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Her Hunger to Belong

Aino Lahteva
Aino Lahteva Author Interview

Strands of Existence follows a woman who leaves her home and must piece together her memories while navigating a new world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting story? 

These sorts of questions are difficult for me as I’m very much a “pantser” when it comes to characters and plot. I see most things in my head in movie form. It always starts with the main character’s image and name. After some prodding, they start to reveal a little more about their nature which will, in turn, help me to make them into a more believable person and get a feel whether the story is going to have a happy or sad ending, or something in-between. I have conversations with them, or sometimes as them, trying to reason their positions on moral issues (which I’m sure amuses my neighbors as they see me prattling to myself in the garden).

Istrae is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

I wanted to illuminate her hunger to belong and know more about herself and explore how much she would be willing to go through for such revelations. To me, she is a character that can become a hero or a villain in the course of the story, and I want the reader to know her intimately so her decisions make sense intuitively when we get to some darker issues later on in the series.

What were some themes that you wanted to focus on in this book?

Finding oneself, finding a place to belong, someone to belong to, and how much of all that is up to the person. The battle between wanting something and knowing that to get it you have to deprive someone else of something (which is probably an overarching theme for the series starting with smaller personal issues at first and progressing to a larger scale later on).

This is book one in your Strands of Existence series. What can readers expect in book two? 

Book 2 (working title “Sea of Shadows”) will open up new parts of the city and the natural laws of the magic system more. We’ll dive a little into the world of Istrae’s love interest as Rime’s Guard with the army behind him steps into the light. Much of the book will focus on events just leading up to and happening during the civil war within the city. Hopefully, the next book will be out in 2021 either in late spring or early autumn.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

As an opportunist, Istrae yearns to get off her home island and visit Kerth, the City of Light and Abundance. Her preferred method of travel, however, didn’t include drowning. And she didn’t expect the city to be so dirty. Her memories are as broken as her body. She begins to piece them together with the help of a spirit bound to a statue and an ambitious army captain called Rime she enjoys teasing. While Rime guides Istrae in her new life, it becomes evident the rigid rules of society and the city’s Temple do not welcome those who seek to shake the established rules, which is something Istrae is incapable of resisting.


The *new linguistically revised* version of the novel. Island Girl is the first book in a fresh epic fantasy series Strands of Existence with tones of adventure and a splash of romance. A whole new world with it’s own laws, intuitive magic, and religion.

Strands of Existence 1: Island Girl

Strands of Existence 1: Island Girl by [Aino Lahteva]

Strands of Existence: Island Girl follows a woman who is desperate to leave her home. Her home is an island that is feeling less like home and more like a prison. Her destination is the City of Light and Abundance. A city name that perfectly reflects her mental image of it. When her journey to the city ends in disaster, she arrives with scattered memories, and the city is not what she thought it would be. Can she learn the rules of her new life without attracting unwanted attention?

Author Aino Lahteva has created a detailed world that is grounded in reality, even though it is filled with magic and religion. This is a character driven fantasy story, with our protagonist Istrae, going through a slow evolution throughout the book that is consistently intriguing. She goes from almost marrying a man out of necessity and turns into a strong woman that embraces her destiny with vigor. The world in which this story exists always seems like there is deeper lore behind everything, and we’re only scratching the surface of a much larger story. Magic and religion is seamlessly blended into the world and the story in a unique way that elevates this book from a simple fantasy story and into an epic fantasy novel. While I heartily enjoyed the story I felt like the ending was not as fulfilling as I wanted it to be. This leads me to yearn for a follow up book, but I would have enjoyed a more complete ending.

Strands of Existence: Island Girl is a different type of fantasy story that breaks the mold of the epic fantasy genre in an entertaining way. I recommend this book to sword and sorcery fans looking for some romance added to the mix of a fantasy story that doesn’t overwhelm you with specifics and focuses instead on delivering human drama that is easily enjoyed.

Pages: 261 | ASIN: B08GS8XNQ6

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