Author Crush Friday with Ashley Graham
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Ashley Graham, the author of the YA sci-fi, All the Stars Left Behind (June 6, 2017; Entangled Teen). Thank you for talking to us today, Ashley! We’re honored!
GLITTER: Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
ASHLEY: Okay, let’s see…
- I’ve lived in 3 Canadian provinces, 4 European countries, and 1 US state.
- I’m kind of great with accents, but too shy to perform any in public.
- I can watch TV/films in Norwegian or Swedish and understand most of that’s being said without subtitles. (I lived in Norway for a few years and was immersed in the language.)
- A long time ago, when I lived near Toronto, I tried out for Canadian Idol… I was so nervous that halfway through my song I threw up in front of the judges, and ran out. They invited me back for the TV round of auditions, but I chickened out.
- When I was a baby, I had a terrible fever that left my teeth with a strange (and annoying) mottled pattern. No amount of teeth whitening can fix it.
GLITTER: Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
ASHLEY: It was sort of a blur. One minute I was just a stay-at-home mom with a special needs kid, homeschooling him because no California school would take him, and suddenly, in a month, I wrote ALL THE STARS LEFT BEHIND. I wasn’t going to do anything with the story until I saw a contest on Twitter called #PitchWars run by the amazing Brenda Drake. I didn’t get in, but the mentors I subbed to said they felt my manuscript was query ready without their help. The next thing I knew, I was signing a contract with Stephen Morgan at Entangled Teen! This all happened in less than 8 months!
GLITTER: Where did the idea of All the Stars Left Behind come from?
ASHLEY: I’m a HUGE science fiction fan—books, movies, TV, comics, graphic novels, webseries, basically however I can get my fix!—so it was only natural that my first novel would be in my favorite genre. Setting the book in Norway felt like the perfect way to show my love for the country my son was born in. The idea itself kind of just…happened. As I keep telling everyone who will listen, I wrote just one draft of AtSLB (naughty Ashley!), and didn’t know what I was doing. I just…wrote it. I know now I did everything I wasn’t supposed to, and I’m learning for next time 😉
GLITTER: In All the Stars Left Behind, what was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
ASHLEY: Without getting too spoiler-y, I LOVED working on the scene where Leda realizes her true potential.
GLITTER: How much research went into writing this book?
ASHLEY: I spent hours watching YouTube videos from people with Spina Bifida Occulta, and reading up about it, to honestly portray Leda’s character to the best of my ability. As someone who has suffered chronic pain for over ten years, I wanted to show the world that a disability—whether visible or not—doesn’t define you. Aside from that, I spent some time researching the climate and town of Vardø itself. My love of history, Viking culture, Norway, and science fiction were more than enough to fill in what I wanted for the story.
GLITTER: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
ASHLEY: During #PitchWars 2015 I had several other writers tell me my query and opening pages were basically a dumpster fire. That hurt.
But…I received so many wonderful compliments from my editor. My favorite? “This book is flat out amazing.”
GLITTER: What are you working on now?
ASHLEY: A more contemporary YA romance with a bisexual MC. It takes place in Norway…of course!
Thanks so much for having me, this was fun!