Interview with Samantha Shaye (THE FALL OF AHILON)
Samantha Shaye creates enchanting, magical worlds that leave readers wanting more. She resides in New York City with her parents, husband, and a cockapoo named Rusty. Lover of all things fantasy, Samantha has a passion for travelling, reading, and exploring the world around her. The youngest of three and an aunt to four, Samantha strives to write books that everyone in her family—and yours—can read and enjoy!
Welcome to the Hive, Samantha. Let’s start with the basics: tell us about The Fall of Ahilon – why should readers check it out?
The Fall of Ahilon is a story every reader can relate to. There is a character for everyone and a trope for everyone. There’s an intricate magic system, in depth world building, a plethora of magical creatures (elves, fae, sorcerers, orcs, animal-shifters, etc), powerful females, found family, strong friendships, hidden identity, fresh take on chosen one, slow burn sweet romance. There’s adventure and forests and safe haven towns. It’s everything every fantasy reader enjoys reading!
Give us an insight into your main character, Princess Zaure Rhistel.
Princess Zaure Rhistel (pronounced wrist-el) is an elf to be reckoned with (see what I did there, haha!). She is a relatable character for all ages because she, like most teens, wants to do so much and feels her emotions so strongly she argues more than she listens. She has overprotective parents who underestimate her but with good reason. She is strong willed, eager, and wants to do what is right. She is naïve though, and has so much to learn from her journey.
And who else can we expect to meet? Do you have a favourite child?
You will meet Torin (tor-in), a sorcerer from an island nation who is conveniently always around when Zaure is in trouble. He’s morally grey and still finding his way. He’s a secretive character and Zaure is on to him. Cagdas (cag-dis), a fae warrior who pledged her life to Ahilon, is waiting for Zaure in the sanctuary city of Rinekeep. She’s the mentor character in the novel and has been sent to protect Zaure in both body and emotion. She’s unfeeling and tough. Alrik is another important character who I set up toward the end of the book, gearing up for book two. He’s a bard and doesn’t seem all that important but just you wait! Then we have the Phashu (pa-shoo) woman who is the antagonist and nameless because…reasons.
Tell us a little something about your writing process – do you have a certain method? Do you find music helps? Give us a glimpse into your world!
My writing process is tedious. I follow a few guides I put together using resources from the creative writing courses I took in college. There’s an extensive outlining process I go through which easily comes out to 15-30 pages. Then I make character guides for every important character in the story which amounts to another 15 pages per character. The world building guide is what takes the most work and that varies vastly in page count. For The Fall of Ahilon it was 20 pages long. While I’m writing, I like to listen to music that fits the atmosphere of the scene I’m writing. For instance, there is one scene in the book where Zaure, Cagdas, and Torin are sitting in an inn, so I had some Medieval inn sounds playing in the background. I also find that sitting in my living room helps. I don’t have an actual writing space.
Speaking of worlds, what inspires your worldbuilding? Do you have a magic system/s? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
My world building is inspired by fantasy movies. It’s one thing to read about a world but another to watch it unfold. My dad loves watching fantasy movies and he always talks about the landscapes in them and how breathtaking they are. I always keep him in mind when building that part of my world. Lord of the Rings and Avatar (James Cameron’s) happen to be amongst dad’s favorite movies, so my inspiration draws from there. I do have magic systems! What’s fantasy without all the magic! The continent of Keiyora is divided into eight kingdoms which house different species in order to keep the peace among all. Each species has their own magic. Zaure, for instance, is an elf and as such she has elemental magic. In Ahilon, elves are able to summon all elements until their eighteenth birthday when one element will war with the rest and take over.
If you were transported into your own fictional world, how do you think you would fare?
I think I would do okay. The majority of the book takes place in Rinekeep which is a sanctuary city for all magical beings. I’d likely be a student at Mage Adelais’ tower.
We see such varying opinions from authors when it comes to the time of editing their books. How have you found the editing process? Enjoyable, stressful or satisfying?
I love the editing process! I have an extensive process (are you surprised given how meticulous my planning process is? haha!) that includes self-edits, critique partners, alpha readers, beta readers, and professional development editors, copy/line editors, and proofreaders! I love to see how the first draft grows from sentences like “Zaure saw the fear in their eyes” to “Zaure watched as the soldiers’ eyes grew wide with fear as they exchanged glances.”
We always appreciate a beautiful book cover! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped the artist would portray?
I am always involved in the process. My husband, bless his kind soul, is my cover designer. I follow the rules his clients follow which involves giving him my blurb, title, colors, symbols, comp titles, and book covers that caught my eye. The aesthetic for the cover was based off a dream sequence in the story and once he said my concept and aesthetic was on brand for best-selling YA high fantasy book covers, I was excited! I couldn’t have gotten a more perfect cover, though I may be a little biased, haha!
Just for fun, how would you pitch your book as a 1-star review?
A knock off Lord of the Rings trying to be Harry Potter mixed with the Last Airbender and Elder Scrolls with a splash of royalty.
Clearly I have thought about this!
Can you tell us anything about any upcoming projects? Or can you tell us a few teasers for your sequel?
I’ll do one better! I’ll give you an EXCLUSIVE! The title of the sequel to The Fall of Ahilon is The Wrath of Zaure! It is projected for a 2024 release! Readers will see Zaure’s return to Ahilon and her quest for answers.
Who are the most significant authors who have shaped and influenced your work?
As you may have guessed above, JRR Tolkein and JK Rowling are amongst the top few authors. On that list is also Melissa de la Cruz, Stephanie Garber, Alka Joshi, and Christopher Paolini. Now, I know the controversies regarding Rowling and I want to say that while I do not support her views, readers and authors alike cannot deny the masterpiece that is Harry Potter. It may be her work but it is us consumers that have put the series upon the pedestal it sits. It’s ours more than it is hers. Tolkein, as I mentioned before, heavily inspired my world building. I love how LotR transported me into another world when I first read the books. I love the friendships Rowling creates and the three dimensional characters and friendships. Cruz, Garber, Joshi, and Paolini inspire the way my characters interact with their worlds and the way they tell their stories.
Which book have you read recently that you would recommend to our readers?
I recently read Once Upon a Broken Heart and The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber. I absolutely love the enemies to lovers, slow burn, angst, morally grey everything about this series. I cannot wait for A Curse For True Love! That’s right, readers, authors fan-craze too!!
Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?
The one thing I hope readers take away from my writing is they can be anything they set their minds to and that it’s okay to ask for help along the way. I know it’s cliché but all of my characters are strong-willed and even though there are bouts of anger, disappointment, and discouragement they still push through because they have an end goal. Sometimes end goals are out of reach and that’s okay. It takes baby steps and a village to be successful. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my village: the readers who pick up my books, the family who helps keep me going, my PA, street team, and promo team that get the word out, my critique partners, alpha readers, beta readers, and ARC readers. I literally have a village behind me, haha!
Thank you so much for joining us!