Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Charlotte Ashe for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: The King & The Criminal
Author: Charlotte Ashe
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Sarah Sanderson
Genre: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance
Release Date: 12/08/2016
The Heart of All Worlds series continues with Sehrys and Brieden living in Khryslee. But when King Firae is trapped by an ancient pact and Sehrys is forced to rule in his absence, Firae relys on an exiled criminal to get home. Meanwhile, a more urgent truth confronts them: Their world is in grave danger and they all play a part in its fate.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Charlotte Ashe, author of The Heart of All Worlds Book 2: The King and the Criminal.
Hi Charlotte, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Thank you so much for having me! I have been writing for most of my life, and The King and the Criminal is my second published novel. I’m an avid fan of speculative fiction, as well as books featuring LGBTQ characters, and I love writing books that are both. The King and the Criminal is the second book in The Heart of All Worlds trilogy, and it is about the begrudging alliance between a sidhe king and a criminal he seeks to apprehend, in the face of a prophecy and an ancient spell that could change their world forever.
What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your writing?
Honestly, I have received so much kind feedback, I’m not sure how to isolate one thing as the absolute nicest. Someone once called my writing “lush and satisfying”, which I consider pretty high praise, and someone else told me, about my first book, that “this is the fantasy novel I’ve been waiting my whole life to read.” That absolutely blew me away. It means a lot to know that folks are getting genuine enjoyment from my work.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that impact your writing?
I am a part-time writer right now. I have a great day job working with homeless teens, which I love, but I’ve been doing it for close to a decade now and I would certainly welcome the opportunity to switch gears to a full time writing career should it arise. The main impact of writing part-time is that it can be very challenging to go home and write after a difficult and often emotionally draining day, and I never feel like I have quite enough time to write. But regardless of what the future brings, I am grateful to be able to write books and share them with the world, whether or not it ever becomes my full time occupation.
What interested you about the theme of this book?
I am a big fan of taking traditional stories and tropes and examining them through a different lens. A major theme in The King and the Criminal and, to a degree, in The Heart of All Worlds in general, is that of navigating relationships between people of different social classes and from essentially different worlds. The “royal and the commoner” trope is by no means a new one, but set within the social structure of the sidhe culture in my books, it takes on some very different aspects. It’s all about acknowledging and navigating inequality, and sharing power, which permeates not just the two major relationships in the book (Sehrys/Brieden and Tash/Firae), but also the relationship between Firae, a sidhe king in a matriarchal society, and Brissa, a human queen in a patriarchal society.
What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Structuring the story is the most difficult part by far. World-building and creating characters comes fairly easily to me, as does a sense of the overall story and some key plot points, but plotting out a whole story arc is much more of a challenge. I went through probably six or seven revised outlines in the course of writing The King and the Criminal before it all came together. Crafting the story feels like a collaborative process between me and my characters, and the characters often decide they want to go in a different direction from what I have planned, so I have to stop and re-assess a lot while I write. It can be frustrating, but I ultimately think it makes my work better, as I don’t get stuck on one specific path toward a planned outcome. I’ve also gotten very good at killing my darlings, and that has made things much less difficult.
Name your four most important food groups.
This one is easy! For me it is the chocolate group, the nut/nut butter group, the fermented/pickled things group, and the vegetarian Pad Thai group. Yes, Pad Thai gets its own group. I love it that much.
“Do not rush into this battle,” Tash hissed, grasping Firae’s shoulders and turning him so that their eyes met dead-on. Firae’s eyes flashed, and he opened his mouth to retort, but Tash pressed on: “Listen to me first. Please, Firae. I know that you have spent many years commanding your own warriors, but the humans are different. If they capture you, you will be weakened beyond any capacity to fight back or escape.”
Firae scoffed. Tash gritted his teeth and gripped Firae’s shoulders tighter. “We are in no position to accommodate your ego, Your Majesty,” he snapped. “These men have iron swords, Firae. Iron chains. Possibly arrows soaked in verbena tincture. We do not know whether or not they know there are sidhe here, but there is every chance that they may be prepared for us.”
Firae sighed and rolled his eyes. “Very well, then, I shall be careful. Is that all?”
“Nearly. If you see chains, melt them. If you see swords, melt them. Any metal at all—do not hesitate to destroy it, and assume all of it has the ability to render us powerless. You are able to compel?”
Firae looked as if he very much wanted to chastise Tash for his impertinence, but he nodded. “Yes, but it is one of my weaker powers; I cannot compel more than one mind at a time, possibly two.”
“That is still enough to constitute a threat. Use it. Use everything at your disposal. If the House of Keshell loses this battle—”
“They shall not lose,” Firae said. His eyes blazed with fire the color of dark wine. “We shall not lose, Tash.”
“No, we shall not.” Tash agreed and felt his own power stir at the thought of battle, felt the flash and glow of fire in his own eyes. A jolt of shared power shot through them, and Tash gasped at the sensation and quickly released Firae’s arms.
Quiet as cats, the two sidhe crept through the forest along the edge of the path that lead back to the village. They emerged from the woods at the edge of the village. The heat from a burning cottage gave off enough heat to make the air ripple like water around them.
Tash walked toward the fire, breathing slow and deep and letting the heat and crackle of the fire seep into his skin, his bones, the very core of his physical self. He knew that Firae was doing the same just behind him. The air around them cooled as they absorbed the energy. His nerves were on edge at the saturation of power flowing into him.
No sidhe would be foolish enough to cause a fire in the heat of battle. The fire of violence, of willful destruction, of attack had a specific flavor and power. It was not the same as drawing energy from a hearth or from a celebratory bonfire or even from an accidental forest fire. The presence of violent fire only strengthened the power of fire-wielding sidhe. When Tash turned to catch Firae’s eyes, they blazed so brightly that they would have been visible in the blackness of a moonless night.
They didn’t need words. The energy thrummed through them and guided them as if laying out a visible path.
Take us to the queen, Tash commanded silently; his heart throbbed with heat. Guide us in battle against the enemy.
The fire listened.
Into the night they ran, dodging the sounds of battle around them, weaving their way through the damp grass toward the palace gates.
About the Author
Charlotte Ashe works in the nonprofit world by day and writes romantic fantasy by night. A long-time fan of speculative fiction that skews feminist and features LGBT characters, Charlotte loves writing stories that are sexy, heartfelt, and full of magic and adventure. She has put her BA in literature and creative writing to use over the years as a writer of fan fiction, and her most popular work has drawn more than one million readers worldwide, been translated into several languages, and been featured in online publications including The Backlot. Her first novel, The Sidhe, was published in 2015 by Interlude Press and named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.
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