Author Interview: Ashley Nicole Chappell

I am happy to have had the chance to interview Ashley Chappell the author of Alice Will. For more information about Ashley, please visit her wonderful blog Notes from the Canvas.

Brief Bio:

Ms. Chappell currently resides in Huntsville, AL with the love of her life. She is a contractor for NASA in the Rocket City and during her writing time her cats sometimes share her lap with her computer, should they choose to allow the usurpation at all. She is an avid lover of nature who enjoys climbing, camping, hiking, and sailing.

1.) What made you want to be a writer?

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 to me from the time she brought me home to the moment she handed the reading reigns over to me as a kindergartner. I probably learned more about reading from Danielle Steele than I did from Dr. Seuss. 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. Initially the point was only to tell a story; later it became to share a point of view through story-telling. Talented authors change the way we view the world and I believe my greatest teachers have always come from the library shelves. My dream is to share my own perspective on the peculiarities of human nature through the twists of the characters and the stories that I create - not to preach to a reader, but to guide them through the learning experiences and growth of my characters.

2.) How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?

I first dreamed of being an author when I was in grade school. I wrote short stories, poetry, started books, started other books, then forgot to ever finish them. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I really started focusing on switching the dream into an action plan. Since then I’ve finished numerous short stories, a screen play, and three full novels - the most recent of which will be published by Center One Publishing this fall.

3.) If you had to choose three words to describe your writing nook/office, what would they be?

Cat-filled; Open; Zen

4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

I’m tempted to say from late night snacks and caffeine, but that would only be partly true. Most of my inspiration comes from everyday life - A news header from the radio, a tradition, habits into which we fall... any of these. How they inspire me is when I can turn my head just slightly and take a look at them from a different angle. Sometimes finding perspective and inspiration just requires asking the question ‘Why?’ of the things we take for granted.

5.) Give us a one sentence pitch for your first novel.

Despite her out-of-control magic, teenage demi-goddess Trotter takes on dark gods and chatty demons while fending off the very apocalypse that everyone thinks she caused.

(Tagline for Alice Will - Website coming soon)

6.) What are some of the projects that you are currently working on completing?

In addition to honing my blogging skills, I’m working on two novels concurrently - Tilt and The Hotting - both of which take place in the same world of Aevum I introduced in Alice Will. The most fun I’ve had with this series has been the evolution of the pantheon for this world. Trotter isn’t your average Percy Jackson-style demi-god and these aren’t your average Olympian gods. The gods of Aevum are exactly what we would be if we were forced to live forever with no sense of our maker or meaning in our life without Prozac.

7.) What are some of your recent publications?

Alice Will is my first published novel, but in the past I’ve had poetry in anthologies and short articles in local press. Most of my focus has been on maintaining my blog, Notes from the Canvas, the ‘canvas’ being an extension of a concept I introduce in Alice Will. For my stream of consciousness updates and more frequent nose-thumbing, find me on Facebook.

8.) Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?

I think I’m a hybrid. I outline with the knowledge that my outline will be different every time I sit and complete another section. Somehow, my characters always know better than I do what should happen next and I find that they lead me in new directions every day. Who am I to argue? It’s their world, after all.

9.) If you could only own one book, what would it be? Why?

Ohhhh, a toughie! If I have to answer this question I think I’ll have to cheat: One of Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching novels. Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. But if I were forced to choose, I would have to do it blindfolded and spun around until I was too dizzy to do anything but fall down and point randomly. Any one of those four novels can inspire me, engage me, and thrill me no matter how many times I’ve read them.

10.) Favorite childhood book/books?

I chose books as a child much the way I do as an adult: by the series. When I find characters with whom I simply fall in love, I don’t want to give them up after a single book, so finding a series devoted to my favorite characters was always a passion. And some of those favorites that I had as a child are still my favorites now. L’Engle’s Time Quartet was always a favorite; Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series (I swore I was going to marry Captain John Carter of Mars when I grew up. Instead, I finally found the real thing J); R.L. Stine’s Fearstreet. On birthdays I would ask for the same gift each year: One box of books, please.

11.) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Finally, an easy one! Without a doubt, that author would be Sir Terry Pratchett. 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, either.

12.) If you could meet one character in a book, who would it be? Why?

Quite probably, I’d have to answer Captain John Carter of Mars from the Barsoom series mentioned previously. This series was written back in the 20’s, when heroes were perfect heroes, men of perfect principle, and men of perfect action.

13.) Where do you hope to be as a writer in five years?

In five years I hope to have finally attained that elusive dream of all writers everywhere - to be fully self-supporting doing the one thing I love above all else. Spending my time between author events sipping tea and working in my little writing room (also known as the Catio). In the meantime, I’ll spend some time every day trying to craft the best novels that I can to see that it finally happens.

14.) Favorite quote/personal motto:

“I never learned from a man who agreed with me” - Robert Heinlein

15.) If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?

The primary advice you see given to writers is paramount to all other advice - “Write!” It says in blogs, articles, forums, everything that writers write, write, write, and write. And that advice is 100% wholeheartedly true.

But I would go one step further to add what should probably be the most understated aspect of writing: “Read!” Read everything and be open to different styles, genres, and voices that you wouldn’t normally pull off the bookshelf. Each of those things will offer you a new perspective, and perspective is one of the most important items in a writer’s tool kit. That is why I started considering the enormous time I spent reading as Writer’s Aerobics. If yet another rule for writers is write what you know then one area where you can’t go wrong is to make sure the biggest weapon in your arsenal is, in fact, what you know.


Lena Winfrey Seder said...

Great interview, Vanessa.

Ashyley's novel sounds interesting, and I love the answers she gave in the interview. Hope to read for her soon.

Ashley Chappell said...

Thank you Lena, and thank you Vanessa for having on your lovely blog!

I've met so many interesting people and great writers in the blogging world, and I'm looking forward to meeting more :-)

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

What a great interview and such a wonderful writer--born for the craft ;)

Ashley Chappell said...

Thanks so much, Elisabeth! I do believe that is the nicest thing I've ever heard :-) :-)

elizabeth seckman said...

Great interview. Be sure to keep me posted on release date! I love getting books and bragging to people, "I know the writer"
I'm snooty like that!

Ashley Chappell said...

I promise I will, Elizabeth! Just be glad you aren't around to hear me in person... every time I get more news from the publisher I start squealing more than a grown woman should be allowed ;-) The publisher started looking at my second novel, "Of War and Taters" today. You MIGHT hear me squeal over there in the east if they take this one, too!

Deanie said...

WOW! I am so impressed with my niece!! Yahoo!!! I can truly say you are my GREAT niece.

Vanessa Eccles said...

A big thanks to Ashley for her fabulous answers. And thanks to all of you for your kind and encouraging words. Y'all are great! :)

Diane Carlisle said...

Great interview! Please keep me posted on releases too! :)

I used to play (and occasionally still do) a fantasy role-play game and the world is amazing, with Gods of evil, virtue, chaos and greed. Love it and all the things fantastical about it.