So Ashley Mays is super cool. Really. So cool, in fact, that I wanted to interview her for my blog! 🙂 And she was sweet enough to say yes. Ashley’s a writer. She worked for Brio Magazine and currently freelances for SUSIE (an online and print magazine). She’s also an active blogger. Ashley’s an amazingly gifted young woman who writes what’s on her heart.
BB: So you’re a writer, when did this happen? Were you one of those kids practically born with a pen in your hand? Did you discover it in college?
AM: Fourth grade. We had a writing competency test and the prompt was something to the effect of, “You find a paper bag. When you pick it up, the bag jumps. Write a story about what you find in the paper bag.” My answer was a very involved story about finding Mexican jumping beans hidden inside a Chinese takeout box. When I put my pen down I felt alive. From that moment on, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I went on to write my own “romance novels” (as a ninth grader…ha!) and ended up majoring in Creative Writing in college.
BB: Give me a little peek into your Brio history.
AM: I attended the Focus on the Family Institute (now the Focus Leadership Institute) in 2006. Part of the program included a practicum, or internship. When our practicum assignments were handed out, I found out I had been placed as the BRIO intern, which was such an honor for me, a BRIO reader. I spent the semester writing a few articles, researching, and working on web stuff, then left thinking that was the end of my time with BRIO. God had other plans.
Right before I graduated college I found out BRIO had a job opening so I applied and had two phone interviews (in my pajamas! Don’t tell.) Then the HR department called me again and said the BRIO people had a couple more interview questions for me.
Ashley B. started off with something like, “Do you like dogs?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Can you make chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies?” Martha asked.
“Yes.” (Here’s where I started thinking, Are these people crazy? What kind of interview questions are these?)
“Are you willing to pack your bags and move out here to work for us?” Susie practically screamed into the phone.
And then I knew I wasn’t really being interviewed again. They were offering me the job. So I took it and moved out the day after my college graduation! The others quickly became my BRIO family. Now I can’t imagine life without them or my time at the mag. (PS: If you were a fan of BRIO, a lot of us still write for Susie Shellenberger’s new magazine, SUSIE. It’s just as good as BRIO was, so definitely check it out!)
BB: I’m definitely a fan of your blog. What inspired you to start blogging?
AM: I love blogging for the community it provides. I’ve been a blog reader for a long time now and follow something like 250 different blogs. It’s so fun to see how people are able to rally around each other in times of need and celebrate with each other. Blogging for me is really a way to stay connected with a fantastic community.
BB: I know that both you and I are fans of Compassion International. What’s it like to be involved with an organization like Compassion? How has that enriched your life?
AM: I love Compassion! I sponsor three kids and they’re fabulous. For me, it’s been amazing to hear about how they’ve grown since I started sponsoring them. They’ve gone from kids who think they don’t amount to anything to kids with dreams like playing professional baseball. It melts my heart when they call me Mom and tell me they love me. But the greatest part of it all? Their circumstances won’t limit their potential. They might still have things they worry about, but poverty isn’t one of them.
BB: Since you’re a writer, I’m assuming you’re a reader. What books have inspired you? What’s a ‘read over and over’ book on your bookshelf?
AM: Yes, I am definitely a reader! But I’m so not a cerebral reader, so it’s kind of sad…but, as a writer, a few books I’ve found inspiring are from Kristin Billerbeck’s Ashley Stockingdale series. (Don’t laugh at me if your favorite book is The Great Gatsby or something else intellectual.) I’m a lover of the fine art of sarcasm. And those books are absolute sarcasm Picasos. Also, you can pretty much guarantee that if it’s Young Adult fiction, I’m going to love it. I’m a huge fan of The Giver and To Kill a Mockingbird, so I’d definitely say those are my “read over and over” books.
BB: Don’t worry. Girls who read novels about sparkly vampires don’t laugh at girls who love books like The Giver and To Kill a Mockingbird. Those are classics! Okay, so tell me one of your goals for the future.
AM: To visit L’Oceanografic, an aquarium in Spain. And to remember to clean out my refrigerator on a regular basis.
BB: Gotcha. I’m working on that whole “clean out refrigerator on a regular basis” myself. What’s another interesting fact about you?
AM: On my first birthday I cried when they sang me the Happy Birthday song. I still have the same reaction twenty-five years later. (Okay, not exactly the same, but I do find it incredibly awkward when people insist on singing to me on my birthday.)
BB: What books are you currently reading?
AM: Kind of boring (to other people), but I’m reading James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing. And, yes, I find it to be an extremely enjoyable read. There’s also a pile four or five books tall on my bedside table of books I’m reading through at the moment. But I can’t remember what they all are, so there you go.
BB: What’s the most recent movie you absolutely loved and why?
AM: Not extremely recent, but the first thing that came to mind is Sherlock Holmes. I think the acting is superb, and the writing is so spot on. It’s such a great example subtle humor and intriguing mystery; it’s grabbed me. I’ve always been a fan of the well-written mystery and you don’t get a whole lot better than something originally from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
BB: I loved Sherlock Holmes too! Seriously, Robert Downey Jr. is a genius. What are you currently working on (writing-wise)?
AM: Right now my main project is about a Bible-thumping teacher’s pet and a hell-raising juvenile delinquent who test the limits of their patience when they’re forced into an unlikely partnership. I wrote it from the perspectives of both girls, too, so it’s a little different from most.
BB: Sounds great! Keep us posted! Thanks so much for stopping by, Ashley!