Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Ashley Howland

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with Ashley Howland, author of Ghostnapped and The Homework Goblin ...



Tell us a bit about yourself …

I have two beautiful daughters, who inspire me to write every day. They are always asking for the next book and we love writing together. I hope one day I can publish the books we write. I also have a beautiful Labrador - Stitch, who even has his own blog (Stitch Says for author interviews and reviews). Soon we will be adding a little puppy into the mix. We said goodbye to Obi in 2013, but he and Stitch have provided me with a lifetime of material to write about. I'm sure the puppy will bring his own stories to our lives. In my work I also get random extra Labradors coming to stay. When you combine well trained dogs and creative kids you get chaos. Still it's a fun life and I am so grateful that my girls will grow up with these dogs in their lives. There is nothing better than playing with them all.
I am also inspired by the places we go as a family. We love visiting zoos and going on holidays. As a family we are also very active. The beach, playing sports, going to the park and chasing each other around are all part of our normal week. It's all lots of fun.

Writing is my hobby. I love doing it and am so happy to be able to share my books with other children. It was my dream to have a book published. It was also my mother's dream. Unfortunately she never managed to complete this. She passed away from Breast Cancer without getting her work published. I wanted to dedicate my writing to her, so I used my maiden name - Howland. It's just my way of saying that dreams can come true.

Tell us about your most recently published, or about to be published, book?

The Homework Goblin was published in 2013. It’s a lot of fun. When I was teaching I had a year 6/7 class one day a week. On my day it was time for the students to hand in their homework. They always came up with such lame excuses for not doing it. We started to make it into a game. I challenged them to come up with a good excuse otherwise they would need to do it at lunch time. We had a lot of fun. My excuse was always the homework goblin stole it. Funnily enough they also always handed in their homework. You can check out The Homework Goblin at: http://sbpra.com/AshleyHowland/

Tell us about the first time you were published?

My first book Ghostnapped will always have a special place in my heart. The original draft was written for an assignment, while I was on a camping trip. It underwent some major alterations. The biggest being the creation of a unique monster. Still the elements of the story were the same. It’s a lot of fun and something I am very proud of. When I found out it had been accepted for publishing I didn’t believe it. In fact I went through the whole process in almost a trance. It wasn’t until I held the first copy in my hand with my name on the front that I realised I was a published author. A dream had been achieved. All I wanted was more though, it really was the start of bigger goals. However the best bit was when I heard parents tell me their kids wouldn’t go to sleep because they couldn’t put it down. That was and still is awesome to hear.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

Hearing from the children who have read my books always makes me proud. However the best part of writing is listening to my girls when I read my stories to them. They are the reason I write and they also make it so much fun.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I am editing three manuscripts at the moment. One is a sequel to Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist. It’s a lot of fun to work on because it has Obi (who we had to say goodbye to earlier in the year), Stitch and the girls. It also includes some of the other dogs I work with, so it’s a good laugh.
The others are for different age groups. One is for older readers and is a bit different, but still a lot of fun. The last one is simply a fantasy story for my girls. I am hoping to self publish them all in 2014.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I write wherever I can find some quiet space. My laptop is my most prized possession, I couldn’t survive without it. I don’t have a particular place. When the writing bug hits I just write when I can.

Which do you prefer? EBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I like both. I read eBooks, it is so much easier to get and store books. I love my kindle. I also have a kindle app for the girls, which is great on holidays. They love to read, so it’s easier to take that and have enough books for them. However I always buy paper books for the girls. Part of the joy of reading is getting the book and actually holding it. Plus it’s really hard to wrap up an eBook. I think there is space for both!

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

That’s a hard question. There are so many amazing books out there. When my girls were little I used to read Peter Pan to them and it is one of their favourites. I love this book, so much imagination. I would go with that one. Some of the others would include Alice in Wonderland, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Where the Wild Things Are. Plus anything written by Roald Dahl!
As you can see I really didn’t answer that question. Basically I think everyone should take the time to read!

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

I held my first book launch earlier in the year and it might sound strange, but it was fun to feel like a real author. It was also great to introduce my books to a whole lot of new people and children. To all my readers, here in Adelaide and everywhere I just want to say thanks! You have all helped me to make my dreams come true!

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