Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hey all! Well, I live in San Diego, but I grew up in Colorado Springs. Being trapped indoors for four months out of the year as a kid with an overactive imagination led me to write; I wanted to go on extraordinary adventures from home and share them with others. It just escalated from there over the years and turned into a career. I have two amazing big sisters and one younger, who also happens to be one of my biggest fans as an author, and my quirky lab Tawney is pretty much the best. When I’m not spinning tales, I’m usually reading, exploring, creating, baking, drinking coffee, and whatever else entertains me. I’m also terrified of clowns. You can find out more about me and my books at www.ashley-townsend.com
Q. Thinking back, what were you like in school?
A. …….. Energetic seems like the safest description. I was homeschooled when I was younger and was quite a handful for my mom, though she was a patient angel with her spazziest daughter. I was a daydreamer, and rather than study math indoors, I wanted to spend my time writing stories or pretending I was a knight out to save a damsel from a high tower (my dog in the playhouse). I like to think of my childhood years as prep for my future career. ^_~
Q. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
A. My goal for writing has always been to entertain, encourage, and to impact as many people as possible. In my opinion, if a story doesn’t make the reader smile, cry, laugh, or ache for the characters, then something is seriously wrong. Yes, I would do a giddy-happy dance to see my name on the New York Times’ best-seller list because that would mean I’d “made” it. But my goal is to make a lasting impression on my readers, to give them hope and courage when they see their favorite characters overcome great obstacles, to teach them something, or even to just provide a fantastic escape from the real world. I also love the show Castle and became obsessed with it because of my love for Firefly with Nathan Fillion. Basically, I want to be Richard Castle when I’m older—an awesome mystery writer who plays laser tag in the house, goes to underground Steampunk gatherings, writes a best-seller in a historical pub with secret passages, and be juuuust rich enough that all of my eccentricities would be acceptable.
Q. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
A. I’ll cover my two main characters, because the story really revolves around both of their journeys. Sarah Matthews feels like an average eighteen-year-old who lives a mundane existence, and so getting the chance to travel back in time and thwart an ancient murder is a no-brainer. I admire and respect her, and I feel that she is one of the most relatable characters out there: Sarah is loyal, endearingly awkward, spunky, and bold but not fearless. The fact that she doesn’t always have a one-track mind and can’t control her emotions perfectly is one of my favorite things about her; she isn’t watered-down and doesn’t always find a solution on the first attempt—though that doesn’t keep her from trying—and it’s these very human qualities that make her character so realistic. I loved watching Sarah grow from a snarky teen in “Rising Shadows” to a strong and caring young woman in “Chasing Shadows.” She fights past her fear of getting trapped in time to help her friends and stop a killer, and she also learns to take hold of great love instead of living in the fear that it might be lost. I hope we can all learn from her!
Now, as to Will Taylor … Just *sigh*. Basically, he’s a culmination of all of my fantasies: tall, dark, enigmatic, enchanted by a normal girl, and has an incredibly tender heart. Check, check, and check! In “Rising Shadows,” Sarah befriends Will and later on discovers that he is the town’s vigilante known as the Shadow, and they work together in Book II to stop a murderer from striking again. What I love so much about Will is that he is one of the bravest souls I believe I will ever write about. Despite his past and the way he fears losing those he loves, he is willing to fight for what he believes in, even if it means sacrificing his own life, and he is also loyal to a fault. I was sobbing while typing multiple scenes in “Chasing Shadows” (you’ll know why when you read the book!) because his vulnerability really presents itself in this installment. I get so excited when I write a scene where Will and Sarah are together, because their dynamic gives me so much joy. They are so alike in many ways—their fiery loyalty, courage, and stubbornness—and I love writing scenes where Sarah is trying to be independent and Will just wants to shield her from pain. But they always sort things out in the end and they communicate with each other, which is a key to their relationship.
Q. What genre are your books?
A. The most generic way to describe them is YA fantasy, but I also like to throw in sci-fi, adventure, historical romance, and time-travel thriller.
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
A. Lina Liberato (from the Stuck in Love and The Best of Me) would be my ideal actress. Sarah is sarcastic and all of her thoughts are visible on her features, and Lina definitely puts that off on-screen. Then there’s the picture on the right, because she is my Sarah. Hair, coloring, face, freckles, eye shape (just needs blue contacts). I am dying to find out who this model/actress is, because she’s perfect! But until I discover her name, Lina can be Sarah. ^_^
In my universe, time travel exists, so does anyone have a spare time machine I can borrow so I can nab a 22-year-old Tom Welling to play Will Taylor? All my years of watching Smallville rubbed off and caused me to write Will in Tom’s image—wavy dark hair, blue eyes, tall, winning smile. No time machine? Well, then, Derek Thieler (from Baby Daddy). Just a little darker on the hair, and we’ve got our Will.
You can find the rest of the cast and my inspiration behind the Rising Shadows Trilogy at
Q. When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?
A. Writing was the only thing I wanted to do when I grew up—besides being a time traveling-ninja, of course. I adored reading as a kid because it entertained me and storytelling because it brought joy to others, so finding a career that fed into my addiction to words was a win-win for me. And then when my little sister Katie was diagnosed with leukemia when we were kids, the characters I created became my way of showing her that regular people always triumph over their circumstances, even when the odds seem stacked against them. Being a writer was always something that I wanted to do, but when I realized how it could impact people, I knew it was something I had to do.
Q. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
A. I have a difficult time stopping once I get started, so I know not to write a big scene before work. Haha. When I have only a small gap in the day and don’t have time to write a chapter or two, I use plotting notecards to get down the gist of a scene to make writing time go faster. I love brainstorming at night and on the weekends, because I get the most uninterrupted time to write large scenes then. But if an opportunity to write presents itself in the middle of the day, I jump on it.
Q. Where do your ideas come from?
A. From anything and everything. I can see something outdoors that inspires me, and then I’ll start thinking in my head how to describe the feel and look of things. Other instances, I can't help but wonder how my characters might react to a situation, and then I just start mentally doodling a scene from there. I get ideas from movies and books and life and my own interests; if there's something I haven't done or an adventure I wish I could experience, then I write about it! And there are some days where the writing takes on a mind of its own, and writing is inspiration enough. Those are the days where I just sit back, sip a coffee, and enjoy the ride.
Q. What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
A. Time constraints. I knew I wanted this installment to be epic, to resolve a lot of things and also bring up new questions and introduce new characters. But I was working and going to school nearly full-time and promoting the first book while trying to find a publisher who would print physical copies of this story; it was a lot of work to find time in my day to write, which was torture. All I wanted to do was write! But I eventually found a rhythm, and when I had free time, I just set to work typing away like a mad woman, creating a story that I hope you’ll all love as much as I do.
Q. Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
A. Ugh. All the time! The most irritating days for a writer are the ones spent staring at an empty screen and watching that obnoxious little black line blink on and off, reminding you that you haven’t written anything in about an hour. It’s a terrible feeling to know that you have something great in your head but get hung up on how to put it down on paper. Two things that (usually) get me over the dreaded hump: Number 1 is to just take a step back. I get stuck a lot when I push too hard and then lose all brainpower because I’m not inspired by what I’m forcing myself to write. So I’ll read a book, take a nap and think the plot over while I rest (I always have a pen and paper nearby!), or go outdoors for fresh air and a new perspective. And when all else fails, Pinterest for total vegetation and inspiration. ^_~ Option 2 is also very helpful: When I feel uninspired to write an entire scene but need to stay productive, I’ll lay out the plotline and certain elements of a chapter on notecards. It’s soooo helpful when I get trapped, and it also helps me to stay organized. I didn’t want to do it at first because doing an “outline” made it seem more like school than creative writing, but it is so freeing to be able to get little snippets down on paper and not have to write down an entire scene to get an idea out of my head.
Thanks for having me, ladies! I’m super spazzy and quirky, so brace yourselves! But if you’re brave enough, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest (check out my inspiration board for the series!), my website, become a fan on Goodreads, and also check out my author page on www.Ink-Smith.com. And don’t be afraid to shoot me an email. I love hearing from you guys and sharing my story! Thanks so much for reading, and keep being inspired to do what you love.
Don’t forget to check out my storyboard pages and inspiration playlists for “Rising Shadows” and “Chasing Shadows” on my website, and check back in for updates on Book III! http://ashley-townsend.com/
ink-smith Authors Ashley Townsend
ink-smith.com Chasing Shadows