Author Spotlight: Ashley Franklin
June 28, 2019
We are excited to feature author Ashley Franklin and her debut picture book, NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, illustrated by Ebony Glenn (HarperCollins Publishers, July 9, 2019). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for kids.
The first time I attempted to write for kids, I wasn’t fully committed. I had recently finished graduate school and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I started working at a daycare. I loved the job! It was where I was reintroduced to children’s literature. I loved seeing how the kids reacted to different books. It inspired me to give it a try. It was a halfhearted try. I ended up with an unfinished manuscript that I didn’t think much about.
It was years later and once I’d started my own family that I decided to give writing an honest try. Oddly enough, I can remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to try writing a children’s book again. I was reading (and enjoying) a book with my son—I was pregnant with my youngest—when the delightful rhyme of the alphabet book came to a screeching halt with an eye rhyme. I literally threw the book across the room with a “NOPE!”
I quickly returned the book to my local library and checked out books on writing for kids. I spent about a year reading about writing and reading different picture books before I actually tried writing one myself again.
Congrats on your debut PB, NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you! NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE began as a story idea for Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm challenge (then PiBoIdMo). I knew I wanted to write a princess story, and I knew that I wanted her to be African American. I realized that the story I wanted to tell largely dealt with choice. I wanted to write a story about a regular girl becoming a princess for the simple fact that that’s what she CHOSE to do. To me, there was no better way to highlight the beauty of choice and the limited depictions of African American princesses than to depict an African American girl who chooses what roles to play and aims to play a princess she loves.
So, in NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, you’re introduced to Tameika. She can sing, dance, and act. Tameika auditions for the lead role—Princess Snow White—in her school’s musical. Unfortunately, Tameika’s confidence is shaken when her peers question if she is right for the part because of her appearance. Tameika has to decide if she will let what others say keep her from pursuing her dream role.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication was a mix. I was in the query trenches on and off for maybe a year. I got an agent relatively quickly thanks to #PBPitch. She sold NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE within a year of us working together, but there were many other failed manuscripts before that and, of course, I got derailed a few times thinking whatever gains I was making were flukes.
I signed with a new agent at the beginning of 2018. She has offered a wealth of knowledge and been a vessel of support as the release date of NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE approaches.
What projects are you working now?
Right now I’m polishing a few picture book manuscripts and I’m in the beginning stages of a middle grade project that I can’t wait to devote more time to.
What advice would you give your younger self? Is that the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
I think I could offer my younger self and aspiring authors the same advice: “Love it or leave it alone.”
When I was younger, I tended to do what I thought I should do. I did what I imagined others wanted me to do and acted accordingly. It was either that or I threw caution to the wind and did whatever. In both cases, I always ended up unhappy if my actions weren’t coming from a genuine place of love.
As a writer, it’s my personal belief that you’re not making the most of your writing journey if you’re not in love with what you’re writing. I’m not saying that you have to love everything you write. We all will write crap drafts at one point or another. But, I do think that it’s important to love the act of writing (and/or revising). For me, I think the act of writing is more powerful when it comes from a genuine place of love—you love doing it and you miss it when you don’t.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I took a little German in graduate school in an attempt to fill a language requirement. All I remember is “ich verstehe nicht,” which translates to “I do not understand.” I used it often.
Where can people find you online?
You can find me a few different places online:
Facebook: Ashley Franklin
Ashley Franklin is a writer, mother, and adjunct college professor. Ashley received her M.A. from the University of Delaware in English Literature, where she reaffirmed her love of writing but realized she had NO IDEA what she wanted to do about it. From no idea to now having more ideas than what she knows to do with, Ashley discovered her love of children’s literature.
Ashley currently resides in Arkansas with her family. NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE will be published July 9, 2019 by HarperCollins and is Ashley’s first picture book.
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