Ashley Bustamante has created stories from the moment she could scribble and staple sheets of paper together. She simply cannot recall a time when writing was not a force in her life. When not running through lines of dialogue in her mind, she enjoys taking photographs and spending time with her husband, three children, and any furry, feathered, or scaly creature she can find.
In this interview, Ashley shares her thoughts on her latest novel, Vivid.
FF: What inspired the story in your new book, Vivid?
It started with a dream I had (of a scene that ’s now part of chapter five). It wouldn’t leave my head so eventually I wrote that one scene down and built the whole story around it. The idea of the magic system is something that has floated around in my head since I was a child and it tied naturally into the story as I built it.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Ava and Elm are the main focus of the first book and I loved seeing both of them grow as they got to know each other. Ava starts off pretty serious and her goals are initially fairly myopic. Elm has been the main character in his own story for a while (readers will understand exactly what this means later on!) so he ’s learning how to navigate life in the real world. Their stories parallel one another in many ways.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
I’m surprised by the way Ava changed over time. In my early drafts she was pretty unlikeable! I ended up completely rewriting her after feedback I received from an editor and I think she ’s a much stronger character now. Sometimes in an author’s goal for character progression we forget that the reader has to be invested in that character from the beginning, so they need to be sympathetic somehow, even if they have their flaws.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Stories stay with us and I think more people can relate to fiction because anyone can put themselves in the place of the character. We can find ways to apply things to our own lives when it ’s not necessarily concrete. And for me personally, I’m more likely to reflect on information delivered in story format because it gets my mind working and exploring more.
FF: What can readers expect from the rest of this series?
Many more characters will be introduced in book 2 and I’m excited for everyone to get to know them. All of these characters still have a lot to learn about what it means to work together. We will see more development of the magic system as well.
FF: How do you get into the right frame of mind to write for your genre/audience?
I love YA Fantasy, so just reading that genre helps a lot. I also reflect back on high school and what I was thinking and feeling at that time. Reading some of my old journals helps, even if it ’s a bit embarrassing at times.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
That it is possible to seek and find the truth.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
I’m always worried I will sound like an older person trying too hard to sound like a young person. I do not want to be the writer who ’s using weird teen slang that nobody actually uses anymore!
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
I always have a hard time with these questions because there are so many! Still Points North is a memoir that really pulled me into the author’s world with descriptive voice and that has stuck with me. Brandon Sanderson is obviously an inspiration to much of the writing community and he ’s awesome about providing instruction. Charlotte Bronte inspires me because of the challenges she overcame as a writer. Howl’s Moving Castle is an all-time favorite for its creativity and I just love Sophie’s character arc. Really, so many!
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
I feel like as a follower of Christ I have a responsibility to try and represent Him well. Obviously I am not perfect and I am always going to make mistakes. But I try to write stories that reflect well on Him. I do not like to write things that are overly dark or despairing. There may be moments of that as the characters face their challenges, but my goal is to offset that looming darkness with an even greater light.
The Color Theory Series #1
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Release Date: May 17, 2022
DANGER LURKS BEHIND EVERY COLOR
Ava Locke dives into the mysteries of forbidden Yellow magic and discovers a dark path filled with secrets and injustice.
When Ava Locke was five years old, she began a journey to join the Benefactors—the leaders of the magical continent of Magus. Twelve years later, she unwittingly started down the road to betray them.
On Magus where colors fuel magical abilities, yellow is banned in an effort to protect people from its mind-controlling capabilities. When a rogue Yellow magic-user named Elm escapes imprisonment Ava becomes innocently fascinated with his story. Once this mysterious Elm shows up at her school, Ava pushes her interest to the next level by helping him evade the Benefactors. Ava grows increasingly conflicted as her intrigue leads her down a dark road of secrets about her world. As she learns more about Yellow magic’s potential to control its victims, Ava now must question whether her rash decisions are all her own or if someone else is pulling the strings.
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