We had the exciting opportunity to speak with Jo Treggiari the author of Ashes,Ashes. We asked her a few questions on her novel and her own experiences becoming an author. Check it out below!
1. What inspired you to be an author?
Ever since I learned how to read, I've loved books. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house filled with bookshelves- my parents are teachers. There are countless photos of me at parties and family gatherings where you can't see my face because it's buried in a book. I would say that I am a voracious reader. And I started writing little stories when I was quite young, mostly to entertain my baby sister. I've just always loved the way words fit together and how there are so many to choose from.
2. How did you come up with the idea of Ashes,Ashes?
Basically I took a city I love- New York- and I imagined the worst possible thing that could happen to it- mass climactic change followed by a global pandemic- and then I plopped a 16-year old girl in the middle of all this turmoil and danger. I wanted to explore what bravery means, and the difficulty of making the right choice, and I wanted to write an adventure about a girl who is surviving on her own, and has achieved a certain kind of independence and strength without turning her into a super hero. It was important to me to keep it real.
3. Was it easy getting published?
Ashes, Ashes is actually my second book though my first YA. My 1st book (a middle-grade fantasy) was rejected a bunch of times and then was scooped out of the slush pile and published by a small Canadian publisher. Things were easier with AA because I had an agent and because Scholastic made an offer on it really quickly. It takes hard work to be published but luck is involved too. With AA I had definitely written the right book at the right time, given how dystopia and post-apocalyptic YA fiction have totally blown-up. I feel very lucky.
4. Which author do you look to for inspiration?
Even though I worked in the music business for over twenty years, I have never fan-girled over musicians I met (except maybe David Bowie), but writers are a different story. I have so many crushes! I'd say my recent inspirations are A.S. King, Melina Marchetta, Kelly Barnhill and Rick Yancey. And I'll read anything Kate Atkinson (an adult writer) writes.
5. Any tips for new writer's out there?
Perseverance and hard work are key. There's no easy way, no secret trick. You have to sit down (every day if possible) and write. The great thing is that the more you work at it the better you get. And read. Read as much and as widely as you can. That'll give you an innate understanding of how words fit together and how plots are constructed. You'll be learning the craft of writing without studying it. And really, the most important thing is to do it because you love it, not because you want to be published or a best-seller. I try to be grateful every day because I know how lucky I am.
6. For those who haven't read Ashes,Ashes please describe the book briefly.
Smallpox epidemics, floods, droughts-- for sixteen-year old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park, hunting and foraging for food. But the Sweepers are looking for her and they've laid a trap. There's something special about Lucy and the Sweepers will stop at nothing to have her in their clutches.
7. Why did you decide to write for YA?
YA is mostly what I read and love these days. There are so many different genres and such diversity and great voices. And I think there's a freedom to writing for young adults which I didn't feel when I was trying to write for adults.
8. Finally do have any other upcoming projects?
I just finished an urban fantasy that combines Celtic mythology with coming of age and great white sharks, and right now I'm working on a neo-gothic horror. And of course I would love to write more stories about Lucy in the Ashes, Ashes world.
For all those who love The Hunger Games trilogy I highly recommend reading Ashes, Ashes. For more information go to http://jotreggiari.com/