THE WRITER’S ALLEY INTERVIEW BLITZ—ASHLEY CLARK
Author Interview – ASHLEY CLARK
THE WRITER’S ALLEY INTERVIEW BLITZ
Romance with Southern Grace
rem: Welcome to my blog, Ashley. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
ASHLEY: I was raised along the Gulf Coast of Florida and still live here now! There’s nowhere else I’d want to be.
rem: It’s so beautiful there! One of my oldest and dearest friends lives in Santa Rosa Beach! Tell us three things about yourself.
ASHLEY: Hmm… let’s see! I absolutely love dogs and have two rescued Cocker Spaniels. I’m a new mom to an adorable one year old who loves Mickey Mouse, and I’m an avid fan of Dancing with the Stars.
rem: I’ll bet the adorable one year old and the doggies are great playmates! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?
ASHLEY: Chocolate chip cookie dough! Unless we’re talking about gelato, and then it would be stracciatella! My favorite cookie? That’d be a tie between good old chocolate chip and Reese’s pieces cookies.
rem: Ohhh!!! Reece’s Pieces cookies!! Gonna-gotta try that! If you could have any super power what would it be?
ASHLEY: The ability to function at full strength without sleep. Did I mention I’m a new mom? 😉 No, seriously, I think I would pick the ability to teleport so I could get my favorite pasta in Venice at a moment’s notice.
rem: I’m going with you when you do! (Did I mention I’m a pasta nut!!) Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?
ASHLEY: Most resemble? Oh my goodness! That’s a hard and hilarious question. My favorite Muppet has always been Rizzo, but I don’t know that I resemble him. Can I pick Amy Adams, or is that a copy-out answer? I tend to be pretty optimistic and love her clothes in the Muppet movie!
rem: Not a cop out at all—in fact, I think she’s adorable and I think you’re spot on! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?
ASHLEY: Always tea. Always sweet. Being a Southern gal, I’m quite a tea connoisseur, actually. The best I’ve found so far is from Charleston Tea Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina.
rem: Hmmm… definitely have to check that out! Kids or pets? Names and ages?
ASHLEY: My son Nathanael just turned one, and my furkids are Maddie and Schroeder. Maddie is seven, and we think Schroeder is about eight, but we don’t know for sure because he was a shelter rescue. Maddie was born at the Humane Society. Her parents were found wandering on the side of the road when her mom was pregnant. We actually named her after her mom.
rem: I love that you have rescue dogs! Superman or Batman?
ASHLEY: Can I pick Batgirl instead? I’ve always loved Batgirl. There’s nothing like the old Batman cartoons!
Rem: It’s your interview, you can pick whomever you like! wink wink Vacation: beach or mountains?
ASHLEY: I’d pick Oahu so I can have both. J If forced to choose, I would pick the mountains, since we live so close to the beach.
Rem: That’s logical. What is your most treasured possession?
ASHLEY: I’m a very sentimental person, so it’s hard to pick just one! Probably either my engagement ring or the photos of my son’s birth. I also have a Pound Puppy I’ve had since childhood in my closet!
rem: Pound Puppies! Oh, that brings back memories!! What is your greatest fear?
ASHLEY: Probably losing myself in the process of life.
rem: Funny you should say that, I have found myself in the process! What is your greatest regret?
ASHLEY: I don’t know that I really have any big regrets.
rem: You are truly a blessed woman! What is your favourite quotation and why?
ASHLEY: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings. I love this quote because, while we often think of the process of “growing up,” as a negative thing, in reality we should look with optimism toward the future as a process of growth, of becoming. How powerful a thought to imagine that each day, we might more fully become the person God has called us to be, and reach a little closer to our dreams.
rem: What a wonderful quote, and what wonderful insight. What do you do as a hobby?
ASHLEY: Writing! I also enjoy taking day trips to nearby small towns. I used to love swing dancing but haven’t been in ages.
rem: I always loved swing dancing, too. What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
ASHLEY: In a friend, I value intentionality and humor. In my husband, I admire his faithfulness, sensitivity, strength, wit, and work ethic.
rem: When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
ASHLEY: I HATE whenever I’m reading a great story, then the author rushes to sum it all up at the end. I feel cheated! What makes a story for me? A sense of lyricism. Writing that sings. Kristy Cambron is an excellent example. I want to be able to trust that the story world being constructed is intentional, and that the details described are saying something deeper about the story.
rem: I read one recently that did that—story was great, layers and twists, then the last chapter it was like, BAM, we’re done! What book have you read the most in your lifetime?
ASHLEY: Oh, goodness! I don’t know. I tend to read a book a couple times, then move on. Maybe Sam and Pepper’s Tree House when I was a kid. HA!
rem: Might check that one out for my granddaughter. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
ASHLEY: No question. Todd from the Christy Miller Series. He was my first fiction crush!
rem: If you could chose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?
ASHLEY: Elizabeth Bennet. Because, Mr. Darcy.
rem: I’d have to agree with you there—‘specially if it’s the Colin Firth Darcy. Le sigh… Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
ASHLEY: I generally like contemporary romance, but I appreciate anything with a beautiful story to tell, especially if it has literary elements (which I think transcend genre). Some of my favorite authors are Robin Jones Gunn, Rene Gutteridge, Laura Jensen Walker, Rachel Hauck, Kristy Cambron, Sarah Ladd, and Beth Webb Hart.
rem: Which is more important: plot or characters?
ASHLEY: Characters, because I’d read a book with a poor plot if I cared about the characters, but I wouldn’t read a book with a strong plot if the characters were dull.
rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?
ASHLEY: Well, aside from the boring answer of teaching, which I already do, I may be a ballroom dancer. Or I always wanted to be one of those fireflies in the Disney Spectromagic parade. #kiddingnotkidding
rem: How long have you been an Alleycat? How did you become an Alleycat?
ASHLEY: Oh, goodness! I don’t even know… going on six years? Angie was already my critique partner, and when an open spot became available at the Alley, they invited me. I literally jumped up and down when they asked.
rem: I imagine you did! Ya’ll are a fun bunch! Tell us a little about your writing journey.
ASHLEY: I’ve always loved stories. As a little girl, my mom would take me to story hour at the library. As I grew older, I majored in literature in college, then went on to get my master’s in English and become an adjunct. But not until about seven years ago did I hear God whisper to me that I had a call to be a writer. I’m generally a very confident person, but creative writing was the one thing I thought was too far of a dream. But God has faithfully reminded me He equips when He calls, through words of encouragement, meetings that happen at the right time, and perhaps most beautifully, through dear friends and mentors who mean the world to me. I do have two short stories published with Guideposts but dream of being a full length fiction writer. That said, I am so thankful my previous stories were not published prematurely, because I see now that I just wasn’t ready yet. I’d like to think I’m ready now. 😉 We’ll see.
rem: I know your stories, whatever you write, and whenever you write, will be just right. As you say, He equips us for what He calls us to do. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
ASHLEY: I do not have a very good routine in place for my writing post-baby! Usually, I try to grab a couple hours a week at a coffee shop, but I’m actually trying to be intentional about carving out a more consistent routine for that.
rem: Methinks that’s the hardest for all writiers at any stage. What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
ASHLEY: I think the hardest thing for me is the silence. The waiting. I can handle criticism. At least that I can work off. But silence? That’s hard. I try to remind myself that often God speaks loudest when all else in our lives is quiet, and that He’s planting certain seeds right now. If I want to reap the harvest later, I need to tend to those seeds well.
rem: Ya, silence, ouch! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
ASHLEY: I like both! I’m pretty perfectionistic, so sometimes that gets the best of me when I’m writing my first drafts, but I’ll also say, there’s nothing like that moment when the words just flow.
rem: I know that’s right! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
ASHLEY: The privilege of the creative process. The hope of readers entering my story world. The sense of community with some of the coolest, most brilliant people I know.
rem: I.LOVE.THE.COMMUNITY that I’m privileged to be a part of! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
ASHLEY: The hardest thing about publishing, in my opinion, is learning to love story for the sake of story. Bringing your mindset back to the simple, rather than getting distracted by rejections, successes, and the like, or seeing those things as a validation (or invalidation) of your calling. The easiest part is the friendships along the way that help keep you going.
rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?
ASHLEY: 1) Spend the bulk of your time actually writing. 2) Go to conferences. 3) Read good books often. What not to do… 1) Don’t take rejection as an invalidation of your dreams. 2) Don’t get too distracted by trends. 3) Don’t quit.
rem: Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
ASHLEY: In places that inspire me. Historical streets. A garden picture in a magazine. Sometimes even supporting characters in books or movies whose stories go untold.
rem: Yup! Ideas, there’s everywhere and anywhere. As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?
ASHLEY: No, but I’ll tell you something hilarious… Angie, if you’re reading this, please don’t hate me. One of my favorite characters is a germaphobe, which she gets from me. In one particular scene, she rubs her hands together super fast to friction-kill the germs. ANGIE ACTUALLY DID IT and thought someone in real life had given her that advice. Then she remembered it was a fictional character.
rem: BWAHAHAHAH (Angie, if you’re reading this, please don’t hate me for laughing!) Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
ASHLEY: Definitely the character from the story I just mentioned. She learns to live her life in color and let go of fear, which is a message I think speaks to all of us. It was also the first story idea God planted in my heart, so it holds a special place for me.
rem: I love that—live her life in color! I can so relate. Which character in the story is most like/least like you?
ASHLEY: The main one, for sure. Especially her fear of public restroom door handles! J
rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
ASHLEY: My current project doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s set in Charleston, and I am totally in love with the story! My heroine has inherited her grandmother’s old single house, and the hero is trying to buy the property for his father’s development company. It’s equal parts Southern, sassy, and romance.
rem: Ooohh, I can’t wait to [be able to] read it! I love sassy! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
ASHLEY: God knows you better than anyone else, and He wants you to live fearlessly, boldly, and wholely.
rem: That is so true! Anything else you’d like to add?
ASHLEY: Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!
rem: Thanks so much for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!
I’m thrilled to be a part of this collection by Guideposts, alongside so many amazing authors. My story, “The Christmas Thief,” can be found in Volume 2, Tales of Joy and Wonder.
Twinkling lights, the scents of cinnamon and pine, family gatherings, favorite carols from the heart. In the spirit of these cozy Christmas traditions, Guideposts is pleased to present A Cup of Christmas Cheer, a two-book set brimming with heartwarming fiction stories of faith and family set in Christmases past and present.
You are invited to enjoy two uplifting Christmas fiction collections that will flood you with the Christmas spirit and bring a smile to your face. As you delve into each well-crafted story, you’ll be swept away on a wave of glad tidings and good cheer as you are reminded of God’s unconditional love and ever-present care at Christmas and all throughout the year.
Affordably priced so you can easily give the set as heartfelt gifts, the messages of hope and faith in these extraordinary works of fiction deliver the truest gifts of the season. They will inspire all who read them as they bring home the joy of God’s presence at Christmastime.
If you’re interested in ordering a copy for yourself or for a Christmas gift, head to the Guideposts website: http://www.shopguideposts.org/gifts/a-cup-of-christmas-cheer.html.
Ashley Clark, The Writers Alley, Author Interview, Interview Blitz, Chat Thursday, Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Christmas Thief