Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Ashley! Will you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a twenty-year-old English major currently attending college in southern California. Writing has been such a large part of my life for as long as I can remember, and my parents and three sisters have always been my support team in this area. I am very adventurous and curious about everything—the world fascinates me, and I love exploring and writing about the things in it.
What is Rising Shadows about?
It’s about a modern day young woman, Sarah, who gets transported back in time to the twelfth century. Her untimely appearance thrusts her into the middle of a false witch hunt in a kingdom shrouded with mystery and deception. When the only person who can help her return home is thrown in prison and sentenced to death, Sarah enlists the assistance of the Shadow—the hooded town hero whose identity remains a secret—to help her save her friend and uncover an assassination plot against the king. There’s a little romance between Sarah and the Shadow, which causes some internal conflict for her when she also becomes drawn to Will, a handsome and enigmatic blacksmith in town. When Sarah and Will interfere with the assassin’s plans, they find themselves trapped in the middle of a conspiracy where they become the targets in a series of disasters.
They may have already guessed from my writing, but I am very sarcastic and a practical joker. I also have no qualms about making a fool of myself in public; I will do just about anything to get someone to laugh or smile.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always loved books and writing, but when I turned eight, something just clicked with me and my pen. It became more to me than just entertainment, and I knew then that writing was what I wanted to do with my future. The relationship I had with the characters on another author’s pages was magical, and I wanted to provide that same connection for other readers someday.
How many books have you written/published and do you have a favorite?
I wish I had a little more experience under my belt in the publishing area, but currently Rising Shadows is my first released book. I have written a few novels, though, that I would love to have published in the future, and I’m also working on the second and third books in The Shadow trilogy. This series is probably closest to my heart because I grew up with the stories and characters, and it’s pretty incredible that I get to share all that with my readers!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I always have to have music playing when I write, but at a very specific volume. Too loud and it distracts me, overly quiet and I strain to hear the music and lose my focus, but just right and I get inspired. I also can’t stand outlines. I’ve had to work with a few notes for the second book, but that’s as close as I can come to structured writing. Creating an outline makes me feel like I’m back in school, and creative writing is something that I like to just have fun with.
Where do you like to write?
I usually type in the office in a swivel chair, because goodness knows I can’t sit still for very long! But I used to have a laptop that I would use in my room, and that was my favorite place to write; it was so nice to stay up all hours of the night banging away at the keyboard, all comfy in my bed, until the creative well ran dry.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love reading as much as I do writing. They’re both a way for me to escape and experience adventures and places I’ve always dreamed about. There’s this quote by Mason Cooley: “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” I have a bookmark with this on it, and I smile every time I use it because it’s so true. I adore music, too, and I love playing my guitar and listening to music.
Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet?
Ireland. It’s my dream vacation destination, and I would love to spend the summer there visiting old castles and exploring the incredible landscape. I always had this fantasy of spending the duration of my writing career in a cozy cottage set in the green hills of Ireland beside a rocky stream. The landscape just seems enchanting to me.
Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?
I usually have a list of ten or twenty songs each month that I will listen to until they’re dead; I don’t think I could ever pick a single favorite song because it changes with my mood, though I have a playlist for Rising Shadows on my site that I’ve listened to over and over. I have about two favorite movies in each genre, but my favorite childhood movie was Disney’s Robin Hood (didn’t see that coming, did you?). Apparently, my love of animals and my hero complex started at a young age.
What is your favorite dessert?
Ooooh. I love homemade apple pie with crumble topping. I could literally eat an entire pie by myself. I also love chocolate chip cookies and any kind of cookie dough. Pretty much anything with dark chocolate is okay by me, too.
All of Psalm 91. I recite the whole chapter over and over in my head at night. I also really love the promises in Acts 2:25-28 and Isaiah 40:31.
Here are a few this-or-that questions:
Snowstorms or Thunderstorms?
This one’s tough. I’m one of those odd people who actually enjoys getting caught outside in the rain, and the smell is just divine in my opinion. But I grew up with snowstorms in Colorado Springs and love how everything is so beautiful and perfectly quiet when it settles—there truly isn’t anything like that calm after the storm. It’s a lot of work to shovel after a snowstorm, but it’s an absolute blast to play in.
Tea or Coffee?
I enjoy tea because there are a lot of good memories attached to it, like tea parties with my grandma and cousins when we would visit each summer. But if there’s a choice between tea or coffee, I will probably reach for the jitter-juice.
Print or eBook?
There truly isn’t anything quite as fantastic as holding a new hardback in your hand and being able to touch the pages and smell the newly pressed ink. I don’t even own a Kindle or iPad. Is that slightly sacrilegious of me?
Early-bird or Night-owl?
I’m not overly fond of mornings, even with a gallon of coffee in my system, so I would say more night-owlish, though I’m really more of a two o’clock in the afternoon kind of gal. It’s safer for everyone if I don’t get up early, and the fact that I have the disposition of an eighty-year-old man makes me steer clear of events that start at ten p.m.
Cats or Dogs?
Dogs, definitely. Kittens and cats that are friendly are really cute, but I grew up with dogs and adore the two that we have. I like the fact that they enjoy their owner’s company; I don’t want to have to work for my animal’s affection after a long day.
Are you currently working on any new novels? If so, could you give us a hint?
Currently, I’m working on the next two books in The Shadow trilogy, and my sister recently inspired me to create an entirely new character in the trilogy that I think readers will really enjoy. I’m also jotting down some scenes and ideas for this one novel that I’ve had in my head for years. It’s set in the first century and is about a commander in the Roman army and the unexpected relationship he develops with a woman he rescues in battle, though the fact that she was fighting on the enemy side causes things to become complicated between them and her former master.
Thanks so much for being here! Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers and where can we find you on the web? Thank you for having me! I can’t tell you enough how exciting this entire experience is for me, and I am ecstatic to be able to share my love of storytelling with my readers. Rising Shadows has been so much fun to write, and I hope you all really enjoy it and will stay tuned for my upcoming novels. You can follow me on my website, www.ashley-townsend.comand also on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ashleytownsend.authorI love hearing about your experiences with the book and why you were drawn to certain characters, so comment on my pages or send me an email; I always write back.
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