Interview: fantasy debut author Ashley Steffenson

Hello book dragons! How was your September? Did you read many books? I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish a single book in September because I was focusing on my revisions for The Solitary King. It’s coming along nicely and will be off to beta readers in October and my editor in November, and I’ve really enjoyed being immersed in the Fair Realm again!

Today, I’ve got a really exciting interview to share with you. Ashley Steffenson is one of the incredible authors that I’m collaborating with on Enchanted Forests, the follow up to Enchanted Waters, as well as Once Upon a Name! I’m so excited to have my name on two beautiful covers with Ashley, and I can’t wait to introduce you to her.

So, without further ado…

Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Ashley and I currently write under my married name – Ashley Steffenson. I’m a born and raised California girl turned Southern. My husband (a 50% Irish hottie – swoon!) and I moved to South Louisiana about a year ago and we are LOVING it. I received my BA in Intercultural Studies from William Jessup University, and am now working as a Librarian Page at our local library. I also have a small candle-making business on the side called Estellian Treasures, originally inspired by my debut novel. We have three wily cats – Ember, Milo, and Piper – and we are expecting a third tiny human heart in the family in April 2022.

Oh, congratulations Ashley! What an exciting adventure you’re about to begin, I’m so happy for you! Can you tell us when you started writing and what inspired you?

Funnily enough I haven’t always been a writer. My passion for writing began 3 years ago when I started a new job at a jewelry shop as a saleswoman. I hated that job, but I loved learning about gemstones. That led me to the birth of ‘Estellia’, my debut novel. Furthermore, Adrienne Young (an ah-may-zing YA writer) also indirectly inspired me. Now I’m beyond blessed to be a part of Enchanted Forests with all these incredible award-winning, and up-and-coming authors!

That’s so interesting, I can totally see how learning about gemstones could be the inspiration for a fantasy novel. I love world building, personally, and one of the things I did when I was creating the world for The Fair Queen was to choose gemstones that symbolised each of the five different types of Fair. OK, I’ll pick your brain about gemstones later! What are your favourite books or your favourite genre?

Favorite genre would definitely have to be Fantasy/High Fantasy/Sci-Fi. And I have too many favorite books! A few of my favorite authors include J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and George MacDonald (originally known as the ‘master of the fairytale’). Joseph Campbell is pretty awesome too. I listened to The Hero with a Thousand Faces on audio three times and still didn’t understand all of it lol. He’s a philosophical mastermind!

Those are some of the greats right there! I love high fantasy and portal fantasy, and I’m so excited to read your upcoming debut novel, can you tell us a little about it?

Estellia is now officially ready for preorder on Amazon! Click here to read the blurb and get your copy.

My short story ‘A Lesson in Refinement’ will also be coming out in another anthology titled Once Upon A Name in 2022.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Once Upon a Name! It’s such a cool project and I’m really glad we’re working together on it, along with eighteen other awesome authors! Where do you find inspiration for your stories? 

Oh I 100% go to Pinterest and type in all sorts of fantasy creatures/places and if a picture speaks to me then I base my characters/story on that!

Also, I’m blessed to have an amazingly talented artist for a cousin who can help bring my characters to life based on my descriptions. You will be able to see some of her artwork in my debut novel!

Oh you’re so lucky, I love character art and illustrations in books, that’s one of my favourite things about the Enchanted Anthologies. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

I use the ‘Save the Cat’ Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, but sometimes my characters take the reins and the story goes in a different direction lol. So I’d say I’m a plantser. Guess that’s what happens when you have such headstrong characters! 

I’m exactly the same, I love a strong, detailed outline to keep me writing and on the right track, but I also like a little wiggle room for those pesky characters to have their say! What are you working on right now?

Final edits for Estellia, beta reads/editing for Once Upon a Name, and I need to start plotting out my story for Enchanted Forests. Also working on a book review for the library on Enchanted Waters which will eventually be posted on our Staff Picks webpage at lafourche.org

You’ve got some really exciting projects on the go, I can’t wait to read them all! Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Ashley, it’s been lovely. Before I let you go, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Don’t give up. Be patient with yourself, and with what life throws at you along the way. Enjoy the journey of creating a masterpiece and be proud of your work. You wrote a freaking NOVEL for heaven’s sake! That’s something to be proud of.

Don’t rush yourself. George R.R. Martin has been writing for over 20 years. And J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t finish his books overnight. You got this. And KEEP WRITING. No matter what it is, always try to write something each day. Even if it’s a simple journal entry. And never stop reading.

Yes to all of this! We should all be so incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved by persevering and finishing an entire story, whether it’s a short story, novella or full-length novel. Not many people do it and it’s a hugely impressive achievement.

How can we find out more about you and your books? 

Instagram: @authorashleyanne

Facebook page/group:  Writerly Adventures in Estellia and Beyond

Other: @estellian.treasures

Amazon: Buy Estellia now!


How incredible is Ashley? If you’re a writer I really hope you found her advice helpful, because she’s absolutely right! And if you like the sound of Ashley’s debut novel, Estellia, or our upcoming anthologies Enchanted Forests and Once Upon a Name, then you can preorder them on Amazon right now!

Happy reading,

Lyndsey

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Feathers of Blood release giveaway! Win SEVEN fantasy paperbacks

It’s the day you’ve all been waiting for! (OK, I’VE been waiting for, but hopefully you’re excited too.) It’s Feathers of Blood release day!

To celebrate, the absolutely fabulous author, Alice Ivinya, has joined together with some other incredible fantasy authors to host a huge giveaway.

Click here or on the image to enter this fabulous giveaway and be in with a chance of winning these SEVEN paperbacks, worth over $75! (UK, US and Canada only.)

Prizes include:

The giveaway will close on 22 October, so get your entries in quick. All you have to do is enter your email address, but you can get extra entries by following the authors on social media, checking out Alice’s books on Amazon or sharing the giveaway with your fantasy-loving friends by email.

And don’t forget to buy your copy of Feathers of Blood, Kingdom of Birds and Beasts #2!

How gorgeous is that cover??

Need a refresher of book one, Feathers of Snow, before you dive into the new book? You’re in luck! Click here to read Alice’s recap and find out more about books two and three.

I’ll be sharing my reviews of Feather of Snow and Feathers of Blood soon, so keep an eye out!

Lyndsey

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Kingdom of Birds and Beasts by Alice Ivinya refresher!

Hello friends and foes, I hope you’re excited because today I’ve got a real treat for you: a little refresher for Feathers of Snow, Kingdom of Birds and Beasts #1 by Alice Ivinya, before the release of book two, Feathers of Blood, on 6 Oct!

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, if you haven’t read the first book yet, click here to go to Amazon and read the official blurb instead.

Still with me? Here we go…

Feathers of Snow

In Brianna’s new world of ice and snow, the coldest things by far

are the eyes of her betrothed…


The second book in the Kingdom of Birds and Beasts trilogy, Feathers of Blood, is coming out on the 6th October 2021!

Has it been a while since you read Feathers of Snow? If so, here is a handy recap of the events of book one!

Please don’t read any further if you are yet to read Feathers of Snow, as this synopsis contains spoilers.


Brianna is lady-in-waiting to the vain and cruel Princess Elyanna in the country of Sybera. She has been serving her since she was six years old.

When they were twelve, Elyanna locked Brianna in a barrel for several hours. Since then, Brianna has suffered from nightmares, flashbacks and a habit of buckling under pressure. She also struggles to breathe in small, dark spaces. Brianna has never told anyone what happened, though Queen Geraldina knows.

Princess Elyanna hears the news that she has been betrothed to Prince Jian, the second son of the Borderland King and Queen. This marriage has been arranged so that Sybera can access the Borderland’s military might to defend against the growing threat of Killamore to the south.

However Princess Elyanna and her mother, Queen Geraldina, decide to send Brianna in her stead as they fear for Elyanna’s safety. The two look very similar as they both have the same ancient bloodline. They both have white hair and are tall. The blood in their veins can be traced back to the old tribe of Thurm’ban. This was a tribe of an ancient race of humans and giant birds.

Queen Geraldina threatens to kill Brianna’s family by blaming them for the recent loss of life in their province due to flooding. Brianna sees no choice but to go along with the plan.

Elyanna travels to the Winter Palace in Sybera where she plans to spend the rest of her days masquerading as one of her many cousins.

Brianna travels to Stonekeep, the capital of the Borderlands, disguised as Princess Elyanna against her will and has only one guard stay with her, Jeremiah, who is not even a full knight. She travels with her oldest and best friend, a Spirit-Horse named Falada. Because they are bonded, she can hear him speak in her mind. The only other person he is bonded with is Elyanna.

Prince Jian, her betrothed, is cold and dismissive when Brianna arrives. She finds out that he wishes to focus on the Border, a mountain range and two forts to the north that holds the Spirit-Beasts at bay. He is in charge of the troops at the Eastern Fort and has been renovating the defences. He sees Brianna as an unwelcome distraction and fears attachment due to losing his sister, Feng, in the past. He suspects he will dislike Princess Elyanna.

Throughout her time in Stonekeep, Brianna hears a mysterious voice on the wind calling her true name. She has no clue who is calling her or how they know who she really is. Nobody else can hear the voice.

The people of the Borderlands seem quite paranoid about attacks to Brianna, and she adopts the tradition of always carrying her sword with her. She is assigned two more guards, Hai Rong and Cai Rong, who she gets on well with.

Prince Han, the Borderland Crown Prince, is attacked and killed while checking the villages are ready for winter, along with all of his men. Prince Jian and the King start to investigate to find the culprit.

Brianna travels with Jian to the Border to meet Tama’ha, the Spirit-Beast who is the leader of Sal’hadar’s tribe. The Spirit-Beasts of the plains. The Borderland royal family share some of this bloodline, so they have an uneasy truce. Tama’ha suggests Han was killed by Spirit-Birds and that Brianna would be the best person to discover what had happened, since she has some of Thum’ban’s blood.

Brianna and Jian start to have feelings for one another as they realize they can work as a team. Jian is taken aback by Brianna’s resilience and kind heart. Brianna finds Jian is finally a member of the nobility she can trust.

Elyanna’s soldiers are found dead near Stonekeep. There is no reason they should be in the Borderlands, and not still in Sybera, since Elyanna was meant to stay at the Winter Palace.

Falada is killed mysteriously. Brianna suspects Elyanna, and worries she will reveal her true identity, which would mean Brianna is killed for treason. Brianna tries to find her, but with no success. Elyanna appears the night of the mid winter ball and challenges Brianna to a fight..

Brianna is tired of lying and tells Jian the truth, who banishes her from Stonekeep with nothing but her guards, food and money.

Elyanna is told that Brianna has been killed for stealing her position and pretending to be the princess.

Brianna is heart broken and leaves with Hai Rong and Jeremiah, following the voice on the wind that calls her name.

The story continues in Feathers of Blood!


Feathers of Blood, coming 6 October!

Rejected by her betrothed and banished into the wilderness, Brianna finds herself broken-hearted with nowhere to turn. She wants nothing more than to be left alone.

But greater threats loom across the Border, and there are whispers of war on the breeze.

The Spirit-Beasts are coming and Brianna might be the only thing that can stand in their way and stop the massacre of a nation.

But to do this she will have to face her worst enemy, who wants nothing more than to see her dead, and, worse, the man she once loved who let her down.


Kingdom of Feathers, coming 2022!

Kingdom of Feathers, the final book in the series, is coming March 2022! Preorder it now for just £1.99 and get ready to find out how Brianna and Jian’s story will end.

Lyndsey

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