Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. September is rolling along, and today’s stop on The Ash House blog tour is the perfect Autumn read. I’m lucky enough to be bringing you an interview with author Angharad Walker.
When Eleven-year-old Sol arrives at the Ash House, desperate for a cure for his complex pain syndrome, he finds a community of strange children long abandoned by their mysterious Headmaster.
The children at the Ash House want the new boy to love their home as much as they do. They give him a name like theirs. They show him the dorms and tell him about the wonderful oasis that the Headmaster has created for them. But the new boy already has a name. Doesn’t he? At least he did before he walked through those gates…
This was supposed to be a healing refuge for children like him. Something between a school and a summer camp. With kids like him. With pain like his. But no one is allowed to get sick at the Ash House. NO ONE.
And then The Doctor arrives…
Strange things are about to happen at the mysterious Ash House. And the longer Sol spends on the mysterious grounds, the more he begins to forget who he is, the more the other children begin to distrust him, and the worse his pain becomes. But can he hold onto reality long enough to find an escape? And better yet, can he convince the others?
Hello Angharad, and thank you for taking the time to talk to me about The Ash House. How are you feeling with it being out in the big wide world?
Thanks for having me! It’s quite a mix of feelings to be honest. Publication was delayed by a whole year because of Covid, so now it’s finally out in the world. I feel relief, nervousness, but above all excitement to hear what readers think of it.
Where did you draw your inspiration from with this book?
It all started with the image of the Ash House itself. I don’t know if I dreamed it or if it was just a random thought. It just appeared in my mind about nine years ago. I knew straight away that I wanted to write about this strange place made of ash and smoke, and the group of children who live there.
What is it that appeals to you about writing for young people?
So many things. Partly an enduring affection for the books I loved as a child. The idea you could create that reading experience for somebody else is so appealing. But also, I like writing about young people. When you’re young, you’re constantly evolving and making the decisions that shape who you are — it’s a big deal, but adults can be quite dismissive of it. I think it makes for interesting characters who are a lot of fun to write.
When it comes to writing, what kind of approach do you take? Are you a plot it all out type, or just start writing and see what happens?
The initial spark of an idea is always random — there’s no knowing when it might strike and if it will last long enough to grow into a solid concept for a book! But once it has, I’m definitely a planner. I plot every scene carefully and map it out in a big excel spreadsheet. I like to know the whole shape of a story before I get too far in.
Are you working on something else at the moment, or are you taking some breathing space?
I’ve nearly finished my second book which will be published by Chicken House in September 2022. I can’t share too much about it just yet, but I can say it’s a whole new fantasy world with a whole new cast of characters for readers to meet. I think it’s going to be really special.
Finally, how would you sum up The Ash House in three words?
Tense. Grey. Bittersweet.
Thank you to Angharad for her time, to Chicken House Books for the lovely proof copy, and of course to Nina for all her hard work.