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Do Not Open Until 23

Lydia R. Outland Author Interview

Ash and Gold follows a woman whose normal life is shattered when she’s consumed by nightmares and a dark underworld of cults is revealed. Where did the idea for the story come from and how did it change as you wrote?

The idea for the novel initially came from a time capsule. When I was around 13 years old, I made a time capsule for myself ten years in the future. I filled a box with random things that I found important at the time, including songs, stories, journal entries, photos of my family and friends, and most importantly, a cassette tape with recorded messages from younger me to future me. I wrapped the little box up with duct tape. Wrote “Do Not Open Until 23” on the box in big block letters and tucked it away in a corner of my closet.

Ten years later I pulled out the little box and checked the contents. I was surprised to find that I had forgotten nearly everything I had put in there, including what I had said on the cassette tape. I spent a fun evening listening to ten years ago me giving current me advice on life (in a way only a thirteen-year-old could) and that sparked the idea: what if there was a girl who was listening to a past version of herself, one she didn’t remember, but one that gave advice. What if that past version was older, not younger? How could that occur? Why would it occur? What secrets could such a little cassette tape hold?
From there the story kind of snowballed into Ash and Gold as it is now.

I enjoyed the overall eerie feeling embedded in the story. What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer in this book?

Well, I wrote a good portion of this novel during quarantine, and I challenged myself to set out the entire morning, every day, to simply sit down (drink lots of coffee) and write. Challenge completed, I guess?
I am also so glad you enjoyed the eerie feeling! I did my best to keep a creepy under tone without overdoing it or having it come across as goofy. It is difficult to tell, since I can’t step out of myself to read what I have written. I know the vibe I’m try for, but it’s sometimes hard to tell if I am successful. So, thank you!

What scene in the story did you have the most fun writing?

That is honestly a hard question—I had a great deal of fun writing this book overall. But the first scene that comes to mind is the scene when Buggy meets Theo for the first time at the cabin. The dialogue between Theo and Buggy were always some of my favorite parts to write, and that scene in particular carried a lot of confused “worlds colliding” elements that I had so much fun bringing into existence.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently switching back and forth between two books at the moment. One is the sequel to my first novel The Strangest Woman, and the other takes place in the same universe as Ash and Gold (closely related—although not exactly a direct sequel).

I’m not sure when either will be available. I suppose it depends how much time I have to write and if I can force myself to hunker down and just work on one book at a time—which I find surprisingly difficult at times. Some days one story nudges me a little more than the other and I find myself jumping back and forth quite often. Despite that, I am making decent progress on both—so hopefully one (or the other) will be available soon.

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Briar “Buggy” Pierce is going insane. At least, that’s what she thinks.
Ripped from her normal life in sleepy Marshall County, California, Buggy fights for control over her mind as a darkness awakens within her heart and splinters her reality. Nightmares fill her dreams with fear and pain. Dreams of evil deaths. Drowning in darkness. Burning alive. But those are the least of her terrors.
An intense power is building inside Buggy, a power she does not understand or know how to control. Just when things cannot get any worse, two mysterious strangers bulldoze into her life, scattering her already weak hold on everything she believes to be true. They show her a world full of psychic cults and dark promises.
They say they want to help her, but can she trust them? And even if they can help her, is there enough time?
Or is it already too late?

Ash and Gold

Ash and Gold by Lydia R. Outland is a haunting urban fantasy novel following the story of a daughter who was cursed in the guise of a blessing to never actually die. She is born again and again, in search of her mother and the mystical city, and destroys everything in her wake. Buggy, our protagonist, is oblivious to all of these ominous past occurrences and wants to enjoy a normal life. Suddenly she finds herself surrounded by two men who change the course of her life.

This fast-paced story is filled with intriguing supernatural elements that feel separate yet all come together to create a complex storyline. The author includes a lot of details to flesh out the world the character inhabits and creates a backdrop that balances between grim and ominous, but in either case the author ensures that readers are well acquainted with the world by the time the strange gets stranger.

The eerie narrative of the story remains constant throughout the book ensuring a steady flow of paranormal things being exposed. The author also explores the relationship between friends and family through the interactions of characters, which I think is an much more engaging way to convey information. We are given plenty of background on the protagonist to understand her, but I felt that supporting characters were not given as much room to develop, making this more of a character study rather than an ensemble story.

I would love to read more about the story of Waverley, if the author decides to explore it more in this series because I thought it was a very interesting aspect. This book explores another world completely dependent on the consciousness of the characters, which is fascinating.

There is also an LGBTQ relationship in the background of the story which neither seems like a forceful inclusion in the story nor ignores the importance of it. These small tidbits are mixed seamlessly into the story giving the book an authentic and fresh atmosphere, even amongst the metaphysical elements.

The writing style of the author makes the story much more memorable and interesting to read as well. I thought this book was super addictive. There is a proficient literary flow to the story that shows the authors talent with telling a story punctuated by intrigue that keeps readers constantly engaged.

Ash and Gold is an enthralling urban fantasy story that slowly takes readers into a mystery that is fascinating if not complex. This is a spellbinding occult fiction story that will appeal to readers looking for a cerebral and haunting novel.

Pages: 550 | ASIN : B09NW8JV42

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