19 August 2020

Author Spotlight || Madison Wheatley


Today's Author Spotlight is Madison Wheatley, author of paranormal thriller Ambrosia! 

Read on for the full interview.


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


Ambrosia is a paranormal thriller that deals with themes of body image and self-worth. It tells the story of Crystal Lunsford, a young woman who has hated her body ever since her abusive ex-boyfriend called her a "fat pig"—These were his last words to her before he died in a car crash. Haunted by this memory, Crystal is desperate to lose weight, but she can't seem to make any progress until a mysterious stranger invites her to Mount Olympus, an upscale gym known for its miraculous sports drink Ambrosia. Mount Olympus isn't what it seems, though, and Crystal must discover the truth about what this gym does to its patrons—or risk losing more than just weight. 

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


Not surprisingly, I was at the gym when the idea for Ambrosia came to me. My husband and I had just purchased a YMCA membership. It was our day off from work, so we spent a good part of the morning familiarizing ourselves with this place. While I was walking around the indoor track, listening to music, it occurred to me that more time had passed than I'd thought. I'd been enjoying myself so much that time seemed to just slip away. That's when I thought, "What if I completely lost track of time? What if I just didn't leave?" So as I exercised, I brainstormed ideas for Mount Olympus, a gym that ensnares its patrons, muddling their sense of time and making it so they never want to stop working out. 

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


Characters always develop organically when I'm writing. To me, writing a character is like getting to know a person in real life. When you first meet someone, you don't know everything there is to know about them. As you get to know them, though, you learn more about their traits and their personal history. That's how it is when I create a character. As I wrote my first draft of Ambrosia, I knew a little about Crystal—enough to get me through that draft—but the more I revised, the more I understood her character on a deeper level, and made adjustments to the story based on that understanding. 

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?


Definitely Crystal. I admire her strength, curiosity, and resilience. Despite what she's been through, she keeps pushing forward and doing her best. While she's by not a self-insert character, I found myself relating to many of Crystal's flaws and fears. I think Crystal is someone that many people—especially women—can relate to and that readers will find themselves rooting for her. 

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?


For me, character development is key. Even though I started with the plot, it was the characters—particularly Crystal—that propelled it further. As a reader, I care more about what happens plot-wise when I'm emotionally invested in the characters. 

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


While writing, I typically listen to instrumental music (movie soundtracks, lo-fi hip-hop, etc.). However, I did have a few go-to songs that captured the tone or themes I was going for. Some of these are "The Wolf" by Siames, "My Demons" by Starset, "Shake It Off" by Florence and the Machine, "The Wolf and the Sheep" by Alec Benjamin, and "Praying" by Kesha.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


I can mostly be found on Twitter and Instagram (@mwheatleywriter). I also have a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChN2azCzR036npT9V9RZV6Q). There are only a few videos up now, but I'll be posting more in the future! 


Madison Wheatley is a poet, fiction writer, and author of the debut paranormal thriller novel AMBROSIA (published by Authors 4 Authors Publishing). She specializes in speculative fiction that explores how people fight to overcome their own inner turmoil. Her young adult fiction has been featured in Seven Deadly Sins, A YA Anthology: Avarice and Secrets in Our Cities: A Paranormal Urban Fantasy Anthology.
Madison lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she teaches high school English. She lives with her husband of eight years and her hyperactive Mountain Feist. When not writing or teaching, she can be found playing video games, reading, or trying to learn Spanish. She has an affinity for puns, memes, and stupid humor in general.

Madison, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!