Please welcome the next guest in my Meet Some UtopYA2016 Lovelies (Unofficial) series. I’ve followed her blog, Book Junkie: Not-So-Anonymous, for a while. But this year was the first time I sat down and really got to know her.
She’s funny, inspiring, and just plain awesome. Let me just say, there’s no better way to get to know someone than by playing Cards Against Humanity.
Thanks for hanging out on the blog today!
AB: Thank you for having me! I’m excited to be here! And I have to agree, Cards Against Humanity is a pretty great way to get to know someone!
You are the heart and soul behind Book Junkie: Not-So-Anonymous. What inspired you to start a book blog?
AB: Mostly I was just looking for a way to connect more with other readers and authors. It took me almost a YEAR to convince myself to finally start it. I didn’t really know that book blogs existed until 2012 when I joined Goodreads to keep track of what I was reading. I started devouring other blogs’ posts, and I wanted to do it myself, but I was really scared that I would be putting my words out into the void, and no one would read it. But if these other people could do it, I could to. And let me tell you, starting my blog changed my life.
You have some exciting things happening for the rest of 2015. Later this year, you are moving to London to pursue a Masters in Publishing. How did this come about?
AB: From August 2013-August 2014 I was Rachel Harris’s assistant. As part of the internship, Rachel showed me everything she could about the publishing industry. I did a lot of beta reading/critiquing for her, and she kept on encouraging me to pursue an actual career in editing, or at least somewhere within publishing. I looked into MA programs here in the states, but none of them seemed to fit. So I started looking in other English speaking countries. And once I found Kingston University, I knew that was it for me. I did a ton of research about their program, and the area outside of London where I would be going to school. I wrote the hardest essay of my life (my personal statement), filled out the rest of the application, and hit submit. A week later, I was sent my acceptance letter, and the rest is history.
I can't wait to hear all about your adventures. What non-book related thing are you most looking forward to doing in London?
AB: Hmm…well, this is just outside of London, but I’m REALLY looking forward to visiting the Doctor Who Experience. And I’m also excited to see lots of things on stage! (Musicals, plays, etc.)
Can I please come visit? :-) So, I also happen to know you are writing a book. Can you tell us anything about it? And when did you know you wanted to be an author?
AB: This was another Rachel Harris idea. She kept telling me I should just try to write something, so I started writing short stories a year ago. One of these short stories, it turns out, is not a short story at all. Although it started out as a funny, fluffy piece, the more I wrote, the deeper and darker it got. (I am a pantser, if you couldn’t tell.)
I guess you could say the platform of my novel is that dating abuse is happening to teens across our nation, and abuse doesn’t just mean being physically hurt. My main characters, Becca and Asher, have pretty much been best friends since they were eight. Or at least, they were until Becca started dating Trip. Trip asked her to stop spending time with other males, and she did, because she thought it was cute that he was jealous. But over time, his requests and ‘suggestions’ isolated and hurt Becca more and more. After a HUGE bad moment, Becca broke up with Trip, but she’s having a hard time rejoining the rest of the world. This is the short blurb one of my beta-readers help put together for it:
A teenage story of acceptance, love, and finding the calm after the storm.
After losing herself during an abusive relationship, Becca is on a journey to find herself again, whether she knows it or not.
And Asher is going to help her get there.
That sounds awesome. Congrats. Oh, and I'm a proud pantser, too. I can't wait to read your work. Knowing you love books, I have to ask... what was your first favorite book?
AB: The Boxcar Children. My first grade teacher handed it to me because I was bored with all of the picture books we were reading in class. Once I worked through The Boxcar Children, I was hooked. I haven’t stopped reading since.
Ah, I love that series and my girls did, too. So, I've been asking everyone... What is your favorite inspirational quote? Why?
AB: Alright, this is kind of a tie between two, but they’re related. First, “She needed a hero, so that’s what she became.” Second is a quote from Coco Chanel: “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”
These are my mantras, both for myself, and my main character. I personally got out of an abusive marriage three years ago, and I know how hard it can be to get out of an abusive relationship. But, we should never have to change ourselves in order to make someone else happy. And in order to get out of those relationships, we have to become our own hero. No one can save us but ourselves.
I love those quotes. By the way, congratulations on again being named an official Utopia blogger. What do you think makes UtopYA, renamed Utopia for its fifth year in 2016, so special?
AB: Hands down, it’s the people. These people are MY people. We truly are a family. I don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed of being ME, my book-loving self. Of course the workshops, awards, and other chances for industry interaction are phenomenal as well. But without the people, those workshops and awards wouldn’t mean a thing.
✮✮✮✮✮ Quick Answers ✮✮✮✮✮
Last Movie you Saw: Disney Pixar’s Inside Out
Comedy, Romance, Drama, or Horror? Can I have them all mixed together? J
Last book you Read: The Forgotten Mountain by Heather Lyons
First Job: Nanny
Gift cards or Cash? Depends who it’s coming from…
Favorite Vacation Spot: This one’s tough! I’m going to go with camping in The Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota.
More about Ashley
Wow. My life is really in the middle of a lot of change, making this hard to write. I grew up on a small hobby farm in Minnesota, and lived in/near the same small town for (almost all of) the first 25 years of my life! I moved to Florida in 2012. Although I have missed seeing snow at Christmas time, I definitely haven’t been able to complain about the warmer weather! In September I will be moving to London for a year to study my MA in publishing at Kingston University.
My grandpa taught me how to read when I was 4 years old, and I haven’t stopped reading since! I have a BA in English literature, with a minor in music. I currently dabble in beta reading, proofreading, and critiquing/editing, as well as writing.
Please visit often for more UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) interviews,
and check out the announcement post to see
the schedule and links to past interviews.