I had the chance to interview debut author Ashaye Brown, whose YA fantasy Dream Country releases on April 27th. We got to chat about her writing, her dreams and more!
Hi, Ashaye! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me! Could you tell me and the readers a bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m Ashaye Brown and I’m a writer from London. I studied English at university and in my spare time I love to engage in all forms of storytelling, whether that’s through reading, watching TV or gaming. My favourite things to write about are myths and cultures and family dynamics and my debut novel DREAM COUNTRY is a YA fantasy that includes all of my favourite things!
How would you describe Dream Country if you could only use five words?
What can readers expect?
Readers can expect an intense story about triplet gods of Sleep, Dream and Nightmare, embroiled in a sibling rivalry that has kept them apart for too long and about what happens when they are finally thrust back together in unexpected ways. Readers can expect to be taken on a journey through places they never dreamed could exist with characters like none they’ve ever seen before.
I just started my ARC of Dream Country and I’m loving the concept! How did you come up with the idea? And can you tell us a bit about the cultures and the mythology that inspired the book?
I first came up with the idea when I was reading about Greek mythology and the Gates of Horn and Ivory, which is this barrier that all dreams and nightmares have to pass through. And I just remember thinking, “I wonder why it’s a gate? Who is it trying to keep out?” Then my imagination went from there, as well as drawing on influences from other world mythologies. As well as Greek, I was inspired by Kenyan, Jamaican and Afro-Brazilian myth and culture. I wanted each of my three main characters to have influences from a different culture of the African diaspora, because the themes of separation and displacement in the novel are also real-world feelings felt by the diaspora. It was great getting to research these cultures further and to see the similarities that stemmed from their connected origins as well as the differences from where they’ve all gone their separate ways. In the book you can definitely see the influences I had, from the languages, to the oral storytelling features, to the mythological creatures that inhabit the world.
What character is the most like you and what character was your favorite to write about?
The God of Sleep, Theo, is probably the most like me, as we’re both quite peaceful and laidback and we’re most comfortable when everything stays familiar and feels safe; but maybe what we both need most is something unexpected to come along and shake things up a bit. I had most fun writing Torres, the Nightmare God, because unlike Theo, he’s just very passionate about everything and he feels everything so intensely that it could even be overwhelming for me to dip inside his head. Everything he does is unpredictable and exciting.
Did you face any challenges while writing and (without spoiling anything) what was your favorite scene to write?
There were a few challenges, writing is never as smooth-sailing as you want it to be, but I think that’s part of the fun. The biggest challenge was just making sure that everything was being translated well from my mind to the page. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, I just had to make sure that I wasn’t leaving anyone behind on the way! It’s kind of like when you want to tell someone about your dreams, you have to find the perfect way to say it. Usually, I just had to take a few days away from writing and everything came out how I wanted it. My favourite scene to write was a scene later in the book where a character does something completely unexpected. When I first realised that’s where it was going, I was so excited and in shock that I almost couldn’t sit still long enough to get it written down!
Do you usually remember what you dream about?
I don’t usually remember my dreams, I remember my nightmares better. I feel like dreams can get away with being quite vague and random, but in order for a nightmare to really get to you it almost has to have its own storyline, like being dropped into the middle of a horror movie. I would like to get better at remembering my dreams though and I’ve been really looking into the idea of lucid dreaming.
Do you have a favorite book or one that you always recommend?
There’s no way I could pick just one favourite book! I read a lot so I have different favourites for different reasons. For example, I have the favourite I go to when I want to laugh, or the one I go to when I want to cry, or the one that reminds me of my childhood. One author that I always recommend is Neil Gaiman, I think he does dreamlike, atmospheric writing so beautifully. But one of my most recent favourite books is Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko which is such an original and fantastic story.
Dream Country is your debut novel (congrats!) – what can we expect from you in the future and what are some of your author dreams?
Well, DREAM COUNTRY is the first of an intended trilogy, so you can expect to find out the rest of the triplets’ story! After that, the sky’s the limit! I definitely want to write more fantasy but also I just want to see where my imagination takes me. My only author dreams are for readers to enjoy my stories as much as I do, and that I am able to keep telling them for a long, long time.
A sibling rivalry to fuel your worst nightmares.
The dysfunctional triplet gods of Sleep, Dreams and Nightmares are kept separate by the deadly Gates of Horn and Ivory.
Only one fact keeps them tightly bound: each of them is a suspect in their mother’s murder.
Their knife-edge feud worsens when a mortal enters the world with astounding abilities that threaten to change the game for them all.
In this thrilling young adult fantasy, Ashaye Brown brings to life a visionary world infused with Kenyan, Brazilian, Caribbean, and Grecian cultural references. A story like no other with stakes as high as they come.
Release date: April 27th 2021
Check out the book here!
Ashaye Brown is a British author of Afro-Caribbean descent. Ashaye’s unparalleled passion for mythology led her to study a range of world cultures and mythologies, before exploring them further through her writing. Ashaye’s debut novel ’Dream Country’ is the first in an intended series set in visionary realms themed around dreams, nightmares and rich mythologies.
You can find her here:
Thank you so much to the team at Onwe for letting me be a part of this blog tour and thank you to Ashaye for answering my questions!