The following is an interview with writer Aurora Ascher on the upcoming release of Sanctuary of the Shadow, the first novel in her epic fantasy series through Red Tower Books In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Ascher about her creative process in bringing the story and characters to life on the page, what she hopes that readers may take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Sanctuary of the Shadow! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Aurora Ascher: The Elemental Emergence series takes place in a magical world full of conflict and romance. Due to years of feuding between the five immortal queens, there’s a long history of conflict between humans and Elementals—the queens’ magic-infused bloodlines. Elementals have become outcasts from society, though a few have found a safe place to belong in Salizar’s traveling circus, and this is where Sanctuary of the Shadow takes place.
After losing her family at a young age, Harrow works as a fortune teller, hiding her true identity from all to protect herself. When she meets an alluring and dangerous addition to the circus, her world is turned upside down. He has no memories of his life and personality besides violent inclinations, and he appears to be the very thing she should be hiding from, but her instincts say otherwise…
I was originally inspired to write fantasy so that I could create a world without limitations. Of course, I soon found out that fantasy needs as many rules as real life! The world building became a super-fun experience, where I could make the setting relatable to real people and yet full of magic and mystery. Telling a story of love and forgiveness feels especially important in today’s world, and I loved weaving this tale of two broken souls overcoming their pasts and becoming whole again together.
BD: This first book in the series deftly combines dark and atmospheric fantasy with truly well-rounded and three-dimensional characters (and monsters!). What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing this world and characters to life on the page?
AA: I’m always most inspired by my characters. Harrow and Raith were well formed in my mind long before the other finer details, and they guided me to accurately portray the rest of their world. I have always had a soft spot for the misunderstood characters who are perceived as unlovable by others, and Raith fits the bill perfectly.
My creative process varies from book to book, but, generally, I tend to allow my characters to guide the story rather than plotting the entire thing from start to finish. Sometimes, they surprise me with a twist I didn’t see coming!
As an avid lover of the romance genre, the “Happily Ever After” is incredibly important to me. The higher the stakes and greater the conflict that stands between the characters, the more satisfying the conclusion. I think this theme is behind all my writing and plays a huge part in how I structure my novels.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Harrow’s story will connect with and impact readers?
AA: Harrow’s journey is, at its heart, a story of forgiveness. She has lost so much and has so many reasons to be hateful, but because of the nature of her elemental magic, she is intuitive and compassionate, and she has learned to always trust her instincts. Yet even she finds herself caught up in the preconceptions of others.
Ultimately, this is a story of a woman finding her way back to her inner strength and deciding for herself what is true. I think we can all find something to relate to in that!
BD: What makes Red Tower Books the perfect home for Sanctuary of the Shadow?
AA: Red Tower is an amazing team, and it’s been such a joy working with them. I will always be especially grateful to my editor, Molly Majumder, for the work we did together on this book.
The cover art and packaging for Sanctuary has absolutely blown me away—I swear I’ve never seen a more beautiful book!—and it’s been such an honor to be part of the growing hype for the romantasy genre, which has always been incredible and deserves the recognition it’s getting.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AA: After spending a lot of energy in 2023 getting Sanctuary ready for release, I’m now currently writing the sixth book in my paranormal romance series, which has been a long time coming. I will also soon be working on book two in the Elemental Emergence series, which I’m super excited about. I can’t wait to dive in!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Sanctuary of the Shadow?
AA: If you join my mailing list, I send out updates once or twice a month, including details about upcoming releases and excerpts from works in progress. I’m active on social media, and I always love to chat with readers. I also have a Patreon for behind-the-scenes short stories and art.
There are links to everything on my website: www.auroraascher.com