Good morning and happy Friday to you all! Today, I have a special guest with us, fantasy author, Ashlee Willis! If you haven't heard of her or her books, than you are in for a treat.
Hello, Ashlee! Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?
I’m honored to be here, Hannah! Thank you! I’ve been creating stories since I could hold a pencil basically, so writing is one of my oldest loves. I’m also the mom of the most awesome 11-year-old in the universe. My son and I love nothing more than to be outside in nature, and you’ll usually find us wandering the forests and riverbanks, soaking in Creation. I’ve had two books published thus far: The Word Changers and A Wish Made of Glass. I won’t go into detail with their descriptions here, but more info about them can be found on my website.
Why do you love to write fantasy?
My love for writing fantasy began with my love for reading fantasy. Even before I was old enough to consciously understand what was taking place within me when I read my favorite fantasy stories, I knew on some level that fantasy had a unique, almost secret way of creeping into my heart and leaving a message deeply imprinted in a way that other genres just couldn’t hold a candle to. I also simply love worldbuilding, knowing that I can create a place where my own imagination is the sole limit to what can happen there. It’s just magical.
Who is your favorite character and why? You can pick a favorite from each book; I’m not so mean as you to make you choose from both at once.
From A Wish Made of Glass, I loved watching Isidore’s heart-journey unfold. From being deeply hurt, to becoming passionately troubled, to ending up full of joy; creating a character with such a mess of a life who, regardless, managed to find happiness, was a great experience. From The Word Changers, I have a handful of favorites, but the Author had a special place in my heart, for obvious reasons. When I wrote about him it was surreal, not only because of what he represented but because I myself was the author writing about him. It caused me to observe my faith on a much deeper and more meaningful level.
What were some of the biggest surprises that came from being an author? Were there challenges you had to overcome?
Critical feedback was a definite challenge, although perhaps not much of a surprise. I can look back on some of those circumstances now and smile because I feel as if I’ve grown past so much of that. But when I received my first 1-star review I remember telling a friend, with floods of tears, that I would never write again. And I sincerely meant it. Now what I do when I see I’ve received a low star rating is first visit one of my favorite author’s pages and scroll through HER low star ratings, reminding myself that even the best of writers can’t be liked by everyone. It makes criticism directed at myself so much easier to bear. There have been many different challenges and hardships that comes with the territory of being a writer, but I think I can honestly say that my love of writing has always been greater than any of them. So I just keep pushing on!
How you do like to relax and recharge?
If I’m trying to recharge my creative juices for writing, nothing works better than reading a beautifully-told story. Short stories, novels, poems, even sermons; if you teach yourself to observe the right way, there’s inspiration in just about everything. Taking walks is another way I free my mind and replenish my soul, meditating on anything and everything while fresh air fills my lungs and my feet walk for miles . . . there’s nothing like it.
What environment do you tend to write in? And what is your dream environment?
I write everywhere. My living room, back porch, my car, the doctor’s office, on the riverbank. I often tell myself that one day I’ll have “that place” where I always write, a cozy little nook in my house that’s dedicated to peace and creativity. But . . . I don’t think I will. Change of scene fuels my brain, and as long as I can tote my laptop or a fat notebook with me, there’s no place I won’t write. I’m sure that will never change.
What are some of your favorite things? (Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, etc.) Where do you draw inspiration?
People are my favorite things. It’s usually my observances and interactions with other humans which inspire me the most. People are so full of curiosities and contradictions, it’s an endless fascination to me. No matter what the setting of my books, fantasy or otherwise, I always strive to make my characters as real as possible, since my stories are so much more character-based than plot-based. Also, I actually really love whiskers on kittens 😉
Can you share some plans or hints for the future?
I completed a middle grade fantasy recently, but since it is a bit shorter than most MG books, I’ve considered simply waiting and publishing it together with another story of a similar length. We will see. Other than this? Story ideas abound, as usual, and I’m eternally pulled about a dozen directions at the same time. However, I have finally settled on the next book I will write and have done very extensive outlining as well as some character sketches and scene brainstorming – the usual gearing-up-to-actually-write type of stuff. I’m very excited to begin writing it!
Thank you so much, Ashlee! And for those who are reading this, I've personally read Ashlee's books, and they are great, so go check them out!
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