Life choices; they are tricky, aren’t they? The shooting of arrows into the dark that navigate us through life. They intrigue me. Particularly those of young women pulled to big cities by a relentless ambition to make something of themselves. You see, I am very much an advocate of write what you know and in my early twenties, I was one of those women when I ran away to London. I know intimately that first rush of freedom and smell of possibility that can pull you in a million which ways.
It is a place I can easily tap back into as it still lives inside of me. I am relieved to have found my anchor in writing, as quite frankly I need a rest. Trust me, this girl went in a lot of different directions and still there was a lot I left uncovered. All the choices I didn’t take - all the ones that excite the girl that landed in a city with no plan and a playground of opportunity. And I am most curious about those less talked about choices, the unconventional paths, those are the characters that speak to me.
As a young girl I fell in love with books by authors who dared to talk about the subjects that raised eyebrows. The suitcase kid by Jacqueline Wilson was a particular favourite. As my own family fell apart, it made me feel less alone. I think that is the magical power of books and why I love talking about the stuff no one says out loud.
Jobslut, my first book, was led by Anna who couldn’t figure out what she wanted to do with her life. Instead of doing what all her friends and family encouraged, picking a job and sticking to it, she rebelled. Job-hopping from lawyer to Hollywood and back again before finally finding ‘the one.’ I hope she inspired anyone who read her plight to apply the same dedication to their choice of career as their partner. Choices all come down to permission, what I loved about Anna was she found that permission inside of herself instead of seeking it from others. Anna didn’t have an easy time though she followed her heart in the end.
Speaking of following hearts, my new book, The Sugar Game, is about Jessica and Holly who are driven to the bright lights of London determined to be ruled by their heads. They dive head-first into the glamorous world of sugar dating, a silent phenomenon I came to know very well through several women I have met who have done it. When Jessica meets Jerod, he rocks her pursuit of independence and locks her into a conflict. One we can all relate to - heart or head? The story follows her challenge to find the courage to choose her heart.
When I create my characters, I understand their choices, the rabbit holes they fall down, their strengths and vulnerabilities. Every experience, every feeling I’ve ever undergone has been processed and wound up in my work. I’ve not experienced everything I write about, of course, but I’ve certainly experienced the emotions and connected to them - fear, anxiety, anger, regret - these are universal, and whatever the story, however far outside my own experience, that’s the bridge between the writer, character and reader.
We all take different paths, and there is light and dark on all of them, which Jessica and Holly soon discover as sugar babies. For every handbag and luxury trip there is a personal sugar tax on their hearts. What led the girls to the game may have led the next girl to the top of the corporate ladder. When we peel back the onion, the motivations behind our choices are not so different. Our aspirations, our demons, our fears and our desires, a melting pot in which we must learn to navigate from. And we all take different turns, as imagine a world where we all made the same choices? I certainly wouldn’t have many books to write.
Ultimately, I hope that all my characters inspire readers to go boldly on a journey of self-discovery. One choice never defines any of us, but we are only ever one decision away from an entirely different future.
Ashley Brown is the author of The Sugar Game and Jobslut.
Sugar is also about indulgence so maybe you have taken things to the excess lately and you need to reign it back in again. You can’t live like this forever, so perhaps you need to start thinking about how to reverse it now. If you saw lots of sugar- you may have a need to feel good all the time. Perhaps you would benefit from having some down time- to help you realise that there is pleasure to be found in feeling ‘normal’. The dream could be a reminder to you that it’s human to feel bad sometimes and that it’s impossible to feel good all the time. This is what make us stronger... to read more click HERE