Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Author Interview: Ashley Elliott

Today I'd like to welcome to the stage blog post a dear friend of mine, Ashley Elliott (formerly known in the blogosphere as Eowyn), who has just recently become a PUBLISHED AUTHOR!  To celebrate her success, I'm participating in the blog tour for her debut novel, Becoming Nikki... and Ashley is here today for an interview!  Without further ado, my questions and her answers.  (Probably you could have figured that out for yourself...)
  1. Where'd the idea for Becoming Nikki first originate?  
    Well, it all started when I discovered ice dancing while watching it during the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Meryl Davis and Charlie White were instantly my favorite and I started thinking about how much it would take to get to the Olympics.  I also had come up with the idea of a broken sister-sister relationship (which slowly turned into a brother-sister relationship) around the same time, and, as I started developing the plot of that novel, the ice dancing part eventually fused with it.
  1. I know you had to do a lot of research to write the ice dancing scenes-- have you ever tried it personally? Did you enjoy it?  
    Oh, my stars, it took SO much research. So, SO much research. I watched video after video – to the point where I could actually critique the dancers for myself – and I even got on an ice skating forum! I've ice skated before, but I'm not very good. At all. When I was little, I used to want to be an Olympic ice skater – HA. Now I can safely say that it'll never happen because whenever I do venture out onto the ice, I develop a close bond to the outer railing. But, like Joss Whedon once said, "I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of."
  1. Was there a particular soundtrack or song that helped you write on your bad days?  (If you don't use music while you write, what do you prefer to listen to?)  
    *shakes fist* CURSE YOU, WRITER'S BLOCK.

    I didn't have very many days of writer's block when I was actually writing Nikki – the first draft, that is – but it took me almost two years to edit the stupid thing, so I guess you could say I had editor's block. On those days, I'd listen to empowering music ('Best Day of My Life,' 'Top of the World,' and a lot of Josh Groban, Hunter Hayes, and Jackie Evancho) and take a research break (meaning watch a few videos of my ice-dancing-OTP, Meryl and Charlie). I didn't start listening to themed music (or develop a soundtrack for my novel) 'til two projects later, The Art of Letting Go. (More on that later.)
  1. Which character in your story do you identify with most (OTHER than Nikki? :D)
    Heehee... Other than Nikki, I identify the most with Natalie. She's got a bubbly personality – like me – and talks a lot when she's nervous – also like me. However, she's a lot funnier than I am, and also a little more confident than I am. But I feel like we'd be best friends if she was real. (*sigh* One of the invisible trials of being a writer...)
  1. What was your favorite scene to write?
    Well, without spoiling much, there's a scene about two-thirds into the book where Nikki and Alec are in the car and they're talking about stuff they used to do when they were younger – before Alec turned into Grumpy Cat, that is. Nikki mentions that they used to sing a lot together, and, before either of them know it, they're singing 'All I Ask of You' from Phantom of the Opera. It's an absolutely magical scene that aaaaalmost didn't make it into the book. See, I had written for earlier on in the novel, but it didn't feel right at all, so I took it out and posted it on my blog as a 'deleted scene.' I got so many comments from people – I'm pretty sure you were one of them, Amy! – who said they were going to basically build a barricade if I didn't keep the scene in the book. I relented, partially because I loved the scene so much, and hid it away until the perfect time. I really like how it turned out, too.
  1. Which would you say are three of the wittiest quotes/lines from the book?
    Oh, gracious... I wouldn't say I'm a very witty writer (at least, not hilariously witty like you, Amy), but here are a few lines that I think are funny.

    Um, Natalie? You'll never believe who just opened the door for me.”
    Chris Pine? David Tennant? Aaron Tveit?”
    (Insert Pinterest meme here: MENTION ALL THE FANDOMS!!!!)

    Bennett's eyebrows shot up. “No wonder you guys got first place. You guys are amazing!”
    I smiled, feeling my cheeks redden and wishing they hadn't. “Thanks.”
    I mean, I think you dropped something. My jaw.” He stopped and his eyes widened, then he continued, gaining momentum as he spoke, “I mean, not both of you... Just you. 'Cause you're amazing. Well, that's not to say that Alec isn't a good skater, it's just...” He frowned. “Forget I said anything.”(Behold: The reason why I looooove Bennett. He's so adorably awkward!)

    Natalie shook her head, staring behind me. “Dost mine eyes deceive me...?”
    (This is the beginning of a short scene where Natalie has seen Nikki talking to Dylan, the most popular guy in school, and is her usual, obsessed-with-boys self. The scene is too long to put here, but I smile whenever I read it.)
  1. Would you ever consider writing a sequel?
    I've considered it, but I don't think I'd be able to come up with enough material to constitute an entire novel. I have ideas about what happens after Nikki ends, but nothing more than who eventually marries who, which I won’t share here because of spoilers.  ; )
  1. What authors/books would you compare Becoming Nikki to, in terms of style?
    Hmm... I think I'd say Nikki is striving to be like an Elizabeth Enright book, but I'm not sure I accomplished that. HA! I guess I'll have to wait and see what my readers think.
  1. What other projects are you currently working on?
    My next novel, The Art of Letting Go, which I started in July for Camp NaNo, and had very little to go on, plot-wise, but a lot to go on, inspiration-wise. I got the idea a few weeks before NaNo and immediately thought, Oh, my stars – I have to write this. Basically, it's about this girl who has to learn how to move on after her boyfriend is killed in a high school shooting. It's the saddest, most depressing thing I've ever written. It makes me cry on a weekly basis, and I really think it's going to be better than Nikki. (But don't tell Nikki I told you that. ; ) )
  2. Where can we buy Becoming Nikki? :D
     will be available on Kindle on December 8th, and in paperback through CreateSpace and Amazon a few days after that. (I've hit a slight bump in the road with some pesky typos that I can't have edited 'til Monday, so I've had to change the date at the last minute. Disappointing, but c'est la vie.)

What would you do if you were given the opportunity to rebuild a broken relationship? 
Alec and Nikki Scott are the perfect ice dancing duo, executing flawless technique and brilliant performance abilities each time they compete. No one doubts their camaraderie, not even their closest friends.
But looks can be deceiving. Off the ice, their relationship is in shambles. Ice dancing is the only thing they have in common anymore... and Alec wants to quit.
Just as Nikki feels like their relationship can't get any worse, an unexpected tragedy crashes into her life. She's left struggling with a difficult choice as her opinion of her brother slowly starts to change.
Whatever she decides, she knows her life will never be the same.
If that synopsis intrigues you... go order Becoming Nikki on Kindle or CreateSpace!  And don't forget to follow Ashley's blog over at Inklings Press. ;)

Ashley Elliott is a writer, reader, musician, photographer, tree-climber, and Leaguette. She speaks fluently in movie quotes and spends most of her time fangirling over her latest obsession. In her free time, she enjoys laughing with her friends, laughing over Christian indie films (but secretly loving them), and laughing with her five crazy siblings. Ashley is a homeschool graduate and is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Humanities through CollegePlus. She lives in Georgia with her parents and siblings, and doesn't have any pets.

(And hey, there's a giveaway on Goodreads! Check it out!)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for hosting me!!!


Raechel said...

I really enjoyed reading this! It sounds like an excellent book! :)

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, Amy! Hi, Ashley!

Loved reading this interview! Ice dancing is one of my favorite--okay, my only--favorite sport to watch. :D

Ashley, do you have any social media pages I can follow you on?

Thanks for sharing!

Beth said...

Hello! I have awarded you over at my blog, please check it out:) Thanks!

Amelia Rose said...

Hey, Amy! For school, we have to dress up like Jane Austen's time period (extra credit, too!) and thought you'd be the perfect one to ask: What should I wear? The closest thing I have is a hi-lo dress (all the others are about knee-length). Also, I find it ironic we are both Amelia, we are both Christians, and we both love classic novels!!! Have a splendiferous day!!

Miss Dashwood said...

Hey Amelia! Great question! It can be difficult to convert modern dresses into Regency styles... is there any way you can borrow a longer dress from someone else? In the Regency time period, empire waists were the defining fashion statement. Luckily empire waists are still in today, and even if the dress you're wearing doesn't have one, you can use a sash on a maxi dress to create a higher waistline. It's not exactly period correct but hey, do with what ya got. ;) Hope that helps a little!

Amelia Rose said...

Thanks! Mom went to goodwill and got me a cute maxi dress that fits the Regency era. You helped a bunch:)

Jessy Jones said...

I enjoyed reading this! Becoming Nikki... sounds like a good book. Added to my Goodreads, check! I can't wait to get my hands on it.

barefoot in the snow