I. A. Ashcroft has been writing fiction in many forms for almost twenty years. The author's first book, written at age seven, featured the family cat, who befriended dragons and eagles, all while hunting an evil sorceress. This preoccupation with the fantastical has not changed in the slightest.
Now, the author dwells in Tempe, AZ and writes almost exclusively in the realm of darker fantasy, loving to entertain adults with stories of magic, wonder, despair, violence, and hope. Ashcroft has a deep love of mythology and finding the story threads that resurface in humanity's tales over and over throughout the centuries, seeking to bring those elements into every tale penned. The author also loves diverse and intriguing casts of characters.
When not buried in a book, one might find Ashcroft learning languages, charting road trips, and playing tabletop RPGs with clever and fun people.
Email: i.a.ashcroft at ravenchosen dot com
Title: Raven Song (Book One of Inoki's Game)
Genre: Adult Dystopian Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Released: March 2016
Jackson, a smuggler, lives in the shadows, once a boy with no memory, no name, and no future. Ravens followed him, long-extinct creatures only he could see, and nightmares flew in their wake. Once, Jackson thought himself to be one of the lucky few touched by magic, a candidate for the Order of Mages. He is a man now, and that dream has died. But, the ravens still follow. The nightmares still whisper in his ear.
Anna's life was under the sun, her future bright, her scientific work promising. She knew nothing of The Bombings, the poisoned world, or the occult. One day, she went to work, and the next, she awoke in a box over a hundred years in the future, screaming, fighting to breathe, and looking up into the eyes of a smuggler. Anna fears she's gone crazy, unable to fill the massive hole in her memories, and terrified of the strange abilities she now possesses.
The Coalition government has turned its watchful eyes towards them. The secret factions of the city move to collect them first. And, old gods stir in the darkness, shifting their pawns on the playing field. If Anna and Jackson wish to stay free, they must learn what they are and why they exist.
Unfortunately, even if they do, it may be too late.
I talk a lot about its connection to old stories and magic in a dark future—not something headlining a lot of fantasy right now, and something I love—but what really makes this story special is its characters. All of them have their own tragedies, heroism, fears, and loves at their core, all human, even when they're doing terrible or wonderful things. New York City has always been a diverse place, bubbling over with different people and viewpoints, and I tried very hard to keep that feeling alive.
And the two that share this tale, Jackson and Anna, are inextricably bound up together. Their stories are almost mirrors, one in shadow and dreams, the other in light and rationality (albeit rationality attempting to cope in such a world). This adventure simply could not happen without them both, and I'm told most readers, based on their own perspectives, tend to resonate very strongly to one or the other, which is fascinating to me.
Four, and presently, as I write the second, I'm only hoping that number doesn't press to five. There are a lot of stories I'd love to share with you, and Anna and Jackson's... it's only the first, though what a story I hope it will be!
I also have a New Adult series planned in the same universe, and am beginning to scheme a standalone dark comedy from the perspective of a demon.
I'm willing to bet it will be people that like what I like: stories like the ethereal dreams Neil Gaiman pens, the sense of fantasy and adventure J. K. Rowling flourished, or perhaps the darker, gritter worlds of fiction such as Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series, or Charlie Human's Apocalypse Now Now.
This story blends elements of several genres, and I'd be willing to venture that even if not every one of those items appeals to you, you'll still find something you'll very much enjoy here.
Raven Song began life very differently! My gaming group—think something like Dungeons and Dragons— was working on a campaign together that featured superheroes in a post-apocalyptic society. It was very X-men in feel, with a Lovecraftian monster villain and the occasional alien space battle. In other words, a lot of it was nothing like this book. But, there were some familiar personalities and ideas: a brilliant scientist, a smuggler with secrets, and a government agent ridden with guilt. The seeds were there. And an idea began to gnaw at me.
I began to realize I craved magic and monsters in dystopian fiction, a genre I loved, but one that typically bent sci-fi instead of fantasy. So, I started writing about primordial gods most humans had forgotten, delving into how magic might operate in such a place. As time went on, I re-imagined the characters and the setting, throwing a lot out that wouldn't work in a tightly-focused novel, but wanting to preserve the soul of the game and people that inspired me.
I think by this point, I realized something special had grabbed me and wasn't letting go. I'd never written anything book-length in my life. But, the words kept coming. The dreams kept getting stranger.
A year and a half later, Raven Song was sitting in front of me, so different from what I think anyone thought it would be. It was still fantastical, but more human and vulnerable, the dark elements seeping in through the cracks, the magic laced in every aspect. It had become solidly dystopian fantasy, character driven and unusual in its premise.
It was then I realized there was so much more to this story, so much magic to discover, and I might never stop writing again.