This Friday, July 24th, will be the YA Book Signing at New Hope Public Library in New Hope, AL. I’ll be joined by two fantastic YA Authors. One of them is Ashley Chappell, author of the Dreams of Chaos Trilogy. It feels as though I’ve known Ashley my entire life, but in reality it’s been just a short time. But that is just the kind of person Ashley is; she makes you feel welcome no matter who you are.
I was more than happy that she agreed to come to this signing and share her work with the people of New Hope and surrounding towns. And while I feel like I know her pretty well, I couldn’t help but dig a little deeper into her work. So, sit back, relax, and get to know more about one of the best YA Authors out there today.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
It probably wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that my love of books began in utero. My mother read constantly throughout her pregnancy and then read her books as well as mine to me from the time she brought me home to the moment she handed the reading reigns over to me as a kindergartner. However, I can’t say that there was a single moment in my life that I decided, ‘Hey, I should write one of these things.’ For me, writing was a natural step from my love of reading, although my motivations for writing have evolved over the years.
In what genre do you write?
Primarily Fantasy, but I love to step outside of the other-worldly on occasion for a good old-fashioned Satire. Mostly, I think, because it helps keep me the heavier cynicism out of my fantasy.
Is there a genre you haven’t written in, but want to?
I do have story lines that I want to pursue in Science Fiction, but I don’t have the time for the research yet. One day!
What is your writing process? Such as, outlining, freehand, computer vs paper and pen?
I think best when my fingers are flying across a keyboard and not giving my brain enough time to overthink a scene. My writing is always strongest when it starts out fast and ugly. As for pens… ugh. I get a hand cramp just signing books!
Who are you writing inspirations, famous or not?
Without a doubt, those would be Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. When the long nights and weekends of studying manuscript preparation, revising, editing, re-revising and editing my edits exhaust me while the characters for new stories are jumping on my back to get my attention it is always a dog-eared Pratchett novel that I pull down to restore my sanity. And let me tell you, restoring my sanity is no small task. But I’ve also fallen in love of late with Catherynne Valente and Patrick Rothfuss for their lyrical styles. They both can make a page flow straight into the canvas of the imagination.
How much research, if any, did you have to put into your novel(s)?
Most of my research has been into mythology and the study of historical cultures that were beginning to drift away from their classical pantheons. Granted, war and conquest were typical causes for a theological shift in a culture, but they seldom stood alone. Scientific advancement, easing societal taboos, and most especially prosperity were always key drivers in the shift away from devout pantheistic belief structures in which all natural phenomena were ascribed to the machinations of the gods. I wanted to create a society that was in that later stage of development and no longer “needed” the gods, but that were on occasion reminded of their existence through typically unfortunate events. I wanted to answer one primary question before I began writing a pantheistic culture endowed with magic and science side by side: What happens to a society that has evolved past blind faith in gods to make the sun rise every day, but can still be subject to the whims of otherwise disinterested gods? The Dreams of Chaos series explores that relationship across all three of the books.
Do you listen to music while you write or edit? If so, who do you listen to?
Rain Ambience! Although right now I’m listening to some soft instrumental paired with it. I need something to drown out the world outside, but if it has words I’ll forget what I’m doing and sing at the top of my lungs 🙂
When you’re not being an amazing author and writing away, what do you for fun?
What? There are other times? Ha! I read every chance I get, but I also love to be outside on the water. My husband and I go sailing and camp on the boat any chance we get – which are unfortunately far fewer than we would like.
What has been the most exciting experience for you since starting your writing career?
That’s an easy one to answer – it’s every single time I get a nice note or a great review from a total stranger. They have no ulterior motives for telling me they found and enjoyed my work, and nothing to gain other than my eternal gratitude, but it feels AMAZING. It makes every day cursing at a keyboard not just worthwhile, but absolutely a mission.
Is there an artist, book blogger, editor, or anyone else that you want to give a shout out to?
Specifically?? Oh lordy. It might sound like a cop out, but I can’t narrow down this list without doing hundreds of others serious injustice. The literary network is so much more than authors – although we’re certainly the neediest of the group. I’ve met a number of book bloggers, editors, and artists who are every bit as passionate about the written word and support the advancement of it in a million ways, whether they do it for a career or as a much-loved hobby. We owe them all so much!
Give us a brief description of your WIP (work in progress) or your newest novel.
I’m still working on my monster, the third and final book in the YA Dreams of Chaos series. A God of Gods: Dreams of Chaos #3 is going to wrap up Trotter’s story arc. She’s no longer able to hide from her role in the prophecies of Realm, though other entities, more ancient and powerful than the gods themselves, are trying to alter her role to suit their own ends.
What author would you geek out over if you met them in real life?
Since I can no longer meet Sir Terry (cry!), it would have to be Neil Gaiman. I’d probably stand there like a moron and gape given the chance, however.
It’s completely impossible for a reader to pick their favorite book. However, if you were banished to a deserted island with no hope of returning and were allowed to bring 5 books with you, which ones would you choose?
Hmmm… time for a little creative cheating! 1. The Wheel of Time Compendium. It might way 500 lbs and be 5 feet thick, but I’m sure I can cram it all into one book 😉 2. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. 3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman. 4. Ringworld by Larry Niven. 5. Can I make this a revolving slot? Picking one last book is giving me a stroke..
What book would you like to see in film or do you believe that books should be left alone?
I have the same answer for both sides of that question. I would LOVE to watch the Wheel of Time series on a big screen, no matter how huge and sprawling the films would have to be. On the other hand, I also know Hollywood would cut out hundreds of pages of the slower parts (aka, parts where nothing goes “boom”) and I’d spend the entire experience gnashing my teeth and composing hate mail that might earn me a place on a watch list.
As a reader, what about a book turns you away?
Too much backstory. If the author can’t weave important information fluidly into the story without having to stop the story for an expository aside, I’m going to get bored because I’ll never fall into a rhythm reading that way.
If you find you can’t get into a book, do you put it down or be a trooper and finish it?
I can only think of 1 book I’ve ever finally given up trying to read. Of course, that means I’ve also finished some real turds, too. And no, I’m not sharing the name of the book I gave up reading.
Do you stick to one genre or do you like to read around?
I tend to stay with fantasy, science fiction, and satire above all else. I enjoy historical fiction (I am a huge Ken Follett fan), but it’s not a genre I crave in the same way as I do the others.
Are you a book-in-your-hands reader, e-booker, or both?
I swore for the longest time that they’d have to pry a bound book out of my cold, dead hands. My arthritic neck and bad eyes had other plans, however. I hardly ever read on anything but an e-reader now.
Okay, now you’re putting me in stroke territory again.
Favorite TV show?
What is it with you? You’re a sadist! Too many possibilities!
If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What’s your favorite candy/dessert?
Reese’s Pieces. But only if you say it exactly like E.T.
What band or musician can you listen to over and over again? You can list more than one.
Nickel Creek, Zee Avi… those are two of my usual obsessions.
What’s your hidden talent?
I can out-belch my husband? Okay, I probably shouldn’t claim that, but it’s true. I still dabble in piano enough to write the music for my book trailers, but I’m rustier than ever.
What is your dream vacation?
I want to rent a quiet apartment on a Croatian island in the off season, maybe Hvar, and write in old-world paradise.
Author Name: Ashley Chappell