Friday, June 21, 2019

9 Questions with Ashley Jean

This week's featured author is Ashley Jean Granillo from Los Angeles, CA and her book Love From the Barricade. 

By Ashley Jean Granillo

1. What message are you hoping people will receive when they read your book?

Although the book is labeled as general fiction, it’s better suited as a new adult novel. In college, most students are exposed to new ideas surrounding feminism, sexuality, and gender studies, but along with those subjects in school, they’re also learning about creating and nurturing relationships. They’re delving into new interests, too. With all of this idea of “new,” it’s very easy to get lost in uncharted waters and feel exposed. As a new adult reader, I want them to understand that their lives and their decisions are malleable, they have the freedom to choose, and they have the options to make things better, especially in male-dominated industries like music. Life is messy, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

2. Why did you write this book?

I was just beginning my career as a college professor, and all of my college friends were, for lack of a better term, “breaking up” with each other. Our friendships were being called off over boys in bands, and boys not in bands, for a series of misunderstandings and our inability to communicate those feelings of jealousy and insecurity.

For about seven years we’d come together as a result of our adoration of punk rock bands and created so many memories chasing dreams, and appropriately, at a show, while I was alone and my friends were elsewhere acting disinterested what the band had to offer, I realized everyone in my group came together out of circumstance and not love.

Other than Caitlin Moran’s HOW TO WRITE A GIRL, there was no book about the toxic friendships that were birthed out of the music industry, and similarly, how to get over them. I know there are many, many others in my situation and I wanted to provide an optimistic take on it, and also, heal my heart at the same time.

3. What has been the hardest part of the publishing process?

Strangely, getting publishers and agents wasn’t that hard. What is much harder is marketing. I understand this is a very niche sort of book because of its dual timeline and focus on a subculture, so finding the readership for this book has been a challenge.

4. What has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise in your publishing journey?

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous question. When I finally do get a reader, it warms my heart when those that have read it just “get it.”

Recently, one of my readers told me that my work was transformative. That they looked at this industry and their own band obsession in an entirely different light. And through this, I have been able to bond with people I otherwise would have never met before.

5. Would you write a sequel to your book? Why or why not?

Yes! I’ve actually thought about returning to this book to discuss the complexities of long-distance relationships, as well as how our careers shift and shape our adulthood, and the choices we may make in our “mid-life” crisis. While I’ve started an outline, I have yet to write a word. One day!

6. What author or book has influenced your writing?

For a long time, I prided myself on being a fan of Vonnegut and Saunders. A part of me still adores their cynicism and their post-modern form, which is probably why LOVE FROM THE BARRICADE was written in a dual timeline, but I have shifted away from that slightly.

Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL inspired and gave me the courage to discuss fanfiction within bandom, and similarly, Latinx women writers like Natalia Sylvester and Erika L. Sanchez, have paved a path to discuss my Mexican heritage in a way that I’ve never explored before––ever.

7. You are stranded on an island with only 3 books. What are their titles?


8. What is your philosophy about rejection?

Rejection is necessary.

I’ve been rejected in many industries other than writing, academia and the entertainment industry to name a few, and it’s forced me to see my work from different perspectives. Not just as a creator, but as a businesswoman as well.

No one is obligated to listen to everything they’re told, but most critiques have large takeaways that can actually improve your work. It also provides a creator with a moment to self-reflect and assesses their creative process as well as their creations. By doing so, you become a much more self-aware and critical human being.
9. Do you have a day job? What is it?

I’m an English professor at a local community college. Inside and out, my life is words, and I couldn’t be prouder.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

9 Questions with Heather Benson

This week's author is Heather Benson from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and her dark fantasy novel Awaken the Demon.

By H.N. Benson

1.     What message are you hoping people will receive when they read your book?

I hope people will see that life is hard, there are many things that can go wrong or that are hurtful, but that how you live and how you handle those situations are in your control.  You can choose to let them destroy you or you can choose to learn from those moments and allow them to make you stronger and better than you used to be.  Rosina has to face many things that most people only hear about but she fights every day to be better than what she was handed.  She struggles to remain human even though she has a monster whispering in her head.  I hope people that struggle with their own monsters can see that there is a choice.

2.     Why did you write this book? 

I wrote this book because I was looking for a way out of my own hell.  I have had to face many things in my life that have made me want to quit, to just lay down and never get up.  I know there are others out there that struggle as much as, or more than I do and I want them to know they are not alone.  Rosina faces a real monster but to many of us in the real world, those suffering with PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc, their monster is themselves.  Their body and mind reject what is normal or pervert their thoughts and feelings and it is an everyday struggle and I want them to have an outlet as I did when writing.

3.     What has been the hardest part of the publishing process?

Honestly, putting together all the different requirements for each publisher.  Each time I submitted my manuscript, I had to do something different, some wanted just a few chapters, some wanted it to be single-spaced, some needed a query letter, and some needed just a synopsis.  If I didn’t know my book inside and out before that, I sure did after.

4.     What has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise in your publishing journey?

Just how amazing my publisher is.  This is my first time publishing and they helped me with every step.

5.     Would you write a sequel to your book? Why or why not?

Yes!  I’m actually half-way done with the second installment.  I know the story isn’t over yet and I want to share the rest with everyone.  And I believe that my characters’ growth and achievements are something that people would look forward to reading about.

6.     What author or book has influenced your writing?

I started writing when I was around thirteen years old, nothing fancy or even worth trying to publish, but it was my way of coping with things going on around me.  And at that age, I would have to say that I was mostly influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien, I read the Hobbit around that time and fell in love with his stories, and later read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, only increasing my love.  Not long after that, I found Anne Rice and her vampire chronicles and they forever changed my love for vampires and reading.

7.     You are stranded on an island with only 3 books. What are their titles?

The Vampire Lestat (By Anne Rice)
The Dorina Basarab series – Midnight’s Daughter (by Karen Chance)
Shifting Shadows (by Patricia Briggs)

8.     What is your philosophy about rejection?

I knew I would be rejected, even J.K. Rowling was rejected several times and if she was and still such a success, then I can as well.

9.     Do you have a day job? What is it?

Yes, just customer service.