Today I’m thrilled to have fellow Blue Ridge Literary Agency author, Betsy Ashton, join me. Betsy’s debut novel is Mad Max Unintended Consequences. In a review of this book on Betsy’s website, Judy Light Ayyildiz writes: “Mad Max” is a Gran with guts, humor, patience, and the wisdom that only working through life challenges brings. That alone makes me want to get to know Max a little better and she’s made her way to my summer reading list.
Betsy, thanks for joining us.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
This is an easy question with a difficult answer. I started writing in third grade when I made up my autobiography. I was seven and hadn’t done anything interesting, so I made up a character and gave her the perfect life. As I remember, I got an F on the assignment because I didn’t follow the rules and an A for creativity, although that wasn’t part of the assignment. Leave it to say, my mother was not amused by the F. She said if I was going to lie, I should learn to write stories. And to learn to write stories, I had to read as much as I could get my hands on.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
In March Koehler Books published Mad Max Unintended Consequences, which we all hope will become a series. Mad Max is a grandmother who loves her life in Manhattan. She’s raised her two children and is now living the life of a rich widow. She lives by a special mantra: “I’m done raising children and I’m never living in the South again.” That goes out the window where her estranged daughter is seriously injured in an auto accident. Max returns to Richmond, Virginia to care for her daughter and her two grandchildren. Things don’t work out. The daughter suffers a traumatic brain injury that changes her personality completely. Max has to decide whether to invoke tough love and leave her daughter or stay and continue taking care of the family. Conflicts ensue.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Very good question. Yes, I had to do a lot of research into the law and into traumatic brain injury, but most of all I learned how much fun it is to see a project come together. I love the entire process of writing, from the crummy first draft through multiple drafts where I polish and refine what I’ve written. I may be goofy, but I really love the editing process, because that’s where a work comes to life. I love working with editors who see things I’ve missed. I also learned that I cannot not write, so it’s a given that books two and three in the series are well under way.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. Thank you for investing time to get to know me as a writer, Mad Max, and her diverse family. Thank you for thinking about the broader themes of the novel. If one of them leads you to call a friend or relative, to reach out before it’s too late, then I’ve achieved a goal. I welcome any dialogue with readers, so if you want to reach out, please feel free to do so.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I think it’s Mad Max herself. I can play off twin meanings for “mad.” She can be angry about her situation on one page and flop in the driveway and make snow angels on the next. Because she has to be strong for her grandchildren, she has to temper her natural responses to situations. She has to grow in the course of the story.
How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
The least favorite character is the villain, of course. I hated Hunter from the moment I wrote about him. I had to control my natural revulsion so that he didn’t come off as too evil, no negative a character. I didn’t want him to be a stereotype.
If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
I would develop Whip into a stronger character. I think he comes off a little wimpy.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Max struggles with how to change her relationship with her daughter. Her best friend gives her a “doo-wop” (do over) to get it right this time. The doo-wop continues throughout the series.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Book clubs come to mind. This is a women’s work, and women make up most membership in book clubs. Also baby boomers who are raising their own grandchildren due to circumstances beyond their control.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Life doesn’t give you a do over. You give yourself a do over. When you face situations that you haven’t foreseen, you have choices: make the best of them or walk away. Either answer is right, given the time and circumstances.
For more information on Betsy, go the following links: