Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Chat With Ashley Herring Blake, Author of GIRL MADE OF STARS

Everyone give a big welcome to Ashley Herring Blake! She's releasing her new novel, Girl Made of Stars, in May. Snag a copy if you're in the mood for a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and really challenging situations. 

Today, we'll learn a little about her inspiration behind Girl Made of Stars, Ashley's writing habits, and more. To learn more about her novel or background, click here or visit Ashley's website.

Hi, I'm Ashley. I used to write songs and now I write poems and books. I read them a lot too. I like coffee, my boys, gloomy music,, anything with pumpkin in it, stuff hued in Tiffany blue, scarves, and walks. I don't like olives or soggy asparagus or humidity and have not a lick of visual artistic talent.

I live in the best city in the world, also known as Nashville, TN, with my witty husband and two boisterous little boys. Previous jobs include songwriter and performer (though I made about enough money to cover the gas to the gigs), substitute teacher, barista, ABA therapist, special education teacher in a private school for kids with autism, and the hardest job in the world, mommyhood. That last one is still happening, along with lots of word making.
(taken from Ashley's
How did you come up with the premise for Girl Made of Stars?

It started with anger. I was really very angry. Emily Doe had just released her powerful letter to her abuser and I remember feeling like I was on fire. But really, her letter just poured a bit more gasoline on an already blazing inferno. I was tired of the way this world treated women and those who identify as women. I was terrified as a woman raising two boys in the south. I wanted to write a book that felt just as tangled and messy as my head and heart did when I stepped outside my door every morning. Which is why the book the changed so much after I started writing. At first, I wanted the abusers to go down, no doubt about any part of their guilt in anyone’s mind. Arrest, trial, jail. Boom. But as I started writing Mara’s story, I realized that wasn’t the story I needed to tell. And, unfortunately, because of the way our world has lauded and protected men and abusers, it also wasn’t the story most people needed to hear.

How did you handle the challenge of addressing intense topics like sexual assault and victim blaming in this novel?

Carefully. I listened to a lot of stories and pulled on my own fears a lot. It wasn’t easy. In fact, I’d say this is definitely the hardest book, emotionally, I’ve ever written, and I had several readers on this book, for whom reading it was probably intensely difficult.

Who is your favorite character in Girl Made of Stars?

Charlie. I just totally fell in love with her while writing and she and Mara are definitely my favorite couple I’ve ever written. I love how vulnerable and badass she is all at once and she embodies a lot of characteristics I want to have.

Which of your favorite authors would you say most influenced your writing style?

That’s a hard question as I have so many favorite authors. I would definitely say though, that Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson were pretty influential. I definitely wouldn’t say I write like them—they’re goddesses!—but their books definitely helped me weave my way through so many voices on my way to finding my own.

What's one thing you always have near you when you're writing?

You know, I don’t have a whole lot of things I have to have while writing. My computer and that’s about it. I like a cup of coffee, but if I’m coffee’d out for the day, I’m fine without any. I do have to be physically comfortable and by in an environment that’s not too terribly distracting or cluttered, if that makes sense.

What is one underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

Another hard question! I have so many favorites. But if we’re talking about underrated, I’d have to say Amy Rose Capetta’s Echo After Echo. It is just so atmospheric, gorgeous, mysterious. queer—ugh, it has everything I love in a book. Read it. You won’t regret it.

Release Date: May 15, 2018

"I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that."

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara's friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn't help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault. (taken from