It is always a great day when I have students visit with an author. I first met Ashley Elston at a state conference. Like me, she is from Louisiana. Her presentation to the roomful of librarians was hilarious, and I thought that my students would really enjoy talking to her. After the conference, we connected on Twitter, and I found out that she was happy to schedule a virtual visit with us. We agreed on a Monday in December during one of our regularly scheduled Bookmarked meetings. If I can schedule the author when the group is used to being in the library at that time, it is easier for the students to remember.
Ashley came to writing after she had her children. She explained that being a wedding photographer did not mesh well with being a mom with young children. She really did not know what she was getting into but just began writing. She has four published books, and a new one to be published in the fall of 2019. For this visit, we concentrated on talking about her two murder mysteries, This is our Story and The Lying Woods.
Since she doesn't start writing with a detailed outline or a map of what is gong to happen, Elston finds that she is often surprised as to who the murderer turns out to be. She thinks this helps to make the story work well for her readers. I can say that of the four suspects in This is our Story, I could not figure out who had done it before she revealed it. No spoilers, but one of the twists in this story that took me by surprise was not in the original draft.
The students loved hearing how she came up with new ideas. She explained that she likes writing mysteries, but her next book, The Blind Dates, is a rom com. The story just came to her, and she went for it. I know after hearing her presentation at LLA this past March that she has a real comedic flair.
You can find more pictures and more information about the visit on the library website. The members of Bookmarked and I appreciate the time that Elston took to give us a peek into her writing process and motivation to write. Thank you, Ashley!!!