Please help me welcome this week’s guest, Contemporary Fiction author Ashlyn McKayla Ohm, as she shares about her writing and her debut novel, When the Ice Melts. She’s graciously offered a copy of her book as a giveaway, winner’s choice of format. Be sure to comment on this interview by June 28 for a chance to win!
Welcome Ashlyn! I’d love to start out learning about any hobbies you have or what you do for fun.
As is evident from my writing, I’m happiest when I’m outside! I enjoy running, hiking, birdwatching, and just generally enjoying the wonder of God’s creation.
I love the outdoors too. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Even as a young child, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I was raised by wonderful parents who read to me every day, even before I was born, and my amazing, selfless mother homeschooled me from kindergarten through twelfth grade, teaching me to think deeply, write truly, and live fully. As a result, I grew up fascinated by the power of story, and I loved writing my own tales on paper and stapling the pages together to make “books.” I always dreamed of one day weaving words of my own.
What a wonderful legacy of learning and creativity. What genre do you write and what inspired you to write that particular genre?
I’ve written in multiple genres, but When the Ice Melts is contemporary Christian fiction, which happens to be my favorite genre. There’s so much power in contemporary fiction to explore the trials and triumphs that are most relevant to people. Even better, contemporary fiction provides an amazing backdrop to showcase what the power of faith looks like, not just in a hazy theory, but in the here and now.
I so agree! How do you incorporate Christ and hope into your writing?
I believe that good writing should never offer easy answers or simplistic solutions. That’s why my characters never spout sermons or model artificially impeccable lives. The world is flawed, relationships are messy, and choices are complicated—and I want to acknowledge that honestly and fully in my writing. And in response to the parts of life that are confusing or chaotic, I make it my aim to continually shine the light—meeting readers right where they are and reminding them that faith is still miraculous and Jesus is still victorious.
Amen! What is the setting of your current novel? Is it a real location or fictional? Tell us about it.
When the Ice Melts has two major settings: Whistler, Canada; and Estes Park, Colorado. Whistler is a gorgeous Canadian mountain town where my main character, Addisyn Miles, seeks answers to questions that a crisis has forced her to ask. Estes Park, on the other hand, is where her estranged sister Avery tries to bury the past in the peace of the mountains.
Estes Park is my favorite travel destination and a place of spiritual renewal for me, so writing the scenes set there was especially fun. I so hope readers enjoy being able to “visit” these two unique destinations through the pages of this book!
Sounds lovely. Do you have any pets? Do they find their way into any of your stories?
I have three pets: Mercy, my loyal Labrador Retriever; Gailey, my zany Jack Russell Terrier; and Noah Japheth, a cat who graciously allows me the privilege of serving him! My pets absolutely find their way into my writing. In When the Ice Melts, Mercy has a starring role as the dog belonging to Avery Miles, my main character’s sister. And while Gailey was adopted very late in the writing process for When the Ice Melts, he still makes a cameo appearance in chapter 20.
Readers love animals, right? What advice would you give an aspiring author?
There are two great tools by which writers learn: reading and writing. It really is that simple. Read widely and look for patterns. What techniques strike you? What character dynamics speak most strongly to you? What makes you put a book down, and what makes you unable to put a book down? And then take what you learn and just start writing. The very act of pouring words onto a page is healing and life-giving. Don’t worry about being a “good” writer; just use your words to chase away the shadows and point to the Light of the World.
Sounds like great advice. What do you hope your readers take away from When the Ice Melts?
My heart in writing this book was to explore this question: who are you if the dream by which you’ve always defined yourself is suddenly taken away? I hope at the end of this book, readers recognize that value and identity aren’t derived from our accomplishments, and no matter what we’ve done or failed to do, the love of God never lets go.
What an important lesson for us all. Which character in When the Ice Melts was easiest for you to write and why? Which character presented the biggest challenge?
The easiest character to write was Avery Miles. Although I’m not nearly as wise as she is, I identified with her on so many levels. Addisyn was much more difficult to write; with her feisty personality, she seemed to argue with me at every turn.
Our characters have a mind of their own, don’t they? What is one of your favorite quotes from When the Ice Melts?
I love this quote, in which Avery marvels at the beauty of her mountain home: “Was there anyone who could come here and not feel the power, the way the land throbbed with God’s very heartbeat? This was El Shaddai’s country, after all.” This quote reminds me of how powerfully God speaks to me every time I visit the Rockies.
Beautiful. Who is your favorite fiction author? Favorite novel?
There are so many amazing fiction authors whose works have inspired and influenced me. Karen Kingsbury’s Angels Walking series was a huge motivation to me as I was beginning my writing career, and I learned so much from studying those books. Another author who has always been a source of light to me is Madeleine L’Engle; her books taught me to push relentlessly for truth in my fiction and to never fail to embrace the good. My favorite current authors and books are Katie Powner (A Flicker of Light) and Amanda Dykes (Whose Waves These Are).
What’s next from you?
When the Ice Melts is the first book in the Climbing Higher series, so the story will definitely continue! To receive updates about the next book in the series, readers can sign up for my newsletter at wordsfromthewilderness.com.
It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you, Ashlyn, and your book sounds fantastic. I pray God will bless you as you continue to write for His glory.
Join the conversation. Does Ashlyn’s book sound like something you’d enjoy reading? What’s your favorite thing about Christian Contemporary Fiction? Have you ever visited Colorado? What questions do you have for Ashlyn?
When the Ice Melts by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm
Click the book cover for purchase link
Competitive figure skater Addisyn Miles has been running her whole life—both from her overprotective sister Avery and toward her dream of competing in the Olympics. Despite the compromises she’s made along the way, her future has never looked brighter—until a single moment shatters not only her dearest hopes but also her relationship with the man for whom she sacrificed her principles. In search of answers, Addisyn escapes to Whistler, Canada, where she meets Darius Payne, a lonely man with a crushing secret. But when Darius’s past threatens their relationship and Addisyn receives an unexpected invitation to return to the world she left behind, they’re both confronted by the truth they may not be brave enough to face.
Meanwhile, heartbroken by her younger sister’s rejection, Avery Miles has uprooted her life and relocated to Estes Park, Colorado. There, she seeks to bury her painful memories in the peace of the mountains—and the love of the God Who made them. She’s struggled to erase Addisyn from her thoughts entirely, but then she comes face-to-face with an unwelcome bit of her past—someone who poses the ultimate threat to Addisyn. Haunted by her own darkest fears, Avery must summon the courage to love her sister again—and find her before the clock runs out.
Compelling and captivating, When the Ice Melts is a story of broken dreams, desperate decisions, and the relentless grace of a love that never lets go.
A worshiper of the Creator and a wanderer of creation, Ashlyn McKayla Ohm is most at home where the streetlights die and the pavement ends. She is passionate about shaping stories that weave together unfailing truths, vivid characters, and dramatic natural settings—bringing readers face to face with not only the mountains but also the God Who still moves them. Follow Ashlyn’s writing on her website, www.wordsfromthewilderness.com.
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If you missed last week’s interview with Amanda Wen, find it here.