Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Ashley Stinson

Lulu Author Interview Blog
The Ballad of the Broken Soldier

The Ballad of the Broken Soldier By Ash Stinson

After waging a draining, unsuccessful war on the neighboring kingdom of Zylekkha, Tahlehsohr is a bubbling cauldron of unrest. The Zylekkhans, war weakened, are determined to get their vengeance and claim the life of the king of Tahlehsohr. Unfortunately for them, the murder of a king is no easy sport. Kirash, the centaur king of Zylekkha’s right-hand man and a vampire, sits in the center of a precarious web of alliances as he struggles to topple the Tahlehson government: a gang of elven freedom fighters, an idealistic werewolf hoping to start a revolution, a self-centered but powerful magician, and an undead Tahlehson general who has no choice but to help them. Plagued at every turn by Tahlehson spies and bad luck, they’re running out of time. And that might just cost them all their lives.

What first motivated you to write a book?

I’ve always been a voracious reader, particularly of fantasy novels. Writing seemed like a natural extension of all this reading; the practice of building a world, filling it with people, thinking of stories to breathe life into that world–that all became a fun diversion for me as a young girl. I’ve just been writing ever since.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

For me, the biggest hurdle when it comes to writing a story is actually getting it down in words. Dreaming up plots and premises is fun and exciting; things feel fresh and new and full of possibilities. When it comes to actually writing it, I always find my sentences too stilted, my plots too dull, my characters too wooden. I end up agonizing over every word and thought and find myself disheartened.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep at it. No matter how hard it might be to find the time or inspiration, make yourself write. You can always fix anything you’re not happy with when you finish–but first you have to get it all down.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

In a nutshell, ‘The Ballad of the Broken Soldier’ is about a plot to assassinate the king of a country called Tahlehsohr. It follows a group of would-be assassins–men and women with their own agendas and goals quite apart from one another’s, and who don’t even particularly all get along with each other–as they try to get to the king without being caught and killed. Meanwhile, royal spies are stalking their every move and none of them can really ever be sure of the loyalties of their fellows. Adults and young adults with an interest in fantasy, intrigue, or just watching people argue ought to check it out.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

Fantasy has been a passion of mine since as far back as I can remember. Crafting a full world with it’s own customs, belief systems, and history is an especial passion of mine, and fantasy lends itself well to that, for obvious reasons.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

It’s not quite the experience I imagined. Before you’ve finished a book, you have an image in your head that the moment when it’s all done will represent some fundamental change in who you are. Or at least I did. I thought that would be the moment that I really started to feel like a writer–I imagined I’d suddenly have all these insights into story telling and the creative process and how to tweak a reader’s heartstrings. But that doesn’t happen all at once; it turns out that just finishing a book isn’t a magical formula for knowing everything there is to know about writing.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

It’s been a surprise to me how writing becomes both harder and easier. For one, it’s been easier for me to find the discipline to sit down and tell myself, “Okay–today you and I are going to work on this story. We’re going to finish these scene.” At the same time, the words come more slowly. I weigh them more carefully than I used to. It’s been a surprise how much editing I’ve begun to do even while I’m putting the words down.

Will you write another book?

Of course. I can honestly say that writing is a part of me. If no one ever read a single word I wrote, I’d still be writing books.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

My parents have been very supportive of me. My mom, in particular, loves to see the things I write, and she’s very vocal about what she thinks of it. And I have supportive friends who are also writers–so they commiserate with me when things are tough.

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