Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book.  One of these is FREE on Amazon!

Author’s name:
Sarah Ashwood
Title of book and/or series:
Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset (free!)
Aerisia: Gateway to the Underworld
Aerisia: Field of Battle
Books 1, 2, and 3 of the Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy
Brief summary of the story:
From Earth to Aerisia, Hannah Winters has unexpectedly gone from college student to prophesied savior of a parallel world. Here in Aerisia, the existence and survival of all depend upon her as Aerisia’s Artan who must battle and defeat the dread Dark Powers. Plenty of people, including fairies, giants, the Moonkind, and even the Simathe, a mysterious race of immortal warriors, are willing to help Hannah navigate this new world and its pitfalls. However, there’s only one person Hannah can count on to truly save her, and that’s herself. Unfortunately, saving herself may mean becoming someone she doesn’t know and doesn’t know how to become. And that’s a woman with magic: the Artan.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Aerisia is a beautiful land full of magic and promise that lies beyond Earth’s sunsets. In Aerisia, there exist many new creatures and races of people, such as the evil drocnords, deathcats, the Moonkind (people of the moon), and the immortal Simathe. Also in Aerisia, are more familiar fairytale creatures like fairies, dragons, gargoyles, and giants. Ages ago, the ways between our two worlds were open and inhabitants of one realm could travel to the other. As time went by, the ways between Earth and Aerisia were eventually closed; however, memories of Aerisia have remained in Earth’s memory, handed down to us in fairytales, myth, and legend.
If we were to visit Aerisia as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
My first stop would be Laytrii’s palace, which is also the first stop of our heroine, Hannah Winters, when she arrives in Aerisia. Carved from the heart of a mountain, Laytrii’s palace is a marble edifice where both magic and the ruling body of Aerisia reside. It is, in effect, the life center of the whole realm. I would also like to meet the Galandorf, a piratical sea people, and travel to the land of the Warkin, the dragon tamers. Lastly, I wouldn’t mind meeting a fairy or a dragon or two—or even a Simathe!
What dangers should we avoid in Aerisia?
Definitely the drocnords! Although they aren’t the wiliest servants of the Dark Powers, they are fierce, fast, and merciless.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Aerisia?
The Simathe, a band of immortal warriors and Aerisia’s strongest, if most secretive, military asset, are well versed in all forms of weaponry. Their High-Chief, Ilgard, is usually seen carrying a sword or yedin, while his Chief Captain, Norband, prefers a bow. Under the tutelage of the Simathe, Hannah learns to use a sword, but a bow is her weapon of choice.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Aerisia?
The most common type of transportation would be the horse and any horse drawn vehicle. The most uncommon would be the fairies’ transporting doors, an invisible method of moving instantaneously from one place to another. Typically, this is used only by the fairies, but Hannah does make use of them when she travels to the Underworld in book two. Fairies are also sometimes seen riding golden unicorns, which is the emblem on their standard, as well.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Aerisia that we don’t see on Earth?
I’ve already mentioned some of the races, such as the Simathe, fairies, and giants. As far as animals go, the Simathe have their own distinct breed of horses, the Restless, that are tireless and fearless. There are also deathcats—a breed of cat larger than an ox, with the ability to think on an almost human level. They sometimes work alone, but are often found working with the Cistweigh, the living dead.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Aerisia?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Magic abounds in Aerisia and colors much of everyday life, from the immortality of the Simathe, to the healing powers of the Moonkind, to the ability of the fairies to protect and preserve the natural realm. In Aerisia, magic stems either from the Powers of Good or the Dark Powers. As Artan, Hannah must learn to wield the magic imparted to her by the Powers of Good to such an extent that she can finally and fully defeat the growing evil of the Dark Powers.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Aerisia?  Please describe what it involves.
Religion, per se, does not play heavily into the world of Aerisia. The main religion referenced is the Peace of the Moon, which is followed by the Moonkind. Basically, it is a set of beliefs that promotes pacifism and abhors violence. Although the Moonkind are instrumental in bringing Hannah to Aerisia so she can fight the Dark Powers as the Artan, and although they are some of her main teachers in learning to use her magic, they do not follow her into the climatic final battle in book three, except as healers of the wounded.
What is the political or government structure in Aerisia?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Aerisia is ruled by the Council, which consists of twelve Elders chosen from among the people by the people. There are also four Pronconcil: a Ranetron (military leader), a Simathe (also a military leader), a Cortain (leader of a group of female warriors), and a Spinner (female keepers of Aerisia’s history, legends, and lore). Presiding over Council and its members is the High Elder.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
A sunset walk down a country road when I was teenager birthed the Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy. The scene in the opening chapter of book one, Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset, where Hannah meets the Moonkind Guardian, Risean Wy’ Curlm, who whisks her away from her Colorado home to Laytrii’s palace in the land of Aerisia, was inspired by an incident in real life. I used to walk/run country roads at evening when it was cooler, I had a neighbor who raised horses and had a huge, old stump in his pasture, and my overactive imagination sometimes tricked me into thinking that stump was something it wasn’t. Once, it was a bear, once a dog, once a stranger in flowing robes…which got me to thinking. What would happen if I actually ran across a stranger from another time period or world? Put these factors together, and Aerisia was born.
Author Autobiography:
A genuine Okie from Muskogee, Sarah Ashwood grew up in the wooded hills outside the oldest town in Oklahoma. She is author of the Sunset Lands Beyond fantasy trilogy, a poetry volume “A Minstrel’s Musings,” and the fantasy novella “Amana,” along with numerous other published works. In her imagination, she soars effortlessly through historical and fantastical worlds. In real life, she lives (mostly) quietly at home with her husband and sons. Besides writing, she enjoys running and completed her first half marathon in November of 2014.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.
My Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy is available in ebook and print editions. The best place to find all purchase links for each book in the trilogy is my author page on Ultimate Fantasy Books, here.  (Don’t forget to download Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset for free!)
Where can readers connect with you online? 

You can find me on my Sarah Ashwood Facebook author page, friend me on my Sarah Ashwood Goodreads page, follow me on Twitter @1sarahashwood, or on Instagram where I go by @runnerwritermom. If you want to see lots of pins related to fairytales, fantasy, magic, castles, reading, and writing (and occasionally fitness and running), you can follow me on my Pinterest page, as well.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Aerisia.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the fantasy world of Terramara, in Realm Explorers Part LII!
-Annie Douglass Lima