How do you pronounce the names in Ash?

Aisling = ASH-ling (emphasis on the syllable in all caps)
Sidhean = SHEEN
Kaisa = KY-sa (pronounce “Kai” like ki in kite)

Is Ash going to be made into a movie?

So far, movie rights have not been sold to anyone, so I doubt it. 🙂 But you never know!

What was your inspiration for writing Ash? Why did you decide to retell Cinderella?

These two questions are often asked separately, but to me they go hand in hand. I can’t answer one without answering the other.

The full answer actually begins back in my childhood, when I absolutely adored — full-on, unabashedly loved — the story of Cinderella. Yes, especially the Disney version. (Hey, I was 6!) The story is about having your dreams come true, and who doesn’t want that? I sure as hell did.

Then, fast-forward a few years to when I first read Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley. This book hooked me on fairy tale retellings. I read and reread Beauty, and I read and reread every other book McKinley wrote, too.

In high school, I wrote three fantasy novels. (I was pretty geeky.) They were not very good, but the experience of writing them was undeniably wonderful. Then I left writing fiction behind for many years while I was in college and grad school. I lost the magic for a long time. When I decided to finally face my fears (I had lots of fears about becoming a professional writer, mostly centering on failure) and write another novel, I decided to write the book I had always wanted to read: a retelling of Cinderella.

Why a lesbian Cinderella? Was that your intention from the beginning?

Actually, no. The first draft of Ash was a straight, as in heterosexual, retelling of the fairy tale. Then I sent that draft to a friend of mine for some feedback, and she told me she thought the Prince Charming character was kind of dull, but this other woman in the book was quite intriguing. I reread the draft and realized that Ash was falling in love with this other woman. I had written that in entirely subconsciously.

I figured I could either attempt to make Prince Charming more charming, or I could rewrite the whole thing and have Ash fall in love with this female character. It would become a lesbian Cinderella. The idea of doing this totally freaked me out at first, because I thought it would make the book unsellable.

But it was so clear, after further consideration, that this was the story that was actually coming out (in all senses of the phrase), that I decided to go for it.

Are you worried about possible backlash for Ash because of the lesbian story line? (Parents not allowing their kids to read it, book challenges, etc.)

I am sure that some parents will not want their teens to read Ash because of the same-sex romance. But I don’t think it does me any good to worry about it.

Were the characters inspired by real people in your life? Do you see yourself in any character in particular?

I think most people who ask these questions are curious about whether a novel is fictionalized autobiography. In other words, did you experience these things and then write about them in your book? The thing is, it’s not a one-to-one relationship — especially in fantasy.

For example, taking the case of Ash, I did not lose my parents as a child. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced grief or depression. I haven’t met a creepy but seductive fairy during my walks in the woods, but I have been in relationships that felt both creepy and seductive. I have never been to any royal balls, but I’ve been to a lot of fabulous parties. 🙂

So, were the characters inspired by real people? Of course — but again, it’s not a one-to-one relationship. If you’re curious about whether I will name the individual sources of my inspiration, the answer is no. If you’re curious about whether I see myself in any of the characters, the answer is yes. I see myself in all of them.

I heard that the characters in Ash are Asian, but I don’t see it. Am I missing something?

Read my answer in this blog post.

Will there be a sequel to Ash?

The short answer is: No. I have never planned to write a sequel to Ash.

The requests for a sequel are very flattering, because it shows that some of you, at least, liked Ash enough to want to spend more time in that world with those characters. Thank you! But I feel that Ash’s story is complete, and I won’t be writing a sequel. (Also, I’m pretty sure Ash has a fairly boring — though very happy — life after the end of the book. There really wouldn’t be much to write about!)