Today, a little something extra for my readers.
Ashley Howland is the author of Ghostnapped! and Obi the Super Puppy and the Mysteryof the Red Mist. Welcome, Ashley! Thank you for stopping by to visit with us today!
You write children’s novels. What attracts you most to that genre?
I write for children because that’s where the pure enjoyment of reading begins. Reading was also so much a part of my childhood, I always loved getting a new book. This is something I have been able to share with my daughters and love every step on this journey.
Ghostnapped! is set in South Australia at Rapid Bay. Why did you choose that setting?
I started writing Ghostnapped! on a camping trip at Rapid Bay. A friend and I both wrote stories that weekend, it was great fun to go and explore the local area. When I got home and did some research into the old mine and the local habitat the story just kept evolving.
Where did the idea for your protagonist, Alex, come from?
Alex is a strong girl, she loves to explore and gets annoyed by her younger brother, who like lots of kids wants to be just like their older sibling. She developed along with the story, but there are certainly aspects of her personality that I can relate to.
Obi in Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist is patterned after your own dog. What is your favorite characteristic?
Obi is an amazing dog, he has always been a little bit different from other Labradors. He likes to sit and observe, or supervise as we now believe. It is so hard to put into words exactly what he does for the children he works with, but the best think about Obi is that no one gets missed.
You participate in Labs ‘n Life – a non-profit organization that works with autistic children (BRAVO!). How has that interaction shaped your writing?
Labs ‘n Life does so much, we train Labradors as companion dogs for children on the autism spectrum. However we also work with at risk youth to do this training, they are the ones who train the dogs for other families. This way so many people benefit from the training of a single dog. We also have a curriculum that centers on training the dogs, which can provide our students with credit into further study. This curriculum is rich in literacy development and in some ways this has helped shape my writing. I certainly get lots of material from the amazing dogs and students I work with.
Have you ever considered featuring an autistic child in any of your books?
I probably will at some stage, as I am currently writing a sequel to Obi, so it may happen. When I am writing I tend to just see where the book will take me, so you never know.
I see that you published Ghostnapped! with SBPRA. Can you tell us about your experience with them?
To get a book published is an amazing thing, I was very happy when Strategic took on both of my books. I have to thank them for giving me a go, there are some aspects I know other authors find difficult, but I tend to think along the lines of proving myself as an author. That is generally what Strategic are interested in. I have met the basic requirements of both books, in terms of numbers sold, so now I need to prove I can sell more books in order to have my next one published. For some authors this approach may seem difficult, and while it’s not easy I am happy to give it a go.
What methods have you used for advertising your book, Ghostnapped!?
I have an author web page, Facebook page, twitter (@AshleyHowland), blog and a YouTube channel. I also have press releases and a YouTube video that were made by the publishing company. This advertising process is the most difficult, hopefully it is something I will get better at as I work on my writing. The publishing company has provided me with many ideas, it’s just trying to find the time to get things done, and after all writing is a hobby.
Have you considered a giveaway on Goodreads for Ghostnapped!? Why/Why not?
I have only just joined Goodreads, so I guess anything is possible. It is something I will be looking into.
Do you have any events (book signings, meet the author events, sales, etc…) planned?
I am hoping to be available to present some reading challenge medals at a few schools later in the year, this is something I really enjoy. I would also be more than happy to do book signings and meet the author events, it would certainly be an experience.
What types of things do you discuss on your blog?
At the moment I am doing an author blog challenge, so I have used a few of their prompts. This has given me a chance to blog about my writing process, and learn about the processes of others. I will never claim to be a complete author, just someone who wants to share a story. Most of my blogs outside of the challenge tend to be about the dogs, and the crazy things they do.
Is there a specific message you’re trying to send with Ghostnapped!? What is that message?
I wouldn’t say there were any specific messages, but there were two themes that developed. I enjoyed touching on the natural rivalry between siblings. Now that I have two daughters I will get a lot more material in this area. It’s fun to explore that love/hate relationship brothers and sisters have. The other was an environmental theme that fit into the local area of the beach.
What are some of the books you’re planning for the future? Where will we be able to find them?
At the moment I am editing two more children’s books. One if for younger readers and I am having a friend do some illustrations. I hope to begin the publishing process with this one towards the end of the year. The other will take longer, as it is more of a teenage novel, but one I am really enjoying. I am also writing that sequel to Obi, so I have lots of writing to keep me busy.
Thank you, Ashley, for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you the best of luck with your books and look forward to having you back for a visit soon!
A review for Ghostnapped! will be appearing on my blog tomorrow with a synopsis so come on back for that.
That's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!