Worthing author S L Briden aims to offer hope to other young widows with the publication of her new book, From the Ashes, a plunge into a Dark Ages world of epic fantasy.
Stacey did much of the research for the book – the first in her Shadows of a Phoenix series, a medieval fantasy steeped in history and sorcery– with her husband Adrian, who died suddenly at the age of 38 in 2011.
“When he died, there was a stage where I thought ‘That’s it. I am not going to write any more’”, says Stacey who owns and runs the Twisted Willow shop in Worthing. “But then I started thinking that that’s not what he would have wanted. Grieving is a terrible thing, but you need to be able to try to focus on something else. I put the headphones on and I listen to music and I write.
“I would love to help other young widows in this situation. If you can find something to focus on, it can help you. Obviously, you then go back to the pain, and it doesn’t ever go away, but then you can focus again, and it definitely helps. It just gets you through the day. Give yourself a five-minute break, and it does make a difference.
“You can’t really explain it to someone who hasn’t been through that, but I do think that having your own bubble is helpful. The way you are changes. There are things that I would have thought were a problem before Adrian died, but I just wouldn’t see them as a problem now. But the other thing is that if you need to just sit and break down and cry, then that is what you need to do.”
Stacey and Adrian had known each other for 20 odd years, but they had been married for just six months at the time of his passing.
“And he did such a lot of the research for this book.”
After his death, Stacey focused on bringing the book to fruition. They had drafted Shadows of a Phoenix together. The book is based in Western Britain including Wales, Somerset (Glastonbury), Cornwall; and parts of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and West Sussex.
The first volume is From the Ashes. It covers genres including fantasy, Arthurian, sword & sorcery, epic and myths & legends in a tale of rescuing maidens and questing knights.
When David and his brother-at-arms Andrew are commanded by their Grandmaster to protect the fiery and stubborn sorceress Arread, they believed the task was beneath them. Little did they know that they were embarking on a quest that would see them duty-bound to fulfil an ancient prophecy – and take them to the very heart of the bloodiest, centuries-old battle between Light and Dark.
And then David finds himself dangerously drawn to Arread’s strength and wildness. He is tempted to forget his duty, defy the strict code of the Order of the Phoenix Knights and put the whole quest at risk.
Will David and Andrew be able to stop The Dark Lord from reaching and conquering Arread? Can David give up the woman he loves for the sake of The Order? And is Arread really as powerful as everyone presumes?
Available through bookshops and internet booksellers.