Interview: fantasy debut author Ashley Steffenson

Hello book dragons! How was your September? Did you read many books? I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish a single book in September because I was focusing on my revisions for The Solitary King. It’s coming along nicely and will be off to beta readers in October and my editor in November, and I’ve really enjoyed being immersed in the Fair Realm again!

Today, I’ve got a really exciting interview to share with you. Ashley Steffenson is one of the incredible authors that I’m collaborating with on Enchanted Forests, the follow up to Enchanted Waters, as well as Once Upon a Name! I’m so excited to have my name on two beautiful covers with Ashley, and I can’t wait to introduce you to her.

So, without further ado…

Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Ashley and I currently write under my married name – Ashley Steffenson. I’m a born and raised California girl turned Southern. My husband (a 50% Irish hottie – swoon!) and I moved to South Louisiana about a year ago and we are LOVING it. I received my BA in Intercultural Studies from William Jessup University, and am now working as a Librarian Page at our local library. I also have a small candle-making business on the side called Estellian Treasures, originally inspired by my debut novel. We have three wily cats – Ember, Milo, and Piper – and we are expecting a third tiny human heart in the family in April 2022.

Oh, congratulations Ashley! What an exciting adventure you’re about to begin, I’m so happy for you! Can you tell us when you started writing and what inspired you?

Funnily enough I haven’t always been a writer. My passion for writing began 3 years ago when I started a new job at a jewelry shop as a saleswoman. I hated that job, but I loved learning about gemstones. That led me to the birth of ‘Estellia’, my debut novel. Furthermore, Adrienne Young (an ah-may-zing YA writer) also indirectly inspired me. Now I’m beyond blessed to be a part of Enchanted Forests with all these incredible award-winning, and up-and-coming authors!

That’s so interesting, I can totally see how learning about gemstones could be the inspiration for a fantasy novel. I love world building, personally, and one of the things I did when I was creating the world for The Fair Queen was to choose gemstones that symbolised each of the five different types of Fair. OK, I’ll pick your brain about gemstones later! What are your favourite books or your favourite genre?

Favorite genre would definitely have to be Fantasy/High Fantasy/Sci-Fi. And I have too many favorite books! A few of my favorite authors include J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and George MacDonald (originally known as the ‘master of the fairytale’). Joseph Campbell is pretty awesome too. I listened to The Hero with a Thousand Faces on audio three times and still didn’t understand all of it lol. He’s a philosophical mastermind!

Those are some of the greats right there! I love high fantasy and portal fantasy, and I’m so excited to read your upcoming debut novel, can you tell us a little about it?

Estellia is now officially ready for preorder on Amazon! Click here to read the blurb and get your copy.

My short story ‘A Lesson in Refinement’ will also be coming out in another anthology titled Once Upon A Name in 2022.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Once Upon a Name! It’s such a cool project and I’m really glad we’re working together on it, along with eighteen other awesome authors! Where do you find inspiration for your stories? 

Oh I 100% go to Pinterest and type in all sorts of fantasy creatures/places and if a picture speaks to me then I base my characters/story on that!

Also, I’m blessed to have an amazingly talented artist for a cousin who can help bring my characters to life based on my descriptions. You will be able to see some of her artwork in my debut novel!

Oh you’re so lucky, I love character art and illustrations in books, that’s one of my favourite things about the Enchanted Anthologies. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

I use the ‘Save the Cat’ Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, but sometimes my characters take the reins and the story goes in a different direction lol. So I’d say I’m a plantser. Guess that’s what happens when you have such headstrong characters! 

I’m exactly the same, I love a strong, detailed outline to keep me writing and on the right track, but I also like a little wiggle room for those pesky characters to have their say! What are you working on right now?

Final edits for Estellia, beta reads/editing for Once Upon a Name, and I need to start plotting out my story for Enchanted Forests. Also working on a book review for the library on Enchanted Waters which will eventually be posted on our Staff Picks webpage at lafourche.org

You’ve got some really exciting projects on the go, I can’t wait to read them all! Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Ashley, it’s been lovely. Before I let you go, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Don’t give up. Be patient with yourself, and with what life throws at you along the way. Enjoy the journey of creating a masterpiece and be proud of your work. You wrote a freaking NOVEL for heaven’s sake! That’s something to be proud of.

Don’t rush yourself. George R.R. Martin has been writing for over 20 years. And J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t finish his books overnight. You got this. And KEEP WRITING. No matter what it is, always try to write something each day. Even if it’s a simple journal entry. And never stop reading.

Yes to all of this! We should all be so incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved by persevering and finishing an entire story, whether it’s a short story, novella or full-length novel. Not many people do it and it’s a hugely impressive achievement.

How can we find out more about you and your books? 

Instagram: @authorashleyanne

Facebook page/group:  Writerly Adventures in Estellia and Beyond

Other: @estellian.treasures

Amazon: Buy Estellia now!


How incredible is Ashley? If you’re a writer I really hope you found her advice helpful, because she’s absolutely right! And if you like the sound of Ashley’s debut novel, Estellia, or our upcoming anthologies Enchanted Forests and Once Upon a Name, then you can preorder them on Amazon right now!

Happy reading,

Lyndsey

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