Friday, January 29, 2016

Author Interview: Megan Linski, author of Kingdom from Ashes


Tell us about the book you want to talk about today.

Kingdom From Ashes is a retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights, centering around a beautiful princess captured by a handsome prince of thieves.

Give us an insight into your main character.

Princess Bennua has been under the harsh, oppressive rules of her father and her homeland her entire life, but finally finds courage and strength in the arms of the thief who took her for his own.

What genre are your books?

YA Fantasy

Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?

I publish through my own company, Gryfyn Publishing. It’s always been my dream to own my own publishing company, and I soon hope to begin acquiring other books along with publishing my own.

What do you consider the most important part of a good story?

Good characters! If people love the characters they’re reading about, they won’t care what happens in the story, so long as they get to see those characters interact with their environment!

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was six years old, professionally since I was fourteen.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I used to be a pantser, but I found things go so much easier and the writing is much better when you sit down and plot out your story. I will no longer write a book without an outline, because you need to know where you’re going!

What is your writing process?

I usually spend a month or more on research and outlining before I even begin a story. Then from there I write every single day as much as I can until the book is finished.

What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?

Beginning the novel. It’s extremely difficult opening those first few chapters and hooking people in. It’s something I need to work on as an author.

What advice would you give an author just starting out?

Learn as much about the industry and the process as you can before writing or publishing a book. Don’t rush headlong into things, take your time and make sure you’re making good decisions for you and your novel.

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?

You just have to force yourself through it. Become a creature of habit and write everyday, even if the well is dry and there’s no inspiration. Eventually it has to leave.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?

I enjoy gothic rock, pop tunes, indie music, alternative Christian, and acoustic.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I ride horses, ice skate, and love anything involving the outdoors.

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t really have a favorite anymore. Mostly I try to read obscure indie books that don’t get a lot of attention. I like to be the first one to find new talent before it becomes big.

What is your favorite book?

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

Who is your favorite character from a book?

I love Princess Amalthea from The Last Unicorn. She’s so powerful, so stoic and grand. She captivates me.

Who is your favorite character from your own book(s)?

I have so many favorites. From Kingdom From Ashes I love the prince of thieves, Zahid. He’s funny, charming, and incredibly sexy.

Have you had anything else published?

I have a new adult novel, These Starcrossed Lives of Ours, as well as a short story and a poetry collection, a YA romance, Alora, and two books in my fantasy series, Creatures of the Lands.

What's your next project?

I’m currently working on a YA fantasy series based off of Asian folklore. I’m super excited about it!!!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

You can sign up for my mailing list at:


Princess Bennua is to be married. The daughter of a sultan, her duty is to marry a powerful yet cruel warlord to be her husband, sealing an alliance that will scare the desert of Sahrahn into submission. But the wedding is halted in place when the infamous Raider Prince, king of thieves and leader of the dark city Ashana, threatens to take her city by force.

Sacrificing her freedom for her country, Bennua agrees to accompany the Raider Prince on his travels if he leaves her homeland alone. Stolen from her charmed life Bennua begins to learn the truth of what lies beyond the palace walls and the suffering that plagues Sahrahn’s people. Bennua begins to plan her escape, but the more she learns from the thieves the more she finds herself becoming one of the them...all while falling hard for their leader, the Raider Prince himself.


Ashes. The entire world is ashes and I am a fire, an ember slowly burning and burning until it can burn no longer and it goes out. I long to spread my wings and fly, to fly far away from here and never return, even though the palace and its comforts are all I’ve ever known in my seventeen years. I am a trapped bird in a cage, but I doubt even if my jailers would open my door I would be brave enough to set myself free. If there was an inferno engulfing my cell, I still wouldn’t have the courage to take flight and leave my iron bars behind.
I wish a fire would spring up and consume me now, so I wouldn’t have to go through with this horrible arrangement.
“Bennua! You lazy girl, stand up straight!” my mother snaps at me as the dressmaker sticks me with more and more pins. “You move too much! Do you want to look like an ugly cow on your wedding day?”
“You couldn’t do much with her to begin with, Mother,” my eldest sister Pottina says. The oldest out of seven sisters, including me, she always has to put her word in. “Even with the dress I doubt Quasim will be pleased.”
All of Sahrahn’s deserts, thieves, and sandstorms wouldn’t be able to harden my sister anymore than what she already is. She could suck the hardiest camel dry of its water. “Quasim will be pleased,” I shoot back at her. “You’ll see it on his face the moment I walk out to greet him.”
“He will be, for you better not shame us, Bennua,” Mother warns. “Quasim is the greatest prince in all of Sahrahn. He’s the finest husband your father could ever find.”
“Thirty years old. I wonder what his palace will be like,” I say fairly. Quasimar, the country that’ll be my new home, is named after the conqueror himself. I can’t even think about it without getting a bad taste in my mouth.
“Be grateful,” Istilah says. “At seventeen, you’re practically an old maid. I’m surprised Quasim even considered you.”
“Your sisters were all married long before your age. Quit pouting,” Mother says, sticking my dress with another pin.
“I don’t see what you’re complaining about,” Du’a says quietly, looking down at her hands. “Father chose the best for you.”
My sisters and I share glances with each other and then look at the floor again quickly. I guess she’s right. Our father never made good choices when it came to picking our husbands. Pottina was married off to a desert nomad, and is always traveling. Jabirah was wedded to a royal official from another country who pays more attention to his money than he does her, and Du’a’s husband beats her regularly. The rest are all stuck in equally horrible matches, save for Husna, who was simply married to an idiot. She wasn’t exactly happy, but at least nobody expected much out of you, being married to a fool.
Not like how everyone would soon expect everything out of me, being married to the most powerful warlord in the world.
“The traditional wedding colors look awful on her,” Pottina complains. “The pink veil, the green skirt, she looks like a trashy harem dancer!”
“We can’t change it now,” Mother says. “Quasim is due to arrive tonight. Unless you would like to sew another gown in that short of a time, Pottina.”
That keeps her quiet. Within my room, standing on my pedestal and looking out into the openness of the balcony my father has built just for me, I feel a small gust of dry desert air. It’s hotter than usual out today, so hot that if you didn’t stay inside the sun would fry your skin quicker than if placed in a broiling cooking pot.
“Pay attention! Always daydreaming,” my mother hisses, shaking her head at me. She’s been acting grumpier than’s the stress of planning the wedding, and the feast that’s meant to last for days after. Quasim is bound to bring a whole party even though there’s no need. I haven’t yet met the man, and I have to wonder...what is he like? I’ve heard many rumors that he’s strong, tall and handsome. A woman’s daydream, I’ve heard. He’s won more battles than I can count, and is so rich he could buy my tiny country, Haya-Maa, ten times over. I keep telling myself that maybe he won’t be as bad as I’ve thought.
“It’s useless!” my mother says, throwing up her hands and shooing the servant at my skirt. “Stop working on it, you’ll only ruin it!” As my mother chases the seamstress out of the room all of my sisters stand up and Pottina adds, “It’s not like men really care about what a woman wears. All they’re concerned about is getting the dress off.”
“Well I care,” Mother says. “But yes, I suppose you’re right.” She casts another steely glance at me. “Bennua, whatever you do, do your best to please Quasim. There’s nothing more important to a man than his first time in bed with a new bride. If you destroy every other part of the wedding, make sure you do well in that way.”
I don’t know how I’m supposed to please a man who has had not one, but two other wives before I, so I suppose I’ll just hope for the best and pray to Alshams that he likes virgins. I nod to Mother and she sighs, gesturing to my sisters. “Come, all of you. I need help down in the kitchens, the gardens and well...everywhere. And you!” she points at me. “Stay here and work on getting all the knots out of that disgusting mop of yours. Don’t you ever take care of your hair? Quickly now, all of you!”
My sisters move to adjust the veils over their hair, as it is against the law for them to walk in a man’s presence with it shown. Usually they wouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere without their husbands, but since this is our father’s palace they have the freedom to journey where they like as long as they stay inside the city walls. It is a freedom that I will lose as soon as Quasim becomes my husband. Tomorrow he will own me, and there is nothing I can say about it. I slip the obnoxious dress off and put on one of my lavender tops and airy harem pants, leaving my veil on the bed for when I need it.
I pick up a comb and begin on my hair, though it’s not half as bad as my mother made it out to be. The black tendrils fall all the way down my back in soft waves, contrasting sharply against my tan skin. My almond eyes are slanted, like the ancient relatives that have passed on long before me, and are a deep brown underneath my thin eyebrows. Everything about me is desert, desert, desert all over. I don’t look like a palace princess. My skin is soft, however, so perhaps Quasim will like that.
My room is filled with precious things my father has gathered for me on his journeys to expand our small sultanate. A fluffy, ostrich feather bed, with satin sheets that match the priceless silk curtains. Plush pillows, intricate rugs. Fabric strings across the ceiling, bathing my room in royal purple. The large mirror I have gazing back at me from my ivory vanity displays not the brave, strong woman that I want to see, but a young girl who looks terrified. After tomorrow this room will be empty...
I snap the brush down, slip my veil on, and grab the brocade robe my father had made especially for me. I slip the coat on and dash out the door.

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