Andrea Sawatzky of Weyburn, under the pen name Andrea Renae, has written her first novel, entitled, 'Where Darkness Dwells'. 

She said writing has always been a comfort to her, growing up as an only child.

"I had a lot of hobbies, but the one that I've always come back to was writing. I was just at home, and comfortable with who I was when I wrote," she shared. "So as far as writing an actual full novel, it was something that I had always aspired to and dreamed about, but it wasn't until I had a really good inspiration that I thought, 'this is worth it and I'm putting my time into it'. 

Her inspiration came during the worldwide government shutdowns of 2020-2022. 

"Those years where people were lonely and stuck at home and stuff, and I really felt it was easy to see how the world was just constantly more and more divided and it was just so difficult to discern what was coming at you, what was right and true," she shared. "So I started to think about an imagined world where something that we here would know is like, 'obviously this is wrong and it's not normal', to see a world where they've bought that this is acceptable, that is right for them to live this way."

In her fictional world, people are trapped in darkness. 

"It's what they know, and they have found ways to cope in it, but they've bought the lie that it is normal, it's right and it's good." 

Sawatzky said she wanted to create a place that felt very much different than our reality, however the familiar anchor for readers can be found in the struggles of the people of that world.

"This world is a place that's blanketed in unnatural darkness, and the only real source of light that comes into this world is in the form of these bright beasts, and rather than letting them roam freely, the people think it's much more beneficial to hunt them and use their glowing bones to light their city. Then, by offering these creatures as a sort of like a sacrifice to the beasts that actually thrive in the darkness, they think, 'we will have peace, we will have prosperity. We are fine'."

"The catch is the glowing creatures have not been seen in 13 years, and as the valley slowly descends into darkness, doubts have sprung up in the shadows," she shared. 

The story centers around a girl named Amyrah, who has grown up in darkness, and who knows grief after having lost her mother. 

"When these luminescent creatures reappear, she has an inborn gift that awakens, and helps her to see the shadows for what they are," Sawatzky described. "So she's caught between fear and tradition, but also the pull of light on her soul and kind of sifting through what is actually good and true, whether people should continue to do what keeps them safe, or what they've always known, or whether they need to pursue truth, even if it means possibly upsetting the balance, pushing away loved ones."

It's a story about fighting for what is right, even if the world stands against you. 

"So she has a big task ahead of her, and it largely centers around her courage to figure out what she's supposed to do with this gift that gives her the ability to kind of banish the shadows," she continued. "If she stands against them, true light might penetrate her home the first time. But if she gives in to that fear, her people could remain shrouded forever."

Pre-orders are now available for the novel, which is set to publish on July 26th. Thanks to a distribution company called Ingram Spark, it can be found through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, and more book distributors.

"It's all print on demand, which is really nice because I don't have to put out that big investment to begin with unless I want to, but it's very accessible for any aspiring writer to do this, and to get their words into the world," she encouraged. 

Now that she has completed this novel, Sawatzky said the draw to write another is there, as is the supportive writers' community she found online.

"It's really become clear to me that this is a way of life, rather than just something I did on the side," she shared. "As long as that writing muse is there."

She added her parents' support of her passion for writing manifested in a tangible way as they helped out with her three homeschooling children throughout the process.

Find 'Where Darkness Dwells' on Amazon HERE