Please join me in welcoming Ashley Clark to the blog today to chat about her debut novel, The Dress Shop on King Street! (and don’t you just love that cover?!?)
Ashley Clark (www.ashleyclarkbooks.com) writes romantic women’s fiction set in the South. With a master’s degree in creative writing, Ashley teaches literature and writing courses at the University of West Florida. Ashley has been an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers for almost a decade. She lives with her husband, son, and two rescued Cocker Spaniels off Florida’s Gulf Coast. When she’s not writing, she’s rescuing stray animals, dreaming of Charleston, and drinking all the English breakfast tea she can get her hands on.
THE DRESS SHOP ON KING STREET
SERIES: Heirloom Secrets #1
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline Fiction / Romance
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2020
Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.
In 1946, Millie Middleton–the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman–boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.
Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.
Hi Ashley! Welcome to the blog!
Ashley: Winter! We live on Florida’s Gulf Coast, so winter is one of the most beautiful times of year. Also, I love the magic of the holiday season as the temperatures outside change and the Christmas lights go up!
Carrie: Christmas lights are just the best – especially in THIS year when we all need more cheer 🙂
Ashley: Always dogs. Like, give me allllll the dogs. Both of my dogs are rescues, and I am a huge advocate for pet adoption. While I can’t pass by a cat without petting it, I just don’t think anything compares to the faithful companionship of a dog. I was actually thinking just the other day that dogs’ unrelenting kindness toward us is something we can all learn from.
Carrie: yessssss you speak truth, girl!
Ashley: Tea! I love the smell of coffee but have never liked the taste. I drink a cup of English Breakfast every morning.
Carrie: I feel the same way about coffee but I don’t like tea either, no matter how much I try to lol
Ashley: Print for me! While I do enjoy ebooks from time to time, I think there’s something magical about the tactile aspect of holding and smelling a book.
Carrie: I read mostly on ebooks now because it reduces eye strain (yay for being able to enlarge the text lol) but I still love owning all the print books so I can hug them from time to time 😉
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Ashley: Let’s see… what would my superpower be? Maybe collecting large stacks of books all over my house—ha! I’ve got enough inventory for a small independent bookstore around here.
Carrie: i totally relate to this – as evidenced by the following picture of ALL THE BOOK BOXES in our newly-moved-into house. Like… all the boxes you see in this picture are of books. #noshame
Q: When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Ashley: Oh, I love bookstores so much, especially if they are indies! I always find myself drawn to the fancy pens and stationery sections of bookstores, but I would say the very first thing I check is to see whether the store has a rare book section. There’s nothing like the treasure-hunt feeling of discovering a rare book that was waiting just for you! My favorite indie bookstore, Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, has the best rare book section I’ve found to date.
Carrie: ooo i love the name of that store! And rare books are so fun to discover!
Q: If I asked your characters to describe YOU as an author, what would they say?
Ashley: Oh, fun question! I think Millie would like my tendency to see the story behind everything I encounter, whether it’s vintage clothes or an old home, but she would also say I’m a little too cautious by nature. She would like my appreciation for swing dancing and 1940s music. Harper would appreciate my collection of vintage-style shoes.
Carrie: great answer!
Q: Some authors like to hide little things in their stories. Is there anything you have hidden in The Dress Shop on King Street?
Ashley: Yes! Peter’s character is very loosely inspired by a dear friend of ours named Ed Grimball, whose walking tours of Charleston are legendary. Look him up if you’re ever in Charleston! I had to give Peter a walking tour hat and Polo that looked like Ed. And Millie’s boardinghouse is inspired by the most charming business in Point Clear, Alabama called the Punta Clara Kitchen. Some of the details about Millie’s house are a nod to the old house that houses the candy kitchen.
Carrie: oh i love that – how fun!
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from The Dress Shop on King Street?
Ashley: When I wrote this novel, I had been writing for seven years with repeated rejections and had finally come to a point where I wondered if I had heard from God incorrectly about this whole writing thing. I told Him I would never give up writing, but I didn’t know if I could take the heartache of rejection any longer, and He took me to the book of Ezekiel and the passage about dry bones. I sensed Him telling me that He had put the bones together up to that point, but the reason I felt dissatisfied was because there was more to the promise, a second commandment to speak to the breath of that dream. And so I leaned into the rejection, and it was then I realized the whole book is really about Millie holding on to the promises of God in her life, and the power of those promises to resurrect dry dreams from the ground. I hope readers come away challenged to take up their own dry dreams and allow God to breathe life into those as well, because with God, no matter how big a dream feels, it’s never really gone.
Carrie: so beautiful ♥
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Ashley: Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a blast! The Dress Shop on King Street is actually the first of a three-book series, so keep an eye out for the next novel Paint and Nectar which releases in May 2021!
Ashley Clark is offering a print copy of The Dress Shop on King Street to one of my readers! (US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark?