10 Questions With Precious Bones Author Mika Ashley-Hollinger
The names of the characters alone make this a novel worth reading. How can you resist Bones, Little Man, Nolay, Soap Sally and Mr. Speed?!? Each character is as distinctive as the name they carry and the adventures they have. Set in the Florida swamplands during the late 1940’s this folksy novel will draw you in from page one. First time author Mika Ashley-Hollinger joins us today to answer a few questions about her childhood in Florida, the inspiration for PRECIOUS BONES and a peak into her second book.
Your book is set in 1949 Florida – what inspired you to write about this place and time period? Did you have to do a lot of research?
I left Florida in the late sixties and did not return for over twenty years. When I did go back I was stunned and saddened at the changes that had taken place. The story first began as a historical tribute to a time gone by. Eventually it evolved into Precious Bones. I did extensive research on the the swamps cycle of life and on Florida’s vast array of wildlife. Mr. Speed became the narrative historian revealing much of that information.
Were you told the legend of Soap Sally as a child?
The legend of Soap Sally is long standing in all of the South. She was an old witch that grabbed misbehaving kids and boiled them into soap! As a child I had great respect and fear of that witch!
The friendship between Bones and Little Man is so authentic! Did you have a friend like Little Man when you were growing up?
Yes, my childhood best friend was a young boy a couple of years older than me. We shared many wonderful adventures together.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
One of my favorite parts is the ending of The Hand of God. Nolay and Bones silently poling the airboat through the swamps at the end of the day. It portrays the magnificent beauty of the swamps, and a father sharing a special moment with his child as he passes that knowledge on to her.
What was your favorite genre to read when you were Bone’s age (10)?
I don’t recall a favorite, I was an avid reader and loved anything with animals and nature in it. I also loved to write and would scribble down little stories in a notebook.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?
Perseverance! Believe in yourself and look for an agent that promotes the genre you are writing.
Do you ever experience writer’s block
Not really, if I come to a speed bump I take a break and move on to another character or scene.
Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others?
Besides Bones, that would be Nolay. His character is mischievous and mysterious. His love, understanding and respect for Nature is so powerful. Although personally experiencing prejudice, his heart has not been hardened by it.
You grew up in Florida, right? Did you spend your childhood exploring the swamps like Bones and Little Man?
Absolutely. I was blessed to have lived so close to nature and all it’s inhabitants. Plus I grew up surrounded by a cast of wonderful characters! So often swamps and wetlands are depicted as useless, but they are actually, as Nolay states, the womb of the world. Countless life forms; mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, begin their journey in swamps and wetlands. I hope that Precious Bones will remind us of how important these vast areas are, and keep them wet and wild.
What are you working on now?
1969. A little eleven year old girl living in the red dirt country of Georgia, along with her friends, family, wishes, secrets and of course, surprises.
PRECIOUS BONES goes on sale May 8 and we’d love to share a copy with one of our readers. Please leave a comment and we’ll randomly select a winner.