Aerisia, Hannah is believed to be the Artan, a legendary heroine prophesied to deliver Aerisia from the Dark Powers. Plenty of people, including the Simathe, a race of immortal warriors, and the Moonkind, people of the Moon, are willing to help her discover her true identity, but Hannah’s just an ordinary girl from Earth. She doesn't have any latent magical abilities and she’s not the Artan. However, her allies aren't seeing it that way. Neither are her enemies. In fact, Hannah’s life is in jeopardy nearly from the moment she arrives in Aerisia. And becoming the Artan may be the only way to survive…
I get inspiration from the world around me. From nature, friends, family, strangers, music, art, world events, books (including historical works), poetry…even running! The cool thing about inspiration is, you never know when it will strike.
What authors inspire your writing?
Some major influences would be Zane Grey (which sounds weird since he wrote westerns; however, my favorite character in his books, the frontiersman, Lewis Wetzel, definitely had an impact on the formation of the Simathe race), Linda Chaikin, C. Greenwood, Julie Kagawa, and Tolkien, to name a few.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I am a fairly eclectic reader. I enjoy history, theology, fantasy, fairytales, historical fiction, young adult fiction, and even a smattering of science fiction. I don’t stick with any particular genre, and I’m usually reading several books at once. Takes me a while to get through them, but that’s also because I don’t have as much time to read as I used to.
Fitness and running are two of my other major interests. I try to workout or run at least 5-6 days a week. Without that “me time,” that stress relief, I would probably go crazy from trying to cram so much into every day.
Do you read the genre you write for or do you prefer other genres?
I definitely read the genres I write. In fact, a love of fairytales from the time I was a child helped mold and shape my love of fantasy and speculative fiction. When I was very young I enjoyed reading huge collections of fairytales gathered from around the world. Elements of these stories have stuck with me ever since.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Finding time to write when my kids aren’t in my hair! Usually this is during their naptime or after they’ve gone to bed. I have two boys who really keep me hopping.
The creativity, I think. I am never out of storylines. Usually there are multiple stories constantly running through my mind.
Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
I think Ilgard, the Simathe High-Chief, is my favorite. I admire his stoicism. Plus, he was my first literary love interest—or, the first one I wrote. I will always have a soft spot for him.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
When I began working on my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy and my passion to keep writing, to tell this story, to finish this series, never gave out. By the time I’d finished, over a year after starting, I knew being a writer was one of my goals in life.