Today we’re featuring Ash Oldfield on the blog. If she could switch lives with someone for a day, Ash has a pretty interesting choice for a body swap partner for a compelling reason.
Ash Oldfield’s Book & Writing Process
Table of Contents
Q: What is the title of your book and what is it about?
A: The Rachaya Series – Rachaya is a 13-year-old half-human, half-dragon who, having grown up in the human world, now has to go and live with the dragon side of her family. What is more, she learns she is heir to the dragon throne. She is horrified to discover that the dragons have been weakened over time and she is determined to help them become the glorious creatures they once were.
To do this she must adjust to this new world, learn how to transform into her dragon body, and learn how to be a true warrior Queen. Thankfully she makes some great friends and allies along the way who make the journey and dangers worthwhile.
Publication date: April 20, 2021
Q: What genre is The Rachaya Series?
A: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Q: What inspired you to write your book, and how did you come up with the idea for it?
A: I had been working on a book that was a mythology retelling, but I was getting bogged down in the details and had lost my passion for the story. I went on a holiday to Wales, where there are dragon statues everywhere, and started thinking about how much fun it would be to write a story about dragons. I wrote a short story that raised a lot more questions than it answered, and to answer those questions, I had to write The Rachaya Series.
Q: What scene was the hardest one to write and why?
A: I have a character that has done something very bad, but his reasons for doing what he did were pure. It was really difficult to get his punishment and the emotions around that correct. So difficult, in fact, that my editor gently prodded me to rewrite the scene I had originally sent to her because it hadn’t felt right to her yet.
Q: What are some themes and tropes included in your book?
A: I have a heavy focus on friendship and not trying to do everything by yourself. Rachaya is good at working out who she can trust and allowing them to help her. She is not a hero who feels she has to shoulder the entire burden alone, and her friendships only strengthen as a result.
Q: Who is the ideal reader for this book?
A: This book was written for children aged 8 and upwards who have strong literacy skills, but are not necessarily ready for the heavier themes often found in Young Adult novels. It is a story to be enjoyed by children and their parents alike.
Q: What’s the one thing you want readers to take away from reading your book?
A: I honestly hope my readers walk away feeling like they have had an enjoyable few hours of escapism.
Q: Share a favorite quote or two from this book.
A: ‘How about this: if the humans give you any trouble we go and breathe fire all over their most flammable buildings. Foolish, making houses out of wood. What were they thinking? I never thought I’d live to witness such large-scale stupidity.’ The tone in Mikel’s voice gave Rachaya reason to pause – he didn’t quite seem to be joking.
Q: Plotter or pantser? Share a bit of your writing process.
A: I am a heavy plotter. I will spend months working on spreadsheets to get the flow of the story right. Then, once I sit down to put words on the page, I make slight changes. The changes give rise to bigger changes, which has a snowball effect and my overall story looks nothing like anything I had planned. This process works for me, so I refuse to change it!
Q: What does a typical writing session for you look like?
A: I always leave notes at the end of every writing session so I know where I am up to next, so when I sit down to write, the first thing I do is review my notes. That is usually enough for me to dive right in. If I am in the first draft stage, I will then handwrite the next scene, writing for around 40-45 minutes.
After that stage, I rewrite and edit from my laptop. Then I will make some quick notes for my next writing session. Because I have a small child, there is never any guarantee that I will be able to sit down to work again for a while, so I find the few minutes I take to make notes make all the difference in ensuring that every moment I DO get to write is productive.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of writing and publishing? How did you (do you plan to) overcome it?
A: It’s really difficult to know when a book is finished, ready to go out to readers. You really lose sight of the forest for the trees when you are the one who wrote the story. For the current book I am working on, I had my editor engage some paid beta readers on my behalf. They were anonymous to me and I to them. Their feedback was really valuable in me discovering what I needed to make my book the best that it could be, as well as finding out what about the story works.
Q: Why do you write?
A: This is a really difficult question to answer because I have been writing for as long as I can remember. What I can tell you is that when I don’t write, I become very unhappy and anxious.
Writing Advice from Ash Oldfield
Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out?
A: The advice I give people over and over is to just get the story down on the page. It will most likely be terrible, sure, but it will be DONE. You will learn from your mistakes. Then move on and write something new. Apply the lessons you have learned. Keep doing this and you will find the words come easier and that each story will be better than the last.
Q: What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received? How has it impacted your life?
A: Australian author Christos Tsiolkas told me that I need to consume more art. I was being too narrow in my experiences, sticking mostly to the same one or two genres. Under his encouragement, I started to read wider, watch artistic cinema, go to art galleries, listen to music, and think about the message behind it. I can see the huge jump in improvement to my writing, but I also have a richer life because of it.
Q: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Why do you think this was not good advice?
A: I can’t say that I have ever received bad advice per se, but I think some advice is taken too literally or too militantly. Like anything, I think all advice should be taken with a grain of salt. There are no absolutes in creativity.
Q: If you could go back and change one thing in your author career, what would it be and why?
A: I would not change a thing, because I would not be the writer I am today without the experiences I have had.
Q: What is one writing resource that you couldn’t do without?
A: I get really caught up on the names of my characters, so I have a baby naming book that I keep on my desk. Especially for side characters I will open the book at random, select a name, and then keep writing. It has stopped me from getting bogged down in inconsequential details so many times!
Just for Fun
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?
A: I would love to be able to fly. I think the world would be so peaceful and beautiful from up high. Plus it would be great fodder for my stories!
Q: If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?
A: Ooh, what a great question! I would love to sit down with the sort of character that has lived a long, eventful life, just so they could tell me the stories that did not make it onto the page. Maybe someone like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings or Pug from The Riftwar Saga.
Q: If you were not a writer, what would you want to be and why?
A: I would love to be a historian or archaeologist, travelling the world to try to unravel the past.
Q: If you could switch lives with any person for a day, who would it be and why?
A: I would trade places with one of my cats so I could catch up on some sleep!
Q: What are you reading?
A: I am reading For The Throne by Hannah Whitten at the moment, as well as The King’s Mother by Michael K. Jones and Malcolm G. Underwood (a biography on Lady Margaret Beaufort).
Let’s Connect with Ash Oldfield
Q: What are you working on next?
A: I am writing an adult fantasy series that combines Welsh mythology with modern-day Melbourne (my home city). I have completed the first book but have decided to complete the series before I send it on to my editor. I am also working on a couple of novellas to send to my newsletter subscribers as a thank-you to them for all of their support 🙂
About Fyrebyrne Island
Rachaya always knew she was a dragon, despite growing up around humans, but it wasn’t until she was forced to move to the dragon sanctuary, Fyrebyrne Island, that she discovered she was also the Crown Princess of the dragon people. Her mother had taught her that dragons were fierce and powerful, but what Rachaya finds is a people much diminished.
The young princess must learn to be the most powerful dragon she can possibly be so that, when the time comes, she can emancipate her people and return them to their former glory. Book 1, Fyrebyrne Island, is suitable for readers aged 8 and up but is enjoyed by adults and children alike. The series matures as Rachaya matures. Find the paperback at all good online retailers. This is a complete series.
About Ash Oldfield
Ash Oldfield is a fantasy fiction and children’s writer from Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of The Rachaya Series and has several short works of fiction in various publications.
When she is not working on her latest piece of fiction, Ash enjoys drinking good coffee, taking her dog for walks on the beach, and hanging out with her two cats.