The Shadows We Make – Reader Question #2

As you may know if you’ve read prior posts, I invited the followers on the Jo Allen Ash Facebook page to send me questions they might have about The Shadows We Make—characters, settings, something they might be wondering about the writing process, or whatever (within reason) interested them. The second question, from Bella M., is:

You mention that Grace and her brothers get their names (as well as Grace’s green eyes) from her mother’s side. Who is her mother? Where do the names come from?

Answer: Although not explained in this book (The Shadows We Make) and only touched on in the next (The Thrice-Gifted Child), Grace’s mother, whose name is Aine, is a descendant of an extremely ancient line with ties to Earth. When her ancestry is discussed, the land from which her mother’s people are said to have originated is referred to by the ancient name of Eire. There will be more about this lineage and what it means to Grace.

Thanks, Bella M.! Who’s next?

The Shadows We Make – Reader Question #1

I recently invited the followers on the Jo Allen Ash Facebook page to send me questions they might have about The Shadows We Make—characters, settings, something they might be wondering about the writing process, or whatever (within reason) interested them. The first questions, from Don J., is:

How do you decide when to switch from one character to another during the story?

For those of you who have not yet read the book, The Shadows We Make is written entirely in the first person through the point of view of three different characters. Each character has her or his own unique voice. What Don wants to know is how I choose to switch the character/point of view throughout.

Answer: It’s not unusual to switch back and forth between points of view (POV) in fiction, but in this case, the switching is taking place between characters speaking in first person, making the task a little more challenging. As to how the decision is made to switch from one person to another, it is, after all my years writing, a matter of instinct, so it took me a while to figure out how to answer Don’s question.

I’ll start with the reason a writer (or at least this writer) switches from one character/POV to another character/POV. The switching over from one character to another helps to keep the pace going, keeps the tension up and, especially in the case of first person POV, offers glimpses into another character’s thoughts. Thoughts which are otherwise hidden to the reader, especially if what a character says and what he or she thinks, feels and does is entirely different from their verbal cues, or even their physical actions.

I am not an outliner (although, I’ve occasionally been forced into it), so I am unable to describe the switch as a decisive point along the storyline. For me, an answer to Don’s question is going to run something like this: The switch is not a concrete, has-to-be-this-way decision. The switch comes when the story and the characters demand it. It’s sort of like driving. You make a turn in the road when the time comes, when you subconsciously (or consciously) recognize the needed change in direction. It’s as though I find the characters waving me down, saying, yes, yes, this is the way. Wait until you discover what we have in store for you down here. As long as I don’t diverge too far off the path, the story I’m carrying in my head together with all the characters’ voices, emotions, motivations, contrariness, will get me and them where we’re meant to go.

Thanks, Don! Who’s next?

Might I boast?

Silly thing to ask, but I’m not used to tooting my own horn. However, I received the most fantastic review for my upcoming release (July 14, 2022) of my debut as a young adult author with the dystopian, sci-fi/fantasy novel, The Shadows We Make, written using the pen name Jo Allen Ash.

When I first received the email advising the review had been completed, I actually got a bit sick to my stomach because, true to form, I wasn’t sure what to expect and felt nervous about looking at it. In fact, I delayed until hours later. What I found when I opened it made me grin until my cheeks ached and caused me to quickly text the exciting news to, well, everyone.

This is the quote I am using (although there are plenty I can pull, because it was all so wonderful, and I likely will for varying purposes):

“…intricate worldbuilding … complex characters … beautifully crafted … will appeal to readers of all ages.” – BookLife review

If you’re interested in reading the whole review, you can find it here.

Grace Irese, sixteen-year-old desert warrior with a chip on her shoulder, is gifted in ways she does not yet realize. Duncan Oaks, teenage member of the Grif-Drif con-artist guild, is a boy who has made one bad choice too many. Finding themselves remanded to an off-world juvenile facility with lifetime sentences, Grace and Duncan plot an escape into the horrific environment beyond, determined to save Duncan’s young sister from Grace’s war-torn world.  Can they and their unlikely companions survive their quest unscathed, or will they find they’ve been forever altered?

Set in dark alien worlds and told in the first person with three separate voices, The Shadows We Make is a fast-paced tale filled with conflict, bravery, a touch of strange magic and characters bound by unexpected friendship.

(PS: The Shadows We Make is available for pre-order now at on-line retailers and also from brick-and-mortar bookstores.)