Author Interview – Sky Sommers

Author of Ash Crooked Fates

With the launch of her novel retelling the Wizard of Oz story, I am joined today by author Sky Sommers who released Ash Crooked Fate on June 20th! Welcome Sky. Congratulations on the release of your book. I thoroughly enjoyed your retelling of Cinderella from the viewpoint of the evil stepmother, it was brilliant, laugh out loud at times, and really made you think about how stories and history can be twisted by the person telling the story. You can find my review of Cinders here. But on with the intervew! Sky, please tell us a little about your new novel.

Sky: Hi, Helen and thank you for having me! Ash: Crooked Fates is a retelling of the Wizard of Oz based on 2 books – Baum’s and Volkov’s. It’s a young adult fantasy with a few adult chapters mixed in (nothing too untoward, no overt sex scenes or anything). A villain from the first book (well, more like an antiheroine), Melisandra aka Mellie, who keeps shoving her kids to live with strangers goes to Oz because, after all, she does want a happily ever after. With the wizard. And their youngest daughter Ellie who is supposed to be 3. Except due to peculiarities of time in different dimensions she turns out to be 17. While Ellie traipses along the yellow-brick road with the Cowardly Lion (who is really Beast’s son) and the Brainless Scarecrow (who is her guardian angel), she doesn’t know her companions are really there to find Tinman who is a long lost fae prince. All sorts of adventures befall on the travellers, including the poppy field and the flying monkeys and as Ellie keeps pining after Tinman, her dark angel is pining after her. So, a love triangle with a slow burn romance. I swear I didn’t intend to write Cinders as a quick hook-up, Embers as a rekindling romance and Ash as a slow burn one, it just happened.

Helen: I love the way you look at these stories from a different perspective, and inject humour and an insight into why people behave the way they do. The cover is gorgeous, such beautiful colours, tell us your thoughts behind it.

Sky This is a custom-made cover. My cover artist Rusham is amazing and his work ethics are just out of this world! He researched the successful genre covers and we decided the 17yo girl needed to be up front and personal on the cover because the story is mostly about her voyage, finding herself and finding her family. The Emerald City had to be in the background at the end of the yellow brick road. The red dots were a last-minute addition to refer to the poppy field incident. I didn’t want to crowd the cover with men, as there is a love triangle developing in the story, but if I would have had 2 men and 1 girl on the cover, then it could have been misinterpreted as a reverse harem story, which it isn’t. I didn’t want to put the girl’s parents (the protagonists in the adult part of the story) there either, the cover would have been too crowded.

Helen: And the title Ash Crooked Fates, how did you decide on that name?

Sky: Ash is the 3rd and last book in a trilogy (although quite possibly not the last book in the Magic Kingdom series) and I had fun for a while figuring out the Cinders-Embers-Ash titles. The subheading had to be about Fate – not going to air spoilers, but there’s a Goddess – and lives of quite a few characters are not going according to the plan they had in their heads, hence Crooked Fates in the multiple.

Helen: This is your third retelling, is this the only genre you write in?

Sky: Fairy-tales, YA and adult fantasy (grown up themes, but no erotica, mostly fade-to-black, actually), but also branching out into speculative fiction.

Helen: How do you come up with the ideas for your books, and the twists that all make such great sense once you put them all together?

Sky: I usually start hypothesising what could have happened next, after the happily ever after or after ‘the end’. Or I read a fairy-tale and spot the HUUUUGE gaps (like in Thumbelina) and I just have to go and fill them. Or just yesterday, an author friend posted a quiz about fairy-tale names, I conjured Yumiko Blackwood out of my pen name Sky Sommers and on a dare, I wrote a flash fiction piece called Yumiko and the Battlefrog. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look and wonder.

Helen: Tough question now – Out of all your books, who is your favourite character?

Sky: My fave character – that’s such an unfair question, Helen!!! They are all my babies. If I have to choose a favourite child, it would have to be Marina, the Goddess of Luck and soon also Fate, who ended up in the Magic Kingdom as the local witch and lived to be 66 only to be returned the day after she left Earth into her 25yo body. Because I can make her say the most outrageous things and everyone would just think she’s sassy. She’s probably my bossy, insane, kooky alter ego.

Helen: Sorry, I had to ask! Us readers want to know these things! Easier question then (hopefully!) What are you currently writing? Tell us about your WIP.

Sky: Which one of them? I have at least three:  a short story I’m writing as a thank you for my Ash ARC readers called To Cure a Curse (a Belle&Beast retelling) and let me tell you, Belle did try to fix Beast’s curse because the kiss didn’t work and it all backfired rather spectacularly on the entire bloodline. The 2nd is This Time Around, a speculative (scifi-ish) fiction, where I have to fix a few plot holes about cloning and timeline-lines. And the 3rd is a romance between a Goddess and a light angel seeking forgiveness that will be book 1 in the Goddesses Saga (of 10 books), which will first appear in the Dark Realms Anthology (we have 35 authors and books!!!) in October 2022.

Helen: That all sounds so amazing, and keeping you very busy! I am beyond excited about the Dark Realms Anthology as this will be the first book I’ve written outside my Sentinal series. Though I currently have two ideas and can’t decide which one to use! With so many projects how do you fit writing into your daily life?

Sky: I have Tuesday evening to write. And Monday and Thursday and Saturday and Sunday evenings – when I’m on a roll, I can’t help it and my hubby & kids have learnt to live with it. Mommy needs a hobby to keep her sane.

Helen: What about your writing environment do you listen to music or prefer silence?

Sky: I used to all the time. Now I only listen to music when I get stuck and then the lyrics and sometimes the beat of the rhythm suggest avenues I haven’t noticed before.

Helen: If you didn’t write fantasy books, would you write in a different genre and if so what would you like to write?

Sky: I will and I am, in fact, writing in speculative fiction next – This Time Around, a book about cloning in post-Brexit London in year 2101 is out in October 2021 (up for pre-order).

Helen: I know most authors also read a lot. Do you have a favourite author, or book?

Sky: Jenny Crusie, hands down – she writes romcom with killer dialogue and unforgettable plots. I’ve been gifting her ‘Bet Me’ book and getting my friends hooked on her books for years. Years!

My favourite book is Jenny Crusie’s Bet Me – it’s got an unlikely romance between a gorgeous hunk and a homely actuary who have killer dialogues, super awkward family meets and exes who just don’t let up. It’s a fun romp that I keep re-reading every few years, makes me laugh every time, although I know what’s coming and it is also inspiration for writing dialogues in my own books.

Helen: What are you currently reading?

Sky: Currently, beta reading Unwish by Lynda Simmons, it’s a LOTR-reminiscent YA epic fantasy – us indie authors have to stick together and help each other out whenever we can. Also reading Jen Kropf’s A Soul As Cold as Frost – because I loved her short story in our Enchanted Water charity anthology and I want to know how the future Captain Hook fares. Also reading Wishes by Starlight because I want to know what happens to Jacque Stevens’ Elya from Letters by Cinderlight. And just a tad of regency romance by Bree Wolf called How to Live Happily Ever After – her books are entertaining period-true historic romance and that takes my mind off my plot holes.

Helen: Wow, not only writing multiple projects, also reading mutliple books, all at the same time! Out of the books you’ve recently read which would you recommend?

Sky: Oh, this is a great question, I always recommend the authors I love (see my Bookbub and Goodreads page, if you don’t believe me). Recent reads and loves: Alice Ivinya’s Enchanted Melody; Lyndsay Hall’s The Fair Queen; Esme Rome’s The Rose Kiss was one of the most original Belle&Beast stories I’ve read in ages (and I’ve read tons); Jacque Stevens’ Letters by Cinderlight was a lovely Russian royalty themed Cinderella crossed with Match Girl, and K.A.Last’s Dance of Wishes was a unique retelling of a rare fairy-tale of 12 dancing princesses. The closest book that reminded me of my favourite author was Anne Harper’s Fake It Till You Make It, it was absolutely hilarious. I can go on, do stop me.

Helen: It’s been a pleasure chatting with, thank you so much for for joining me. Congratulations again on your new release Ash Crooked Fates. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?

Sky: Write every chance you get, if it is 5 minutes, 55 minutes or just 1. A creative writing course instructor who works for The Guardian said something along these lines to me and it stuck.

About the Author:

Sky was born to Estonian-Russian parents and for most of her life has lived and worked as a lawyer in Tallinn, Estonia, with brief escapes to Finland and the United Kingdom for work/study and to all but the top and bottom continents in search of her muse.

Her debut e-book in 2012 was about ancient goddesses running amock, trying to get their wilted powers back. She then proceeded to indie publishing her own ebooks and paperbacks and found her way from myths and legend via the Angelic Agency to fairytales retold for young adult and adult audiences. So far, Thumbelina has been updated for suspicious adults, a more sinister version of Cinderella was released on 21.12.20 and an adult Red Riding Hood retelling is about to be released on 21.03.21. A Wizard of Oz retelling and several short stories are in the works.

All her books are linked by some character or another and she loves making you choose at the end – by letting you pick an ending to read – one for the optimist and a slightly different one for pessimists (well, except in the Cinders-Embers-Ash trilogy because only Douglas Adams could pull off a trilogy in 5 parts). She lives in a house with a small garden with her husband and mostly one, but on occasion plus four kids.

You can find more about Sky via:

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You can order Sky’s novel from Amazon:

You can purchase Book One Cinders here:

Link to book on Amazon UK: eBook

Link to book on Amazon US: eBook

Link book on Amazon Canada: eBook

And Book Two Embers here:

Link to book on Amazon UK: eBook

Link to book on Amazon US: eBook

Link book on Amazon Canada: eBook

Or Book Three Ash Crooked Fates here:

Link to book on Amazon UK: eBook

Link to book on Amazon US: eBook

Link book on Amazon Canada: eBook

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