An Amazon Best Selling Novel – February 2013
“But the truth is this: not all stories of love end well. Some end badly, some end too soon, and some come to screeching halts at the hands of bad people. Some princes are predators, wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing that delight in the chase, the lure, and the slaughter. Sometimes the Kingdom is the no man’s land of a forgotten coastal town. And sometimes, the girl doesn’t get her happily and must simply live in the after. ”
– Excerpt from In The After
There is a reason fairy tales end when they do … because happily ever after is just the beginning of real life.
Once upon a time in the quaint, forgotten coastal town of Joyce, Washington Emmy Burns existed in the middle of an inconsequential life that resembled a small-town fairy tale; days filled with caring for her daughter Avery, running her small but thriving pottery store, married to the only man she had ever loved. But all of that changed when the fog rolled out one beautiful morning, leaving emptiness where Emmy had stood only the day before. She had seemingly and without a sound vanished into the thick misty air of the Pacific Northwest, taking with her a lifetime of secrets.
In the aftermath Stephen Burns is content telling the police his wife must have simply chosen to walk away from him and their daughter. But Sidney Ruth, Emmy’s closest friend, knows the truth. Sidney is the one person who had watched as the vines grew around the dark forest that was the Burn’s marriage, trapping Emmy inside and leaving everyone who loved her out.
Years of abuse has to led to this moment. As the days unfurl so do the secrets Emmy kept walled away, leaving the people of Joyce wondering: What really happened to Emmy Burns in her happily ever after?
-Back Cover Copy, In The After
Where to Buy Your Copy
In The After was pulled from sale in April of 2013.
The Natural Beginning
All stories start somewhere. Sometimes it’s a question, sometimes it’s an overheard conversation, sometimes it’s a news story, or conspiracy theory passed along. And sometimes, it’s a picture …
I was eleven years old the first time I saw the face of a battered woman. She was profile in a still picture, her eye blackened and bruised, her lip torn, her neck had the prints of finger tips running it’s length. I was horrified, but also (in a small but important way) mystified. I remember wondering who hurt this woman and what happened next?
It was an older picture, the hair-styles and clothing were both outdate. But for some reason my eleven year old mind couldn’t completely understand, my mother had kept it. Locked it away in her fire-proof lock box that I had jimmied open.
It would take another four years of wondering before I’d ask my mother about the stranger in the photo, seeking those two answers to my two all-important questions, and another year beyond that before she’d to patiently explain that the picture was one she’d taken and kept just incase.
There is a saying women like to exchange over cups of coffee or glasses of wine:
“If it didn’t happen to me, I know someone it did happen to.”
And the truth is this: that little quote is correct. I’m a woman, I have female friends, I’ve survived their heartbreaks and trudged through the trenches of their personal tragedies by their side. I’ve seen abusive relationships — no man has ever had to put his hands on me for me to understand the sort of pain that comes with realizing love isn’t always a beautiful, safe place. And I realize that my luck, of growing up in a home shrouded in love and then marrying a man who kept that tradition, was just that … luck.
I wrote In The After because, as a woman, a friend, as a daughter, and maybe someday as a mother, I believe that what lives in the dark needs to be brought out into the light. I learned that from my mother. We discussed that photo in a very real way. She shared with me the story that brought her childhood friend to that night when her husband beat her black and blue and why my mother took that photo as an insurance policy on her friend’s safety. But the greatest lesson she shared with me is this: That abuse is not hopeless. And that is also why it was so important to me that In The After be published in October, National Domestic Violence month.
It’s my hope, as the writer, that this book will inspire bravery. Though the character of Emmy Burns is factious, the crimes committed against her are not. I sincerely hope that the resources in the back of the book will be exhausted and women who are victimized will take one brave step forward.
I can still remember the first day I sat down to write In The After. It was the fifth of January, an unseasonably warm winter day. I was staring at the wall, my feet up on the desk, toes dancing as I listening to Florence + The Machine’s Shake It Out and like a puzzle, all the pieces came together. Suddenly I knew exactly who Sidney and Emmy were, what mattered to them, and where their lives were going. It was a burst of inspiration that blew my mind. My fingers flew over the keyboard trying to keep up with my inner monologue as I conceptualized the first few lines that would go on to be a major lynchpin of In The After and the passage that now exists as the excerpt you can read above. I listened to Shake It Out on loop, and last time I checked my iTunes account, I’d written to that song a staggering 152 times.
Slowly, I added more music to the play-list and a personal soundtrack was created. Writing can be a lonely stretch of time lived only in your head and expressed through your fingertips, music makes it easier.
Here is what I was listening too:
Arms – Christina Perri
Jar of Hearts – Christina Perri
Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
Time After Time – Javier Colon
Born To Die – Lana Del Ray
Going North – Missy Higgins
Uprising – Muse
Heaven – O.A.R
White Horse – Taylor Swift
Safe & Sound – Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars
Never Is a Promise – Fiona Apple
The Cave – Mumford and Son
The Story – Brandi Carlile
**A special thanks to the songsters and songstresses and their beautiful, inspiring lyrics which helped me stitch together my second novel. This soundtrack is, of course, unofficial.**
In The Land of In The After
Every fairy tale I ever read as a child circulated around a Kingdom. The setting was often the background noise to some spectacular circumstance; war, love, loss, enchanted spells, magic. When I think of them now as an adult, all those stories I read when I was younger, I still envision the gothic stone castles and hills of green, forests thick with vines and thorny trees. So it seemed only natural when I wrote a retelling of my own, I’d pick my Kingdom very, very carefully.
The original version of In The After, in the first draft, was set in an entirely different Pacific Northwestern town. But in the spring of 2012 I had to be sure it was the right place for this story to unfold. So we packed our suitcases and headed west for eight days of isolation. We spent that time driving up, over, down and around the Olympic Peninsula in an Kia Optima hybrid. We walked the rainforest and drank lots of good coffee, I took hundreds of pictures of things no one else cares about; buildings and store fronts, churches and police stations, random homes and hotel exteriors, the local newspaper, alleyways even got several shots in wide angle lens. What I was doing felt important: I was building a town in my head so that when I came home, I could tell readers about the Kingdom.
We passed through Joyce on our way up to Neah Bay. Joyce, Washington in real life is just as it appears in the novel: a very remote, very small town. It’s not a destination but rather a pass through, the highway bisects the town straight through the middle. I loved it … loved it for all the reasons most people wouldn’t notice it. Joyce became very important as I pulled the strings of the novel back at home.
Then, as it so happened, a week before the novel went to press, I was sitting at my desk hoping I’d done this story the justice it deserved when the thought hit me … what completed fairy tales for the reader? Was it the prose or something more? What made these sorts of stories visceral for a reader? Illustrations. Of course illustrations! But, the catch is, Contemporary Fiction rarely lends itself to pretty little drawings on each page. With that in mind I began the mad dash to find something magical of my own.
I met Diane of ElizaJane Ink Studio on Etsy. Her talent brought life to my words. I sent her a few photos I’d taken of the area where the book was set and the key-word “whimsical.” She sent a map to my inbox so perfect, so amazing, so on-the-nose correct, I was blown back and away. She drew my Kingdom and by doing so, had given a gift to me (the writer) and you (the reader). She allowed us all to get carried away in the story; to see what Sidney experienced and understand the roads of Emmy’s well-traveled life.
Open a copy of In The After and you will now see the map before you read even a single word of the novel, which is the way it should be. It’s beautiful, but more than that, it’s an invitation into the land of In The After. The Kingdom of this novel is a character in and of itself and it’s a beautiful one.
Praise For In The After
“This book will rip you apart emotionally, and that’s what makes it so incredibly powerful and one of the best books I’ve ever read!” – Ashley of Book Nook
“In The After plays to Ashley’s strengths … The Milestone Tapes proved me wrong, challenged my preconceptions and told me, in no uncertain terms, that Ashley was brilliant, her stories were tissue-snatchingly wonderful and that I’d be the first to snatch up a copy of all of her books whenever they’re released. In The After vindicated this choice.” – David Adams, author of Lacuna: Demons of the Void and other novels.
“Ashley Mackler-Paternostro paints a painfully accurate portrait of a domestic violence victim whose own prince turned out to be something different from what she envisioned.” – Ivana of Willing To See Less
“Once again I am not sure where to even start with this book. I loved this book and I am not sure how to even put into words how I feel about it. Her writing right from the start grabs my attention and I can’t put the book down until I am finished with the it.” – Margaret Tidwell of The World As I See It
“The tale unfolded quite slowly, until the punch of an ending, which I NEVER saw coming. But I liked it this way…years of friendship can’t be retold in just a few chapters.” – Carrie Ardion of Sweet Southern Home