Another special post today! Aside from the one question interviews I did as part of the Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour, this is my very first time to interview a fellow author on my blog. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long. But anyway, let me introduce you to fellow fantasy author Ashlee Willis who just released her first YA novel, The Word Changers!
Ashlee has a passion for three things: God, family, and books, and is happiest when all three can be enjoyed together. Ashlee graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education. She divides her time chiefly between homeschooling her young son, reading about fantasy worlds she wishes she could visit, and dreaming up fantasy worlds of her own to write about. She loves taking walks in the woods, drinking tea with friends, and spending time with the ones she loves most. Ashlee lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband, son, and cat, where she is busily at work on her next book, also a fantasy for young adults.
The fact that she homeschools, drinks tea, and writes fantasy is something I find especially awesome considering I was homeschooled and am a tea-drinking fantasy author myself. Now on to the interview to learn more!
1. How did you start writing?
I began writing when I was very young. Both of my parents are writers and I think it just seemed natural for me to write as well. It wasn’t long, though, before it became something more than just fun to me. I began to almost need it … it was a way to organize my thoughts and emotions, a way to understand both myself and others better, and eventually even know God better. From that point it has only grown over the years. I had a discussion not long ago with another writer friend of mine, and we both agreed that even if we knew that everything we were writing was complete foolishness and that no one would ever read it … we would still write. From those early days as a child scribbling quirky stories, until now when I am publishing my debut novel for the world to see … writing gradually became a true part of me.
2. What inspired you to write The Word Changers?
To put it as simply as possible, just being a book lover! Every person who loves reading imagines at one point what it would be like to become a part of his or her favorite book. I did a lot of that imagining when I was a child, and it never really left me as I grew older. So finally I just knew I had to take that idea and see where it would lead. And it led me places I never imagined!
3. Which of your characters would you most love to spend the day with?
Hmm … great question! I’d have to choose Kyran, I think, mainly because I feel just a little bit in love with him while I was writing him. Also, he’s got so much dark emotion, and ends up dealing with it in such a unique way. I think I’d find it pretty intriguing to see what he would do or say. He certainly surprised me once or twice when I was writing him – who knows what would happen if I actually got the chance to hang out with him for the day!
4. Creating and working with characters is my favorite part of writing. What is yours?
I have to agree with you! The characters are why I write. Plot and adventure and fantasy are all very well … but a story isn’t a story without people. I will never cease to be amazed that these characters come from my head, but then promptly proceed to live lives of their own, making decisions I never saw coming. It’s bizarre and wonderful and beautiful. I love it.
5. For me, actually getting my stories written is the hardest part of writing. Planning, rewriting, and editing are much easier. What is your least favorite or hardest part of the writing process?
My first draft is usually where I feel most creative. The ideas themselves, and the “underneath” message that I want to get across is strong and clear in my mind at that point. When I get to revisions, though, that’s where things get complicated. The details of the story itself start to bog me down and even overwhelm me. Trying to make sure scenes fit together and everything flows perfectly at the joints just gets tedious and exhausting, many times. Revisions and editing are definitely no fun for me. Ugh! Makes me tired just thinking about it …!
6. What hobbies do you have outside of writing?
I love taking rambles through the woods. There’s nothing like the wind whispering through a thousand trees to bring peace and inspiration. I also enjoy crocheting, playing the piano, and searching for toads and minnows with my son in the creek behind our house. Oh, and I love Pinterest – I’m fairly certain that’s an addiction, not a hobby … but there you go!
7. What are some of your favorite books?
I adore just about everything by Charles Dickens, although I have a real soft spot for Little Dorrit. My “classic” favorites are How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings. Some more modern favorites are Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Queenmaker by India Edghill, and Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood by Meredith Ann Pierce.
8. What advice would you give other authors seeking to publish?
Don’t look at rejection as failure. Look at it as a way of learning, as another step in your journey toward success. Keep trying, and when you feel like giving up, grit your teeth and try again. Read quality books, and read a lot! And above all, write, write, write. Every word you write brings you nearer to finding your voice, finishing your book, getting published!
Great interview, right? I completely related to a lot of it. But the interview is not all I have for you. I also have an excerpt to share from The Word Changers.
“It is not a journey I would wish to make,” Kyran said suddenly, looking straight into Falak’s hooded orange eyes, “But I do it for my sister. I hope you are not scheming for yourself, Chief Adviser. I hope this chase will not prove to be pointless or contrived.”
Falak widened his eyes and ruffled out his chest. “Prince Kyran,” he said, “you insult and wrong me. I work for the good of the Kingdom, as I always have and always will. That is my solemn promise to you.”
“I suppose the good of the Kingdom means going behind the king’s back and sending his son and heir into danger, eh?” Kyran said, his horse dancing circles in anticipation of flight as Posy clung to his waist in terror. “Ah, well, we will see.” He flicked the reins and said, “Go on, Belenus.” The horse turned and trotted through the stable yard, its hooves thudding dully on the beaten-down earth.
Posy turned to look once more at the castle, its great white walls glowing eerily in the moonlight. She sent out a silent wish that she would never have to return there, that her escape would not lead her into further danger. Somehow, she felt both of these wishes were futile.
Falak perched silently on the fence, his large changeful eyes the only thing indicating he was not a statue. He watched them as they neared the shadows beyond the castle. Posy turned and lifted a hand to him in farewell. His eyes flashed, once, and his owlish expression turned to something full of menace. Something—Posy sucked in her breath—full of hate. A shiver racked her body and was gone, and with it the feeling of dread.
The moonlight, Posy told herself with a yawn, could play many tricks.
Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I look forward to reading it as soon as I get a chance. Here is the cover and a bit more about the book.
Her parents’ marriage is falling apart. Fifteen-year-old Posy feels her life is falling apart with it. Retreating to an old library down the street, she selects a mysterious book in a secluded corner and is magically drawn into its story…
Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. The princess has fled and the kingdom is teetering toward rebellion. Posy is joined by the Prince Kyran as they fight with the characters of the story against their slavery to the Plot.
Posy and the prince search beyond the borders of the story for the runaway princess. They visit mysterious places, face horrifying monsters, and fight fierce battles. They make both friends and enemies as their journey leads them into many dangers. But some of the worst dangers, Posy soon finds, lie deep within her own heart.
Now Posy must find the courage and forgiveness needed to save the story and, most important, heal the heartache she knew in her own world.