What happens when the fairytale ends but the journey continues?
Book II of the Heart of All Worlds series finds 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 fierce 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.
I loved that the worldbuilding continued from The Sidhe. In some ways, this is a bigger novel, as it is more concerned with the politics of ruling a nation. It also has quite a lot about different religions, which I found fascinating. The laws and spirituality of the sidhe is becomes of utmost importance in the novel. One of the most interesting aspects was that Tash, one of the protagonists, could be easily understood as transgender. I really hope that this will be explored more in book 3!
I also loved the fact that The King and the Criminal really delves into issues of class and classism. I wasn’t a huge fan of Firae at the beginning of this book (especially as he’d been one of the main conflicts between Sehrys and Brieden in The Sidhe!), but by the end he really had my heart. It is only when Tash and Firae are complete equals that their romance can blossom – and I loved that. (And once again, this romance is steamy as hell!)
I can honestly say that this is a fantastic sequel to The Sidhe (my review can be found here). I’m sure, like me, you’re going to read it, gasping all the way through.
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.
Hello, and thank you so much for having me! I’m very happy to be here!
I have been writing for about as long as I could hold a pen, and it has always been a passion of mine. In recent years, I decided it was finally time to seriously pursue 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, and his uneasy alliance with criminal he was supposed to bring to justice, but ends up caring about in a way he never anticipated.
- What is the most satisfying thing about being a writer?
At its most basic, writing is essential self-care for me: I need to write, whether or not anyone else ever sees it, for my own peace of mind, and it is immensely satisfying just to get my ideas down on paper. But there is a deeper level of satisfaction inherent in sharing my words. I would say the most satisfying thing about being a writer is the ability to develop worlds that people can escape into and characters that people care about.
- Do your characters ever take over your writing and make the story go somewhere you hadn’t originally planned?
All the time! My characters most definitely do not trust my process. They throw wrenches into it whenever they can. Luckily, I have just learned to accept it and go with the flow. I have major plot points and outcomes planned, and those usually stay intact, but everything else is completely malleable. I rewrite my outlines more times than I can count (my outlines are really more suggestions than plans anyhow), and I throw out huge chunks of writing frequently when it no longer serves the narrative. As frustrating as the process can be at times, I also really appreciate it. The act of writing better acquaints me with my characters in a way that planning and contemplating never could. I generally feel like I’m figuring out the story rather than making it up, and the feeling of oh my gods yes this is it; this is why he struggles with this particular issue! It’s so clear now! is worth its weight in gold to me as a writer, no matter how annoying it can be when my plans get derailed.
- How did you celebrate the release of your book?
When my first book came out, I had several little celebrations with friends and family. Everyone wanted to take me out for dinner and drinks, and I certainly wasn’t about to argue with that! I imagine that the same will happen with The King and the Criminal, or at least I hope so! I also bought myself a present related to writing last year: a new computer. This year I am planning to buy myself a mechanical sit/stand desk, because between my day job and my writing career, I spend way too much time sitting. It may be kind of a boring gift, but I’m really excited about it.
- How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Honestly, it was a matter of characters taking over the narrative, which, as I’ve mentioned, happens a lot with me. When I first conceived of The Sidhe, I imagined it as a stand-alone novel. But once I began writing it became clear that it was just the beginning of a much bigger story.
I became fascinated with Tash and Firae, and realized that they had major roles to play in that bigger story, that I (and my readers!) needed to get to know them better, and that they needed to find one another. And once the idea was in my head, it was there to stay.
- Have you ever written naked?
Ha ha I love this question! I wish I could say yes. I’ve written a lot in my pajamas, but unfortunately I cannot say that I’ve ever written naked. It may be a candidate for a future bucket list, though.
And finally, the Rafflecopter giveaway can be found here!
(I’m also using this as my ‘free space’ in the diversity december bingo!)