Reality Skimming

Why SF #5: Ashley Tia

Why SF? Asking kindred spirits in the SF community the story of why they give back and create forward.

My name’s Ashley Tia and I’m a 22 year old who is passionate about the arts. I often get asked the question, “If you had to compare your writing to an author who would it be?” My answer is always the same; the author I compare myself to is me. Every writer has a unique style relevant to only themselves. I am nothing like other authors; some aspects of my writing may have similarities to another, but in the end, each and every one of us is different. I write all sorts of things including short stories, poems, and prose; a lot of that never sees the light of day and most of that helped me in completing my novel. I don't quit writing when I get 'writer's block', I simply write something different until I get inspiration for my original piece or create something new and amazing entirely. I post a lot of my work online in order to get positive or even negative feedback; all of which helps make me better. My main goal is for people to experience the characters and worlds I create and love them as much as I do. I think every author would like to ‘make it big’ or have the next ‘big thing’ and would be lying if they tried to deny this. I admit even I’ve had this dream once or twice, but I’m also realistic. It’s up to each author to promote their novel and work hard to get it out there; a book is only as strong as its biggest fan which is yourself; only then will I have a chance at being truly successful. My philosophy in life is that nothing is ever easy and the things that are, aren’t worth your time.

Interviewed by Tegan Lott

When did you start writing your book? Are you still writing?

That’s a long story, but I’ll try to explain it. I actually started writing my book fourteen years ago when I was only seven; I’ll explain later how I even got the idea. I finished the very first draft in only one weekend and was thrilled with it at the time. I had my dad read it and he was supportive. After a few years I went back to it and decided that I was more mature in my writing style and wanted to rewrite it. I was twelve by this point and it took me about two years to rewrite the whole book, again loving it, and having my father read it. Now that I was a little older he gave me a little feedback and some helpful hints on how to make it better. I took them to heart and set about writing yet another copy. This time it took me quite a few years to finish it; about six. I was eighteen by the time it was complete again and I had went back again and again as I got older and better at writing. This time I thought I was finally done and presented it again to my dad. He loved it, but told me straight out he didn’t think it or my writing was ready. I was heartbroken for a while until I realized that he was trying to be helpful; I decided to give it one more try. I was an adult now and had developed my own style; I felt that it was time to really look at this idea and rework my novel. I rewrote every word, every sentence, really delving into my characters; something I didn’t have any practice in beforehand. I used to think writing a book meant writing words and giving it a title, then I realized what it really meant; this is when I knew my book would be great. It took me four years to finish this draft, the final draft, and when my father read it a couple months ago he told me I finally understood what he was trying to say to me all those years ago. I’m not still writing the book, though a few weeks ago I did change the last paragraph if you want to count that. Overall, I think it turned out how it did because I’ve been writing it for so long; it wouldn’t be the book it is today if I hadn’t developed it for the past fourteen years.

How do you hope people feel from reading your book and from getting to know your characters?

I’ve learned a lot from my characters; it may sound weird, but they’ve helped me in my own life. Whenever I’d feel down or like something was too hard, I’d just think, “Man, Nikias has it way harder than me. Why am I letting this little thing get to me when he has the weight of the universe on his shoulders?” I know this may sound weird considering he’s a fictional character, but it honestly made me feel better knowing my problems weren’t that big in the grand scheme of things. I became very close with my characters; connecting with them on a personal level of which I think any author can relate. They were mine and I knew them like no other, though admittedly they did keep secrets from me over the years, revealing them as time went on. It was an amazing honor being able to write them and bring them to life. My main hope for my entire novel is for people to connect with my characters; I want them to understand them and be able to relate to them. I want readers to feel Nikias’ heartache and sadness, Lucifer’s horror at being betrayed, Isabella’s forbidden love, and William’s confidence and loyalty. My characters have so much to offer, such vibrant personalities, and even though they live in a fantasy world they deal with the same everyday problems we all suffer with. I hope the readers get a new look on an age old topic. I want them to be transported to the world I’ve created and experience a different take on something that is supposedly ‘set in stone’. There’s always a different side to every story and mine is the other side to the different side; I want the readers to think, to be intrigued, to sit there and literally say, “Huh, that’s an interesting look at it.”

What inspired your writing, your plot, in the first place?

Finally, I’ll explain how this whole project even came about. I was eight at the time and was spending the night with my sister at my grandma’s house. The three of us had just gotten done watching some Lifetime movie about a girl being raped and wondering where God had been through the ordeal. My grandma went to bed and I sat up talking with my sister; I asked her the same question the girl had asked in the movie, “If God is so great why would He abandon his children in their time of need?” She looked at me funny and told me that the Bible said he was wonderful and everything happened for a reason and that was that. Maybe it was my being too young to understand or the fact that my parents never shoved religion down my throat, but I didn’t accept that answer. The Bible said so? Really? Well the Bible was written by a human so even if God was real it didn’t mean the Bible was. And, who’s to say God really is an all amazing, caring father? He lets so many bad things happen in this world. So either he’s a bad guy and we’re all being duped, or he’s just as flawed as us and can’t stop it all. Either way, it didn’t look too great for Him in my eyes. And why is Lucifer considered to be this horrible monster locked in a cage that will consume our soul for committing even the smallest of sins? I didn’t believe any creature could be so horrible that they’d be what us humans considered the Devil and that led me to a different point. Why would God throw his own family out of Heaven? What could Lucifer possibly have done that was so bad that God couldn’t forgive him considering he is meant to forgive all? My sister grew sick of listening to me talk and went to bed. I stayed up the whole night with a million questions running through my head. The next day, I begged my grandma for paper and a pencil, went into the guest room, sat down, and began writing. I felt like I just had to get this out no matter what it took; like the end of the world would come if I didn’t write it down.

So I wrote my take on religion, God, Lucifer, His fall, and the war between Heaven and Hell. Maybe Lucifer wasn’t actually evil, maybe his opinions just differed from The Almighty’s. Maybe Lucifer and The Almighty weren’t actually perfect beings, but sinned, had flaws, and experienced lust and anger and jealousy just like humans did. I mean, we were created by Him, right; in his image? Wouldn’t it make sense that he was like us? I figured, Lucifer and Him both wanted to rule, both had differing views, that neither were evil; Lucifer was a little more relaxed, God a little stricter, controlling, and that’s what caused the war to begin. A meaningless, brotherly quarrel blown out of proportion that led to an eternal war. I wrote and wrote, all weekend, and by the end, I had a finished book; though it wasn’t that great back then. I thought it was wonderful and to this day, the concept has never wavered. I’ve added more characters, more plot devices, changed the grammar, made the different time periods more consistent (having an answering machine in the 1800’s was an eight-year-old's mistake), changed names here and there, and overall polished the novel, but that concept has never once been altered. It’s stood firm, stood the test of time, lasted through multiple copies, and a dozen revisions, and remains the same as when I was eight years old lying in bed with my sister at my grandmothers all those years ago.

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