I live on the outskirts of Chicago with my husband our mini-pack of Chihuahuas. My life is pretty quiet ... I write, which is solitary work ... and when I’m not doing that, I’m all about time with my husband. I’m a flea market junkie; I love repurposing vintage goods and giving them a second life and discovering what they were before I found them. We’re also, my husband and I, avid travelers. I love to get out and see the world, explore little shops and just find things that I don’t see every single day in the middle of the Midwest.
What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
Books ... books made me want to write.
My whole life I’ve consistently one thing, a reader. It wasn’t unnatural for me to consume an entire book in the span of a day, I was always desperate for the next great novel. Eventually, it was just a natural progression of loving to read that pushed me towards writing ... not that I thought I could do it better, but that I could contribute stories of my own.
What was the first book you ever wrote about and was it ever published?
The Milestone Tapes is my first “book book”. I’ve been writing my whole life it seems; little poems, short stories ... but this was my first attempt at being a novelist.
Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I have a few -- I can be a little quirky sometimes.
- I role play when it comes to my dialog. Because my books, The Milestone Tapes and now the current novel I’m working on In The After, are both so character driven I need to be sure that what is coming across on the page sounds authentic out loud as well. I can’t always see the words and be sure of that ... I need to hear them, and so ... I talk, a lot.
- I don’t read my novels once they’re out of my hands. I can’t. That probably sounds strange and I read the book hundreds of times while writing it and editing it. But what I bring to a story as the one who conceived it and wrote, my nature will always be that of the writer, that’s my relationship with my book and I can’t flip a switch and shut it off. I also know that I can’t be objective or read it like a reader can, I can’t read a passage and not find five, six or seven things I’d do differently. But once that red pen is down and down for good and I’ve given up the book to the world, I know that my time with the novel has come to an end, it’s time for others to enjoy it now.
- I don’t discuss what I’m writing freely with just anyone up until about 50,000 words. I did the whole NaNoWriMo thing in November, I went into it with this idea that I thought would make a brilliant follow up to my first novel ... and it would have been, except, the more I wrote the harder the story was to tell. That happens sometimes. But I’ve found the people that knew what I was writing were having a hard time understanding how I could just give up on the book. It almost becomes like an expectation and I hate to disappoint anyone, but sometimes you have to walk away for any number of reasons. It’s just easier to remain quiet until I’m 100% positive that that book is going to be published.
Do you have a favorite character or one that is especially close to your heart?
When I started writing The Milestones Tapes I got to know my character Jenna so well because she was the clearest voice from page one. And it was like we bonded over what was happening to her and where her life was going. I love her, I really do. I don’t think she’s perfect and I don’t think she ever wanted to be ... but it’s in her flaws that I feel most connected to her.
What is the best gift you have ever received and who gave it to you?
In my office I have a little library where I do keep the hard copies of my favorite novels, I’m not quite a bibliophile but I’m working on it. My Mom and Dad, for this past Christmas, gave me this beautiful leaded glass piece that says “BOOKS” with this natural landscape of the Pacific Northwest behind it. My Mom worked with a designer on it to reflect the feeling of the Olympic Peninsula in every way, it’s reflected in the driftwood, the sky and sea and trees to the rain spotted glass used to spell out BOOKS -- everything is so perfect in the shades and cuts of glass. It’s really beautiful and I just love it.
What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
I would love to go to Italy. We almost went last summer but plans changed and the tour we were going with was cancelled ... but we’ll get there one day and I’m sure I’ll fall madly in love with the culture and never want to come home.
What is your all-time favorite book?
I would have to say that would be She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It’s a really amazing book and I reread often, always finding something new in the story Dolores Price.
Other than yourself, who is your favorite author?
Oh, I have so many, it doesn’t seem fair to pick just one ... and it’s weird because I like them all for different reasons. If I had to pick just ONE ... Wally Lamb (can you tell I’m consistent?).
He is an amazing writer ... his ability to tell a story is second to none.
If a TV show was based on your life, what would the theme song be and why?
Missy Higgins “Going North” ... I love that song.
It’s a pretty little song about exploring your life and figuring out who you are outside of your four walls and life as you know it. I think that’s a beautiful message.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time? What’s that?
I haven’t had real spare time in over a year. But, if one day I could shut it all down I’d just hang out. That probably sounds a little boring, but I miss sleeping in and doing nothing all day.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I would say both, but it’s only recently that I acquired that skill. When I write I keep a really hectic pace and sometimes that means early in the morning and other times it’s late a night ... but I find it’s hard to be both in one day.
What is your favorite TV show and/or movie?
TV Show: Right now I’m kind of obsessed with Grimm. My current book that I’m working on has a fairy tale theme-ish thing going on and someone suggested I look into the series to find out a little more about legend and lore. So, naturally I did. And it’s really good ... creepy without being SyFy channel cheesy.
If you had the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted, at anytime in history, where would you go and why?
I like the 1960’s. The music good, the world was changing ... it’s an interesting period of our history.
If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would you invite?
- Stephenie Meyer
- Jodi Picoult
- Wally Lamb
- Jennifer Wiener
- Nicholas Sparks
What are you currently working on?
My follow up novel will be entitled In The After. I’m working on it right now and hopefully it will be ready for press by late 2012.
The story is about the first week of hell when someone you love goes missing. It’s told through the eyes of Sidney Ruth and in back flashes of friendship with Emmy Davis, the woman who has disappeared. It asks how far you’d go for someone you loved.
Where can people connect with you online?
You can follow me on Twitter: @AshMP
Facebook Fan Me: http://www.facebook.com/AshleyMacklerPaternostro
Or visit my site: www.ashleymacklerpaternostro.com and there is more information there on getting in touch with me directly!
Thank you so much Ashley for being on Hardcover Feedback!
Thank you so much for hosting me, I loved this interview -- really great questions!!
ABOUT ASHLEY MACKLER-PATERNOSTRO
Ashley Mackler-Paternostro was born in Naperville, Illinois, where she still lives with her husband Mark and their three dogs. A hairstylist by trade, Ashley will often say that some of the best stories she has ever heard were told to her while working behind the chair. A life long reader with an insatiable appetite for good books, she decided to merge her love of great stories — both told and written — into her own brand of story telling.
When she’s not being held captive in her home office by words, Ashley fancies herself a flea market hunter with a weakness for Japanese glass floats and repurposing vintage goods.
Her latest book is The Milestone Tapes.
Jenna Chamberland never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. That is, until she realized that her life was ending after a three-year battle against breast cancer. Now, all she really wants is more time.
With 4,320 hours left to live, Jenna worries for her loved ones and what she knows awaits them on the other side: Gabe will have to make the slip from husband to widower, left alone to raise their seven-year-old daughter; Mia will be forced to cope with life without her mother by her side. In a moment of reflection, Jenna decides to record a set of audiocassettes — The Milestone Tapes – leaving her voice behind as a legacy for her daughter.
Nine years later, Mia is a precocious sixteen-year-old and her life is changing all around, all she wants is her mother. Through the tapes, Jenna’s voice returns to teach Mia the magic of life, her words showing her daughter how to spread her wings and embrace the coming challenges with humor, grace and hope.
THE MILESTONE TAPES is the journey of love between a parent and child, and of the bonds that holds them when life no longer can.
- 1 Kindle (non-touch) wifi w/special offers ($80.00)
- 1 signed copy of The Milestone Tapes ($14.00)
- 1 copy of Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss ($17.00)
- 1 vial of lavender seeds ($6.00)
- 1 bar of gardenia soap ($11.00)
- 1 jar of Golden Raspberry Jam ($8.00)
- 1 jar of dry ingredients & recipe of Jenna’s Blackberry Cobbler w/ recipe ($15.00)
- 1 Japanese Glass fishing float ($20.00)
- 1 set of note cards (6) with a “cassette tape” on front ($10.00)
- 1 Amazon gift card ($10.00)
Everything in the gift basket, save for the Kindle, is direct from the book. The basket will arrive to the winner shrink wrapped with a thank you note from Ashley for participating.
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