Title: Memories of Ash
Series: The Sunbolt Chronicles, Book Two
Author: Intisar Khanani
Cover Designer: Jenny Zemanek
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: May 30, 2016
Publisher: Purple Monkey Press
In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters.
Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar's current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, following the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles, an epic series following a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, a dark mage intent on taking over the Eleven Kingdoms.
Where are you from?
Although my family is originally from Pakistan, I was born in a small town in Wisconsin. Until I got married, I moved around every four or five years, and have lived in five different states as well as in Saudi Arabia where my parents worked for some years. Now I make my home in Cincinnati, Ohio, and am excited to have been here nearly ten years!
Tell us your latest news?
The sequel to my YA Fantasy novella Sunbolt just released. Memories of Ash took me three years to write, but at least it’s an epically long novel at this point!
When and why did you begin writing?
I’m one of those people who was always writing. I stapled my first books together when I was three or four, and never stopped. I’ve always had stories and characters in my head; even if I wasn’t actively writing, I was still telling myself stories as I went through my days. Nowadays, if I don’t write them down, I find I’m a much less happy person—which means if I’m feeling particularly grumpy, I’ll sometimes just excuse myself to go write a story!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t consider myself a writer until I’d published my first book. Clearly, this is more a reflection of how little credit we give ourselves (and the strange ways by which we define certain terms). I have always said, “I love writing.” I but I couldn’t bring myself to say, “I’m a writer,” until I had a published work to point at.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I had always wanted to be a writer, so in my final year of university, I decided I needed to write a novel. (I still sometimes wonder what I was thinking.) On top of my 20 hour a week job, overload classes, and multiple clubs and groups, I wrote a chapter a week of my novel. To make it “easy” I picked a Grimms’ fairy tale I’d always enjoyed as the basis for the story—The Goose Girl. Although I finished my first draft before I graduated, it took many years (and rounds) of revision to get to publishable material. But I taught myself something very important that year, which was simply that I could do it if I wanted to.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to prefer first person present point of view—for example, “I look out the window. Yep, that’s my car. With a dragon sitting on it.” I love to sit directly inside my characters’ heads, look through their eyes, and write. I usually only write from one perspective, though, since I also like the limitations created by not knowing what’s going through other characters’ heads.
How did you come up with the title?
It’s actually from a chapter title in the previous book, and references how Hitomi loses her memories by burning herself from the inside out with a magical spell. (You’ll have to read Sunbolt to get the details!)
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. I write my books story first, then worry about themes. As I work through the themes that have come out, I try to make them present but not overbearing, so that every reader can take what they want, and let the rest go by as they like.
How much of the book is realistic?
All of it. None of it. I mean, you have a girl who is being trained as a mage (wizard), magical portals, werewolves, dragon-shifters, and who knows what else. But you also have a story of loyalty and loss, corruption and power, and probably a half-dozen other things. The thing about fantasy is that you’re writing a fantastic story, but the human realities are always deeper and just as relevant as in any other genre.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nope. I wish I knew wizards and dragon-shifters, but I sure don’t. The settings, however, are based in real-world historical places and cultures, so if you want a taste of Ottoman-era Istanbul, or the lives of Bedouin arabs, you’re in luck!
What book are you reading now?
I just finished reading Nimona by Noelle Stevenson—it’s a fantastic graphic novel if you haven’t heard of it before. I read some of the original webcomic, but I’m really bad at following these things, so was over the moon when it came out in book form!
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’ve really enjoying books by W.R. Gingell, Andrea K. Host, and Rabia Gale lately—all indie speculative fiction authors with some awesome reads out. I can’t wait to see where they go next!
What are your current projects?
I’ll likely be switching between drafting the third book in The Sunbolt Chronicles and working through the extremely rough first draft of a companion trilogy to my debut novel. Thorn. But I will probably also take a week off to celebrate the release of Memories of Ash!
What would you like my readers to know?
Readers make the an indie author’s world go round. When you read an indie book you enjoy, please consider leaving a review. Even a short one (“I liked it!”) makes a huge difference in places like GoodReads and especially Amazon. Without a marketing department behind us, we depend on our readers to help us get the word out there about our books. So next time you read something you love, take a moment to say so! :D
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Giveaway Information: Contest ends June 18, 2016