Thursday, 7 July 2011

Open House Day 37 - Ashley L Knight

"I'm not interested in pleasing the critics. I'll take my chances pleasing the audiences."

- Walt Disney

Walt was a wise man. If you've not read a few of his famous quotes, I urge you to do so. How cool was this man? I mean, think about it. Awesome intellect. The man had brains, I tell you! I imagine him as the Rico Sauve of the 1940's. The man won 22 Academy Awards and 4 Honorary Acadamy Awards! He had concert halls named after him, stars, theme parks! What a guy.... I've even worked for him (well, sort of... I worked at Walt Disney World one summer as part of the College Program) and believe me, his work ethic and legacy is untouchable!

What's my point? We could all learn something from this man - a man I have listed on my top five of people I'd go back in time to meet. He was a walking encyclopedia for quotes. Go ahead - type in "Walt Disney quotes" on Google & wade through the information thrust upon you. I forewarn you: bring a life jacket.

So with Walt in mind, let me tell you that I think I'm fairly typical of many first time authors. The first book is your child. You love it, whisper sweet soothing words to it late at night, check on it religiously to make sure all is right. You write it because you know that someone like you will love it! The day you receive it in book bound form, you cry. Yes, you unashamedly weep tears of joy and pride. It's like graduation. When it's published and a reader sends you an email actually thanking you for writing your masterpiece, you swell with pride and know it was all worth it in the end. Excitedly, you look forward to the reviews and blurbs. And, of course, writing your next book.

FinsThe second book is a bit different. This time, you're more concerned with whether you'll be a one hit wonder. Questions like "Will I be the Vanilla Ice of writers?" will cross your mind & all sorts of horrible things like that will make you start to doubt yourself. You will remember the scathing words a pompous man in an ill-fitted overcoat made about a scene that took place on page 42 and how it just wasn't "real enough" for his taste. Watching the polls on Amazon rise and fall as your book is bought or sits idly will push you a few years closer to advancing baldness. Getting 5 out of 5 stars will be your new goal and very quickly, you'll begin to lose focus of the one truly important thing that got you excited in the first place: your audience. Your readers.

FathomI confess, it did happen to me. Almost exactly as I described it, without the balding part. I lost nearly twenty pounds with my second book, the stress was so much! I recall feverishly writing away in the dead of night, perched like a vulture on the edge of my chair (yes, I was squatted), desperately trying to make all ends meet. I knew I had to make everyone happy with FATHOM or else no one would like it at all. Looking back on it, I now know why my husband chose to retreat to our room so early each night: I looked like Medusa in flannel pajamas. Hideous sight. My brain felt pushed to the max, overused, malnourished, and withered. Suddenly, an epiphany! The weight of the world melted from my shoulders as I realized I was not supposed to be pleasing my critics. Good heavens, I was supposed to be pleasing my audience! I wanted nothing more than to please and entertain my readers. That has always been my goal. If I've transported them away from their lives into the world I've created and they've enjoyed it, then I've done my job and that's all I could ask for!

I'm often asked for advice, which is overwhelming at times as it's usually me who's asking for advice. Many people ask me how to begin writing, or how to continue writing, etc... I tell them to write what speaks to them. Write what you know. Write from the heart. I know I sound like a Hallmark commercial, but really, it is true. When you write what you're passionate about, it's reflected in your words. Your writing comes alive and your characters jump from the pages. Write about everything and anything and don't be afraid of who you're going to piss off. Because in the end, after you've blatantly ignored your critics and focused on your beloved readers, you're going to find that who you've been writing for all this time is yourself.

Two events of significance occurred during of the birth of Ashley L. Knight in 1977. One was the VC10 jet flight time record from London to Bahrain was smashed by her father in his determination to be by her side and the appearance of brilliant meteor showers over the desert island that was witnessed by her godmother. Raised in Bahrain, the legendary kingdom of Dilmun, Ashley grew up on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, white haired and blue-eyed, swimming in the warm tidal shallows with her mother at seven days old as all baby mermaids are raised.

Moving away from the gathering war storms of the Middle East conflict, her family settled in mountainous Idaho, USA, to the seasonal rhythms of ranch life. Ashley's love of horses and riding skills found her representing major rodeos as an elegant Rodeo Queen and striking spokesperson.

By 15 years Ashley was already enrolled in university in Idaho where she majored in English/ Writing Emphasis, with a minor in Biology. College summers were spent with her younger sister at the ranch riding by the Little Salmon River or at Disney World as an intern in their summer program.

A chance meeting in downtown Boise brought love's destiny to her life. Greg and Ashley were married in McCall by the glacial blue waters of the lake. Inseparable, they now have two small children of their own.

Ashley is the author of the YA fantasy novels FINS and FATHOMS. The third novel in the trilogy, FOREVER is due to be published in 2012

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