GENRE: Fiction (Commercial/Psychological)
About Ava Droski
Ava is a graduate of the University of Windsor and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree. She lives and writes in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, where she also owns a music school and teaches piano, voice, and early childhood music. ‘Photos of a Wren’ is her debut novel.
To get to know the author better, we asked Ava a quick round of questions, and here are her answers:
Q1: What inspired your debut novel, Photos of a Wren?
I began writing ‘Photos of a Wren’ ten years ago and never had any expectations or goals to publish. I always enjoyed writing and storytelling, but it was something that, unfortunately, is met with criticism and negativity when expressed as a possible career or post-secondary education path. Because of this, I decided to go into Nursing after high school.
After a year in the program, I came to the realization that I was making a mistake–the arts were calling to me and a piece of me was missing when I wasn’t playing music every day or writing. I decided to take a year off and switch from Nursing to a Bachelor of Arts in Music. During my gap year, I started writing ‘Photos’.
I was feeling inspired during this time in my life to tell a story about uncertainty. Although the characters in the novel, Dean and Ren, are faced with grief, I drew from my own personal experience of, in a way, mourning the life of which I decided to discontinue. I was feeling such a sense of guilt for “quitting” my Bachelor of Science and I kept much of these feelings bottled up. The story for ‘Photos’ really just flowed through my fingers at the keyboard–Dean and Ren’s story told itself to me.
Once I finished the novel (ten years later!), writing on a less-than-part-time schedule, my husband pushed me to publish and get my story out into the world. I’m so happy he did.
Q2: On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?
Now that ‘Photos’ is published and has been receiving great reviews and feedback from readers, I am on a much stricter writing schedule than I previously mentioned. I schedule 3-5 hours of writing time daily. I am also a small business owner, but scheduling writing into my daily workday is a priority.
Q3: How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
With ‘Photos’, much of the emotional reactions were drawn from my personal experiences. As I was working on final rewrites and drafts, I found it difficult at times to read how I made certain characters (no spoilers!) react in certain situations, or how they treat other characters because of bottled-up guilt. But I wanted to keep the characters as “real” as possible, reacting in ways that all of us might sometimes when carrying heavy emotions. I think, as an author, it’s my job to portray the human reaction in the rawest way. I want readers to relate to each character in some way. So emotional impact, for me as I’m writing, is something I welcome. I want to feel connected to the characters–and each scene–as I’m writing them.
Q4: What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
I wouldn’t exactly refer to her work as under-appreciated, but I’m a supporter of indie, “lesser-known” authors, and the ‘Tales of Pern Coen’ series by Hannah E. Carey is one of my favourite book series. I think her work deserves more recognition and appreciation amongst lovers of the fantasy genre.
Q5: What is your favourite childhood book?
This is a great question I’ve never been asked before! I grew up reading the classic children’s books (The Berenstain Bears, Arthur, anything my Robert Munsch). But I fell in love with literature and storytelling when I read ‘Tuck Everlasting’ by Natalie Babbitt (I think I was eleven or twelve years old).
Q6: Which is your favourite season to write in, and why?
I love writing in the winter. I feel more motivated to sit down at my computer and write when the weather outside is frightful (sorry, I’m also a musician–I had to add the little musical pun!). But it’s very true. There’s nothing better than sitting down at my laptop, wearing my coziest sweater on a snowy day with a cup of tea.
Q7: Do you feel like it’s most important to have A) Strong characters B) Mind-blowing Plot twists or C) Epic settings?
I write stories that are character-driven, diving deep into emotional journeys. I think this question is all relative to the genre! If I’m reading fantasy, I want mind-blowing plot twists and epic settings. If I’m reading commercial or psychological fiction (like ‘Photos of a Wren’), I want to feel emotionally connected to the characters–so they need to be strong and well developed.
Q8: What has influenced you the most as a writer?
Perspective influences me the most. I think it’s amazing how stories can make you feel so strongly about something or some characters, and how every reader comes away from a story with a different interpretation. As an author, I want readers to gain perspective and question things. For every story I write, I work to challenge the reader’s perspective on themes or characters.
Q9: What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently finishing up the ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ series by Sarah J. Maas (I’m on the third book: ‘A Court of Wings and Ruin’).
Q10: Are you working on anything else at the moment?
Yes! I am currently working on my second novel. This novel is not a sequel or in any way attached to ‘Photos of a Wren’. I can’t say much more… But I am very excited about this new project; I will be dipping my toes into historical fiction for this one.
Photos of a Wren
Dean is a young firefighter from Halifax, who, in an attempt to seek refuge from his disturbing past, escapes to Sun Row Harbour – a small fishing town in southern Nova Scotia.
Although seemingly mundane, Dean soon discovers the town lodges an ominous cloud of misfortune and is home to Ren Kyett, the girl who survived two devastating and fatal accidents.
When Dean learns more about Ren, her family, and the suspicious tragedies that stalk her, he realizes that she may not be who she seems. Her presence ignites a spark within him, provoking his past to return to torture him.
“Photos of a Wren will captivate any reader. Again and again we are left puzzled by the secrecy of unfolding mysteries. The story is gripping as the pieces fall into place. Ava Droski is a brilliant author who has created characters with depth and intrigue, driven by inner conflict. It’s impossible not to connect with one or more of them as they are haunted by the past, encompassed by their own guilt and anger while fighting to find the strength to carry on. I could have been in a movie theatre, caught up in the emotion and reality of each scene, as the story unfolded and we discover the threads that bind it all together. Unpredictable…Emotional…Brilliant!”
-Lynn McLaughlin, award-winning and bestselling author
A green Volkswagen was parked in the middle of the road. A woman stood beside it, frantically waving her cell phone above her head, calling attention to the fire crew. She was attempting to speak through hysteric gasps. Joe approached her earnestly.
“I called you. Two cars – over – two cars – I heard the crash – the rocks – I was just leaving my son’s house up there – I was visiting my son up there – I was leaving and I heard the horrible crash – I drove down here to see what happened, if anyone had been hurt – and -”
The woman was frantic. Her cheeks and eyelashes glistened with tears and it appeared as though she had been pulling at her hair.
Joe interrupted her, “Ma’am, I need you to calm down and stay by your car. Do not leave the side of your car. Do you understand?”
The woman nodded and clasped her cell phone tightly against her chest.
There was another witness on the scene: a short, stubby man with glasses. He was sitting on the hood of his Taurus. He sprinted to Joe at his beckoning. “She’s my mother. I just got down here a couple minutes before you guys showed up. I live in that last house up there,” he pointed down the road. “She called me. She was shaken and told me she saw an accident, so I walked up a little bit and saw the car up on the rocks just ahead.” He pointed into the darkness toward the beach. “Just at the edge ov- ”
“I need you to stay with your mother,” Joe interrupted, “the two of you need to stay by your vehicles. Do you understand?”
“Yes, yes of course, Sir.”
Joe called to Dean and Ryan. He pointed forward to the beach. “Go. Now.”
They sprinted down the road, leaving Joe and the witnesses behind. A single, dimly lit antique streetlamp greeted them as they reached the edge of the pavement. A weak circle of light floated and flickered innocently against the blackness. The bulb illuminated the surroundings just enough to make the edge of the road instantly visible to emerging motorists. Just beyond the streetlamp, a car had crashed plumb through the centre of a rocky knoll. The car was encased in a temporary tomb of weeds, rocks, and boulders; hundreds of tiny, shattered pieces of glass shrapnel sparkled on the pavement in the flickering light, the ocean roared thunderous just beyond.
Dean and Ryan dashed to the vehicle. Glass crunched beneath their heavy bunker boots as they each chose a flank and climbed the knoll. They moved adeptly and knelt on their haunches by the driver and passenger windows. The ocean continued its midnight howl.
They sprawled on their stomachs atop the knoll. They dug at the rocks and cast away debris that blocked their view inside the car. Dean crawled to the front of the vehicle and peered through the shattered windshield.
The car was empty.
Ryan glanced over his shoulder and scanned the road. “Shouldn’t there be two cars? The woman back there said there was another car – where is it? And where’s the driver of this one? Out there somewhere?” He pointed to the beach beyond the knoll.
Dean rose to his feet and extended his arms laterally, maintaining his balance on the rocks. He turned his flashlight inside the car once more and searched for any sign of movement within.
Ryan sighed. “There’s no one here. What the hell?”
Dean squinted in the darkness. The ocean stirred angrily; the moon cast a faint glow atop the restless waves. He shone his flashlight on the beach for any sign of movement – or another car.
Then he saw it.
The other car.
Dean hurled himself off the peak of the knoll and sprinted across the sand. He dashed impetuously; his face and body dripped with perspiration beneath his helmet and bunker gear. He ripped off his helmet and tossed it in the sand. Ryan followed closely behind.
Thank you, Ava, for participating in our indie author spotlight blog it was lovely getting to know you and we wish you all the best on your upcoming work in progress.
If you’d like to stay up to date with Ava’s writing, you can find details on her website and the social media links below.