KBKL Spotlight On This Is Our Rainbow: Ashley Herring Blake

It’s Spotlight Time!

All month long we’re going to be chatting with a few of the awesome authors
behind the middle grade anthology:

THIS IS OUR RAINBOW

A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true–but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend’s mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.

From wind-breathing dragons to first crushes, This Is Our Rainbow features story after story of joyful, proud LGBTQIA+ representation. You will fall in love with this insightful, poignant anthology of queer fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories from authors including: Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Katherine Locke, Mariama J. Lockington, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aisa Salazar, and AJ Sass.

Today we’re chatting with one of the contributing authors, Ashley Herring Blake!

This is Ashley. Everyone say, “Hi, Ashley!”

Welcome to Kick-butt Kidlit, Ashley! Tell us about yourself!

I am an author, literary agent, and teacher living in coastal Georgia with my family. I’m a cat mom, tiny human mom, and love organizing my books by color. I also teach middle school writing.

What was your inspiration behind your contribution to THIS IS OUR RAINBOW?

One thing I love about writing middle grade is that it’s a time in life where everything not only feels new, it is new. With Sylvie and Jenna’s story, I wanted to explore those first crush feelings, but pair them with a sort of second-chance feel. There are so many tiny moments that happen to us when we’re growing up, moments that, in retrospect, might seem small, but when they are happening, and the ways in which they help form us, feel huge. For Sylvie, she had such a moment with Jenna in elementary school, but when Jenna returned in middle school, all of her feelings had changed. She had changed. And she had to decide if she was going to embrace that change or hang on to a past hurt. It’s a story about growing up, in all its mess and heartbreak and hope.

What’s your favorite line from your story in THIS IS OUR RAINBOW?

My favorite line (lines?) is actually the very last paragraph of the story: I don’t know what to say. Sometimes, there isn’t anything to say and no reason to try. I uncurl my fingers, and this time I don’t fight it. I reach out and take her hand. She lets me, lacing her fingers between mine and squeezing. Then we sit like that for the rest of ride, two queer girls—messy and mean, sad and sorry and hopeful—holding hands on top of the world.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading LIKE OTHER GIRLS by Britta Lundin right now. It’s about a queer girl in a very small, conservative town in Oregon, who decides to play football. It brilliant tackles internal misogyny, and the complicated dynamics of figuring out who you are in a small town–when who you are isn’t at all like everyone else. Highly recommend!

What is your best piece of kick-butt advice?

Well, I doubt it’s very kick-butt, and might even border on cliche, but “Eyes on your own paper” comes up in my own life almost daily, particularly as a creative. It’s so tempting to compare oneself to others–physcially, professionally, in terms of success or romance or general happiness. But at the end of the day, we can only live our own life, and in order to make it all that we want it to be, we have to let go of that comparison game.

Thank you so much for joining us, Ashley!

Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out THIS IS OUR RAINBOW!
It hits shelves on October 19th!

Cover Art by JesnCin
Cover Design by Sylvia Bi

Add THIS IS OUR RAINBOW on Goodreads!

Connect with Ashley on Twitter, Instagram, or through her website!

Click here to enter to win a copy of THIS IS OUR RAINBOW!
Contest ends Friday, October 29th at 11:59 pm EST

(There will be more opportunities to enter the giveaway with each spotlight post
so keep entering the draw!)

Thanks for reading!
The next KBKL Spotlight on This Is Our Rainbow post features: Lisa Bunker!

Don’t forget to check out our previous posts featuring:

Marieke Nijkamp

Eric Bell

Nicole Melleby