Thursday, February 25, 2021

Ashley Shuttleworth Interview - A Dark and Hollow Star

Photo Content from Ashley Shuttleworth

Ashley Shuttleworth is a young adult fantasy author born in Canada and currently living in Ontario. They have a degree in English Literature from Trent University with an emphasis on Milton and the Romantic Period, as well as a focus on Ancient History and Classical Studies. They’ve worked many jobs in their life, roles such as a bookseller for Indigo Bookstore, a barista at Starbucks, a teacher in South Korea, and a Wine Merchant for their local wine store. In their spare time they enjoy cosplay and gaming (particularly The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts) and adding to their ever-growing collection of prop swords. They’re also pretty big into winter sports like skating and skiing and driving back and forth between work without snow tires. Despite the fact that there are roughly 9000 fanfics on their computer, A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR is their first published novel.


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Recently, someone e-mailed me from the contact form on my website just to tell me how much they loved my book and why. This is the first time someone’s ever done this, and when I think back to when I was a teen, and had wrote to an author I really admired, I’m just… filled with awe and gratitude to see myself on the other side of this years later.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
There’s so much that went into drafting A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR; I draw inspiration from many things. The shows I watch, the music I listen to, the books I read, the video games I play, what I studied at university and the experiences I’ve had just traveling around and living life. It all feeds into my creativity. A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR was also born out of my desire to put into the world both the queer content that my own childhood was severely lacking, and the lifeline that books were (and have always been) during difficult times while growing up. But what first inspired me to first put pen to paper (quite literally, I was way into handwritten stories when I was a kid)? Truthfully, I just really love to write. I love to see words on a page—world and characters that I created slowly taking life of their own. It’s a wonderful thing to me, magic of it’s own kind.

Tell us your latest news.
We just finished moving into a new place, big enough that I could take all my books out of storage, and for the first time in 5 years I have a proper bookshelf again. That might not be newsworthy to many but this is incredible to me. Book wise, I suppose my latest news is that A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR—my debut YA Urban Fantasy—has just released and I’m officially a published author!!

Can you tell us when you started A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR, how that came about?
I started planning A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR a while back—in 2016, where it was in the shape of a different story altogether that didn’t work so well. I gutted that story, took a few things I liked, a few characters I loved (hello NausicaƤ, Aurelian, Vehan, Celadon, and Elyas) and wrote it all into an entirely new story that became the very first draft of ADAHS and led to getting my agent. It was a bit of a sad affair that prompted this story, but a long tale short, I was in my room packing my things, and listening to music. I started to picture this scene in my head of these random characters—a final scene, these random characters at the end of their journey—and ever since, this entire time, I’ve been working towards achieving this ending.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Well first and foremost that they’re enjoying what they’re reading! I hope readers think my book is good. I also hope that people will read my story and be inspired to write one of their own, so that new and better minds can broaden the horizons of queer YA fantasy, and teens can continue to see themselves represented for who they truly are.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating characters?
They really do just have a life of their own. There are so many characters I’ve created with XYZ in mind for them, only to discover they have a completely different story and get along much better with character I didn’t intend for them to. The best/worst is when a side character reveals themselves to be much more than a side character to you. *coughs into fist* Celadon

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I feel like I both want NausicaƤ to meet Deadpool, and also hope they never do. It would be… an experience. They both have fairly similar personalities and competency with swords, so I feel like many things would get destroyed in the process—but they’d have so much fun together.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Final Fantasy and Breath of the Wild!!!! FFXV came out just as I finished the first draft of A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR, and then just as I was about to finish the last sweep through before it was sent off to print, FF7R released. Smack in the middle of this, I was gifted a Switch to celebrate getting a book deal and was able to finally play the latest LoZ game. I’m very much into both of these, so it was quite the balancing act and my eyes were very tired.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Play an RPG!! Particularly of the video game sort—I adore video games, I think they’re wonderful tools for fostering and cultivating creativity, and much like reading a book, there’s something very relaxing about channeling your focus into a completely fictional world.

Best date you've ever had?
I only ever went on one date with him but we went to the horse races with his grandfather and I ended up spending most of the time sitting with his grandfather, helping him choose which horses to bet on. For some reason, that was just a blast to me. But again, had more fun with his grandpa haha

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I feel like this depends on whether or not I get to keep the knowledge I currently possess. If I get to keep my current memories, I would probably go back to my first year of university and make myself try harder in those first couple of years. I’d also like to go back to living in South Korea because that was so much fun, but I’d make myself wear a mask while teaching because the kids gave me every cold they caught, and so I was ill for about a year straight.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I went on a ski trip with some friend while I was living in South Korea, to the Yongpyong Ski Resort. I’d never been downhill skiing once in my life before then, and the very first time up, got on the wrong lift to the intermediate slope. Only one way down I told myself, so I just went for it. Please don’t do this, you can actually really hurt yourself!! Luckily, I’ve done enough winter sports in my life—figure skating and cross-country skiing—that I caught on pretty quick. I do think this scared me a bit though because I spent most of my time after that hanging out eating sweet potatoes and have no real desire to try downhill ever again.

First Heartbreak?
I’m dating myself here, but I think I have to say when the Spice Girls split up. I was devastated.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Soppily, I always have the best time when I’m with my partner. We don’t get to see much of each other right now due to both our work schedules, but he’s an extremely intelligent and funny person so he never fails to make me laugh.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
I would definitely choose true love with a guarantee of heart break, because if I didn’t love things with my whole heart and soul, I never would have found my way to writing. You can recover from heart break—you can learn from it too; but there’s no benefiting from something you never try

Where can readers find you?
Twitter: @paperashes but I’m spending more time on Instagram these days, @paper.ashley

  • THE SONG OF ACHILLES—Madeline Miller
  • CIRCE—Madeline Miller
  • THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN—Roshani Chokshi
  • JADE CITY—Fonda Lee
  • JADE WAR—Fonda Lee
  • VALIANT—Holly Black
  • LEGENDBORN—Tracy Deonn
*Originally it was told from 1 POV—Arlo—save the prologue which has always been in the story and was always told from NausicaƤ’s POV

*I’ve done more revisions and edits on this book than I have fingers

*Celadon was one of those characters I invented on the fly and had no intention of making anything much of, but then I fell immediately in love with him and now he plays a much bigger role in this story for it.

*Yes, I also named Celadon for Prince Cornelius from the 1994 film Thumbelina, which was one of my favourite movies as a kid along with the Swan Princess.

*Of all my characters Arlo was the one who underwent the biggest transformation through the edits to this story—believe it or not she was actually much quieter and more mild in draft zero.

*There was so much going on in this story I didn’t write any pets for any of my characters and my mother was extremely offended that I didn’t give my “children” pets when she made sure I had them growing up.

*I wrote the original draft in a blur of 1 month, but spent the next 4 years editing it to make it worth reading

*I can’t choose a favourite character. Everyone asks who my favourite character is, but I love them all so much and had so much fun crafting them that’s it’s impossible for me to say definitively I like one more than the other.

*I had the title planned for this book right from the beginning—I find it difficult to write a story that doesn’t have a title

*No matter how many times I’ve read this (and I’ve read this book a LOT) I’m still so excited to read it in its final form, and will probably never get tired of it. I’m very proud of myself for writing a book I would actually want to read.

Choose your player.

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.

For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?

Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.

You can purchase A Dark and Hollow Star at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ASHLEY SHUTTLEWORTH for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth.


  1. I would like to trade places for a week with Mother Teresa and walk through the streets in India and hand food out to the poor. I am not sure if I would want to wear a nun's outfit though.

  2. "If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?" Hmm, maybe one of the Vanderbilts after the builders have finally left.

  3. Nicole Kidman. I mean Keith urban is her husband. Just one day with him. Sigh...

  4. I'd say fictional, someone from one of the RH's I've read. :P