GALLIPOLIS — Writing is a deeply personal process, as local author Jennifer Ash can attest.
Her new novel “Within the Gray” draws from her personal life, and its protagonist, Terra, finds herself in dire straits in Gallipolis.
“It’s very therapeutic,” Ash wrote in correspondence with the Tribune. “I think that’s the main reason that I write now. That and I really hope that my words will help people who have went through similar things in life. I want my book to be a beacon of hope for them and show people a different way to look at the world.”
“Within the Gray,” which is being published by Atmosphere Press, follows a young widowed mother named Terra as she navigates the world after husband’s death. According to the book’s back cover, Terra “discovers it’s not easy to live when faced with rumors of a deceased husband’s betrayal and a friend’s aggressive advances. As more traumatic events unfold, life seemed hopeless until a NEW friend steps in. Will she finally accept her loss and be able to trust again? After all, her husband’s journey may have been over, but as a young widow…hers had just begun.”
Writing this story was “deeply personal” to Ash, she wrote.
“I had to take this project on, had to! There is a lot of truth to this story,” she said. “It is of course fiction however… but like I said, it’s personal. It’s in loving memory to my late husband Denver Wilson Ash III.”
Denver died of a heart attack in 2010, leaving Jennifer to take care of three children.
“I was left alone with three small children. I was completely lost,” Ash said. “I needed to write about it.”
She began work on the novel in 2014, between long shifts at work and taking care of her children.
“I went through a lot of struggles in the process. I remember writing about how things should have went,” she said. “It has been a beautiful journey. I remember thinking that I would never be able to write a full length novel, but I still needed to share my story.”
Jennifer found healing through writing “Within the Gray.”
“I’m very proud of my book and how far I’ve come in my journey. It helped me heal, helped me move on and helped me to live again,” she wrote. “Losing a husband at 30 years old, is hard and I didn’t really have much support. I was on my own. It made me find a new way to look at life.”
As noting, “Within the Gray” is set in Gallipolis. Some local landmarks and events featured in the novel include Gallipolis in Lights, the Christmas lights of Krodel Park in neighboring Mason County, W.Va., the O.O. McIntyre Bike Trail, and the Gallipolis City Park.
“I was able to pull from personal experiences and it is a lot easier to draw from the real world than to create another one,” wrote Jennifer. “I think it’s important to write about what you know, it’s more relatable.”
Jennifer, who is a River Valley High School graduate and is a lifelong Gallia County resident, has studied at the University of Rio Grande under the tutelage of the late Dr. Joanne Ford, and Marshall University, where a creative non-fiction piece she wrote was nominated for the Maier Awards, which are awarded annually to students in the university’s English department.
The book will be released in October, and will be available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online, and other book retailers. On Oct. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m., she will have a “Meet the Author” book signing event at Mane Designers Salon and Spa on Second Avenue in Gallipolis. Books will also be for sale at the event for those who do not want to buy one from Amazon.
“There will be a limited number of books available, so if people would like to reserve one, please let them know at Mane Designers Salon and Spa so that I can do my best to have enough on hand,” Jennifer said.
Next, Jennifer is working on a prequel following Terra’s mother, and a sequel about Terra’s daughter.
Jennifer’s pen name is Jenna Ashlyn. You can follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com.authorJennaAshlyn or visit her website www.JennaAshlyn.com where you can read her blog.
Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.