Author Spotlight: Interview With Ashley Franklin

Salaam, friends! I’m excited to share the next author interview for #RamadanReadathon 2020.

As you know, the readathon is themed around the anthology Once Upon An Eid, so I wanted to spotlight as many of its contributors as possible during the month. I’m pleased to announce that the next author from the anthology to join me is none other than Ashley Franklin!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Ashley Franklin author photoAshley Franklin is an African-American Muslim writer, mother, and adjunct college professor. She received her M.A. from the University of Delaware and B.A. from Albright College, both in English Literature.

She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her debut picture book, Not Quite Snow White (HarperCollins) was published in 2019. Her short story, Creative Fixes, is included in the Once Upon An Eid (2020) anthology.

You can follow her on Twitter: @DifferentAshley.

ABOUT ONCE UPON AN EID


once-upon-an-eid-s-k-ali-aisha-saeed-coverOnce Upon An Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.

THE INTERVIEW


Salaam, Ashley! Thank you so much for joining us! To begin with, could you quickly introduce yourself?

AF: Wa alaikum as salaam! I’m the author of Not Quite Snow White, which is a picture book that’s illustrated by Ebony Glenn. Right now, like a lot of parents, I’m home-schooling my kids. In addition to that, I’m a college adjunct professor and work part-time writing social media content.

As far as my writing life goes, I honestly squeeze it in when I can these days. I aspire to create characters with big hearts that kids, particularly Black kids, can relate to.

Your short story in Once Upon An Eid is all about Creative Fixes. Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

AF: The inspiration for Creative Fixes came from bits of my own life. I came to Islam later in life, so I have vivid memories of what it’s like being at the masjid and feeling out of place because of everything about the religion and the many different cultures of people who embrace Islam all being new to me.

Like Makayla, I am also anxious in social situations (I’ve just become better at hiding it.) Growing up, my family was not always financially secure. We sometimes shopped at thrift stores and did what we had to do to make it. My parents made sacrifices, more than I’m sure I will ever know, but they tried their best to make sure that our happiness was not one of the sacrifices that were made.

For me, it was important that I captured an authentic representation of a picture-perfect Eid that comes about as a result of what parents do behind the scenes in order to make the holiday special. It was also important to depict some of the anxiety that goes into wanting a perfect day and into being accepted.

I love that! As a writer, what are the creative fixes that you use when you’re struggling to come up with ideas?

AF: I am fortunate in that I don’t have this problem. My children are so animated that they’re a constant source of ideas. I will say that I watch cartoons and read other picture books for inspiration.

Creative Fixes was my first attempt at Middle Grade, so I fully relied on what was familiar to me.

What makes this anthology so great is that it highlights how everyone experiences Eid in a different way. What does Eid usually look like for you? Do you have any favourite traditions?

AF: Eid is very family-centred for my family. My kids are still young, so we don’t have many consistent traditions yet, but my husband and I do try to have our boys be very hands-on—from making decorations to helping make a menu of what they’d like to eat. We want them to know that their voice matters and this is THEIR holiday.

And finally, what are your favourite books written by Muslim authors? Which books are you looking forward to reading soon?

AF: Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow is one of my favorite picture books.

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali is on my list to read because I hear it’s nothing but amazing (I just haven’t gotten around to it yet because I’m always picture book focused.)

I’ve heard exactly the same thing! Thank you so much for joining us, Ashley, and for taking the time to answer these questions.

Once Upon An Eid is out now. Order the book at an indie bookstore near you, and don’t forget to add it on Goodreads.

For more books by this author, check out her debut picture book, Not Quite Snow White.

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