We’re excited to share with you an interview with author Ash Fitzsimmons!
Ash is the author of Stranger Magics, which releases on November 21, 2017. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the book. It’s really good! You can read my review, enter to win a copy, or stay on this page to read what Ash had to say about her characters, writing routine, and more.
About Ash Fitzsimmons
After obtaining degrees in English and creative writing and taking a stab at magazine work, Ash decided to put her skillset to different use and went to law school. She then moved home to Alabama, where she works as an attorney. These days, Ash can be found outside of Montgomery with her inordinately fluffy Siberian husky, who loves long walks, car rides, and whatever Ash happens to be eating.
J= Jen at BTH Reviews
A= Ash Fitzsimmons
J: What do you enjoy most about writing fantasy?
A: The creative freedom. Sure, there are conventions, but so much of what you do in writing fantasy goes to constructing a world around your characters. Even if your story has a familiar urban setting, you’re introducing brand-new elements and making up your own rules. For instance, let’s say you have magically talented characters. How does magic work, then? What is it? Can anyone learn to cast spells? What sort of tools do you need to succeed? What keeps your wizards from trying to start their own reigns of terror? Who makes sure the average person never finds out that magic exists, and why bother? Every question you answer puts a piece of this world in place, and if you’re lucky, it spawns more questions. And then you get down to actually writing the story—playing in the mental sandbox you’ve built. Honestly, it’s addictive.
J: Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?
A: Oh, that’s tough. My narrator is Colin, an eight-hundred-year-old half-fae bookseller (and part-time paranormal pest remover), and I necessarily spent a good deal of time with him while writing. But if I were forced to choose, I’d probably say my favorite is Joey, who’s introduced to the concept of magic, then more or less shoved into the deep end without a raft. Most of my characters have magical talent, and they tend to treat Joey like a liability or cannon fodder until he proves how resourceful an average guy with a sword can be. Joey may not always know what he’s doing, but he has heart.
J: Which character, scene, or setting was most challenging to write? Why?
A: Remember what I said about how much fun building a world can be? Well, it does have a drawback: you have to convey to your readers the fundamental information about your world without turning it into a dreaded info dump. Let’s just say there’s plenty of material in my notes that didn’t make it into the final draft.
J: Do you have a writing routine or schedule? How does that work with your other obligations and responsibilities?
A: I aim for at least one thousand words per day. Fitting that around a full-time job and my other activities can be a challenge, so I start early. On a good day, when I’m feeling particularly rested and responsible, I’m up by 4:30, which gives me at least an hour to write before work (and still take the dog for her predawn constitutional). When I come home, I pick up where I left off. It’s slow progress, but it is progress, even if my Netflix queue is woefully neglected. Sometimes I think back to graduate school, when I was consistently meeting a self-imposed six-thousand-word daily minimum, and wonder how much caffeine I was consuming at the time.
J: What, if any, method did you use to organize and/or track details for the book?
A: It’s funny you should ask—I’ve recently been exploring the software options tailored to writers. To this point, though, the best option for me has been a basic Word document. I keep track of anything I think might be important in terms of my characters—age, physical attributes, personality traits, idiosyncrasies, all the details that show up in the text and the ones listed only for my benefit—plus a running timeline. Most of the main action in Stranger Magics takes place over a two-week period, but when you’re dealing with centuries-old characters, you’ve got to account for a lot of history and keep your dates in order. In other projects with more characters and a longer timeline, I’ve resorted to adding a color-coded spreadsheet to my notes document. Anal retentive? Absolutely, but it helps keep my head on straight.
J: What are your future writing plans?
A: I’d love to pick up where Stranger Magics leaves off. (I have plans for these characters!) Beyond that, I’ve dabbled with a fantasy with an interplanetary setting. I wouldn’t call it science fiction—if it is, it’s so soft that it’s gooey—but I’ve had fun getting to know a different cast.
J: If readers take away only one thing from reading your book, what would you like for that to be?
A: I hope that for at least a little while, the world will be a teensy bit more magical.