Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Awesomesauce Authors: An Interview with Ashley Heckman

Ashley is a thirty-something perpetual teenager. She (slowly) writes young adult fiction that pulls no punches and rarely conforms to the unspoken rules. Home is upstate South Carolina, where Ashley lives with her daughter, working for a living and striving to better herself and her craft.

Tell us a little about your writer's journey so far:

Well like most fiction writers, I've been a reader for a good chunk of my life. It's embarrassing to admit, but I tend to read in waves. I'll be voracious about it for a month or so, then not read anything of substance for a length of time. Reading is something I've always come back to, though. I love a story that makes me feel something. Good or bad, it doesn't matter. There just came a point in the past few years when I asked “why not me?” I sat down in front of the keyboard, and things have developed from there.

What inspired you to write this book? How is it a book only you could write?

The idea of a story of pure teenage love inspired me. Christian is definitely the idealized version of the boy every girl hopes is out there for them: loyal, respectful of your boundaries yet worshiping the ground you walk on, etc. At first, it was just an exercise to see if I could actually write something coherent and complete, but the more I learned about these characters and their lives together, the more I wanted to share them with the world.

As for why I'm the only person who could have written it, I'm not sure I am. I do think that I'm one of the few who was willing to venture outside the norm for YA literature. The original version of the manuscript was much darker than what was ultimately published, and went through many revisions before it even found a house willing to take it on. I had a couple of near offers on it before I contracted it to Evernight Teen, and they were misses due to my unwillingness to sanitize certain elements for public consumption. I think someone else may have folded under the pressure to alter the fundamental themes. In the end, I did make a few compromises, but I think keeping the specifics on a thread here and there vague makes the whole story better by allowing the end consumer to read into it what they feel is right.

What's your favorite thing about writing?

Conjuring emotion out of thin air. When I make myself cry over a scene, or when I see my writing affect someone else, it's magic.

What's your least favorite thing?

The technicalities. I get bogged down “rules” adjectives and adverbs and semicolons and em-dashes and all of that crap. I just want to write how we speak. I have a long standing love affair with superfluously descriptive writing involving multitudes of “-ly” words. Having to really stay on top of that sort of thing and remind myself to make each and every keystroke propel a story forward is the most tedious part of writing for me.

Now it's time to brag a little--What do you love most about your book?

I love that it's not very happy. It's not a feel-good after school special type of story. I love that the characters fall from grace, and it's okay. I love that everyone gets a chance to be at peace, but that it doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending.

Okay, now a little about you. (And yes, I stole these questions from In the Actor's Studio with James Lipton.)

What is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?


What turns you on?

Lots of things, but this question makes me feel like a Playboy bunny, hahaa.

What turns you off?

Arrogance, dishonesty.

What sound or noise do you love?

My daughter laughing.

What sound or noise do you hate?

My daughter whining.

What profession, other than your own, would you most like to attempt?

Too many to list! I swear, if I'd have gone to college, I probably would have become a perpetual student. I'd have just kept working on a degree before getting bored and moving onto the next major.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear G-d say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Don't worry, they didn't really know me at all.

Finally, what's the one question you've always wanted to answer in an interview? (And of course, you have to answer it!)

I love this question, because I used to use it myself when I was a music journalist. Oh the things rock stars will tell you! I'm going to assume you mean about the book I'm promoting here...

[insert 30 minute time lapse here]

Can you see this book as a blockbuster movie?

No. It's too quiet for that. I think it would make a great film, but not a big budget thing. I see it more along the lines of something like The Ice Storm or even The Virgin Suicides. Subtle, introspective, kind of muted. It doesn't need explosions and flashy CGI. It's just kids trying to figure things out.


Seventeen-year-old Christian Marx never belonged anywhere but with his best friend Maye. Life with her beats the hell out of the dingy apartment he shares with his neglectful mother. Mom may be blood, but Maye and her little sister Rowe are family. Life would be perfect if only Maye loved him the way he loved her. 

Last night, she did. Today, she's dead—a tragic accident no one could have predicted. 

With Maye gone, it's up to those she left behind to figure out how to move on. Only one person can drag Christian away from the ledge. Only one person can save Maye's little sister from making a huge mistake. 

Sometimes the only way to un-break yourself is to fix someone else. 


Ashley has been generous enough to donate three prizes to readers!

Giveaway #1 (Open Worldwide!)
eBook copy of THE LAST THREE WORDS (epub, html, pdf, prc)

Giveaway #2 (Open to US and Canada residents please)
30" silver-toned necklace with a matching bird charm

Giveaway #3 (Open to US and Canada residents please)
Bookmark to match cover with a real feathers

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for having me, Dannie! What a fun interview :D

  2. Lovely interview! I love reading about what inspires other authors!