Sunday, March 10, 2013

Interview with Ashley Farley, author of Saving Ben, and International Giveaway

Saving Ben I'm very excited to introduce another great indie writer, Ashley Farley, who has agreed to be interviewed for Ensconced in YA and also donate some of her great books for the giveaway!

Goodreads Book Description: Life is sweet for Katherine Langley. A freshman at the University of Virginia, she is free from the drama of her parents’ dysfunctional marriage and ready to focus on studying to become a nurse. Her brother, Ben, belongs to the hottest fraternity on campus, and her new roommate, Emma, is beautiful and charming, a party girl whose answer for a hangover is happy hour. She is also a psychopath.

When Katherine’s obsessive-compulsive overprotective brother succumbs to Emma’s charms and falls dangerously off-track, Katherine must save Ben from himself. Lives are threatened and someone disappears on New Year’s Day. The only evidence left: a single set of footprints in the snow.

From the university campus to a cozy cottage on Carter’s Creek, Virginia, Saving Ben is a haunting tale of love and loyalty, anger management, substance abuse, and betrayal.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Author Blurb:
I wrote a novel, SAVING BEN, in honor of my brother, the boy I worshipped, the man I could not save. It’s not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.
I'm a wife and mother of two teenagers. I have lived in Richmond, Virginia, for seventeen years, a city I love for its history and traditions. Personal experience with my brother inspired me to become involved with the leadership symposium in my son’s school where I’ve helped bring in speakers to raise parents’ awareness of the alcohol and drug problems children face. When I’m not steering volunteer committees or working on my next novel, I can be found swimming laps or playing tennis.

Author Interview

1. Can you tell us a little about your journey to becoming a writer?
My older brother, Neal, died of an accidental drug overdose in July of 1999. He was 37 at the time. During the years that followed, when I was trying to make sense of his death, I felt compelled to reach out to others, to help them avoid the demons that cost my brother his life. I chaired education committees at my children’s schools to promote alcohol and drug awareness to parents. But it wasn’t enough. I envisioned myself counseling groups of students about the dangers of alcohol and drug use, but every time I tried to talk about my brother, even years after his death, my eyes would fill with tears and my voice would shake. So I turned to writing, which enabled me to express all those pent-up feelings.

2. How did you come up with the idea of this book? What inspires you?
I wanted to write a novel about the special bond between siblings. When I started working on my plot lines, I gave little thought to who my target audience might be. I only knew that it made sense for me to tell my story from the perspective of this age group, as college was the part of our lives when my brother and I were the closest. It was also during this time when his substance became a real issue.

3. How did you develop the characters? Are their personalities from people you know?
There is a lot of my brother in Ben. Like Ben, Neal was kind-hearted and fun loving, but his nasty streak often showed when his addictions took control. Whether they are cognizant of it or not, most writers convey a piece of themselves in their protagonists. Like me, Kitty is simply a girl who worships her brother.

4. What was it like writing Emma? 
While I didn’t want to portray Emma as a sympathetic character, in the beginning chapters, it was important for Kitty and Ben to become enamored by her charm. The fun for me began when I was able to cut loose and let her be the b---- she really is.

5. What is the best book you've read in the past year?
I had to go to my Nook library to answer this question because I’ve read so many good books this past year, both self-published and traditionally published. I’ve discovered wonderful need writers like Colleen Hoover and ones with more experience like John Green. I have to say, though, that my favorite was Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand, a tragic story of teenage death and addiction, written from both the children and parents’ perspective.

6. What made you decide to use college as a setting? Ties to UVA?
Truthfully, writing about college was more for me than just about my brother. I have teenagers of my own. My home is a hotbed of teenage drama. My children share a lot with me, sometimes more information than I really want to know. But I’ve worked hard to have that kind of relationship with them, and I cherish it. I don’t have any immediate ties to UVA, although a lot of my friends graduated from there and a lot of my children’s friends are in school at UVA now. My daughter is at Washington and Lee, in Lexington, Virginia. Which, if you’ll remember from the novel, is where Archer is in school.

7. Who has been your greatest critic?
That one is easy. I am my own biggest critic. Not just in writing, in everything I do. No doubt I have some of Ben’s OCD thing going on.

8. What do you have next on the horizon?
I am working on a novel from the male point of view of a high school senior, a football player headed off to play college ball. I’m having a blast writing from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy. Don’t tell him I said this, but my son is a great study. He will be editing my dialogue before I’m finished.

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  1. I am sorry for the loss of your brother, but I am happy that you have decided to share your story with us. It's a great way to honour him.
    oddball2003 at hotmail dot com

  2. It sounds very intense, but the Virginia setting intrigues me!


  3. Seems interesting. I'd like to read it!

  4. Sounds like a great book.

  5. liked the interview thanks for the giveaway! - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

  6. It makes me want to read Saving Ben even more knowing that the book was inspired by a really in depth emotion of a real tragic event in Ashley Farley's life. I find books like this to be an emotional roller coaster in a good way and I'm really looking forward to reading it :D

  7. This sounds like an amazing story. The interview was amazing and really inspires me to get the book as soon as possible. i immediately thought of several students who would need to read this book.

  8. This sounds like an amazing story. I immediately thought of several students who could use this book in their lives.

  9. Looks like a great the cover and thanks for the INT giveaway.