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Interview with Ashlyn McKayla Ohm

Hi, Ashlyn. Let me just say, congratulations on your new book, to be released tomorrow (August 29, 2023). I have enjoyed perusing your website and getting to know you a bit there. Please tell us more about you and your work.

What is your genre and who is your audience? How did you choose them?
While I’ve written in a variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction, my current series is contemporary Christian fiction. I love writing stories with relatable characters, complicated choices, and nuanced relationships. I’ve always been captivated by the idea that stories set in our “ordinary” world can help people see that world—and the One Who made it—in a different light. It’s here, in the grace and grit of our normal lives, where stories can show us how to navigate the messy choices and relationships and frustrations we face as well as how to recognize the wonder and beauty that still exists so abundantly in the everyday,

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in between? Please explain.
Plotter vs. pantser…this is the writers’ version of a personality test, isn’t it? Haha! I would have to admit that I am a die-hard plotter. I create detailed outlines, spend hours finessing my characters and shaping their motivations, and conduct massive amounts of research before I ever type the first sentence of a new manuscript. Planning ahead helps me be more organized and productive when I do start writing…unless I’ve lost myself in overthinking, which is a different kind of problem.

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
I have a busy schedule that changes seasonally, so my routine will usually shift month by month or even week by week. The way I organize my time also depends on what stage of a project I’m in (drafting, revising, editing, marketing, etc.). My quirkiest habit is probably that I prefer to stand up to write; moving helps my ideas flow more freely. My house has large windows that overlook peaceful acreage, so I find it very relaxing to work at a standing desk in front of the window so that I can rest my eyes with the natural scenery and wildlife outside.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
The biggest challenge probably lies in the fact that writing is always important but often not urgent. When my schedule was overflowing and multiple tasks were setting fire to my to-do list, it used to be all too tempting to shuffle writing time to the next day, the next week, the next…you get the picture. Now, however, I fiercely protect my writing time by giving it the respect and dignity it’s due as my career. Just as I show up on time for my other job, work diligently while I’m there, and postpone distractions until I’m out of the office, I have to do the same for my writing.

What do you see as the most significant moment in your publication journey?
It’s hard to choose one moment as the most significant, because there have been so many meaningful points along this journey. However, I think perhaps the most impactive moment for me was when I received the publication offer for my first book, A Year in the Woods, in the summer of 2020. At that time, I was undergoing serious upheavals in my personal life that had left me confused, wounded, and crying out desperately to a God who had seemingly forgotten me. Receiving an out-of-the-blue, divine-appointment invitation to publish my first book was an overwhelming display of God’s faithfulness and reminded me all over again that He has such amazing plans not only for me but for my writing as well.

What literary character is most like you?
There are so many wonderful characters in whom I can see glimpses of myself! However, I feel a strong sense of kinship with Elnora Comstock in A Girl of the Limberlost. Like Elnora, I’m most at home out in nature, I’ve always had an independent streak, and I love learning. Another character whom I’m convinced must be a secret literary sister is Jill from The Silver Chair and The Last Battle—another outdoorsy girl with strong leadership abilities, except Jill also has a cool knife and gets to fight to save Narnia! (I may or may not have spent many hours of childhood reenacting Jill’s scenes in my backyard.)

If you could have coffee with an author, dead or alive, whose work you admire, who would that be? What would you ask him or her?
I would love to have a conversation with Madeleine L’Engle! Her writing ability dazzles me, and her words nurture, strengthen, and electrify my faith every time I open one of her books, no matter how often I’ve read it before. I so admire the way she is fearless about questioning faith yet still so solid on the truth of Scripture. It would be a privilege to speak with her about truth, stories, and the intersection where those two kindle a light that flames out into the dark.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
As I’ve already mentioned, I love the outdoors and am an avid hiker, runner, and birdwatcher. Along with my awesome parents, I’ve visited dozens of epic natural wonders all over the United States, and I love to paint my stories against these backdrops. For example, my current series, Climbing Higher, is set in lovely Estes Park, Colorado, where I visit several times a year. The splendor and majesty of the Rocky Mountains both challenges and inspires my characters as they climb higher not only in a physical sense but in a spiritual one as well.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
I just finished the latest book by one of my all-time favorite authors, Katie Powner! The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass is a truly beautiful work of forgiveness and regret and redemption, and it’s the kind of fiction I aspire to write. Other reads I’m looking forward to diving into are Set the Stars Alight (Amanda Dykes), The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery (Amanda Cox), and Cry of the Raven (Morgan Busse).

Tell us something about yourself that is not on your website.
I’ve played piano for years, but last year I taught myself how to play the guitar. I wouldn’t call myself proficient at it yet, but I’m still enjoying the learning process and finding it to be a relaxing way to have fun (and when I hit writer’s block, it’s a great way to distract my brain from circling those pesky plot holes!).

What did you learn along the way to publication that made it click for you? Or had the biggest impact on your success?
I think one of the most crucial lessons I had to learn throughout the publication process was to make peace with rejection. Whether it’s a less-than-stellar review or a closed door that you really hoped would open, every author faces times when discouragement is the default. While I’m certainly not perfect at this process, I do my best to not break stride when I face disappointment and instead remind myself that God is directing my path and pulling me onward.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
The themes I’ve explored in this book include facing the past to find freedom, seeking healing through faith, and surrendering white-knuckle control in exchange for gentle grace. However, I believe part of the beauty of a story is that it will leave different fingerprints on every reader. It’s my prayer that the Holy Spirit would use my words to deliver personal encouragement and truth to every person who reads this book.

Finish this sentence: “Every author should/should know_________.”
Every author should read! It’s very easy to become so lost in our own tales that we forget to revel in the stories of others. But reading another’s work is one of the best refreshers to rest our minds when our creativity becomes clogged. More importantly, reading with discernment and attention allows us to notice stylistic choices, plot elements, and character types that speak to us, which will hone our own focus and elevate our writing to the next level. There are wonderful craft books available, but in the words of writing coach Abbie Emmons, the best teacher of story is story itself.

Tell us a little about your newest book.
Where the Wings Rise is, as I’ve said, contemporary Christian fiction set in the mountains. The storyline follows two sisters recently reunited after years apart. As they struggle to build common ground again, they find themselves part of a mission to care for an injured hawk. Now they must confront the past that has left them just as wounded…or allow their darkest enemy to sabotage their future.

It was a joy to write each sister’s unique perspective and explore the nuances of their turbulent relationship, and I especially love how the magic of autumn in the Colorado Rockies creates a sweeping artistry to the story. And I love the hawk, because hawks are truly epic.

Where can readers find you?
You can stay up-to-date with all of my writing on my website,, as well as enjoy some special bonus features there for Where the Wings Rise (like character cards and a downloadable prequel scene) that you won’t find anywhere else. I’m also on Instagram as @wildernessashlyn. I’d love to see you there!

Thank you, Ashlyn. We wish you all the best on your book release tomorrow!
Terri Thompson is an author, foodie, nature lover and philanthropist. She loves walks along the beach at sunset, dancing in the living room with her grandchildren, the beauty of flavors expertly combined, and the joy of words creatively knit together to bring truth to life. She blogs about writing, life and inspiration at To learn about the non-profits supported by the H. G. Clay Foundation go to

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