Author of The Fate in the Flames.
I am joined today by Sierra Knoxly, another of my co-conspirators from the Realm of Darkness boxset. We are chatting about her contribution to the boxset, The Fate in the Flames which releases on October 4th, 2022 and is currently available on preorder. Click the cover image to see a great book trailer.
Helen: Welcome Sierra, I am so excited to talk with you today. Tell us about your contribution to the anthology.
Sierra: My Realm of Darkness book The Fate in the Flames is book one in a fantasy reverse harem series: Legend of the Kitsune Pearl. Originally, I had two different story ideas I was considering for RoD, and I chose the other one, and got about two chapters in, forcing every word. I gave up and tried writing what has become The Fate in the Flames, and it just flowed out. Sometimes I write the stories, and sometimes they write me.
Helen: It’s nice when the story writes itself. You have such a beautiful cover, tell us how you chose it.
Sierra: I saw this cover in a premade covers group a year ago, and I fell in love with it. I had it on reserve, waiting for the right story, and Sakura’s tale deserved all this beauty, plus all the little elements I needed were there, from the moth to the flames, and the sword she holds is very significant (hint: the sword doesn’t belong to her).
Helen: It is very atmospheric! What made you write a book for an anthology?
Sierra: One of my writer’s group friends had signed up to participate but had to withdraw for personal reasons. She offered her space, and I thought the opportunity was really intriguing. When I signed up, the anthology was one year away from launch, so I thought that was plenty of time to get my head around the process, since I’ve never joined a boxset before. Boy, was I misguided! I feel like I stepped into a whirlwind and have yet to get off the wild ride! Of course I’m hopeful we’ll hit best seller status, but it’s been so exciting to work with all the authors, and it’s really pushed me to get out of my comfort box.
Helen: The year has gone so quick, hasn’t it? I can’t believe there is only three weeks to go to launch. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Sierra: The title was probably the hardest part of the book to write! I agonized over it, particularly because I needed wording that suited the layout of the premade cover. I did a brainstorm and showed it to the RoD writers’ group, and the lovely authors helped me pick through my ideas. ‘Fate’ stood out because I had written it several times in the brainstorm, haha! The flames came naturally thanks to the cover image and how the story develops around fire (the main male character is a shapeshifting hellhound).
For the series title, kitsune is a name for a nine-tailed fox. I’m deeply inspired by Asian mythology, so that weaves through several of my series.
Helen: I think you came up with the perfect title. What made you write this specific book?
Sierra: This book (series) is a prequel occurring (2,000 years) before the series I’m releasing at the moment – Tears of the Heart. One of the characters that appears in that series had an amazing backstory, so I thought it deserved to be told.
Helen: Tell us a little about your main character and why you wrote about them.
Sierra: Sakura Ochi is a young adult girl from the daimyo class (nobility) in an ancient Japan. Her birth name is Kiyoko, but she’s known by a nickname that her mother gave her, in reference to the blossoming of the cherry tree flowers. I wrote the Tears of the Heart series a few years ago, and I wanted to write the backstory of a character that appears in that series. That put my character starting a few thousand years back in ancient Japan, and so I created Sakura. This character has a traumatic start to the story; her family is condemned to ritualistic suicide to regain their family honor. If Sakura truly thought this was a way to regain their honor, she would go through with it, but she knows it’s a set-up, so she’s determined to fight and survive.
Helen: If your Main Character could answer, why would they say we should read your book?
Sierra: “The author put me through hell, but I survived. Don’t let my suffering be in vain!”
Helen: Who was your favourite character to write?
Sierra: I really enjoyed writing Rivaan. He’s been raised in the clan culture, and he never questioned it until Sakura arrived in his life and presented a different outlook. Between that and his own mysterious development, he goes through a lot of personal upheaval.
Helen: The Fate in the Flames is Reverse Harem. For those who don’t know reverse harem is typically considered a group where there is one male with several female members of his household or poly relationship. These are considered reverse harem books because it is the woman who is surrounded by a group of men. Must be such fun to write. What else do you write?
Sierra: I write fantasy reverse harem/poly romance. I always enjoyed fantasy, and then I stumbled on a RH book, and discovered my mantra “more fun, more love.” There are other things I like to write as well, but this is my focus now.
Helen: You said The Fate in the Flames is the prequel, how many other books have you written?
Sierra: I have three other books out currently. Two are in the completed series In the King’s Hands, which is a fantasy poly duet (Ambience and Resonance) about an escaped slave who joins a royal harem to hide from the cruel master who is hunting her. Just recently I released a new book, Tears of Ice, which is the first in a new series (Tears of the Heart), a portal academy fantasy RH, about a young adult with a serious heart condition who gets stranded on a world that doesn’t like humans. This occurs a few thousand years after the timeline of my RoD contribution, The Fate in the Flames.
There are links between all my books across the realms. I think readers will enjoy pulling on those threads as all the series evolve.
Want to try a RH book? You can downlod a copy of Sierra’s Ambience for free here. (Limited number available. Content Warning: Ambience features a king’s harem carrying out sexual activities. High steam, MM/FF/MF, intended for mature audiences. Triggers include references to sexual assault, mild cursing and mild violence.)
Helen: It’s so exciting when you can explore back stories and delve into side characters. What are you writing now?
Sierra: Right now, I’m editing book two of Tears of the Heart. I find editing much harder than writing because you have to more analytical about the purpose of every scene, so it’s a slow process. Having said that, this is my favorite series, and I laugh and enjoy reading it, so I can’t wait to get the books out.
Helen: What inspired you to first begin writing?
Sierra: Reading and writing has had a strong presence all through my childhood, but what prompted me the most was a vivid dream that I wrote down. When I finished that story, I knew I needed to write another. I had teachers recognize my interest during my school years (long before I recognized it myself), and I’m very grateful to them for planting the seeds.
Helen: How do you find new ideas for your books?
Sierra: Vacuuming is totally dangerous for new ideas, haha. Any activity that let’s your brain tick over while your body is moving gives space for stories. I find most of my ideas are based on ‘what if’ questions that I stumble across at random times. ‘What if a runaway slave hid in a king’s harem?’ ‘What if a girl goes through a portal and gets stuck in a world that hates humans (and dragons)?’ Recently I was watching an online chat group where a joke was made about crossdressing, and the little fishhook in my brain latched onto that word and started asking what if the person was crossdressing to con people and make money…so that one is simmering away in the bubbler, in a queue of a dozen other ideas waiting to be written.
Helen: ‘What if’ is such a useful tool for authors! Let’s talk a little about your writing process. Do you plan your books or let them flow where they will?
Sierra: I think the term for me is a plantster. I start out with a few dot points of a plot and an ending in mind (usually), and the story/characters sometimes run away with me during the writing journey, haha. I write from beginning to end sequentially, although occasionally if I get stuck I’ll leave a note to ‘finish this chapter’ and move on, so I don’t get bogged down.
Helen: When is the best time of the day for you to write and where do you write?
Sierra: I write late in the evening when the house is quiet. I’ve had great results overlooking the ocean…but that’s not an everyday reality, unfortunately! I like to be at my desk with lots of light and multiple screens, because I need my manuscript, my character guide, my one thousand google tabs…you get the picture 😉
Helen: Do you prefer writing or editing?
Sierra: Writing! Definitely writing! Editing means having to admit that what I wrote first time around was not the most brilliant piece of writing out there, haha. It gets messy, so I have to don emotional armour.
Helen: If you didn’t write Fantasy what genre would you like to write in?
Sierra: I love all things YA, and I’m a big fan of most sci-fi movies, so I would probably give sci-fi a try. I also love Manga (a lot of my Asian influences come from an interest in manga/web comics) so it’s a dream of mine to write or turn a book into a comic.
Helen: Thank you for joining me today Sierra, it’s been such fun meeting you. Last question, do you have a favourite piece of advice that inspires you, and what advice would you give aspiring writers?
Sierra: “A writer’s most important asset is their state of mind.” Alessandra Torres.
Once I heard this, a lot of elements about my writing practice clicked together, and now I work hard to protect my state of mind so creativity can flourish.
My advice? Just start writing—it doesn’t matter if your plot is all over the place or whatever. The more I write, the more I learn about craft and how to improve. Get a manuscript done and send it to a developmental editor. Learn from their advice. Write the next novel.
Helen: Such great advice! I am so excited to be part of this anthology, it has been a great experience, and I can’t believe the launch is only a month or so away. It has come around so quickly! You can preorder the anthology here for the insane price of 99c/79p!
Make sure you can check out some of my other posts as I spotlight the authors as they reveal their covers!
About the Author:
Sierra Knoxly lives a double life. By day she is the reserved mom of young children where adventure means a walk to the park or trip to the local pool. Once night falls and the cherubs are tucked into bed, Sierra dons armour (and amor) and rides a dragon into battle. She rains chaos down on her characters like an avenging angel of old and shoots their hearts with cupid’s bow.
Her love of mythical beasts and magic began at a young age when she had an imaginary Pegasus friend. Her gentle nature and fiery imagination leads to all around fictional steam. She lives with a mild fear that one day she’ll get a knock at the door from the authorities come to ask about her questionable browser history – all for writing research, of course.
When not writing or momming, Sierra loves bringing plants home to die and reading a reverse harem novel under a warm blanket.
For all the latest news:
Other books by Sierra Knoxly
Ambience (In the King’s Hand Book One)
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If you enjoy fantasy romance books then you will love my new release SoulBreather, part of the Realm of Darkness Anthology, and my epic fantasy Sentinal series. As a new threat against Remargaren is discovered, only one man can wake the ancient guards who can protect them, only he doesn’t know how. Start the adventure and stay for the journey. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next books are published.
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