S.L. comes to Worldhoppers Guild with a wonderful Arthurian High Fantasy series, Shadows Of A Phoenix. She introduces us to her protagonists through an excerpt from her debut novel, From The Ashes. Enjoy the Q&A as much as I did and check out S.L.’s featured author page.
Ryan: S.L., thank you so much for joining us! It’s been a great week bringing your world from the Shadows of a Phoenix series to our readers. I’ve received feedback from several of them about how much they enjoyed it. For those who haven’t checked it out, can you spend a minute or two framing the first story, From the Ashes, for them?
S.L.: When David and his brother-at-arms, Andrew, were commanded by their Grandmaster to protect the fiery and stubborn Sorceress, Arread, they believed the task was beneath them. Little did they know that an ancient prophecy tied the three of them together – one hinged on the survival of Light in its centuries-long, bloody, battles against the Dark.
Soon, David finds himself wanting to protect Arread for reasons that go beyond his duty as a Phoenix Knight. To put anyone above his job is strictly forbidden, but he can’t help being drawn to her strength and the wildness of her spirit.
With the power Arread possesses, the Dark Lord will stop at nothing to taint her magick and bring down the Light once and for all.
But he has to catch her first.
Will David and Andrew be able to stop Sicarus from turning Arread? Will David lose the woman he loves to an Order where sharing a heart is forbidden? Is Arread really as powerful as everyone presumes? This memorable fantasy series that features appearances by Arthur and Merlin in a medieval story of survival, sorcery, mystery and the heavy burden of a Prophecy.
Ryan: In your excerpt we are introduced to Elowen, a maiden running for her life. She is saved by the gruff, non-stereotypical former Knight David who immediately spats on fairytales. That intro is a powerful setup for the readers to expect something out of the norms for Arthurian lore stories. What else can you promise your readers to expect? Not only From The Ashes, but also from the series as a whole
S.L.: I think the best answer I can give to this question, without giving too much away, is nothing is ever as it seems. You may believe you know a character, but can things ever be that straight-forward?
Ryan: Writing is hard (an obvious statement to anyone who has attempted it with seriousness). You share an inspiring, and very personal note on your website, about how much of your writing is influenced by your late husband, with whom you drafted the Shadows of a Phoenix series with. That’s both powerful and inspirational for readers and writers alike.
You’re hope is by sharing your story it may inspire others (widowers and others alike) towards chasing and not giving up on their dreams. I’ve spoken with many authors and entrepreneurs about their difficulties and how hard it can be, especially in the early portions of a passion project. In a world that is busy, expensive, cruel, and even chaotic… what advice can you offer about a pursuit that is filled with high-highs and low-lows?
S.L.: Although Shadows of a Phoenix is not about widowhood, there is unlined message throughout. To believe in yourself. The world around us can be very cruel at times, and it is so easy to focus on the bad, but there is also good, no matter how small you see it. If something bad happens, be a survivor, not a victim. Remember, many trees shred their leaves each year only to grow fresh new ones the next, whilst still keeping their roots firmly in the ground.
Ryan: My first love in speculative fiction is high / epic fantasy. Is it safe to assume that to be true for you as well? IF you were to write outside of that genre, where you go next? Are you secretly a sci-fi fanatic? Horror obsessed? Or would you go in a completely other direction?
S.L.: That’s a hard question. As with you, my first love is high / epic fantasy, but I do like a bit of sci-fi now and again. Who doesn’t? lol
Ryan: I’m going to end this Q&A with the most American thing ever – You talk a lot of exploring the English countryside, finding inspiration from the landscape and ancient lore. What was it first like to lay your eyes on Stonehenge? Did you find inspiration from that amazing, touristy, wonder of the world? Did you think the idea is overdone by the media?
S.L.: Stonehenge is a marvel to see and cherished throughout the UK, but I do think it is overdone by the media. Throughout the whole of the UK, there are ancient sites and monuments that sometimes are overlooked by oversea tourists, i.e, sites of Saxon hill forts, ruins of ancient castles, many of which cost nothing to visit. Also, one thing that may surprise people about the UK is that Stonehenge is just one of the ancient rings of stones we have here. We have some in Avebury, Castlerigg and Swinside in Cumbria, the Merry Maidens in Cornwall, to name. If you are ever in the UK, go check them out.
Ryan: I’ve spent a small amount of time in Europe, but no time in England. The landscapes and sceneries are gorgeous. Do you have afavorite spot? One particularly that inspired Shadows of a Phoenix or your love for Arthurian lore?
S.L.: I adore Cornwall. I am actually quite lucky because my parents live there so it gives me the opportunity to visit the beautiful country quite often, but I equally adore Wales. It is such a stunning part of the UK with mountains, waterfalls, coastlines and deep, enchanting forests. A true diamond and place that has Shadows of a Phoenix written all over it.