Today, I am delighted to welcome author, Ellie Raine, to Roberta Writes for Day 2 of her Willow of Ashes blog tour with WordCrafter Book Tours.
You can read Day 1 here: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/03/08/welcome-to-the-willow-of-ashes-book-blog-tour/
Q & A with author Ellie Raine
What attracted you to writing fantasy?
I’ve always been into dragons and magic and gallant knights. My family is very strictly sci-fi/Fantasy readers, so I guess I just grew up surrounded by it. The first “long book” I ever finished to completion was The Dragon and the George, and after that it was The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Hogfather, Mort, Reaper Man, Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, Artemis Fowl… and the list just kept getting bigger.
But truth be told, I never considered being a writer. I guess I did win some kind of writing award in middle school, but I had only entered it because my parents pushed me to actually “finish something” for once, so even though I’d received the highest possible award for it in the whole school, I didn’t really care. I just wasn’t ready to embrace it, I guess. My Language Arts teachers hated me all throughout primary, middle, and high school. I was dyslexic, a slow reader, had an awful memory, and was always the worst of the class. Nothing they did could get me to pay attention for more than two minutes. I didn’t understand metaphors until I was nineteen, and even now, there are so many idioms I had no idea existed–and yet everyone else seems to know about them. My actual positive experience with writing didn’t happen until my first year of college at the Art Institute of Atlanta.
For some background, I was majorly into manga and video games, and was dead set on being a video game designer. The story for the NecroSeam Chronicles was originally going to be for a game I’d always dreamed of creating. But I’m a sub-par artist, honestly, so my “vision” of the characters and scenery could never quite be captured by my unsteady hands, so when I took a creative writing course for some extra elective credits, I twisted the story a little to fit a “book format” (at the time, I thought it would make it easier on me to throw them in a high school and see what would happen), then wrote one chapter at a time every week for a grade. It was extremely different than what it is today, mostly because I hadn’t taken it seriously at first and just made the simplest setting I could think of so I could focus on my other class projects. I won’t lie, it was horrendously stupid.
But WOW, was it fun. I had never, never, gotten such a rush of energy as I did with writing that way. Art was fun, sure, but I could never get the image in my head out onto the page, not like I could with writing. With writing, I realized I had no limits. I could do anything that came to mind, immediately, in vivid detail, without the extreme pain of standing up for hours on end, hunched over a canvas as my hands cramped up to the point of needing supportive braces, drawing the exact same thing over and over and over again yet ultimately failing to get the image I wanted. I just had so many thoughts crammed into my brain that wanted to get out, but I lacked the skill and motivation to do it with art. After that class, I switched schools and majors, and I haven’t stopped writing since then.
What are the other titles in this series? Tell me a bit about them?
After Willow of Ashes, the other titles are Orbs of Azure, Pearl of Emerald, Phoenix of Scarlet, and Blossom of Gold.
For the record, each title represents an ancient Relic found in the five kingdoms of Nirus (the world from the series). These Relics play a major role in NecroSeam, and since the story is an overarching epic journey through all the realms (and consequently, the Relics), it just made sense to name each book after them. Essentially, NecroSeam as a whole is all about accepting change. I’m pagan, and the themes of Death found in most mythology (especially Persephone’s representation of change) have always been a point of interest for me, so I wanted to create a story that focused on what they represented, and it ultimately helped me sort through my own mental health journey. You’ll see a lot of themes nodding to various mythologies about Death throughout the series, but alongside this, the further along you read, you’ll start to see other themes from other pantheons that seem familiar, but are twisted to fit the world of Nirus and its various kingdoms. Overall, it’s a fun adventure that hopefully teaches some deep lessons along the way.
Who is your favourite character in this series?
Xavier and Willow, honestly. You really can’t separate them. The story started with them, and their story ultimately inspired me to pursue the tale in the first place. Without them, there would be no story. A necromancer knight who falls for a warrior-princess of Death, only to have his soul ripped out of his body and sewn into his twin and journeys to find his body and come back to her? I had way too many vivid dreams of those two, they can’t not be my favorite.
Your covers are very eye catching – Do you have them designed? Do you give much input into their creation
We did have these current covers designed by Fiona Jayde. Our input for them was finding stock images we thought would represent Willow well (she recommended making her the cover focus alone for all the books to make it clear they were part of the same series) and let Fiona do her magic on them. The scythe shown is actually a real prop I made for cosplay, we asked her to put them in the covers and sprinkle some epic magic on the blade. She did a fantastic job, too.
What are your goals as a writer over the next few years?
I have way too many goals to list. I can never keep track of all the ideas I have for various projects, some not even for writing. I just finished making Oracle Cards and additional lore for the NecroSeam Chronicles (I have those up for preorder in the NecroSeam store now), last year I finished a children’s illustration book, I have about 5 stories I hope to write this year (2 short stories, 2 novels, 1 novella) but I have no idea if I’ll finish them by the end of the year. COVID means no daycare or babysitters, which means I’m watching a 2-year-old full time, so every other project is slow going. But I’d rather chip slowly at something than not at all, and I for sure would rather not put my daughter into daycare during a pandemic, so I’ll take what I can get at this point.
As for farther down the road, I’m very excited to dig into a middle grade series I’ve been planning for ages that takes place in the NecroSeam world, but in an earlier time period with a different cast of characters. And I guess I should probably get around to writing a sequel for Nightingale that everyone keeps badgering me about.
How are you planning to achieve these goals?
Slowly. Very, very slowly. The pandemic has done quite a number on my anxiety (and everyone’s overall mental health) and it’s been a struggle to not panic about “finishing everything at the same time immediately”. Anything I do fast is usually not good. Professional quality takes time for me. I’m going to go one project at a time, as long as it takes.
Willow of Ashes – The blurb
A necromancer knight. A warrior-princess of Grim. Two destined souls torn apart by death—and one epic adventure awaiting them both.
As younglings, Xavier and Willow promised to wed once they came of age, but when Xavier’s spirit is ripped out of his body and sewn into his twin brother, everything changes.
It’s been six long years since Xavier became trapped inside his necromancer brother. Every night, Xavier dreams of his traumatic past, remembering the yellow-eyed assassin who dangled him over a cliffside as he fought for his life—and the life of his ashen-haired fiancée. Now, as the twins’ final test for knighthood draws near, Xavier and his brother set out on an unforgettable journey to the surface realm of Everland to find Xavier’s true form, meeting new friends and crossing new lands on an epic quest of adventure.
But when he and his brother are targeted by a demon queen and her undead horde, the twins ally with a mysterious lady Reaper named Lilli in the midst of battle and they work together to fend off the demon threat, but being horribly outnumbered, will it be enough?
And will Xavier’s secret existence be revealed when Lilli tells him his beloved Death Princess has come to the surface to find him?
“One of the most fascinating universes I have ever encountered… rich, mysterious, inviting and frightening at the same time. You will want to visit it again and again.” ~Readers’ Favorite Review
Purchase Willow of Ashes
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Libro.fm: Libro.fm | Willow of Ashes Audiobook
About Ellie Raine
Award-winning fantasy author and Amazon best-seller, Ellie Raine, is a voracious BookWyrm when it comes to epic adventures, detailed world-building, and thrilling battles. Since it’s what she loves to read (Brandon Sanderson, Douglas Hulick, and Rachel Aaron especially!) obviously it’s what she loves to write.
She grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, where her family raised her right with a healthy upbringing surrounded by fantasy books, comics, and video games. Her award-winning Adventure Fantasy pentalogy, the NecroSeam Chronicles, was inspired by her favorite fable: the Grim Reaper. It was originally intended to be a video game, but she found the book adaptation to be far more fulfilling and exciting. Her first book in the series, Willow of Ashes, has won multiple awards in 2019, including first place in Fantasy for Writer’s Digest, and another fantasy award for Readers’ Favorite. In 2020, the series finale, Blossom of Gold, was also awarded a silver medal in fantasy for Readers’ Favorite. Her other works include a supernatural detective noir, Nightingale, published with Pro Se Productions in 2018.
Ellie Raine is currently working on several other fantastical projects and only emerges from the depths of her daring tales when she is summoned by her loving king and their darling daughter: the Dragon Princess Felicity.