You first met today’s guest, Ashlyn McKayla Ohm, last June in an interview about her debut novel, When the Ice Melts. This week she’s talking about her newest Contemporary Fiction release, Where the Wings Rise.
To enter the giveaway for this book, simply comment below by Tuesday, September 12. Ashlyn has offered an ebook for an international winner or winner’s choice of format for a US winner.
Welcome back to my blog, Ashlyn! Let’s start out learning what genre you write and what inspired you to write that particular genre.
My writing is best categorized as Christian contemporary fiction. I find it very satisfying to explore complex and nuanced character relationships, and it’s most fulfilling to me to spin my stories against the backdrop of the here and now. There’s so much power in contemporary fiction to explore the trials and triumphs that are most relevant to people. And because I love nature and have always connected with God most deeply in the outdoors, I include dramatic natural settings in my works.
I also love current-day stories that address relevant topics. You mentioned setting, so tell us about the setting of your current novel.
Where the Wings Rise has two major settings: Whistler, Canada; and Estes Park, Colorado. Most of the book takes place at the sisters’ home in Estes Park during the ethereal magic of a Rocky Mountain autumn—complete with swirling leaves, bugling elk, and the first mountain snows. Estes Park is my favorite travel destination and a place of spiritual renewal for me, so being able to paint it in its autumnal glory was such a joy.
Visiting Colorado is on my bucket list! Do you have any pets that make their way into 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 Where the Wings Rise, Mercy has a starring role as Avery’s trusty dog. And Gailey even has his own cameo in chapter 11!
How kind of your cat to allow you to serve him. LOL! How do you tackle research for your novels?
I firmly believe that even in fiction, accuracy is paramount. Inconsistencies or unrealities jolt readers away from the story and detract from excellence. Therefore, I invest hours of research into each book.
For Where the Wings Rise, this involved such random tasks as studying maps and travel itineraries, photographing landmarks and businesses during a trip to Estes Park, and discussing the legal aspects of a particular plot point with my dad, a lawyer and judge.
Of course, the most daunting area of research for this book was the hawk rehabilitation. I watched many YouTube videos, read dozens of case reports, and spoke extensively with the very kind executive director of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, Carin Avila, who was so gracious to share her knowledge with me.
It’s amazing how much research a contemporary novel requires. What is the premise of Where the Wings Rise?
Where the Wings Rise is the second book in the Climbing Higher series and the sequel to When the Ice Melts(but it can definitely be read as a standalone too!) It tells the story of Addisyn and Avery Miles, two sisters finally reunited and struggling to find common ground after years of conflict. When they’re called upon to help care for an injured hawk, they must both face the fears that have left them just as wounded…or allow their darkest enemy to sabotage their future.
Love it. How do you incorporate Christ and hope into your writing?
I don’t believe it’s possible to tell a story that rings true without including spiritual themes because there is so much more to this world than what we can see—and that’s a truth I’m drawn to exploring in my writing. As a Christian, I want to shine a blazing light into the darkness of this world, but not through simplistic sermons or trite Sunday-school sayings. Instead, I want my characters, and my readers, to truly grapple with the mysteries of faith and come to experience the power of God for themselves.
Blazing the light of Christ into this dark world is a wonderful goal. What did God teach you through the writing of Where the Wings Rise?
One of the joys of writing, for me, is the way God always speaks to me through every book. I truly believe He calls me to tell these stories for my own heart first—so I will be shaped more into His image.
At the time of the writing of this book, I was clinging white-knuckle to many issues in my life, in the same way Avery finds it difficult to relinquish control. When I was writing her breakthrough scene, I was actually moved to tears by the realization of how deeply I needed to release my concerns to God in that same way and trust His hands to be underneath my wings.
God is so good to use our own stories to teach us and bless our hearts, isn’t He? What is one of your favorite quotes from the book?
Addisyn asks her mentor, Skyla Bluefeather Wingo, if she believes in faith, and I love Skyla’s reply: “I believe it like I believe in the wind and the waters. Like I believe in the rivers that flow from the heart of the mountains. Like I believe in the snows that fall and the suns that melt and the great wheels that spin the stars.”
Simply beautiful. Has a reader ever blessed your socks off? How?
The greatest blessing I can receive is to hear that God has graciously used my words to speak His truth to someone else. When I hear that my work inspired someone to explore their own gift of writing, or that a reader’s granddaughter has read one of my books over and over, or that a teacher gave a copy of one of my books to a teen in a turbulent home situation—those are the moments when I realize how privileged I am to be able to write for the Lord, and those mean more than any award or recognition.
That’s what it’s all about! What’s next from you?
The Climbing Higher series will conclude with one final book next year—you can visit www.ashlynmckaylaohm.com to stay up to date on all my writing as well as to download exclusive bonus scenes from both of my published novels!
Thanks so much for sharing about your new book, Ashlyn. It sounds like a wonderful read, and I wish you great success!
For a chance to win a copy of #wherethewingsrise by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm, visit her interview on my blog by 9/12 and leave a comment! #amreading #giveaway #contemporaryfictionTweet
Join the conversation. Are you a contemporary fiction fan? What aspects of Ashlyn’s book sound interesting to you? Do you have any questions or comments for Ashlyn?
For a chance to win a copy of the book (ebook for international winner and winner’s choice of ebook or paperback for US winner), comment below by September 12!
Where the Wings Rise by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm
Click the book cover for purchase link. Use code “DEENA” for 10% off when you order from Ashlyn’s website.
After years of disastrous choices, Addisyn Miles has a second chance with the person she once betrayed—her older sister, Avery. Moving from Whistler, Canada, to Avery’s home in the Colorado Rockies seems like the perfect opportunity to not only rebuild her fragile relationship with her sister but also distance herself from the past she can’t forget. But adjusting to Avery’s life is harder than she expected, especially with her heart drawing her back to the chance at love that she left behind in Canada. When she begins helping her sister care for an injured hawk, Addisyn is forced to confront the fears that have left her just as wounded—or to allow her darkest enemy to sabotage her future.
As Avery Miles tends to the hawk’s broken wing, she prays for her sister to find healing as well. Her goal has always been to keep Addisyn safe, but her every attempt to hang onto her sister only drives them farther apart. As the common ground between the sisters continues to shrink, they’re suddenly blindsided by a looming threat from Addisyn’s past. Now, they must discover what it would truly take to find healing—before the broken edges of their stories separate them for good.
The second book in the Climbing Higher series, Where the Wings Rise is a story of the scars that keep us earthbound, the choices that lead to healing, and most importantly, the faith that allows us to always fly free.
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.
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