Monday, March 26, 2018

March Madness: Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Today's March Madness post is a very fun Q&A I got to do with Ashley Herring Blake, author of queer-centric, feminist stories in YA and MG. So please give her a warm welcome, and I hope y'all enjoy this. :)

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Hi Ashley, thanks so much for joining me on The Fox’s Hideaway. For those unfamiliar with your newest novel, can you tell us a little bit about it? 
Hi there, thanks for having me! Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World is a story about a girl who loses her house in a tornado and in the aftermath, starts to develop feelings for another girl at school. It’s a book about first crushes, first love, and self-acceptance.

If you were to sort Ivy into a Hogwarts house, which one would she be in?
I think Ivy is probably a Gryffindor. She’s quiet, but she’s brave despite that and I loved writing a character who was brave despite being scared. 

And if Ivy had a page filled with drawings of her favorite things, what would they be? 
Since she lost everything in a tornado and had to rebuild her life from the ground up, I think she’d have a lot of favorite things to draw, things she misses and things she learned to value that she never thought about before. There’d be pictures of books—her mother’s chapter books, to be specific—as well as one or two of her baby brothers’ toys. She’d draw kettle-cooked chips and toasted ham sandwiches and maple pancakes. There’s be green dresses and trees with bright blue apples. Ivy has a pretty active imagination, but I think more than anything, she’d draw her friends and her family with her right in the middle of them all. 

MG is still a category that is widely underrepresented with LGBTQ+ characters (which makes me even more happy about your book! :D). Was that something you thought about as you wrote Ivy’s story? 
It definitely was. Story is how we understand the world, how we understand ourselves. Queer YA has grown so much in the past few years and I’m so thankful for and excited about that. Those YA books helped me self-accept, helped me love myself, but I always wonder what a difference a book like IVY might have made in my middle school life. At that age, I was definitely thinking about things like sexuality, but because I liked boys too, I had nothing to help navigate me through an attraction to girls. So I ignored it for years and years. I don’t want kids today—I don’t want my own kids—to have to feel like they need to run from or ignore parts of themselves. I don’t want them to feel alone and that, ultimately, is why I wrote IVY.

Since IVY ABERDEEN is your debut middle grade book, did you find the writing process to be easy or difficult compared to YA? Or was it about the same? 
Every book is different, no matter what age group I’m writing for. I had written several YA books by the time I decided to write IVY and it did take me a while to get out of the YA mindset. Overall though, IVY was her own project, regardless of it being my first MG, and I learned so much working on it.

And lastly, a question I always love asking: what are you currently working on? 
I’m currently working on my second MG book, which I think I might love even more than I love Ivy. I can’t wait for you all to meet Sunny St. James!

Thank you for participating in my event and congrats on your latest release, Ashley 😊

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Buy Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World from Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Find Ashley on her website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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