Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Interview with Ashlee Willis

Ashlee is the author of Word Changers. Today she stops by to interview with Backing Books. Please comment thanking her and asking any questions you may have.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a daughter of God, first and foremost. I’m also the mother of the smartest, sweetest 7-year-old boy in the world, and the wife of a soccer-playing grown-up-boy whose plain sense tends to balance out my own character extremes! I was born and raised in mid-Missouri, and am a country girl. I love forest rambles, tree climbing, cozy chats with friends, and reading in bed. Oh, and I also crochet … I crochet a lot!! Usually while watching the BBC.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since around the age of 9 or 10. It began with songs and poems and short stories, then I wrote my first full-length book when I was about 12. It wasn’t any good, of course! But it gave me the true writing bug, and I’ve never stopped since!

What gave you the inspiration for The Word Changers?

Many things. Books themselves are what started the idea for the story in my imagination. They are portals to other worlds for readers … so why not make a book a true portal for someone to fall into and get lost within? Then God took that idea and made it something bigger – something about Him, His love for us and the Story called Life that He has written us all into.

Do you have a character that you relate to the most?

I relate to Posy, my main character, quite closely. She comes from a broken home, she has a sister she feels very protectively toward. She is unsure of herself and yet determined at the same time. Determined to find a way through the darkness that surrounds her … I’ve been in that place many times!

Has anything ever happened to you in real life that occurred in your novel?

Hmm … let’s see. There are a few things I wish had! Posy’s inner self is much like I was at her age. And though fantastical things happen to her throughout the story, her emotions are ones that, naturally, I acutely understand. Bitterness, anger, a deeper need for love and forgiveness (both given and received). Those are things that are universal, really. So … no, I’ve never been in a battle with owls and centaurs before But yes, I’ve experienced many of the more profound things The Word Changers is about.

Do you have a publishing story?

A bit of one! My story is somewhat backward from most authors’, I think. Most get an agent first and then a publisher. But I got a positive response from a publisher before I even had an agent (I was querying both at the time). I didn’t feel comfortable working on contracts and editing alone, so I took a chance and sent an email to my top-choice agent (what did I have to lose?), before I signed the publishing contract. And she said yes! Needless to say, it was a very exciting couple of weeks for me!

Here at Backing Books, we do Writing Tips. Do you happen to have a tip for my readers?

I’ve learned many things through the years about writing. One of the most important ones is to trust yourself, and to trust your story. Sometimes I will be writing along at a good rate, then come to an unexpectedly difficult place. A place where, in fact, I’m completely stuck. I just don’t feel the passion for my story anymore. Even though I know what’s going to happen in the scene, the words just don’t come. For a writer, that can be a scary place. Even something so small as that can make you begin to lose faith in your story or in your ability as a writer. What I’ve learned through the years is to not trust that passion. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great while it’s there – use it. But if it leaves – no big deal! It doesn’t mean your story stinks. It doesn’t mean you’re a horrible writer. It just means that today, with this chapter, or with this scene, you’ll need to make it through on pure willpower. And willpower, effort, determination … those things just might bring that passion back again. They always do for me. And your story will be stronger because of it.

Ashlee has a passion for three things: God, family, and books, and is happiest when all three can be enjoyed together.  Ashlee graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education. She divides her time chiefly between homeschooling her young son, reading about fantasy worlds she wishes she could visit, and dreaming up fantasy worlds of her own to write about. She loves taking walks in the woods, drinking tea with friends, and spending time with the ones she loves most.  Ashlee lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband, son, and cat, where she is busily at work on her next book, also a fantasy for young adults.

Find Ashlee on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads, or email her at

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