I usually read at least one book by an author before I compose interview questions. In Ashley's case though, I was not able to do so because I could not find them at my local library. For her interview, my questions are based solely on what I found through her website and other places. Check out Ashley's Website for some cool stuff and graphics. Now, on to the interview!
Q. According to your website, you lived in many different places. Why was that? Why did you move so often?
A. I moved away to go to college, then I lived in different places for internships, a foreign exchange program and to attend graduate school. I moved to Northern California just because I wanted to see what it was like to live there and one of my friends who was living there at the time convinced me to go.
Q. When did you do most of your moving? How old were you?
A. I wrote Girls Rule while I was a full time graduate student in my mid to late twenties living in an old piano factory/artists’ community in Boston. Before that I lived in Northern California and Southern California, in my early twenties. I currently live in Dallas, Texas, where I mostly grew up, but I’ve also lived in New Jersey (for college), Spain (when I was 15) and New York City (for a summer when I was 19 and working at a literary agency). I was born in Houston but only lived there until I was three.
Q. How did all of the moves affect your life and relationships?
A. I had to become flexible and learn how to take care of myself and get around in new places. I think it helped me grow as a person and to be able to get along with all different types of people.
Q. Have you used this experience to draw on for any of your books?
A. Living in so many different places and meeting so many different people from different places helped me learn a lot of things. A lot of what I learned about hopes and dreams and friendship and life in general from those people and places has gone into my writing and illustration. Constantly experiencing new and different things – which I try to do all the time, even now -- keeps me constantly learning and drawing and writing.
Q. While I found your book through a Young Adult search on Amazon, what would you say is really your target audience/age group?
A. Most of my books are poems created for 9-12 year old kids to inspire them but I’ve gotten letters from twenty-five and thirty year olds who say that the books have affected their lives, too, so I think that even though it generally says “for 9-12 year olds” on amazon.com and other sites,20and you can find me through "young adult" searches, the books are really geared at whoever wants to read them. I didn’t really start writing them with a particular age group in mind, I didn’t think that much about it. But once I got into that market I did start concentrating more on the fact of who my target audience was.
Q. Why this age group?
A. 9-12 year olds are just starting to face and confront a lot of the issues that they will face and confront for the rest of their lives: self-esteem, standing up for themselves, following their hopes and dreams, confidence -- so it’s good to get books out there to help and support them as they start their life’s journey.
Q. Why “girl power”? Why inspirational books? What was the draw for you?
A. I try to write books that I wish I’d had to read when I was growing up. Toni Morrison said if there’s a book you want to read, and it’s not out there, you’ve got to write it. So that’s what I try to do. I do the same with greeting cards.
Q. We know that your interest in writing and poetry lead to your current line of greeting cards, but why writing? How did your interest in writing and poetry come about?
A. I wrote my first “book when I was seven. It was called “The Pig Gets the Apple” and was about a bunch of farm animals helping each other out so that the main character, the pig, could get this apple that he really wanted. I drew pictures to go along with it as illustrations. I think we were supposed to write a one-page story for class but mine was twenty pages. So I guess writing has always been there for me in one way or another.
Q. What kind of support and/or obstacles did you face in your writing career?
A. I was lucky to have the support of my publisher. I've worked with them for thirteen years now and they've been really great.
Q. Who is Penelope J. Miller and why is she pictured as a cartoon character rather than as a “real” girl, like most books do?
A. My books are heavily illustrated so it just fits in that she's a cartoon character. But as you read the books she also becomes you (the reader's) supporter and friend.
[I wanted to show you the neat graphic of Penelope, but I realized too late it wasn't in a format I could open and use on blogger! Sorry, but you'll have to visit Ashley's Website
to see Penelope.]
Q. Please tell us a bit about your newest releases that people will find available for purchase in September.
A. For an Incredible Kid includes true stories from when I was growing up along with tips for how to deal with things. I’m really excited about that one because I think it can help kids deal with tricky situations they face growing up. If I made a mistake as a kid I tell how I would have dealt with it now, given my current perspective. Girl Power: Penelope J. Miller’s Guide to Being Great is a collection of poems and inspiring sayings I wrote and illustrated about getting through things and triumphing as a girl in today’s world. Both of those books come with a ribbon bookmark with a silver charm attached, which is something new that my publisher is doing. They’re really neat books, and probably my favorite ones since Girls Rule and Thanks for Being My Friend. (Those are my two original favorites, partly because I had the most fun writing them).
Q. Are they targeted at the same age group as your other novels or do they have a new market in mind?
A. They're targeted at the same age group.
Q. What can they expect from these books?
A. Stories, poems, tips and a whole lot of fun!
Q. Excerpts are the best way to know if a book is what you’re looking for. Where can we find them?
A. On Amazon
Q. Some of the excerpts for your other books are the first 2-3 pages. Why not more?
A. Amazon.com controls that. I don't really know why they do it that way. [Well, that's a total bummer, they should really have a couple more pages to get the full idea of what each book is like!]
Thanks for visiting with us today Ashley!
Do you have anything you want to ask Ashley? Well, leave your question(s) in a comment post and she'll answer them for you!
[Hey, that could be the next book, Go Ask Ashley...for those of you who remember or have read Go Ask Alice.]
No questions? What about other stuff to say? Don't be shy, she'd like to hear from you!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Whispered by Carrie at 6:45 AM