I put “hell” in quotes because I hope it becomes clear throughout the story that this hell is literally what you make of it. I wanted to create an afterlife in which one thing was true: Death is not an escape from your problems. In fact, in the afterlife, those problems not only follow you—sometimes they become more real, more concrete, more in your face. Easier to deal with them that way, no? Also, a heck of a lot scarier.
The entire world of Sanctum, including the parts of the Shadowlands not shown in the first book (the series is called “Guards of the Shadowlands”, and readers will get to see more parts of it in later books), is built around this idea, that the afterlife is a place where people continue to develop—or devolve—depending on their choices.
Obviously, Sanctum is a pretty psychological novel, but that emotional stuff needed a good anchor, so I turned to some ancient Babylonian and Jewish mythology. I needed something old. The inhuman Guards are based loosely on the shedu, protective deities with the bodies of bulls and the faces of men that guarded temples and drove off evil spirits. The Mazikin, who roam the dark city of Sanctum and terrorize the citizenry, can be found in the Talmud—and they are seriously bad news.
I molded each of these myths to create something new but recognizable. I mean, we have all these texts and accounts of the supernatural world, all these questions about what might happen after death. I think it makes sense that it might not be exactly as written or anticipated. If there is an afterlife, I would expect it to be something surprising, something we as humans might have glimpsed or guessed at, but only through a sort of haze that gave us a partial or distorted view.
And that’s it! I created a place built on an emotional concept and anchored it with ancient mythology (which, yeah, I twisted every-which-way as I pleased), and then I tossed my characters in there and let them go to town. I hope readers like the result!
To find out more about Sarah Fine and Sanctum check out these sites:
I have a copy of Sanctum to giveaway to a lucky reader. This giveaway is open to US/Canada addresses only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Good luck!