All About Ashley Howland
I am so excited to chat with Ashley Howland today. She has written several children's books--definitely the kind you should pick up for those little sweethearts in your life. Tell us a little about yourself, Ashley.
I am a mum to two very energetic girls and two Labradors (Stitch and Chewie). I write in my spare time, which is a joke. As a mum, teacher and pet owner I don’t have too much spare time, but the ideas manage to reach the computer eventually.
When did you first decide to write and pursue a career in publishing?
I have always enjoyed creating stories with classes and used to dabble in writing, but never finished anything. I actually did a writing course which forced me to complete a manuscript and let someone else read it. From there it just became part of my life. I love working with kids and showing them my books. It often takes a while for it to sink in that I am actually the author. Once they work that out it’s great to hear them talk about my books.
What is the age group for Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist? What made you want to write for this age group?
The Obi book is for 8 to 12 year olds, although lots of adults have enjoyed it too. This is my preferred age group because they still have a great sense of imagination and enjoy reading. It also just works with the themes I write. My girls are 6 and 8 at the moment and I read a lot of books that fit into this age group, so that probably influences my writing too.
I understand that you actually have a dog named Obi. Is the story’s main character, Obi, based on a real-life dog? Are Obi’s human friends, Maddy and Aijay, based on your children also?
Obi was my first Labrador. He was a special dog and had an amazing relationship with my two girls (Maddy and Aijay). I wrote the first book as a bit of fun because I used to think they talked to Obi or rather he tried to train them. I am working on the sequel at the moment and that is to help keep his memory alive. He was a wonderful dog, who made a difference to lots of kids.
What a cutie!!!
Was it a difficult balance to make a gripping story, yet one that isn’t too scary?
That’s an interesting question. My first book – Ghostnapped is a bit scarier. I didn’t think it was that scary, but lots of kids have said it is. They also told me that they didn’t want to put it down so that probably means I got it right. With the Obi story I think the conversation from the girls helps to keep the humour and minimize the scary factor. It is certainly important because I don’t want to be responsible for kids having nightmares. I am quite happy for them to stay up after their bedtimes because they can’t put the book down though!
What is your writing process like?
Chaos… Well organised chaos I hope. I have recently started using OneNote to keep track of my ideas and plans. This helps because I can update on any device and keep everything in one place. Once I have a rough plan I start writing and see where it takes me. My aim is always to get a skeleton first draft done. Then I usually read it to my girls and they help me pick holes in the plot. After that it’s time to rewrite and eventually I get to the stage where I send it off to an editor.
Have you had a memorable moment with a reader or fan since this book released?
The Obi book has given me so many. One I will never forget was returning to the school I worked at when Obi was young. He was actually my behaviour management plan. If everyone followed instructions and worked hard (I was the science teacher so it was a whole school thing) then Obi would come to visit. Anyway I returned six years later as a relief teacher and had the year 6/7 class. Most of the kids remembered me, but they all remembered Obi. Not bad considering they would have been in reception or year one. Unfortunately I had said goodbye to Obi the previous year, but I was able to show them the book and we had a great time remembering the boy. I was also able to show them photos of Stitch and Chewie. It was a great way to get to know each other again.
It didn’t really surprise me that they remembered Obi – he was one of those amazing dogs!
Do you have any news of upcoming projects you would like to share with the readers?
I have lots on at the moment. I am actually republishing my first three books – including Obi the Super Puppy. So they are currently only available in print from me. However when I am done they will be available in kindle and print. This is really exciting for me. I am also getting closer with the sequel to Obi. It is called Obi the Super Puppy and the Quest for the Last Laugh. Just waiting for the covers to be completed then all these books will be ready.
I have a few other projects going too so this year is shaping up to be pretty exciting!
Where can readers find your books?
The best place to see all my books is my Amazon page:
All the anthologies I have written stories for can be found here too. Otherwise people can contact me directly via Ashley@ahowland.org
Where can readers find you and follow your work?
The best places to see what I am up to are:
Web page: http://ahowland.org/
Thanks so much for stopping by, Ashley! Below are a few of Ashley’s favorite things! I hear ya on the chocolate and definitely on Ten Things I Hate About You—one of my favs!!
Day of the Year: Christmas day
Book: Too many for just one, I love Roald Dahl, Harry Potter and The Ranger’s Apprentice series to name a few
Travel Destination: Disney World
Movie: Ten Things I Hate About You
Animal: Other than Labradors I love Moose and otters.