• Ashley Christiano

My YA Fantasy and Gearing Up for Author Mentor Match

Updated: Feb 2


The Girl Who Sees Beyond started out as a series of names and challenges and dramatic events scrawled on notecards. From there, it moved toward a random assortment of scenes that I wrote in minutes, and then had to read out loud to a group of strangers that I somehow felt comfortable crying around and sharing my most vulnerable thoughts with.

It started on a farm in Tuscany. At a writing workshop. On the most inspirational trip I've ever taken.

Two and half years and three drafts later, here I am! Feeling good about my work, but also knowing there are still more things to tweak, and fix, and cut (don't make me do it! But really, help!).

The Girl Who Sees Beyond was really born out of my love of two things: Reality TV competition shows and all things mystically woo-woo. From ANTM to that tarot reading I had in New Orleans that I swear changed my life. Project Runway to a really weird chakra class a friend and I suffered through. All of those moments of binge-watching and self-care culminating in a YA fantasy about a reality TV show for teen psychics.

So here's the pitch, AMM friends!

Belinda, Celina, Sophia, and Lola all auditioned for Beyond for different reasons: Belinda to escape from the suffocation of her mom’s hoarding; Celina to find her tribe, one she’s never managed to find in middle of nowhere Michigan; Sophia to get away from the burning brightness of her twin sister’s perfection; and Lola to represent a community of women long marginalized and despised.

As the competition ramps up, they’ll each face the triumphs and pitfalls of living life in the spotlight. And they’ll all face one question: Is become The Girl Who Sees Beyond worth wearing the mask the world of reality TV is determined to give them?

I've always loved to read. But it wasn't until I randomly decided that journalism school would be cool that I realized how much I liked to write, and that I was actually pretty good at it, too! And while I ultimately didn't become a journalist (I worked in the business side of the biz for a bit), I did continue to write. My first novel attempt began during a really boring temp job at an industrial wire factory I held down between undergrad and grad school. They gave me my own office, but I was only busy from 7AM to 1PM and then not again until 3PM. Thus was born my urban fantasy novel set in Chicago. I still think about finishing that one. Maybe someday.

Then came Dangerous Dreamers, born of my one-time obsession with interpreting the symbolism of dreams and my love of the word archipelago. It took me four years and one trip to Bermuda, but I finished it. I gave the manuscript (a whopping 110K words) to my now boyfriend on our second date. He'd read it by our third. But the dystopian genre I'd written had had it's heyday, and I realized that I could continue working on it, but maybe 2017 just wasn't the right time for that project.

Around that time, I also started a fun new freelance project that involved writing monthly horoscopes! Doing those regularly gave me an anchor within the astrology world that continuously inspired new ideas and future projects.

Enter The Girl Who Sees Beyond. Lighter and more fun than the other attempts. And with the benefit of, dare I say it, the wisdom I'd gained writing the first two. And I think that willingness to learn, to keep writing even when I've taken a wrong turn, and my recognition that, while I love my project SO MUCH, it could certainly benefit from a more experienced eye of a mentor, is what would make me a great mentee!

Cheers! And good luck to you all.

#writing

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