Its that time again! Grab a cuppa and sit back and read on 🙂
Tell us a bit about your book
In a Sky Full of Stars is a story about a girl in a fictional feudal village. Her mother is a laundress and not very well liked by the rest of the townsfolk. Her father had been the village storyteller, but he has been gone for several years. As Perspica helps her grandmother prepare for their a special event the day of the solar eclipse, she finds that her entire life can change in a matter of minutes.
What would say is the genre for your book
Fantasy, for sure, but not the kind of epic fantasy that you see on the bookstore shelves. My favourite stories are the ones that bring a little bit of magic into someone’s real life. The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping was the first one I wrote along those lines, and I haven’t been able to stop since!
Where did the inspiration come from?
Where I live in Southern Illinois is currently known as the “Eclipse Crossroads of America.” This will be the primary viewing point for the solar eclipse next month as well as another one in 2024. Like people have been for thousands of years, I’ve always been fascinated by eclipses and I wanted to do something special for it. This story was the final product.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I went through a few titles before I settled on one I liked. It’s a line from the book itself, and I think it suits the overall theme of the story very well.
How long did it take you to finish writing the book before the first edit? How many drafts were there in total?
I want to say it was a few months. It’s not a long book, but I wrote it all by hand. I feel that I write better this way, and it was worth it take a few snippets of time late at night or early in the morning to do it the way I wanted. I was pleased with the first draft, but of course there have been several small revisions along the way. Other than some edits for consistency and word choice, it’s not very different from my first draft at all.
Are there any characters in the book based on people you know?
Not this time! Sometimes I do pull from real life, but Perspica and all the people around her are completely fictional.
How did you celebrate being published? Did you have a launch party?
I’ve got a launch party going on right now on Facebook with some fun giveaways. I also finally got that bearded dragon I’ve always wanted! She’s too young to tell the gender yet, but once I can she will likely be named after one of the dragons in my books.
Would you care to give us an extract?
Perspica sat at the edge of the firelight, only allowing her knees out of the darkness. Her eyes darted around, examining the crowd to find children and older folks. She was painfully aware that the others her age were slipping off into the night. Their whispers slithered against the back of her neck and drew her attention to their receding footsteps.
The storyteller raised her arms, the sleeves of her robe falling back to reveal her veiny, wrinkled skin. “Every night,” she chanted, “the Great Dragon leaps out of the mountains in the east, hungry for his dinner. He arcs through the sky, searching for the one thing that will satisfy him.” She gestured with her wooden staff at the smattering of stars overhead which made up the outline of the big beast: a long, slithery body, outspread wings, and open jaws. “He weaves in and out of the stars through the night, snapping desperately at the moon when he reaches his apex.”
“Grandmother Graystone? Will he eat the moon tonight?” The little girl who had piped up at the front of the crowd wrapped her arms around her knees and leaned forward with wide eyes.
“No, child,” the old woman responded quickly. “The Great Dragon only gets his meal once every few months. He will go hungry tonight when he falls into the ocean in the west. But,” she raised a crooked finger in warning, “he will eat again very soon.”
“Won’t it get dark?” The little girl’s shoulders hunched up around her ears as though the gesture could keep the darkness from creeping in around her. Perspica remembered fearing such things once, before real life had become more of a worry than Grandmother Graystone’s fairytales.
The old woman bobbed her head, the shifting shadows emphasizing the hollows in her cheeks and around her eyes. Perspica wondered when she had become little more than skin stretched over bone. “Yes, it will be very dark,” the storyteller affirmed. “You must hold tight to your mother’s hand so you don’t get lost.”
For a moment, Perspica was sucked away from the firelight and into the darkness of her mind. She was only a tiny child, her thin arms not yet able to lift the heavy baskets of laundry which her mother was always hoisting around on her hip. It was dark, so dark. The Dragon had swallowed the moon and had left the village bathed in blackness. Perspica, unaware that such a terrifying thing could happen, had let go of Mother’s hand to explore. She had searched frantically to find that hand again, the one that could smack her one minute and soothe the next. Soon enough, strong arms had scooped her up, pinning her in place while a torch was lit. Mother had found her.
“But, when the Great Dragon has finally eaten, he will be so happy that he will look down upon our village with grace and benevolence. He will ensure that our crops will grow, giving us just the right amount of rain and sunshine. We will be safe underneath his rule.”
“When will he eat next?” shouted a voice from the back of the crowd.
A tap on Perspica’s shoulder yanked her attention away from Grandmother’s stories. She turned to see Maggie’s wide face and dark eyes floating out of the shadows. Instead of the numb tranquility she’d felt while listening to the storyteller, she was once again aware of the heat of the fire on her face and the coolness of the night on her back.
How do you beat writers block? Any tips?
I do a lot of freelance writing, so I don’t have time for writer’s block! But it does happen, unfortunately. My best advice is to walk away. Go take a shower, do the dishes, or take the dog for a walk. Even switching to a different story or project can be helpful. Also, I think grabbing a pen and generating ideas by hand is a good way to break through.
Do you have any hobbies apart from writing?
I love to cross stitch, a hobby I’ve enjoyed off and on for the last twenty years. I also spend a lot of time with my kids, husband, and numerous pets. We love to hike, camp, and try new foods.
When you write, do you consider yourself to be a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a plotter! I like to know at least the general idea of where my story is going before I start. Lots of things change along the way, of course, but there’s still at least a basic outline.
When I first knew that I wanted to write (way back in junior high), I didn’t know anything about plotting or character backgrounds. I would start to write and get stuck, and I thought that made me a bad writer. I just hadn’t found my style yet.
Do you have any advice for fellow writers?
Don’t stop. Even when it gets hard, when your friends or family think it’s a waste of time, or you think your writing is terrible, don’t stop. It is hard, and sometimes you have to waste a lot of time making that terrible writing into something good. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it, and it feel so good to finish a story. Also, educate yourself. There are plenty of people out there who write poorly, and you don’t have to be one of them.
If your book became a film- who would you pick to play the main characters?
That’s too hard! I read a lot, but I don’t keep up with who all the actors and actresses are these days.
I see you have new work in progress- care to tell us about it?
I have two, actually!
I have had plans for a long time to release the third book in the Dragon Keeping Chronicles. There just hasn’t been time to write it!
I have also started another book that, surprisingly, doesn’t have any dragons in it. It’s about time travel, which is something I’ve always loved. I can’t say much about it right now without giving too much away, but I’m excited about it.
Lastly, where can readers find you and your book on the internet?
My website: http://ashleyomelia.com/
My Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Ashley-OMelia/e/B00FMHT9T4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Thankyou so much Ashley- Lov your bearded dragon – so cute!!! Good luck with the party- I for one am there! 😀 Love the cover its so pretty!
Ashley is a freelance writer in Murphysboro, IL. In fiction, she loves to write children’s books, poetry, and modern fiction.