Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Ashleigh Mounser!
It’s such a delight to welcome talented writer and author, Ashleigh Mounser, to the blog to talk about her very ‘cool’ and supremely funny new middle grade title, Blair Moon: How to be Cooler Than the Moon. From nursing home to primary school, Blair Moon is set to trade her presidency with barefoot bowls to presidency of a class of kids! Woah, this sounds exhilarating! Thanks for sharing, Ashleigh! 🙂
About the Author
Ashleigh Mounser is an Australian writer who has been published across print and media. In 2016, Mounser graduated as a Deans Scholar with a Bachelor of Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong and later completed a Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. She was Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Writer of the Year in 2012; the overall winner of the Future Leaders Writing Competition, winner of the ‘Time to Write’ contest conducted by the University of Melbourne and recipient of three arts grants from the Bouddi Foundation for the Arts, presented by John Bell. Her debut feature film QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS premiered at festivals across Europe, America and South Africa and has received numerous laurels. Her first children’s novel, HOW TO BE COOLER THAN THE MOON, is under contract with Ford Street Publishing and will be released October 1st, 2023.
Visit Ashleigh Mounser at her website: https://ashleighmounser.com/
How to Be Cooler Than the Moon can be pre-ordered via Ford Street Publishing, online and in all good bookstores.
WHO wrote and published this book?
I wrote HOW TO BE COOLER THAN THE MOON, and the book is published by Ford Street Publishing.
WHAT is it about?
The story follows 11-year-old Blair Moon on her way out of the nursing home and into primary school. A barefoot bowls champion and a bingo expert, Blair is buoyed by a decade of praise from her close circle of 90-year-old friends. She’s never stopped to question if her lime green pantsuits, high-fibre diet or lofty aspirations of being president are “cool.” But if she’s going to rule the school, she’s going to need to get cool – and fast. That’s where the manifesto comes in.
What is your favourite part of this book?
Blair as Maria, from Westside Story is a highlight, because she makes a series of increasingly outlandish changes, including making Maria the Mayor of New York and having her sign a pre-nup with Tony, but I love Poppy and Blair’s introduction most of all.
I met young Poppy only one year ago, at Bakers Park. On this fateful day, a broken swing had been repaired. That swing had been my Cause of the year’, which meant that over the previous fifty-two weeks, I had written fifty-two letters to my local politicians insisting that it was in the community’s best interest to have the swing repaired.
One particularly inspired letter read: ‘I have a dream that one day all the medium-sized children of Bakers Park may defy the laws of physics on a swing undamaged by the winds and rusts of time. I have a dream that all the crooked seats will be made straight.’ This was Letter #4, written when I was still amped up about the injustice of it all. I think Letter #49 read something like, ‘Come on now. Sincerely, Blair Moon’.
Anyway, on the day that the swing was finally repaired, I took Mum’s gift-wrapping supplies down to the park, wrapped a thin red ribbon around the swing and after a short yet stirring speech regarding the importance of perseverance, I announced the swing was open for business. Poppy was sitting on the swing at the time, but was good enough to stay very still, not disturbing the ribbon. She was deeply impressed with the fruits of my labour.
I later found out that Edgar had repaired the swing because he was sick of me using his nice stationery to write my letters.
WHEN did you begin writing this book?
I started writing the book in 2019 and was completely obsessed. I finished the first draft in a month and have talked about basically nothing else since.
When is its release / launch date?
WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?
I was driving with my partner and saw what I thought was a child speeding down the sidewalk in a mobility scooter. It was just a small old person, but it got me thinking. What kind of kid would think a mobility scooter was cool? Around the same time, I started watching Old People’s Home for 4-year-Old’s on ABC, which also made me think about the impact older people can have on a young person, and vice versa. HOW TO BE COOLER THAN THE MOON is dedicated to my grandparents, which seems fitting.
WHY is this book meaningful to you?
Like a lot of women, I experienced a big drop off in confidence around the time I was 11, so it means a lot to me to write about a young girl who has never experienced self-doubt or self-consciousness, who isn’t apologetic about her intelligence or her ambition and who never entertains the idea that she might fail.
Why would its message resonate with readers?
This is a book for everyone who has ever felt on the back foot of cool. Blair Moon is right at the age where a young girl’s confidence drops off a cliff, but she’s never stopped to question herself. When you’re on track to become president of the whole world, there simply isn’t time.
HOW do you feel about the illustrations / cover design? How do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?
I love the cover, and I love the inclusion of Blair Moon’s power tie. There were a few different mock-ups with real kids, but I loved the idea of Blair Moon being a more abstract idea so readers can use their imagination.
How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?
Doing fun interviews like this! I’m on TikTok (@ashleighmounser) and Instagram (@ashleighmounser) and at ashleighmounser.com. I’m also visiting schools, and I’ll be doing book signings at select stores in Sydney, the Central Coast, and the Illawarra.
OTHER information or experiences you’d like to share?
Please get in touch to organise signings, author visits and anything else you can think of. I love this book and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
We love this book, too! Hope Blair soars to the moon! Thank you, Ashleigh! 🙂
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