I've always been interested in what happens after the stories we usually tell are over: How the relationship goes after the electric first kiss as the credits roll; how you rebuild your life after finally getting rid of that bad boyfriend; if anyone keeps talking to each other after Evil is defeated. So, after the dystopia where the cities fall, after the epic fantasy war when the armies have marched back home...what do you do next?
AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES is an afterwards story for a few subgenres, dealing with the fallout of a LORD OF THE RINGS-style war on one small family farm a century after modern civilization fell. With the soldiers from that war coming back wounded and changed -- or not coming back at all -- Hallie and her sister, Marthe, are desperately trying to keep their farm together when a strange veteran shows up at the gates, wanting to hire on for the winter. He's a lot more than he seems, though -- and there's a lot more following him on the roads north than anyone anticipates -- and pretty soon, Hallie's dealing with not just her own past, but all hell at her gates.
So it's a story about consequences, but it's also an experiment: Specifically, I wanted to find out if you could write an epic fantasy novel while reversing half the tropes and archetypes that epic fantasy books rely on and still have an actual story. So it's the epic fantasy where nobody ever leaves home.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
The scene that was hardest to write was probably near the middle of the novel, where Hallie gets called on some of her less than good behaviour by someone she cares about and trusts. It's emotional and tangled and hits just about every nerve she's got, and I'm pretty sure I was crying through most of it just from her sheer gut-wrenching humiliation. I probably went over it five times to make sure it worked as a scene -- with pacing, beats, and forward motion -- and didn't just get lost in that emotional snarl.
It's not necessarily the one I'm most proud of in AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES, though. That would be when Heron, the hired man, tells the story of his time in the war. There's a gorgeous cadence and rhythm to it, almost spoken-word, that mixes with the beat of a shovel hitting dirt and feet marching southward. It's got music in it, and every time I've gone over the manuscript, I've been sucked right into it all over again.
How long did you work on AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES?
All told, about four years. I'm generally not a speedy writer, this was not the easiest book to wrangle, and it was a stretch of time with lots of other things going on (Getting married! Going full-time as a writer and starting a freelance editing business!). It's not as long as I wanted to spend with one book, and I'm hoping to shave a lot of time off the process for my next novel, but I think the care shows: My editor at Clarion, Anne Hoppe, said early that she'd rather have the book we were proud of in five years than the fast book, and she was absolutely right.
ABOUT THE BOOKAn Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.
When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leah Bobet drinks tea, wears feathers in her hair, and plants gardens in back alleys. She lives in Toronto, Ontario in a house full of artists who make lots of puns, but they also bake, so it’s okay.
Have you had a chance to read AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES yet? Are you excited to read a story about what happens when stories usually end? Do you take more time writing to make sure it's right?
Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Lisa, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa