Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Interview: The Milestone Tapes by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro

Original Title: The Milestone Tapes
Author: Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
Published Date: March 13th 2012
Genre: Young-adult
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Jenna Chamberland never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. That is, until she realized that her life was ending after a three-year battle against breast cancer. Now, all she really wants is more time.

With 4,320 hours left to live, Jenna worries for her loved ones and what she knows awaits them on the other side: Gabe will have to make the slip from husband to widower, left alone to raise their seven-year-old daughter; Mia will be forced to cope with life without her mother. In a moment of reflection, Jenna decides to record a set of audiocassettes — The Milestone Tapes – leaving her voice behind as a legacy for her daughter.

Nine years later, Mia is a precocious sixteen-year-old and her life is changing all around, all she wants is her mother. Through the tapes, Jenna’s voice returns to teach Mia the magic of life, her words showing her daughter how to spread her wings and embrace the coming challenges with humor, grace and hope.

THE MILESTONE TAPES is the journey of love between a parent and child, and of the bond that holds them when life no longer can.


Ashley Mackler-Paternostro was born in Naperville, Illinois, where she still lives with her husband Mark and their three dogs.  A hairstylist by trade, Ashley will often say that some of the best stories she has ever heard were told to her while working behind the chair. A life long reader with an insatiable appetite for good books, she decided to merge her love of great stories — both told and written — into her own brand of story telling.

When she’s not being held captive in her home office by words, Ashley fancies herself a flea market hunter with a weakness for Japanese glass floats and repurposing vintage goods.


1. Is there an inspiration behind why you chose writing?

I was always, always a reader. I’ve always had an appetite for books beyond what most would consider to be “normal” ... two, three and sometimes four novels a week.  I think for me it was a natural transition ... something that grew from one love into another.  Now, I can pay back my favorite books with novels of my own, which is pretty incredible.

2. When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

That’s such a funny question because my dreams of what I’d be were ever evolving from the time I was a little girl.  I can remember wanting to be a marine biologist, a teacher, a talk show host (I know -- that one was a little lofty!) and a hairstylist, which is ultimately what I went to school for. I’ve always been the sort that really wants to make the most of an opportunity, when I did hair working behind the chair wasn’t enough and I ended up going into teaching, gathering hours towards my educators license.  All in all, I had some pretty fantastic experiences in that career and made some of my best friends.  I can’t really knock it but in the end it wasn’t enough, it never felt like I had “landed” which is ultimately why I moved on.

My “growing up” process as been in a constant state of motion all along, and now I’ve finally landed in a profession that I feel comfortable in -- like I belong here doing this.  I think, like most people, I had to figure out who I was before I could figure out what I wanted to be. 

3. Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is....

TWILIGHT!  Stephenie Meyer is so creative and did such wonderful thing with that series. It seems however, that people fall on one of two sides -- they love on a fanatic level or hate it and every single word with a passion -- and they can’t just suffer the novel in silence they have to TALK about how much they cringe over it.  That, to me, means this is an excellent book.  Because if you love it, you really love it ... and if you hate it, you really hate it ... but either way, it evokes emotion and good books are meant to do just that. 

Beyond her vibrant fan base, she managed to revitalize an entire town that was truly on the brink of ruin after the epic crash of the economy and the slump of the lumber trade.  Her fans are incredible, between their individual works of art depicting the saga with their personal style (everything from cup-cozies to necklaces and photo albums) to the entire websites dedicated to nothing but fan-fiction inspiring people to write, her novels have become an outlet for people to express themselves with creativity. How can you not love that?  Then, there’s the fact that she made an entire generation of kids who love their gadgets love to read and look forward to reading. The bound mothers and daughter, fathers and daughters together during the fragile teenage years with a common interest.  That’s fairly amazing.

I look at what she’s done and think ... wow, with words she created an empire. 

4. What are your current literary works?  Any sneak peaks?

I’m working on my sophomore effort right now, IN THE AFTER.  This book is so different than THE MILESTONE TAPES, it’s much darker and in some ways much deeper. 

The story basically revolves around the character of Sidney Ruth in the aftermath of her best friend, Emmy Burns, disappearance.  It travels through the first week of hell when someone you love vanishes into thin air.  It begs the question: how far would you go for someone you love?  In my novel, the answer isn’t what you’d think.

With this book I’m tackling a few themes, the most important being domestic abuse. I like my “hot topics” and I attack them through the particular way I see the world.  For this novel I’ve submersed myself into the experience of women who live on the fringe of our society and suffer terrible fates at the hands of people they love.  I’ve twisted it, using the Fairy Tale theory and theme ... it’s coming along day by day and it’s pretty interesting (of course, though, I’m bias)

Here is an exclusive sneak peak: (please keep in mind this part of the story has yet to be editing and like with all unedited work there will be flaws and imperfections)

“People like to believe that all love stories end with ‘and they lived happily ever after.’  We tell children these fallacies because we feel responsible for cushioning the blow of what it’s really like out there in the wilds of love; with our hearts in our hands on uncertain ground.  We recite those lines, not because we trust they are true, but because that happiness is what we want children to believe awaits them when they are still young enough to trust; before the sting of the first heartbreak and ache of the first lost love.  We want them to be happy with their Prince, so we convince them love is that simple.  And with that lie, we fail them.  Not all stories of romance end well.  Some are doomed from the first kiss, some end badly, some end too soon and some come to screeching halts at the hands of bad men. Some Princes are predators, wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing who delight in chase, the lure and the slaughter.  And sometimes, the girl doesn’t get her happily and must simply live in the after.”
-Excerpt from IN THE AFTER

5. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I like the 1960’s.  I think the music was good and the climate of the world was changing.  To live in a time where all of that was happening would be fascinating because in someways it mimics today’s climate but we have bigger advantages now than then.

6. If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?

Aphrodite would be fun ... I mean, who doesn’t love love?

7. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 

THE MILESTONE TAPES is a love story, it’s about hope and heartbreak and this overwhelming bond between a mother and her daughter and how that bond lasts forever even when life doesn’t.

8. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

My first review!  It’s a given in this line of work that not everyone is loving to love your book, so when someone really does it’s an incredible moment of validation because it could have gone either way. 

My first review was so emotional and so touching and the reader really related to the book on this level that was personal to her, I cried when I read it and it made the whole process of writing incredibly rewarding. 

9. What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

This journey may not look like what you think it should.  Right now we’re at a crossroads in the literary world ... things are changing, evolving.  Authors have more options than every before and those changes are adjusting the “mainstream” nature of this industry.  I’d encourage anyone thinking of writing a novel, fiction or not, to explore the options, take the time to figure out how you’d be happiest putting out your story.  There is no “one size fits all” formula. 

10. If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?

TWILIGHT, again!  First off I’ve a huge lover of all things Olympic Peninsula ... and getting to hang around Edward Cullen certainly doesn’t sound like a bad deal either.

11. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

I’ve never thought about that ... I’m far to boring to be the focus of a novel. 

12. What is your favorite scene in the book and why do you love it?

I usually answer this question differently, but, I think it’s the end of book one.  The entire focus of the first half of the novel is leading up to those words Gabe speaks to Mia ... and when I got to write them I felt like I could breathe again.  Those last few chapters were really hard to get out.

It’s funny, but when you’re writing, more often than not, you stop being in control.  The characters voices emerge from the silence and they pull the book along ... the writer rarely can predict where the book is going once they take over.  This passage surprised me so much ... because until I actually got there, I just didn’t know how it was going to work out for them.

13. What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you'd be embarrassed to admit?

It’s not one show ... it’s an entire television channel.  I am a LMN (Lifetime Movie Network) addict.  I can watch those movies all day long and it’s kind of fun to guess the ending ... not that there is ever any guesswork in involved, by the time you hit the last 10 minutes you know someone is going to “get it” ... and it’s always the bad guy. 

14. What is one book everyone should read?

SHE’S COME UNDONE by Wally Lamb.  It’s a big book, not because it’s long (which it is) but because it’s really a journey.  Lamb does an absolutely amazing job slipping out of his gender and writing from the female perspective. 

15. One food you would never eat?

Anything with a bone!  Anything with a bone feels a little too close to the origin for me to enjoy.


Favorite place?
Olympic Peninsula.

Best christmas present?
The stained glass “BOOKS” sign my parents gave me.

Favorite book?

Favorite author?
Wally Lamb

Favorite smell?

Favorite series?


Favorite writing spot?
My home office.

Favorite movie?

Favorite dish?
Pasta anything

Favorite color?
Blue (the light variety)

Favorite quote?
“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself.  You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world.  You bring your history and you read it in your terms” -Angela Carter

Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Your best trait?

Your worst trait?

*** This post is part of the Orangeberry Book Tours. ***

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