Monday, February 22, 2021

Ashley Schumacher

Ashley Schumacher is a young adult author with a degree in creative writing from the University of North Texas. She lives in a small town with her antisocial but lovable husband and more books than is strictly necessary. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her belting Disney or Broadway songs, protecting her snacks from her greedy golden retriever, hand embroidering, or playing Mario Kart. Amelia Unabridged is her first novel. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I was told very early in my pursuit of traditional publishing that the powers that be are more of an influence on titles than anything else. I had friends who warned that they had held onto a beloved title with both hands only to have it wrenched from their grasp, so I was very hesitant to let myself really love any title lest I should lose it.

Amelia Unabridged was actually courtesy of my husband after a joint brainstorming session. It represents the book beautifully, I think, bringing the main character Amelia right up against a literary term and hinting that stories will be a large part of the novel itself. I’m thrilled the title stood the test of time.

What's in a name?

Names play an important part in Amelia Unabridged, especially when it comes to N. E. Endsley, the mysterious author of the book series with which the main character, Amelia, is obsessed. What people call him—Nolan, Endsley, N. E. Endsley—indicates his role in that relationship. His relationship with Amelia changes over the course of the story, and thus what she calls him also changes from beginning to end.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

I don’t think she’d be surprised at all. This book has touchstones and hallmarks of stories and books I’ve loved since childhood. I hope teenage me would be pleased with my writing progress, but beyond that, I think she would be unsurprised that the themes in Amelia Unabridged echo the books I’ve read and loved over the course of my life.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I always know where my stories begin and therefore often find that the endings change and evolve along with my characters. In Amelia’s case, I had a pretty good idea of how her story was going to end, which is why I like to think of the prologue and epilogue as bookends of each other.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I can’t speak for all writers, but in order to connect with the characters I’m writing, I need to put an aspect of myself into their personalities. Even if these traits are stretched and distorted so they no longer resemble me, I find I need that personal connection in order to understand the character fully. For Amelia, she got my love of books and her way of using the stories she’s read to shape the world around her. For Nolan, he got my fear of disappointing others, though his fear is far greater than my own.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Most of my writing is influenced by sources other than books. I am intrigued with how people talk to each other when they think no one else is listening, how people move in the world when they think they’re alone versus when they are in a crowd. Eavesdropping and, when I can’t hear nearby conversations, making up what someone is saying based on body language and facial expressions might be my favorite non-writing writing exercise.
Visit Ashley Schumacher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue