Today we’re 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! I’m very happy to be here! I have been writing since I was a kid, and being a writer was was always my dream, but it is only recently that I have seriously pursued it. My first novel, The Heart of All Worlds, Book 1: The Sidhe was published in 2015, and The King and the Criminal is the second book in the series. It is a love story at its heart, about an elfin king’s uneasy alliance with a criminal he was supposed to bring to justice.
1) What’s the easiest thing about writing?
For me it is definitely the world building. I love just letting my imagination wander, asking myself the why and the how of everything in the worlds I create, and exploring the ways that culture informs and shapes reality. I love high fantasy, because it really can be a blank slate, and nothing about the world is a given. World building is nearly effortless for me–it’s the stories themselves that are more challenging.
2) Name one author (living or dead) you’d like to write with?
That is so hard! What a great question. Though there are a lot of runners-up, if I could literally pick anyone, it would have to be Ursula K. LeGuin. Discovering her books when I was younger quite literally saved my life, and opened my eyes to what was possible to achieve through speculative fiction. She identifies the power of cultural conventions and norms and how they can shape entire worlds, and is a master of creating powerful, fully realized stories from the what-if: “what if society encouraged introversion rather than extroversion?” “what if marriage was required to take place between four people?” “what if humans were ambisexual, with no fixed gender identity?” “what if a capitalist planet was orbited by an anarchist moon?” Her writing runs the gamut, from the ridiculous to the sublime, and it is always absolutely gorgeous and thought-provoking. My only reservation about writing with her would be that I can’t imagine a scenario in which I’d be worthy to do so.
3) Tell us about your cover and how it came about.
The cover art for both books so far in The Heart of All Worlds series is by the incredibly gifted Sarah Sanderson. Anyone who looks at the cover art can see that Sarah’s work is gorgeous, so I certainly don’t need to tell you that. One of the things I love about my publisher, Interlude Press, is that they include authors in all aspects of the book. I was in extensive contact with C.B. Messer, Interlude’s Art Director, as well as Sarah, regarding the cover. I sent various pictures of men that kind of sort of looked like my characters, with extensive notes on how my characters differed from the photographs. A huge amount of discussion went into the characters’ clothing, as well as other visual references to themes in each book; the red flowers on the cover of The Sidhe and the smoke and flames on the cover of The King and the Criminal. There is also a map in each of the books, of which I did a rough (and embarrassing) mock-up in MS Paint, and then gave to Sarah, who turned it into a work of art. I am very lucky and grateful to have such a great artistic team bring my books and my characters to life.
4) Is this book part of a series? Do you have ideas that could make it into a series? If it is a series, tell us a little about it.
The Heart of All Worlds is a trilogy. It takes place on the planet of Ullavise, in which humans and sidhe live separated by a border that limits their interaction. As the story progresses across the first two books (and into the third and final book in the series, which comes out next year), more and more is revealed about the truth of the shared history between humans and sidhe. The border that separates the two peoples is beginning to cause more problems than it ever solved, and their world is facing changes that must take place if humans and sidhe alike are to survive. My books feature love stories against the backdrop of this world, as well as plenty of action, magic, political maneuvering and constant surprises.
5) Word association. Tell us the first thing that comes to mind when you read these words:
I wish I knew how to quit you.
About the Book
What happens when the fairytale ends but the journey continues?
Book II of the Heart of All Worlds series nds Sehrys and Brieden living peacefully in Khryslee until King Firae must cross The Border in pursuit of a convicted criminal, one who has violated a magical doctrine and so threatened the stability of their world. When Firae’s plan goes awry and he becomes trapped in Villalu, he is faced with a choice between allegiance to the Council or allegiance to Brissa, the erce young human queen who is determined to bring justice to Villalu.
Firae discovers he must rely on the very criminal he was seeking to help him get home alive—a man he exiled long ago, but who awakens something in his heart more potent than his sworn duties as king.
Meanwhile, Sehrys is forced to ascend the throne in Firae’s absence, thus taking a role he was once groomed for, but one that Brieden fears could destroy their life together.
As each man struggles to understand his own destiny, devotion, and legacy, deeper and more urgent truths confront them all: Their world is in far greater danger than they realized, and each of them plays an integral part in its fate.
The Heart of All Worlds series: Book 2
It came back to Firae like a cold fist slowly squeezing his heart, so slowly that he didn’t realize it was happening until the pain was overwhelming. He swallowed. They couldn’t avoid the truth. And he couldn’t bear another dishonest moment between them.
“Five months,” Firae said.
Tash made an inquisitive noise; his eyes never left Firae’s.
“I have five months to complete my mission. I promised to help Brissa, and I intend to keep that promise, but…”
“But we don’t know if we will fulfill the prophecy in time,” Tash supplied.
“The Doctrine has been compromised. The Border is unstable.”
Tash nodded. “I know.” His voice had grown very soft.
“If I don’t return with the elf responsible…” Firae forced himself to maintain eye contact rather than close his eyes and cower in the face of reality. For, whatever Tash might think, Firae was king of Yestralekrezerche, and The Border and its surrounding lands were his responsibility. “I can sacrifice tens of thousands of lives or I can sacrifice you, Tash. I—I don’t want to, but—”
Tash closed his eyes. “I know,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper. He swallowed thickly. “I know.”
Firae searched for anything else he could say, but everything that came to mind sounded hollow. It was true that the Council might show Tash mercy for his pure intent, but the amount of blood and essence they would need from him to restabilize The Border would likely be more than his body could withstand, even if they did wish to spare him. So Firae just watched Tash until he opened his eyes again.
“I know,” Tash said one final time, looking at Firae with such resignation that it was painful to witness. And then Tash turned to face the wall with his arms wrapped tightly around himself. Firae moved to fit behind him and wrapped an arm tentatively around Tash’s waist.
“I would like you to go back to your own quarters now,” Tash said firmly.
“Tash—” Firae began to protest.
“Just go, Firae. Please.”
Firae swallowed around a lump that had found its way into his throat and slowly removed his arm. “Of course. I…” There was nothing left to say. “Goodnight, Tash.”
Tash didn’t say anything.
Charlotte Ashe works in the nonpro t world by day and writes romantic fantasy by night. A long-time fan of speculative ction 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 ction, 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 rst novel, The Sidhe, was published in 2015 by Interlude Press and named a nalist for a Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.