Q & A with Alison Ashley

Who/what inspired you to write?

Apart from the fact that I lived in a haunted house?! Déjà vu. I’ve always experienced it but it wasn’t until I moved to Australia from England and was still having déjà vu moments that I really began to question what it was and why we get it. How could I still have those fleeting moments of feeling I’d been in the exact same situation before, or know what the person I was talking to was going to say before they’d spoken, when I was in a completely foreign place or with total strangers?

Was it simply a hiccup in the brain’s function or was it in fact a hiccup in our journey through the dimension we call time?

Is it possible to actually exist in two parts of the time dimension at once or even switch from one to the other whenever we want? What if we messed up something in another part of time and could go back and fix it? How cool would that be?


What was the most rewarding part of the writing process?

When I first began Phoenix, the characters were much younger and the story didn’t seem to work properly. I left it for a while then revisited it when my daughters were teenagers and their day-to-day activities and interactions made me realise the characters needed to be older. Once I allowed my characters to grow up, the story really did take on its own life, and I mean that literally.

Some days I’d be writing and words would just appear on the screen, you know when you’re in that dreamy, in need of a sugar hit state and your subconscious takes over? My subconscious seemed to have some really great ideas!

It was like watching the story evolve from being about Katie time-slipping to solve a decade long mystery of how stolen jewels had brought trauma upon her family, to how something from her distant past was influencing the way she behaved in the present time.

It was a light-bulb moment when I came to realise what my subconscious had been telling me — that almost all humans tend to live with a shadow self.


What are your top tips for writing a book?

Don’t over plan it. Being flexible with your book allows the story to shape your thoughts rather than your thoughts shaping the story. This will add greater depth and take you on a journey into your subconscious where all sorts of amazing adventures have been filed and are just waiting to be brought to life.


Which books/authors have inspired you?

Enid Blyton, of course, especially The Magic Faraway Tree. I had a Magic Faraway Tree in my mind when I was a child, still do, I suppose!

Also, L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I connected with that character as a child and adored the descriptive passages of the countryside, which really transported me into her story.


Why did you decide to self publish and why Palmer Higgs?

I believe in myself and wanted to share my words with the world rather than just a select few.

After attending a self-publishing workshop at the Wheeler Centre (beside the State Library), my mind whirred with typesetting, formatting, binding, widows, layouts, paper quality and all sorts of other technical things that were too much for my creative brain to process!

During the workshop I asked the presenter if there was a company that could do all of that and take that headache away from me.


He gave me a few that he knew of and after contacting them, it was a no brainer really! The staff at Palmer Higgs were so friendly and accommodating and with such a wealth of knowledge that it would have been silly not to utilise their expertise.


What do you hope your readers get out of your book?

To encourage them to step outside of themselves in order to see things from another perspective.

Sometimes the only way forward is to confront our past.


Would you consider writing another book?

Hell, yeh!

Revival, the second in The Fifth Shadow series is already well under way!


Do you have any other tips for new authors? (i.e. book launch, research, marketing, etc.)

Writing a book isn’t just about typing a whole lot of words, it really is about putting your soul out there for others to see a side of you once hidden way. A book launch is a great way to celebrate the coming together and sharing of your words.

The hardest part about research is knowing when to stop. Like creative writing, that too can take on a life of its own. Gather the information you need then get back to your writing!

Marketing is the key to sharing your masterpiece with the world and something I need to do more of …