Sword & Silk is pleased to welcome Lara Buckheit
Her novel, A Realm of Ash and Shadow, is an Upper YA Romantic Fantasy comparable to Kingdom of the Wicked and These Hollow Vows.
After eighteen years in exile, Princess Valeria Breault is forced to return to Empyrean only to discover her place as heir to the throne is in danger, her every idea of family is not what she believed it to be, and that sometimes, enemies make the best allies.
Eighteen-year-old princess, Valeria Breault, is sure of three things. One, she was exiled from Empyrean because her father didn’t want the hassle of raising her. Two, her perfect realm would be better off without a mortal-raised smart-ass with a foul mouth and penchant for trouble. And three, neither of those things matter when a horde of demons crashes prom. Forced to fight for her life, Valeria narrowly escapes being captured by the Realm of the Forsaken, only to be dragged back to Empyrean before she is meant to return. Instead of the beautiful utopia from her bedtime stories, Val finds herself thrown into a hellish nightmare where the poor are dying, the rich are thriving, and her claim to the throne is in jeopardy. But not if Valeria can help it. The overwhelming desire to belong and a craving for power has her making choices that make it harder and harder to guard her heart against the man who’s bound to protect her, the god she’s vowed to hate, and the darkness that’s growing inside her. Only time will tell if the secrets she unravels and the alliances she makes will lead to the throne or the pyre.
Lara Buckheit was born and raised on the Eastern Shore. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Wilmington University, is a 2021 WriteMentor Mentee, an avid writer (and reader) of spice, and one time she met Taylor Swift’s dad. She started writing at a very young age, mostly fanfiction centered around women with swords and men with devilish grins. And she hasn’t stopped since. When not writing, Lara can be found drinking tea, hustling for her day job, reading from her endless TBR pile, or hanging out on her body confidence Instagram. Lara currently lives in Roanoke, VA, with her fiancé, dog, and thirteen houseplants named after fictional characters.
An Introductory Interview with Lara
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hiiii, I’m Lara (pronounced lair-uh), and I’m almost thirty and flirty and thriving. I write books about women with swords and men with devilish grins that center around romance, hope, and self-discovery. My stories are usually Upper YA with crossover potential into New Adult (yes, it’s a thing). When I’m not working my day-job as a freelance Social Media Strategist, I’m writing, reading from my neverending TBR pile, and hanging out on my body confidence bookstagram. I currently live in Roanoke, VA, with my fiancé, rescue dog, and thirteen houseplants named after fictional characters.
Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
A combination of long drives listening to Halsey’s Badlands album on repeat, obsessively watching my comfort show Reign, and wanting to write a book that normalizes the fact that young women can be just as horny as young men. As someone with a bit of an estranged relationship with some members of my family, I wanted to explore found families and how the family you choose and relationships you forge in your life can matter more than the family you’re born into. I’m also a huge nerd when it comes to anything Greek or Norse mythology, so I wanted to experiment with the idea of blending all of my favorite elements from both mythologies into one cohesive world of my own.
What is your writing process? Plotter or Pantser? Are you a morning or evening writer? What is your tried and true method for getting words on the page?
My writing process is a little chaotic. I definitely think I fall into the Pantser side of things because I tend to have a conversation or a scene play out in my head that I picture so vividly, and then I write to get to that scene and beyond. Sometimes these conversations wake me from a dead sleep, and I draft them on my phone from bed in the dark. Other times, they’ll spark from a song that I’m listening to, a show or a movie I’m watching, or a conversation I’m having. I tend to write sporadically throughout the day, and my best method for getting words on the page is to do sprints with my critique group. I love a friendly challenge!
Authors often impart pieces of themselves into their stories. Which character best reflects you? Do you share any personality traits with your protagonist? I’d like to say that Val is a reflection of myself with her impulsiveness, desire to belong, and inability to shut up when she needs to. But Sabel is by far the character that I resonate with the most because she is the “mom friend”, the one who is always looking out for others even if it ruins her fun.
What drew you to the YA genre as an author?
I really enjoy Upper YA because it’s a smooth transition right into New Adult. The pacing is quicker, the scenes can be spicier, but you’re still young and dumb and making mistakes. I think that’s really beautiful.
If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice what would it be?
You will achieve your wildest dreams regardless of your size, so stop letting your negative body image hold you back.