Author Chat with Ashley Shuttleworth (A Dark and Hollow Star), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Ashley Shuttleworth author of
A Dark and Hollow Star.
Read on for more about Ashley, her book, plus an giveaway!
Meet Ashley Shuttleworth!
Ashley Shuttleworth is a young adult fantasy author with a degree in English literature and a slight obsession with The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy. They currently live in Ontario, Canada, with their cat named Zack and a growing collection of cosplay swords.
Meet A Dark and Hollow Star!
The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones in this thrilling urban fantasy set in the magical underworld of Toronto that follows a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes could expose the hidden world of faeries to humans.
Choose your player.
The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.
For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.
Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?
Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.
~ Author Chat ~
Please answer between 8-10 questions.
- Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title, actually! I find it really hard to start a story that doesn’t have a title, I feel like they help to shape what I write about, so all my works get named before anything else happens. It can sometimes take days, I’m really picky about my titles, and often I look to quotes to inspire them—for A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR, I was inspired by a Shakespeare quote: “it is not in the stars to hold our destinies but in ourselves”
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned as a writer over the course of this journey is how to just write my story, despite all the insecurities and doubts that conspire to prevent that. Whether it’s crying to my best friends, who are always happy to pick me up, or taking a break until I’m in a better mood, and indulging in something else in the meanwhile like a book I really like, or a video game, it’s important to find a way to overcome “imposter syndrome”, because honestly it never goes away. The goalpost keeps moving, there’s always some achievement to strive for, and therefore, a way to place an idealised value on yourself that’s completely unfair to you and your work. Learning how to write despite the worry that no one will like what I’ve written is a valuable skill, and I’m not perfect at it—I will never be—but I’m certainly getting better at ignoring that voice in my head.
- What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Honestly, I love the whole damn thing. I adore books that are “blatantly” queer, but I also adore the ones that are casually so, too, because not everyone can be open about their sexualities and/or genders and until we live in a world where they can be, the “quieter” ones are just as important. And despite the subtleness of this cover, there’s still a beautiful, queer young woman with an equally beautiful sword on the front. There’s also the Toronto cityscape with the CN Tower behind her; it’s dark and moody with magical vibes thanks to all the deep blues and purples and pinks; the font they wrote my title in—all of it, it’s just a gorgeous cover and I think it’s really spoiled me for what I hope all my covers going forward will look like.
- What’s on your TBR pile?
I have SO many books on my TBR pile, because the debut process has made it a little hard to read. I’m really excited to get back to finishing WINGS OF EBONY by J.Elle, and then I’m looking forward to jumping into THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS by Chloe Gong and GEARBREAKERS by Zoe Hana Mikuta
And a few books that I’m really looking forward to adding to this TBR are:
WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD by Ciannon Smart (April 20th 2021)
This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy
JAY’S GAY AGENDA by Jason June (June 2021)
A moving and hilarious sex-positive teen rom-com about the complexities of first loves, first hookups, and first heartbreaks
BLOOD LIKE MAGIC by Liselle Sambury (June 15th 2021)
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic
SISTERS OF THE SNAKE by Sarena Nanua and Sasha Nanua (June 15th 2021)
An action-packed, immersive fantasy about a lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.
IRON WIDOW by Xiran Jay Zhao (Sept 21st 2021)
Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale in this blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers
- What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
A book I’ve read recently and ADORED is LIKE HOME by Louisa Onomé. Its such a charming YA story that really captures the voice of being a teenager, growing up in a fictional Toronto neighbourhood. It’s about both the joys and struggles friendship, community, and loyalty and touches on the subjects of gentrification. I devoured this read and I couldn’t recommend it more. I’ve also recently read (and loved!!!) SWEET & BITTER MAGIC by Adrienne Tooley, a story about love and grief and family—and most exciting of all, sapphic witches! It comes out on March 9th so be sure to check this one out too!
- What’s up next for you?
Currently I’m working on a sequel to A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR, which I’m so excited to unleash on people after all the love this first book has been receiving. I also have a number of projects I’m toying with on the side, one of which is with my agent—if she likes it, I look forward to going further with that one too!
- Are there any film adaptations, tv shows, audiobooks, or other adaptations in the works for this book?
Fingers are crossed for a nice and long Netflix adaptation but I want to take this moment to shout about the audiobook that Simon Audio put together for A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR—because it’s perfection. I’ve listened to so many of the chapters already, just silently screaming with delight in my bedroom every time a new character gets voiced. The voice actors that they chose to narrate (there are 4 of them: Natalie Naudus, Vikas Adam, Neo Cihi, and Imani Jade Powers) have just gone above and beyond to bring this story to life and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been one of the brightest joys of this week, getting to hear the finished project and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND PEOPLE CHECKING IT OUT ON AUDIBLE
- Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
I think the most emotional scene for me to write was the prologue—also one of my favourite scenes, so perhaps that goes hand in hand. Nausicaä in general is a difficult person to write, because for all her flippant attitude, there’s a lot of emotion and trauma underneath. In the prologue, I had to channel a good deal of anger to properly convey what she was feeling in the moment of what was happening—as exhausting as that was, it was always rewarding to had a finished product I’m just so incredibly proud of.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: drafting or revising?
Both lol I really enjoy all the different processes of writing a book—never the one I’m currently on. The whole “the grass is always greener” thing, when I’m drafting I wish I could be editing, and when I’m editing I wish I could be drafting, because there’s something quite fun in all of the stages. I like throwing together new worlds, I like fine tuning them, I like having a foundation to pick apart and whip into shape—but all stages are work, they require effort and at times can seem like a lot, especially when you first jump into them.
- What advice would you give to new writers?
There’s so much advice out there for writers, and I think you have to take all of it with a grain of salt because what works for one person wont necessarily work for you. The one piece of advice I feel comfortable giving out universally is to just write your story. However you need to get it done—one word here and there, in short bursts or full-day sessions—just focus on getting that first draft written. You can worry about all the fine tuning and fleshing out and beautifying later, but in order to do any of that, you need to have your foundation. The ball will start rolling from there.
A Dark and Hollow Star
By: Ashley Shuttlesworth
Release Date: February 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Margarey K McElderry Books
One winner will each receive a copy of A Dark and Hollow Star (Ashley Shuttleworth) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
Canada is so underrepresented in urban fantasy, it's so refreshing to see something not set in New York, and the plot sounds awesome.