Back for another week of our tour which I am co-hosting with the talented Kate M Colby, http://katemcolby.com, and today I am welcoming Ashley Capes, fantasy/magic realism writer, with his book, The Fairy Wren. Ashley is a poet, novelist and teacher living in Australia. He’s the author of six poetry collections and five novels and was poetry editor for Page Seventeen from issues 8-10. He also moderates online renku group Issa’s Snail. Ashley teaches English, Media and Music Production, has played in a metal band, worked in an art gallery and slaved away at music retail. Aside from reading and writing, Ashley loves volleyball and Studio Ghibli – and Magnum PI, easily one of the greatest television shows ever made.
The Fairy Wren: From the moment a fairy wren drops his lost wedding ring at his feet, Paul realises there’s more magic to the world than he thought…
When Paul Fischer receives a strange phone call asking for help, from a woman who might be his estranged wife Rachel, he’s drawn into a mysterious search that threatens not only his struggling bookstore, but long-buried dreams too. Unfortunately, the only help comes from a shady best friend, an Italian runaway and a strange blue fairy wren that seems to be trying to tell him something – yet the further he follows the clues it leaves the less sense the world seems to make. Is he on the verge of a magical, beautiful discovery or at the point of total disaster?
What was the inspiration behind your book?
The first draft of The Fairy Wren seemed to burst out of me during a bit of a crazy time – I was teaching full time and studying part time and writing too; it was exhausting. Of course, I look back on it with some fondness now, which is not how the ‘me’ of back then would see things.
I’d been drawn to the idea of sneaking some magic into a small town setting for a long time and I wanted to combine that with both the fading away of bookstores and one man’s personal struggle with his dreams as they seem to slip out of reach. I wanted to write a character, who when faced with that situation, really dug their heels in. Paul still makes mistakes but he never gives up and I liked that.
Who is your favorite character?
Alessandra – I’m still drawn to the mystery surrounding her, even now. I’ve toyed with a follow-up story for her but I don’t know if it’s possible. But for me, she’s the second hero of the story and even though she doesn’t appear in every scene, she still makes a big impact. She’s strong and kind and I’m often drawn to those two qualities as well, both as a reader and a writer.
What is one thing you want readers to know or “get” about your book?
Maybe that life will always try and crush you but if you’re stubborn enough, sometimes you can keep your head above water. I’ve love if readers enjoyed the magic that’s woven throughout the story too; I had a great time balancing the fantastical with the everyday during The Fairy Wren.
Who is your ideal reader? Or, who will enjoy your book?
Readers who like a little bit of mystery and poetry, readers who enjoy stories mix the magical with reality and who aren’t put off by a bit of violence and language. I mean, The Fairy Wren is hardly an R-rated text, but I don’t censor myself either. And I think there’s a chance readers who’re also looking for something a little uplifting will enjoy the story too.
What three writing tips do you have for aspiring authors?
Read widely I reckon – any style, any genre, any form, any writer. You’ll be exposed to more ideas, more characters, more writing, more everything basically. And you’ll find stuff you think works and also things you’re sure don’t work at all – which is the point of reading widely, I think. It all helps.
Be disciplined. And I don’t mean something like if you don’t write every day you’re somehow ‘undisciplined’ because that’s rubbish. I think discipline can be much more varied – for me, it’s keeping the promises I make to myself.
Search long and wide for advice that suits your writing style. It’s no use trying to work like a writer who says ‘plotting is the only way to write’ – if, in fact, you’re more comfortable ‘pantsing.’ Instead, try a bit of everything and take note of what works for you.
Where can readers buy your book?
Where can readers learn more about you?
Fiction Website: http://www.cityofmasks.com/
Poetry Website: http://ashleycapes.com/