Today I am excited to be sharing an interview with Ashley Elston, author of This Is Our Story.
Five teens went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend, Grant; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them. As Kate—working with the prosecutor—gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own. (Goodreads)
I really enjoyed This is Our Story. The premise drew me in and Elston kept me guessing up until the very end. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to ask Ashley a few questions about this heart-racing book.
Where did the idea for This Is Our Story come from?
My critique partner, Elle Cosimano, was visiting for a few days before we drove down to New Orleans for RT. We were hanging out in my kitchen, brainstorming story ideas, and my mom called to complain about being selected for jury duty. She had been stuck at the courthouse for days only to get kicked off because the prosecutor didn’t want her on the jury since my dad (her ex-husband) was a local attorney. Elle and I started talking about how crazy it was that a case really comes down to who is presenting it and who is on the jury judging it. Then I mentioned that I worked for my dad in high school. I had a work pass so my senior year I got out of school every day at noon and went to his office. I mentioned how cool it was getting a “behind the scenes” look at the what goes on with a case. Elle said, “That’s your next story.”
Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing This Is Our Story?
Definitely something in between. I know the big moments I want but never sure how I’m going to get there until I’m writing it. My process for THIS IS OUR STORY was a little different than my other books because I had to do a lot of research on the legal aspect of the story. It forced me to be a bit more of a plotter since the natural progression from crime to trial is very structured.
This Is Our Story kept me on my toes until the very end – I truly had no idea which of the River Point boys did it until the dramatic conclusion. What did you find most challenging in telling this story?
Probably the most challenging part was finding the right balance. I really liked the addition of the transcripts and text messages but didn’t want to overwhelm the reader with too many different parts and pieces. And to have a good twist, it’s always hard to know just how many breadcrumbs to drop. If it’s too many, the reader figures it out before you’re ready but if it’s not enough, they’re blindsided and it feels like it came out nowhere. You want the reader to be surprised but to also look back and see where they missed figuring it out.
Kate’s internship at the district attorney office plays a large role in solving the mystery. What kind of research did you have to do to portray the legal side of the story?
After Elle and I talked about the idea for this story, I wasn’t sure if what I had in mind was legally possible so I called my dad to talk over what I wanted to happen in the story. He was at the courthouse and was sitting next to an assistant district attorney. Next thing I knew he handed the phone to him and it was an awkward conversation as you can imagine. But the assistant DA was intrigued with the premise of my story and agreed to walk me through each step my River Point Boys would face in regards to the legal system. We spoke almost once a week for months and he was so helpful. I obviously took some liberties and I’m sure I got something wrong but that’s all on me.
If you could spend a day with a character from This Is Our Story, who would it be and why?
Oh, this is a hard one! I really love the friendship between Kate and Reagan so I’d love to hang out with them. I know I’m cheating by picking two people but I’d really love Reagan to take me shopping.
What were your favorite books when you were a young adult? Did that influence your own writing at all?
I tore through all of Sidney Sheldon’s books when I was in high school. He always had the best twists in his books and every time I sit down to write, I always think, “What would Sidney Sheldon do?”
Can you give us a hint about what’s next for you?
I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m playing with right now. One of them is a YA mystery/thriller set in Louisiana against the backdrop of a falling down plantation in an old pecan orchard. The other idea is a fun, light-hearted story that I keep coming back to. It’s very different than anything I’ve written before and I’m enjoying it. Hopefully, one or both of these will turn into a finished book!
Thank you to Ashley Elston and Disney Hyperion. If you’re a fan of mystery/thrillers, make sure you check out This Is Our Story!
Ashley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a certified landscape horticulturist and loves digging in the dirt. Her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, was published by Disney Hyperion in 2013 and the sequel, THE RULES FOR BREAKING, in 2014. Her latest novel, THIS IS OUR STORY, was published on November 15, 2016.
You can find Ashley Elston online: