Awesome Indie: Rain of Ash by Gwen Mitchell

Posted September 11, 2015 by Emily in Awesome Indie, interview / 4 Comments

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Awesome Indie: Rain of Ash by Gwen MitchellRain of Ash by Gwen Mitchell
Series: Sky Dancer #1
Published by T. M. Miller on June 21st 2015
Buy on Amazon

An inherited secret.
An ancient rival.
A magical Legacy.
Briana Spurrier turned her back on her heritage as a reincarnating witch to chase her dream of being a concert pianist. On the eve of her greatest success, a tragic accident calls her back to her small town island roots, and a spell cast in her grandmotherÂ’s dying moments opens her to Oracle powers sheÂ’s spent her whole life trying to blot out. An enemy of old has surfaced, hungry for vengeanceÂ…and her soul. Unprepared and untrained, Bri must harness the magic buried deep within her before it drives her mad, or the demon of her past will hunt down everyone she holds dear.
Which will break firstÂ… her heart, or her mind?



I’m so happy to be able to share an interview with Gwen Mitchell today. Her book, Rain of Ash looks like a great mix of fantasy and romance. Best of all, she has an entire series planned to go with it. Enjoy!

1. Tell us about yourself.

I work an office job to pay the bills and try to balance my free time between adventures with my friends/boyfriend and writing. When I’m stuck on a story, I cook, craft, and paint (or read!). Health and nutrition are my other passions, and I plan to go back to school for my MS in Nutrition. In the meantime, my life is about travel and experiences – filling the well.

2. What is your favorite book?

If I have to pick just one, it’s still actually a trilogy: the first 3 Kushiel books by Jacqueline Carey. I love getting lost in the depth and richness of her world and characters. I’m on my 2nd or 3rd copies of them, and they are still well-worn because I reread them often.

3. Tell us about your book.

Rain of Ash is about a reborn Zyne witch who has tried to escape her painful past, but gets pulled back in when she becomes the target of her family’s curse and her Oracle powers are triggered. Bri has a lot to deal with – her grief, uncontrollable visions, escalating threats to her life and those she loves, and the crossroads between the life she’s always dreamed of and her apparent destiny. Oh, and her childhood sweetheart and past-life lover, who are both determined to win her heart once and for all.

4. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part was that this story refused to be categorized. It is romance, suspense/mystery, and contemporary fantasy all at once, while not fitting the conventions of any of them. I went through various rewrites trying to make it fit into one box or another. Once I knew I was self-publishing, I was able to be true to the story and just let it be what it is.

5. Is any part of the book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

The setting is inspired by a local island here in Washington where I spent my summers growing up. I was raised Wiccan, so a lot of the ritual magic is loosely based on what’s familiar to me. There is also a Zodiac element to the Zyne mythology that was influenced by my mom’s astrological wisdom.

6. If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

Rain of Ash is the first book in the Skydancer series, which is Bri’s story of coming into her full powers. I have three books planned at this point, though there might be more. I am also writing stand-alone romance titles set in the same universe, all part of the Zyne Legacy. Some of the characters overlap or are related.

7. How do you develop your plots and characters?

For me, it’s a pretty organic experience that starts with asking, ‘what would I want to read?’. I brainstorm and usually fill up a spiral binder with ideas, which morph as I go through them. Once I have a grip on that, I do a GMC worksheet for each character and lay out my basic plot events, then layer my scene plan on top of that. I need enough of a roadmap that I know where I’m going, but have to leave wiggle room for ideas that spring up as I’m writing.

8. How much research do you do?

The absolute bare minimum! I do research into names and places, and if I’m going to reference history, a tiny bit. But I sort of see research as a hurdle to creating; I would much rather make it up myself!

9. How can readers discover more about you and your work?

I would love for people to connect with me on Pinterest. I have several storyboards for my works in progress and future stories. I’m a very visual person, so it is a huge inspiration. I also have a whole section of my website dedicated to introducing readers to the world of the Zyne Legacy at:

10. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I would love to! I’m currently working on my first Zyne romance – an orphaned wild-child who doesn’t know she’s a witch until she is abducted and brought to the Zyne Arcanum to train. There she is forced to work under the tutelage of the local Falconer. Here is an excerpt from the first time Audrey and Corvin cross paths:

To Tame a Wild Heart

The entrance at the eastern tower came into view, both torches lit, signaling free entry. Inside the outer fortress walls, he met the sweet tang of crabapple and marigold, familiar scents of his childhood. Smoke flew to a nearby yew tree and pecked at some berries as Corvin crossed the courtyard to the inner doors – ten foot panels of pounded, scribed copper, also lit with two torches. They swung open as he approached.

Two Kinde guards stood as sentries inside, silent and yet imposing in their customary tailored black suits. Corvin tapped his staff twice on the marble floor, calling to Smoke, already thinking he would simply take his motherÂ’s advice, whatever it was this time, so he could go back to bed as soon as possible.

The thought of soft sheets and a cozy blanket evaporated when an alarm sounded – three short wolf howls in quick succession. His shoulders slumped. He’d momentarily forgotten about the new recruits and the ensuing circus. Rest would be hard-won the next few days, peace and quiet a mere memory.

The guards beside him snapped to attention, startling Corvin, but then neither of them moved another muscle. They stared ahead with completely blank expressions. Something had always rubbed him wrong about the way Kinde followed orders to the letter, even against their better judgment.

Giving the one on his right an annoyed look, he clacked his staff again, louder. Why did he spend so much time waiting around for that good-for-nothing feather-brain?
A door down the hall slammed open, and a confusing puzzle of body parts burst through it, some rolling, some sprawling, some running. Some running directly at himÂ…

Corvin blinked, looked to the guards on either side of him, and barely had time to throw one hand up as a blur of grungy cotton and wheat gold hair bowled him over. His staff clattered to the floor. He landed flat on his ass out on the steps, with the back of his robe wrapped over his head. He stood, shaking the offending fabric away to see his attacker streaking through the courtyard, leaping over bushes, rocks, and ponds rather than taking the circuitous cobbled path. Two wolves glided past him silently, barely disturbing the air, sleek black bodies gracefully eating up their quarry’s narrow lead.

Before they could head her off, a streak of shadow arrowed out of the sky and flattened her. She went down hard, eating dirt. Bitterness filled Corvin’s mouth, and his sternum ached in sympathy. He picked up his staff. The Hohlwen who’d taken her down stood above the girl, his boot pressed tauntingly over her lower back as she struggled to get up. The wolves closed in on either side, and her horrified scream echoed off the walls of the keep, shriveling Corvin’s insides. He walked over to the over-excited beasts, uttering the low command to stand down.

The wolves obeyed, but the Hohlwen sneered over his shoulder. He yanked the girl off the ground and gripped her by the back of her neck, shaking her like a doll. “The alarm was called. She was fair game.”

Smoke chose that moment to come forward, issuing a guttural warning call as he landed on Corvin’s shoulder. The girl, no – woman, stared at him unblinking. Her crystal blue eyes sparked with fury as a steady stream of blood dripped down her chin. Could have been from her scalp, nose, or chin. The rest of her was too covered in grime and bruises to tell much, other than she’d obviously been through hell. Corvin put the Wright tone of authority behind his next words. “Let her go.”

The Hohlwen blinked his empty black eyes and smiled, all dazzle and false seduction. “Why should I? I’m just detaining her. Aren’t I, sweetheart?”

He turned to face her, and she bashed in two of his startlingly white teeth. Black blood spurted. The Hohlwen backhanded her too fast for any defensive action, and her body toppled through the air and landed ten feet away. Corvin reached for the Hohlwen, but he faded into shadow and reappeared over the blonde wildcat, lifting her by the throat as if she were made out of paper and he could crush all the air out of her with a flick of his wrist. Her nails scratched seeping grooves in the HohlwenÂ’s flawless skin, and she landed a few solid kicks that made Corvin cringe.

He had to admire her gusto, but her struggle weakened quickly as the Hohlwen sapped her energy, feeding on her life force, possibly intending to drain her to death.
The wolves whimpered, chaffing against CorvinÂ’s command as he threw himself into the battle. He slammed his staff into the back of the HohlwenÂ’s skull. The girl fluttered to the ground like an empty husk.

Corvin spun the staff around his body once to gain some momentum, then whirled and put his full weight behind the next blow, which landed squarely in the HohlwenÂ’s stomach and knocked him off his feet just long enough for Corvin to mutter a word of power and charge the end of his staff with a stunning spell. He pointed it directly at the bastardÂ’s chest.
The Hohlwen rubbed the back of his head and brought his fingers away smeared with black ooze, which quickly smoked away. He flashed his teeth, already filling in the hole in the front. “I have killed men for less.”

“I’ve watched your kind fade for less than that threat.”

The Kinde whimpered again, and then suddenly broke rank. Smoke cawed, announcing RodericÂ’s arrival. Corvin kept his staff trained on the Hohlwen. The immortalÂ’s demeanor morphed into something less otherworldly and more composed as the Captain of the Guard approached. At least they could be intimidated, even if he wasnÂ’t enough to do it.
“What is the meaning of this?” Roderic asked, the twin black wolves trotting contently at his side.

“I caught the prisoner, sir. She gave me quite the fight, and flyboy didn’t like how I handled her.”

Corvin scowled at the elegant, unconcerned expression on the Hohlwen’s perfectly blank face. He lowered his staff and looked Roderic directly in the eyes. “It’s true. I didn’t like it at all.”

Roderic glanced from one of them to the other, expression utterly closed. They stood in silence, waiting for his judgment. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully and said, “What prisoner?”

Corvin glanced at the spot where the wildcat had landed in a seemingly broken heap, then whirled on his heel towards the outer gate. She appeared to be laying face-down in the dewy grass at first, but after a moment he saw that she wasÂ…crawling. One painful inch at a time.

“Perhaps we should secure her first,” Roderic said. The wolves’ ears pricked, and Corvin instinctively gripped his staff in a ready stance.

“No.” He let out a deep breath and said, in a very reasonable tone, “I’ll get her.”
He didnÂ’t wait for permission. By the time he reached her, she was nearly fully unconscious. Surprisingly small, considering the wallop she packed. He lifted her and could tell she was underfed. The burden was somewhat awkward with his staff in one hand. Roderic appeared at his side, and he shifted her to the other manÂ’s arms. Though he trusted the Captain not to hurt her, his nerves felt strangely unsettled handing her off like that. He rubbed the back of his neck, trying to ease the tension as he followed Roderic into the keep.

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4 responses to “Awesome Indie: Rain of Ash by Gwen Mitchell

    • Emily

      My pleasure! More people need to know what books are out there and how much they miss out on when ignoring the independent options!

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