Today, I am delighted to welcome author, Ellie Raine, to Roberta Writes for Day 5 of her Willow of Ashes blog tour with WordCrafter Book Tours.
You can read the other posts for this tour here:
Ellie Raine’s Take on Revisiting her Series’ Early Beginnings
After spending the last 13 years writing the NecroSeam Chronicles to completion, going back to work on the first volume’s audiobook was an interesting nostalgia trip for me. A lot happened between book 1 and book 5. Similarly, a lot happened in my life throughout the whole endeavor. I’m really not the same person as the girl who wrote Willow of Ashes. I barely remember who she was.
But since I’m an indie author with the rare opportunity to work (extremely) hands-on with the narrators for the audiobooks (Matt Goodson & Christa Burton), revisiting the adventure’s beginning, with tangible voices, was surreal. It’s like I’m actually hearing the characters. Outside my head. I can’t accurately describe how incredible that feels to an author. The old phrase “the story comes to life” is too stale and shallow. It doesn’t do it justice. The stunning depth and intimate connection that comes with hearing your characters’ voices for the first time deserves a better description that I lack the skill for scribing.
And revisiting their beginnings? Before their world got rocked and they learned lessons, lost loved ones, and endured so much pain that shaped their sweat-ridden climb of transformation from young adventurers into mature adults?
These were adventures I’d admittedly forgotten almost completely. Due to neurological difficulties, my memory is slippery. There were key points of the story I remembered, but they were foggy and distant until I re-read everything in its full detail. I had several instances of:
Wow. Did I write that? Are we sure? I don’t remember it being this visceral. Am I allowed to laugh at my own jokes I forgot about? You know, I think Past-Me might have been onto something. Why do I love this so much? I’m not a very talented writer, so why am I loving this so much? Wait! I foreshadowed that in the first book?! I kept the same overarching theme throughout all the books?!
You know, it’s almost like I planned the story out in extensive detail from the start! It’s funny that even I needed to be reminded that I did, in fact, plan ahead. Memory issues are weird like that.
Revisiting Willow of Ashes was like watching old Facebook memories remind you of posts you don’t remember making, but somehow they still make you just as delighted–or regretful–to revisit. I essentially get to see what I was like when I was a teen, but from my adult lens.
And most of what I’ve revisited has explained a lot about why I think the way I do now that I’m almost thirty.
I grew with the characters. They were my kids before I had a kid of my own. Writing in first person let me be the characters, living and thinking and feeling every experience they went through as they went through it. But, much like other memories, I’d forgotten how immersive it all was. I’d forgotten how innocent and naive these characters started off… at least, compared to how they ended up. And it’s an innocence that, once you’ve seen what they become, you grieve over. You miss them. You wish the pain they went through never happened, and they could go back to the simple, single quest they originally set out for in the story, laughing and loving and hoping for a better time.
But it’s equally fascinating that, despite the darkness that surrounds them as the story continues, they still find moments of levity wherever they can. They’re desperate for it, and at times, they force themselves to steal any happiness they stumble upon unexpectedly. Especially when remembering brighter times. And that, ultimately, is the theme of the series itself, isn’t it?
It’s a life lesson I needed to learn myself, one that my characters had to teach me. My mental health had never been stable, as much as I tried to hide it and shove it down so deep no one thought to ask. The only reason I didn’t jump in front of that train during a visit to NY was specifically so I could finish this series. I owed it to the story and its characters to finish their journey before I left. It was a promise I’d made to them when I started this story, and I was not one to break a promise to anyone.
And yet, by the time I reached “The End”… they showed me why I needed to stay. I suddenly wanted to stay. Weird, how just two words kept me around. But that was the message of the story, wasn’t it?
There’s always a reason to stay. We just have to look for it.
Willow of Ashes – The blurb
A necromancer knight. A warrior-princess of Grim. Two destined souls torn apart by death—and one epic adventure awaiting them both.
As younglings, Xavier and Willow promised to wed once they came of age, but when Xavier’s spirit is ripped out of his body and sewn into his twin brother, everything changes.
It’s been six long years since Xavier became trapped inside his necromancer brother. Every night, Xavier dreams of his traumatic past, remembering the yellow-eyed assassin who dangled him over a cliffside as he fought for his life—and the life of his ashen-haired fiancée. Now, as the twins’ final test for knighthood draws near, Xavier and his brother set out on an unforgettable journey to the surface realm of Everland to find Xavier’s true form, meeting new friends and crossing new lands on an epic quest of adventure.
But when he and his brother are targeted by a demon queen and her undead horde, the twins ally with a mysterious lady Reaper named Lilli in the midst of battle and they work together to fend off the demon threat, but being horribly outnumbered, will it be enough?
And will Xavier’s secret existence be revealed when Lilli tells him his beloved Death Princess has come to the surface to find him?
“One of the most fascinating universes I have ever encountered… rich, mysterious, inviting and frightening at the same time. You will want to visit it again and again.” ~Readers’ Favorite Review
Purchase Willow of Ashes
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Libro.fm: Libro.fm | Willow of Ashes Audiobook
About Ellie Raine
Award-winning fantasy author and Amazon best-seller, Ellie Raine, is a voracious BookWyrm when it comes to epic adventures, detailed world-building, and thrilling battles. Since it’s what she loves to read (Brandon Sanderson, Douglas Hulick, and Rachel Aaron especially!) obviously it’s what she loves to write.
She grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, where her family raised her right with a healthy upbringing surrounded by fantasy books, comics, and video games. Her award-winning Adventure Fantasy pentalogy, the NecroSeam Chronicles, was inspired by her favorite fable: the Grim Reaper. It was originally intended to be a video game, but she found the book adaptation to be far more fulfilling and exciting. Her first book in the series, Willow of Ashes, has won multiple awards in 2019, including first place in Fantasy for Writer’s Digest, and another fantasy award for Readers’ Favorite. In 2020, the series finale, Blossom of Gold, was also awarded a silver medal in fantasy for Readers’ Favorite. Her other works include a supernatural detective noir, Nightingale, published with Pro Se Productions in 2018.
Ellie Raine is currently working on several other fantastical projects and only emerges from the depths of her daring tales when she is summoned by her loving king and their darling daughter: the Dragon Princess Felicity.