Chatting · Interviews

Indie Author Interview: R.K. Ashwick on A Rival Most Vial

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to R.K. Ashwick, one of my long-time friends on writeblr and the author of A Rival Most Vial which I reviewed last week, thanks to an advanced reader copy. I’m thrilled to have her on my blog today to talk about her upcoming release and publishing journey! This was such a fun interview and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed conducting it!


1. For a general introduction, can you tell me about yourself, how long you’ve been writing, and what you write?

RK: Sure! I’m R.K. Ashwick, a cozy fantasy romance author. I’ve been writing since I was kid, but writing seriously for almost three years now. In my spare time, I also draw!

2. Your new book, A Rival Most Vial, is your second self-published work. Was the experience going through the publishing process much different for ARMV as compared to your debut, The Stray Spirit?

RK: I’d like to think it was much smoother! With The Stray Spirit, I had to learn all about distribution sites, proper formatting, pre-order and release strategies, etc. With A Rival Most Vial, I knew a little more about what I was doing, which made it less stressful. Hopefully they just keep getting easier from here!

Etta: That’s good to hear! I know the publishing industry changes a lot year to year so I’m sure it’s a relief when the learning curve isn’t quite as steep.

3. I’ve seen A Rival Most Vial be compared to the popular cozy fantasy Of Legends and Lattes. I’ve not read that myself yet, but I’m curious, are there any other works that specifically inspired you to write ARMV?

RK: Ooh, good question! First off, I’m thrilled people are comparing it to Legends and Lattes. That style of slice-of-life cozy was definitely an inspiration, and it’s the biggest cozy fantasy on the lists right now. But weirdly, I was also inspired by cozy video games. There are several, like Littlewood, Stardew Valley, Moonlighter, and Potion Permit, that really focus on the everyday lives of villagers who live in an otherwise very large world, and I wanted to tell a story set in a place like that.

Etta: Oh that’s so fun! I’ve only recently started playing video games, but I remember during the Lockdown Years that cozy games like those were a big comfort and escape for a lot of people, so that’s delightful knowing it was an inspiration for a book that’s also a comforting break from reality. Thanks for the recommendations!

4. Now onto a question about the story itself: do you relate more to Ambrose, Eli, or one of the other characters? Who did you find easier to write and why?

RK: This one made me laugh because it’s absolutely Ambrose. Both Ambrose and I are major introverts and have similar feelings on things like parties and loud crowds. But I also can relate to the issues that both Eli and Dawn go through. Eli’s just trying to figure out what to do with his life- something that a lot of my peers are going through in their early 30’s- and Dawn is experiencing burnout, something that I and many of my co-workers have gone through. So while Ambrose may have been the easiest to write, there’s a little piece of myself in all of them (and I think many other writers can say the same).

Etta: Haha, that makes a lot of sense! I’ve gone on record before saying that I make characters by smashing my personality into little parts with a hammer and then giving each piece a name, so it’s funny to hear that yes, that is a similar experience to other writers. I found all of their struggles relatable too for the reasons you just described, so I’d say you did a very good job of making them each well rounded and real people, not just caricatures. Ambrose and Eli both feel like people you could walk up to on the street, going far beyond just a grumpy/sunshine dynamic.

5. You have so many lovable supporting characters in the other shopkeepers on Rosemond Street! Is there a chance we’ll ever get short stories about their lives and escapades, or more details in later books?

RK: Ambrose, Eli, and Dawn will always be our POV characters (Dawn will have POV chapters in books 2 and 3, with a secret unknown fourth person getting a POV in book 3), but I do hope I can deepen the side characters in future books! I’d also like to write some novellas that cover sillier elements of the street, like bake sales and such, but those are a bit trickier to market and fit into my writing schedule. Those may end up just being freebie short stories or reader magnets later down the line.

Etta: That makes a lot of sense! I loved all the scene snippets where they were bantering together, and so I’m happy to hear we’ll be seeing more of that. I’m sure a bake sale would be a lot of fun, with Sherry completely taking the cake (ha). I’m also very curious to see who the secret POV character will be but I suppose I’ll have to be patient about that.

6. Now for a fun worldbuilding question: If you could have any of the potions mentioned in the book, which one would you want to try?

RK: Oh man, it’s gotta be the birthday commission potion- but, like, souped-up. I don’t want just low-level levitation and sparkly dragon wings. I want full-on flight, I want fire coming out of my hands, I want the works! None of this ‘safe for kids’ garbage. I’m an adult, gimme the real stuff, Ambrose.

Etta: Hahaha! I laughed out loud at that last line. big mood. There’s a potion commission for the next book then!

7. You’ve done a number of Alternate Universe stories with the ARMV characters before it got published – I remember one about pirates that you co-wrote with someone on tumblr, and then a crime modern-day setting called Icefall. Do you mind talking a bit about how the process of writing these helped you develop the final version of ARMV?

RK: Sure! Yeah, at the end of the day, I wrote three AUs before publishing ARMV: Icefall, a modern day crime AU; The Pirate and the Potioneer, a pirate AU; and Potions & Pirates, a crossover AU with a Tumblr friend (at least, I think that’s the title). And you know what, I forgot about the college AU. That’s four. They were all just for fun, and mostly came out of the fact that I was obsessed with writing about Ambrose and Eli. (Still am.) But it was fun to experiment with Ambrose and Eli’s behavior in these scenarios: if Ambrose were a villain and already had welcomed a found family into his life, how would he comport himself? Would he fall for Eli faster or slower? And conversely, if Eli was a pirate captain with his career and community already in place, how would he approach Ambrose? What sort of pirate and leader would he be? I think considering these scenarios helped me further cement the OG Ambrose and Eli. (And they were just fun.)

RK: Oh, also: they love each other in every universe. That’s a given.

Etta: That’s a lot of fun! It’s neat to see how these different versions of the same characters were able to help you cement their personalities so solidly in the book, and I’m glad it was so helpful for you! It sounds like very useful strategy for all writers, especially with getting unstuck from a writers block, so I should try it with some of my own stories as well.

8. Do you have any favorite headcanons/flash-fiction pieces that didn’t make it into the final cut? (Other than the AUs and if they aren’t spoilers)

RK: Hmm. Off the top of my head, nothing’s really coming to mind- but there are things that I’m excited to explore in future books and stories! There’s a lot I haven’t mentioned about the sinkholes, the other merchants’ backstories, potion conventions, and more. 😄

Etta: I’m excited to read about them in the future as well!

9. You’ve described the world of ARMV being inspired by DnD in your promotional materials, and I think you mentioned you play in a campaign yourself. Did any of the events in those games inspire parts of the story, or did any cameos from your home games make it into the book that you’d be willing to share?

RK: YES I’m so glad you asked this! While no events in the book are taken from past campaigns, I absolutely tried to fit in as many character names as I could. Sir Terrance, Tiegan, Hickory, and Widdershins all came from my friends’ DnD characters, and I tried to make non-named nods to other characters whose names didn’t quite fit. I’m hoping to add more references in future books, too.

Etta: Oh that’s delightful! I’m sure your friends will be thrilled to read those cameos. Did you tell them you were adding the little tributes or will it be a surprise for them?

RK: I did tell them, yeah!

Etta: How fun!

10. If there’s anything you wanted to talk about that we haven’t touched on yet, feel free to tell us about it now!

RK: I do have one little treat tucked in the center of the book that doesn’t typically come up in my posts! I wanted to have some artwork in the book, kind of like those special edition books at the Scholastic Book Fair that had posters and cool art in the middle. So, I illustrated one magical blueprint for each shopkeeper on Rosemond Street and added them to the book after Step 19. I had a lot of fun making them, and I think others are enjoying them as well!

Etta: Oh yes!!! I loved those!They all show such character – Ambrose’s is all neat and organized complete with little hazard labels and Eli has funny doodles of dragons next to the scorch marks. It’s such a fun way of bringing the story to life just a little more, and there’s no reasons kids should get all the fun illustrations. I’m thrilled you’re bringing them into your books 🙂

RK: Thank you! I’m really excited about the illustrations for books 2 and 3 as well.

Lastly, where can people find you and your work on the internet?

RK: Sure! rkashwick.com has all my book info in one place, including purchase links. You can also find me on FB, Insta, and TikTok under rkashwickbooks!I’ve also got a monthly newsletter where I send out stories, artwork, and updates on my work! Right now, the reader magnet is a short story about teenage Ambrose’s first potion convention.

(etta here, that facebook link might not work because I don’t have a facebook and can’t get to the profile, but I promise the page exists)


Thank you again to RK for agreeing to do this interview with me and for sharing such thoughtful answers! If you enjoyed this, be sure to go check out her other work, and read my review of A Rival Most Vial from last week. If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Chatting · Reading Recs

ARC Review: A Rival Most Vial by R.K. Ashwick

Two potion shops, one heated rivalry…until hate bubbles over into something else.

Any adventurer worth their sword knows about Ambrose Beake. The proud, quiet half-elf sells the best, and only, potions in the city—until a handsome new shopkeeper named Eli opens another potion shop across the street, throwing Ambrose’s peace and ledgers far off balance.

Within weeks, they’re locked in a war of price tags and products—Ambrose’s expertise against Eli’s effortless charm. Toil leads to trouble, the safety gloves come off, and right as their rivalry reaches a boiling point…

The mayor commissions them to brew a potion together.

The task is as complex as it is lucrative, pushing both men to the limits of their abilities and patience. Yet as the fires burn and cauldrons bubble…they find a different sort of chemistry brewing.

My Review: 5/5 ⭐- Humor, Heart, and a healthy amount of scientific shade

The best word to describe this book is “Delightful.” It’s a quick, entertaining, and exciting read, perfect for if you need something cosy to curl up with in the car on your way to a mandatory family field trip. It takes place in a world inspired by your typical sword and sorcery fantasy settings, and takes a closer look at what the NPCs are doing while your party is off saving the world. The strength of the worldbuilding comes not from elaborate politics or original species, but from the charming minutia of daily life – the dumplings at a favorite tavern, mail getting postponed by griffin migrations, contending with the whims of the local government, which sinkhole to scavenge for the best moss, and of course, the eponymous rival potion shops vying for customers.

The protagonists each have unique and memorable personalities, voices, and mannerisms that make both sides of the rivalry sympathetic and lovable. There were a couple moments at the very beginning when I wished they would simply talk to each other like grownups, the not-quite-a-fight scene giving me a bit of secondhand embarrassment for poor Ambrose and his busted knuckles. However, their original misunderstandings stem from differences in their backstories you learn later in the book, which puts everything into perspective. Both of their arcs were heartfelt and well-resolved, and the romance was really fun to read as well, as they both come to terms with their feelings, and then navigate a new relationship with career plans in mind.

The side characters are also wonderful in their own ways. Dawn’s friendship with Ambrose is a driving side-plot, and it’s interesting to explore how these very different personalities interact and support each other. Banneker is wonderfully weird and confident in his role as comedic relief, as well as a supportive friend. Sherry and Grim are the protective parents of the ragtag found family. I found it a fun subversion that the orcish Grim works with delicate jewelry, while the little old lady is the village blacksmith and armorer. I also would be remiss to end this review without a mention of the fantastical technobabble about potion reagents and procedure, or the fantastic illustrations. As a chemistry nerd myself, it was a blast to read about people who do the fantasy-version of my line of work. Even the chapter titles are the steps in a potion recipie!

I highly recommend A Rival Most Vial, as well as R.K.’s other series, starting with The Stray Spirit! You can read my review of TSS here, and find my interview with Ashwick here. If you’re interested in reading ARMV yourself, you can pre-order it here!


Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back next week to read another interview with Ashwick about the creation of A Rival Most Vial! I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Chatting · Reading Recs

2023 TBR (And Reminding Myself of the Obvious)

I hit burnout last year, and I hit it hard. Over the summer, I desperately wanted to finish the 3rd draft of runaways, but struggled to muster the energy and focus needed to even read through the document. During NaNoWriMo, I got back into editing, but I treated it like another assignment. Words got done more because of willpower than because of inspiration because I was already in that crunch time mental state. In the process of writing the largest of the developmental changes, I realized this book probably needs two more POVs than I originally anticipated, turning it into a much larger and more complex project, and bringing with it a sense of dread that I will never finish, never publish, and never have anything to show for this work. Looking ahead at the year, seeing so much traveling, moving, graduating, starting a new job, and other major life upheavals, I’m already exhausted just glancing over the calendar.

I’ve hit writer’s block now, too. Travelling to visit my grandparents over break, I had to be in the car for a grand total of 10 hours round trip. I should have been fully awake, undistracted by the internet, and immensely productive, as I’ve been in years past. The objective: finish, edit, and post a new short story for my mailing list about a sorceress who stole the sun, and the seamstress that brought it back. Despite having a rough outline for the story, and inspiration aplenty, I hit a wall of creative block trying to make the lore consistent, then the words wouldn’t come when I tried to force myself to focus on the blank page, and I managed a total of 90 words. Pathetic.

The worst part is: I know exactly what caused this problem, and how to fix it, but I haven’t let myself do what I need to fix the problem.

Burnout happens when you over-commit and work yourself too hard for too long without breaks. It’s very easy to trap yourself in a cycle of “Oh, I’m so behind, if I only work harder, I can take a break.” But working harder only makes you more burnt out, more inefficient, and more behind, and so the vicious cycle continues. For me, this build-up occurs most frequently during the semester, and then I promptly get sick as soon as finals are over. But a side effect is this: in my shreds of free time, I refuse to rest. I spend so much time being an engineer that when I have the opportunity to work on my creative pursuits, I prioritize creating, instead of sitting down to do the things that refresh my creative well. I brag about how I go months without turning on the TV. I only read by listening to audiobooks on my commute to work, or while doing tedious lab tests, which means I work through my TBR at an astonishingly slow pace. And even there – I naturally refer to reading as “work” and talk about my “pace” as if I’m on an assembly line, and not as if its an activity I love, that inspires me, and makes up part of my identity.

You need to breathe in to breathe out.

I got so caught up in telling stories that I forgot what inspired me to write in the first place. I was a bookworm as a kid. Mom punished me, not by restricting access to the TV or video games, but by hiding my books out of reach and confiscating the flashlight. I’m struggling to put words to page because I’ve forgotten how to string together eloquent prose in the torrent of academic papers written in past test passive voice. I used to scoff at boring adults who never frequented the library, but as an adult, I’ve found myself daunted by the idea of setting aside so much time to finish the books I check out between visits. But I miss that and I need to make it a priority again—not only because reading books is something I *should* do, but because it’s something I *want* to do.

I’ve been holding my breath, and this year, I ran out of air.

The first year I ran this blog, I was pretty good about having a reading rec post on a monthly basis, which meant I read or reread at least 12 things a year, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. This year, I’ll be bringing back that post format, as well as author biographies, because as writers, I think it’s important to know about the people behind our favorite stories. History is a special interest of mine, and so I think it would be an interesting exercise to research more about the literary movements and influences that came before, and how learning more about the past can help us contextualize our fiction in terms of the present, and the future. If there are any English majors out there laughing at me, please understand my brain has been thoroughly fried by four years of differential equations and I’m sure you’ve noticed the atrocious amount of passive voice past tense grammar leaking into my prose from the lab reports.

Let’s talk about prose too. I’ve never been one to worry much about my writing style. As a beginner, I read that there’s no way to force a particular style into your writing and that one would develop with time and practice. In my experience, this is true, and when you’re just trying to reach The End on your first manuscript, getting words down is more important that fretting about eloquence. I’m not on first drafts anymore, though. All my projects are in various stages of editing, and in line editing, sentences matter. They’re the brushstrokes that make up the whole painting. The ingredients that make up the layers in a decadent cake, or the richness of the flavor in a savory meal. The prose you consume will bleed into your style, and the publishing industry holds genres to certain standards. This is why it’s important to read both a broad variety of topics and authors to expose yourself to many styles and voices, and why it’s important to read in your target genre, to understand the conventional expectations.

I can’t tell an entertaining story if the only thing I’m reading is academic papers. It’s impossible to prepare a banquet with the literary equivalents of hardtack. (I should also probably knock it off with the food metaphors and go make myself dinner.)

ANYHOW. Onto the part of the post you probably care about:

The TBR:

Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman: This book is one I preordered months ago and I’ve actually already finished it. I really enjoyed this story and it totally lived up to the hype, so stay tuned for a full review and an interview with the author!!!

Pyreflies by Lynette Bacon-Nguyen: This is an ARC from an author in one of my fandom discord servers and next up on the reading list! You can also expect a review on this blog soon.

Howl by Katie Koontz: This is a werewolf novel by one of my best friends on tumblr and I know she’s been working really hard on it so I’m excited to read the finished version after seeing so many snippets on her blog!

A Rival Most Vial and Aspens Guide to Growing Your Grove by R.K. Ashwick: Another writeblr bestie! I’ve read her debut novel The Stray Spirit as an ARC and you can find my review here (I loved it) and my interview with her here, so I’m super excited to see her next book come out. This is a new series, called Side Quest Row, and I’ve been following the development of this book since it was first-draft and spawning pirate and spy AUs, so I’m very excited to see it in all its finished splendor.

Other People’s Heartache by Vanessa Roades: This author is a friend of mine on Instagram and I’ve had it sitting around in my email for a WHILE now as I signed up for a bunch of newsletters all around the same time for the free stories. I’m intrigued by the premise and need to get around to catching up on the backlog of ebooks I have downloaded!

Whatever Happened to Madline Hail by Arista Holmes: Another Instagram author friend, and another newsletter freebie that I’ve got in my ebook library folder!

The Brandon Sanderson Secret Novels: If you follow publishing news in the fantasy spaces, you’re probably familiar with BrandoSandos insane quarantine hobby and mind-boggling Kickstarter from last year. If you don’t know the backstory, this prolific author of the Mistborn Trilogy and the Stormlight Archive used to travel 1/3 of the time pre-lockdown, which severely cut into his writing time, and when COVID struck in 2020, he just… casually wrote an extra five books in his newly acquired free time. He started a Kickstarter to have them published in A Year of Sanderson, putting out the books every quarter, along with lots of exclusive merch and subscription boxes, which immediately broke the record for the fastest funded campaign and the record for the most amount of money ever raised on Kickstarter EVER. He donated a lot of this money to other publishing kickstarters as a way of giving back to the community, and continued putting out the regularly scheduled books, like a glorious madman, and the first of these secret novels released on January 1st. I’m already behind on the rest of the Cosmere, but what’s another stack of books on the list I guess?

Short Stories from the Tor Newsletter: Brandon Sanderson’s publisher puts out a newsletter on a regular basis that always contains a number of interesting articles about the industry and fantasy news, as well as an original short story from one of their authors. I discovered that these are a fantastic easy way to fill up your Goodreads book goal with fast reads, and they’re in a genre that I really enjoy, so they’re a solid option for quick commutes on the bus, or between study breaks at school. I have links to them saved so I can go back to the ones I miss, and I want to keep up with them this year to discover new authors and continuously read short fiction so I learn more about how to write those types of stories!

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett: I’ve wanted to get into the Discworld series for ages, and I’ve read Mort already, but haven’t been able to find many of the books. One of my best friends was moving house earlier this year and didn’t want her copy, so she let me steal it, and I’m determined to get through some of the unread physical books sitting on my shelf lol

Way Too Many Email Substacks: Back when Dracula Daily was consistently trending #1 on tumblr, a bunch of lovely people set up email substacks for other classic works of literature, and I, full of hubris, subscribed to ALL of them. I’m now several weeks behind on Great Expecations, A Study in Scarlett, Moby Dick, Les Mis, and a modern fantasy story that’s also being done in a serialized format called “Last Light” by A. Lawrence. I’m determined to binge read the archive to catch up and then stay caught up, preferably before the substacks actually end.


Thanks for reading! What are your TBRs for the year? I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. If I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing by leaving me a tip or buying stickers on my Kofi. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!

Chatting · Interviews

Indie Author Interview: R.K. Ashwick

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to R.K. Ashwick, one of my long-time friends on writeblr and the author of The Stray Spirit which I reviewed last week, thanks to an advanced reader copy. RK writes character-focused fantasy books with a cozy feel. I’m thrilled to have her on my blog today to talk about her upcoming release and publishing journey! This was such a fun interview and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed conducting it!


Welcome! Let’s start off at the beginning: How did you come up with the concept for The Stray Spirit?

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Chatting · Reading Recs

Book Review: The Stray Spirit by R.K. Ashwick

There are very few things in this world as satisfying as reading a book – A REAL ACTUAL PUBLISHED BOOK – by one of my writer friends. I am unbelievably proud of our very own, one and only, R.K. Ashwick for reaching this amazing milestone! I’ve been following its development through the taglist on tumblr for… I don’t know, maybe over a year now? It’s been truly gratifying to watch the characters and story grow (hah), and I am absolutely overjoyed that come August, I’ll be able to hold it in my hands. The following review is my honest opinion, which I promised to share after receiving an advanced reader copy of the book. I’m going to keep this mostly spoiler free because it hasn’t come out yet, though in the future I may write a spoilers-filled review as well, so I can freely dig into all the interesting bits of this book. So without further ado…

Overall Impression: 5/5, Next Book Now Please?

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Chatting · Reading Recs

Book Review: 8 Steps to a Side Character

Overall Impression

5/5 craft book with an easily accessible style that gave my poor frazzled engineering brain a much needed break from academic drivel, extremely useful summaries that made writing his article about 1,000,000x easier, and rock solid advice I will immedietly be adapting into my ever-expanding Storge excel outline.

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Chatting · Reading Recs

Reading Rec: Terebinth Tree Chronicles

Hello everyone and welcome back to another reading rec! This month I want to talk about an author that I’ve enjoyed for quite a while now: Faye Fite. I found her blog back in high school when she still wrote under her other name, and the perspective she shared in her writing advice inspired me to get serious about my writing. Her books introduced me to the indie publishing space and the worlds of possibilities that open when you can control the content of your stories. Faye writes Christian speculative fiction that isn’t preachy and features badass disabled characters.

The Terebinth Tree Chronicles is a series of high fantasy short stories that share the backstories of Wanderer, Jayel, and Ailith – the future protagonists of an epic who are on a mission to assassinate the dark lord that’s plagued their world and ruined their families. Currently, three books have been released in this series: Colors of Fear, Flames of Courage, and Sounds of Deceit, but there are more on the way! Faye also has a few standalone books, including Skies of Dripping Gold, and So I Accidentally Killed the Chosen One, which are both part of the same expanded story-world as the Terebinth Tree Chronicles, called the “Torn Universe.” I’m not sure how they all connect yet, but it’s a really cool concept! Faye is also a member of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, and has published three short stories in their anthologies.

I can wholeheartedly recommend all of her writing, but today I especially want to focus on the characters in the Chronicles and how their arcs are set up to have satisfying conclusions within each backstory book, but leave enough open-ended questions for the rest of the series to continue building.

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Chatting

Best Ways to Support Indie Authors and Booksellers

With holiday season coming up, I know many of us are frantically scrambling to put our lists together. But there’s no time like Christmas to spread a little cheer in the book community! Holiday season means survival time for many small businesses, who both rely on the shopping spree to make their sales for the year, and are forced to compete with huge retailers for people’s business. If you’re buying for a bookish friend or family member, or you are the friend or family member receiving books as gifts (because lets be real, if you’re reading this that’s probably the case), here are some ideas on how to support your favorite indie authors and local bookstores!

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Chatting · Interviews

Author Interview: Hyba Ouazzani & Apartment

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to my good writing friend and inspiration, Hyba! I’ve mentioned her before on this blog: specifically to promote her podcast in my writing resources post, and to leave a glowing review of her novel, Apartment, in my last goals recap. I’m thrilled to have her on the blog to talk about how she developed her book, and I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it.

Etta: Can you start by telling us about yourself and what you write?

Hyba: My name is Hyba Ouazzani, and I’m a Muslim author, podcaster, and blogger based somewhere on the vast continent that is Africa.

I enjoy writing in a range of genres. Apartment is my psychological thriller, and I’m currently working on a murder mystery called Marie/Elise, a high fantasy novel called The Pirates of Sissa, a futuristic sci-fi called Neon Vape: A Vaporwave Odyssey, a horror novel called An Entity in Your Midst, a GameLit serial fiction called The Beast of Ildenwood, an epistolary Gothic tale called Letters to Adam, and many, many more! Sometimes, I write poetry and short stories. In short, I enjoy writing in all kinds of formats and genres. If the story and concept idea are good enough for me, then that’s all that matters.

That being said, I am most interested in writing pieces that make certain statements about society and humanity at large. Pieces like Apartment are meant to challenge the reader, make them ask questions about the darker aspects of human nature and the world we live in. The Pirates of Sissa deals with justice, conflict resolution, and the lasting effects of imperialism. Neon Vape takes a hard look at the extent to which companies are willing to go to make a profit and be market leaders—in other words, the dark side of capitalism. I’m working on a short story that challenges the impossible beauty perceptions and other expectations pushed upon women. Anywhere there’s a good discussion to be had is where I want my books to be!

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Chatting · Interviews

Mythology, Fantasy, and Adaptations – an interview with Karkki

Welcome everyone! In June, I focused on the topic of tropes and adaptations, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview one of my writer friends about her area of expertise! I’ve been following Karkki’s The Shield-Maiden Saga and other WIPs over on tumblr for about two years. It’s always a blast to see the new updates and lore, so I was happy for the excuse to host a Q&A, and honored to share the results with you! Thank you Karkki for agreeing to do this! I’m super excited to share her creativity with you all today. For this interview, my parts and questions are in the headings, and their responses are everything written below.

Question 1 – First, can you tell me about yourself, how long you’ve been writing, and what you write?

Thank you so much for inviting me to be interviewed! I’m Karkki, a Finnish architecture student in my mid-twenties. Other than writing I paint, sew, pet my cat and hike. I’ve been writing since I was around ten. At first it was just scenes of my OCs (I had a whole cinematic universe of them), but the first book form story I started to write, I did around 14, I think. Nowadays I write mostly adult dark fantasy, often smashed together with various different genres 😀

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