Monday, November 30, 2020

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley @KristyDAlley @XpressoTours

The Ballad of Ami Miles
Kristy Dallas Alley
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: December 1st 2020
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult

A teen girl on a quest to find her long-lost mother finds herself on a journey of self-discovery in Kristy Dallas Alley’s moving YA debut, The Ballad of Ami Miles.

Raised in isolation at Heavenly Shepherd, her family’s trailer-dealership-turned-survival compound, Ami Miles knows that she was lucky to be born into a place of safety after the old world ended and the chaos began. But when her grandfather brings home a cold-eyed stranger, she realizes that her “destiny” as one of the few females capable of still bearing children isn’t something she’s ready to face.

With the help of one of her aunts, she flees the only life she’s ever known and sets off on a quest to find her long-lost mother (and hopefully a mate of her own choosing). But as she journeys, Ami discovers many new things about the world…and about herself.

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Interview with Kristy Dallas Alley

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

For an excellent memoir about growing up isolated in a strict religious family and then learning to live in the outside world, check out Tara Westover’s Educated. The whole time I was reading it, I saw so many parallels to Ami’s story and journey.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

I grew up in a conservative fundamentalist church and family, although it was nowhere near as extreme or isolated as what Ami is born into. By the time I entered my teen years, I was heavily questioning a lot of the ideas and values I had been taught, and I have only continued to move further away from them in adulthood and in raining my own children.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

I wanted to write a story about a girl who has to choose between fulfilling a role that is thrust upon her or defining her own life and happiness through her own choices, even if that means she risks losing the love and support of her family. I hoped I could send my character on a journey that would force her out of her comfort zone and make her see the uncomfortable truth about some of her unexamined beliefs. And I think I was able to do that.

Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

As someone who really retreated into books as a source of comfort and sanity growing up, I hope that teen readers will relate to Ami and feel like this book gives them a lot to think about. The book deals with some challenging and even controversial ideas, and you may not make the same choices Ami makes or agree with all some of her thoughts or decisions. We are living in a time where people are very polarized and we really struggle to see things from each others’ point of view. But I hope seeing those choices and ideas through Ami’s eyes helps you understand and empathize with her and others like her.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Ami felt very real to me, and I loved pulling her out of isolation and making her have some fun! She goes through struggles and emotional growth, but she also makes friends for the first time in her life and falls in love. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take moments of joy wherever I can get them right now. I tried to write a book that would be fun and pleasurable to read while still tackling some heavier topics.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

I have some ideas but I’m not really in a place to talk about them yet. I’m also a high school librarian, which in the time of COVID means I’m also doing a lot of tech support for students and teachers, so that’s taking up a lot of my time and personal bandwidth right now. But I do have ideas, and I feel confident that I’ll get back into a writing groove soon.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing poetry by about fourth grade, and I was a creative writing major in college with a focus on poetry. I also took some fiction workshops in college, But this is the first full-length novel I ever attempted.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Ballad of Ami Miles?

Ami is a teen girl who has grown up in complete isolation in her family’s religious compound in a post-fertility-apocalypse world and has never met another child. When she runs away to escape forced marriage and find the mother she thought was dead, she discovers a lot of unexpected truths about the world and her own family. She also unexpectedly falls for a girl named jessie, even though she has never heard the word ‘gay” or known that same-sex relationships were a possibility. Jessie is warm and magnetic and funny and I think she’s as irresistible for readers as she is for Ami. There’s also a small group of other teens who have grown up together in the place where Ami goes looking for her mom.

If you could spend the day with one of the characters from The Ballad of Ami Miles who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.

Honestly I feel like I’ve spent many days with Ami in the process of writing this book. She really lived in my head, even when I left her wandering in the woods for two years while I figured out how to write the next section of the book! I’d probably choose Jessie because I love to sit around a campfire and listen to people play the guitar and sing and tell stories.

Author Bio:

Kristy Dallas Alley is a high school librarian in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, four kids, three cats, and an indeterminate number of fish. She studied creative writing at Rhodes College in another lifetime and holds a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis. In an ideal world, she would do nothing but sit on a beach and read every single day of her life, but in reality she’s pretty happy reading on her front porch, neglecting the gardens she enthusiastically plants each spring, and cooking huge meals regardless of the number of people around to eat them. The Ballad of Ami Miles is her debut novel.

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Giselle said...

Thanks for being on the tour! :)