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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