Today I’ve interviewed my friend and upcoming debut author, Ashley Schumacher! Her YA Contemporary, AMELIA UNABRIDGED, will be published by Wednesday Books in winter 2021, and I cannot WAIT!
Read on to see Ashley’s thoughts on querying, little moments of magic in life, and what it would be like if dogs were at Hogwarts.
Hi Ashley! Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel?
AS: AMELIA UNABRIDGED is my love letter to books and the readers that inhabit them.
Amelia Griffin uses the stories she’s read and kept in her heart to interpret the world around her, and I love her for it. Her own story deals with grief and the more difficult parts of a found family, but there’s a lot of joy, too. There’s a badly-behaved dog, an enchanting bookstore, and the promise of hope that lies just beyond loss.
What was your query journey like? Is AMELIA UNABRIDGED the first novel you queried?
AS: I think my querying journey was fairly conventional: Lots of careful research and prowling through agents’ manuscript wishlists, lots of double and triple checking submission guidelines, and then an obsessive amount of email checking while I waited for news.
AMELIA UNABRIDGED was the first novel I wrote and queried, so there was a lot of newness to the entire process, but I am eternally grateful to have signed with Thao Le. I’d go through all the email-refreshing a hundred times over again to have Thao’s passion and industry savvy on my side.
Is there something you learned as an agented author that you wish you had known before?
AS: Being agented does not magically make writing easier. Imposter syndrome is still a sneaky little twit that will try and steal your joy, but you mustn’t let it. It’s just as important to have a solid writing community that you can be honest with after signing with an agent as it is before signing. Nurture the relationships you have with critique partners and writing friends: They are invaluable!
Was there a moment in your querying journey where you felt like giving up? If so, what helped you persevere?
AS: There were definitely times when I felt discouraged, but giving up was not something I considered. If it hadn’t worked out with AMELIA, I was going to write another book, and another, and then another until it did work. As cheesy as it sounds, this is my dream, and that wasn’t going to change.
I’m also very fortunate to have a supportive family and writing network that were always there to encourage me through the rough patches. They made the whole process much less nerve wracking.
What inspires you?
AS: EVERYTHING. Books that make your heart clench you love them so much, snippets of overheard conversations in grocery stores, the way museums feel like labyrinths of artwork built just to make you feel something, TV shows that sweep you up with their scores and characters and world.
I’m constantly absorbing my surroundings and churning them into bits of narrative. It’s my favorite part of writing, really, trying to show the reader the world I’ve built inside my head and hoping they’ll like it enough to stay.
Though your novel isn’t straight-up fantasy, it has elements of magic to it. Do you think you’ll always write stories with magic in them?
AS: Always. I think life has elements of magic in it, and I love to find those elements in ordinary moments and pin them to the page.
What’s the hardest part about being a writer?
AS: Not writing. Whether that’s because I want to write and can’t because life is in the way, or because I know that I need to take a break to refill the well, not writing is just as important to my process as putting words on the page. Learning to let myself take time away from my work, even work that I enjoy and adore, is a challenge.
Dogs or cats?
AS: DOGS. The fact that Hogwarts doesn’t allow them as pets is a travesty. Can you imagine dogs barking at the moving staircases? Stealing toast from the breakfast table? I can, and it’s glorious.
Favorite Starbucks drink?
AS: All of the iced teas!
Do you have any fiction books you’re obsessed with these days?
AS: Oh, where to begin! (And end!)
- How to Be Remy Cameron – Julian Winters https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42371064-how-to-be-remy-cameron
- Wicked Saints – Emily Duncan https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36118682-wicked-saints?from_search=true
- Red, White, & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41150487-red-white-royal-blue?from_search=true
- Spin the Dawn – Eliabeth Lim https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42815556-spin-the-dawn?ac=1&from_search=true
- You’d Be Mine – Erin Hahn https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36146624-you-d-be-mine?from_search=true
Do you have any craft books or writing/querying resources you’d like to share?
AS: Yes! Beth Revis is a wonderful author AND a craft mastermind. If you’re drafting, revising, or brainstorming, I highly recommend her Paper Hearts Workbook. It’s only $10, and I seriously buy one for all of my projects. It helps me build a tight plot and keep all of my drafts in check. It’s also very helpful if, like me, you’re a hybrid pantser/plotter.
Ashley, thanks so much for stopping by!
About Ashley Schumacher
“I’m a young, scrappy and always, always hungry young adult writer from North Texas.
When I’m not writing or reading, you can find me doodling, exasperating my husband (mostly because of my book buying habits), protecting snacks from my greedy golden retriever, calling my friend and critique partner for the umpteenth time, playing Mario Kart, or crying through the latest Pixar film. I’m also moderately fond of visiting my family, but please don’t tell them; They’re much too pleased with themselves as it is.” — Ashley