Sarah Dooley, Author
By Gina Malone
Author Sarah Dooley has loved Asheville since the days when her family would drive from West Virginia to vacation here. “We would come to town for the bookstores, the drummings and to visit people who became our friends.” The title of her latest middle-grade book, Ashes to Asheville, came to her first. “It only took about fifteen years for me to figure out what story went with that title!”
Ashes to Asheville tells the story of two sisters, Fella and Zany, who undertake a madcap journey to Asheville with a solemn mission in mind. Her own memories of long-ago vacations with her sisters when they “squabbled, wrestled, laughed, joked and played,” Dooley says, inspired this story as did her impending same-sex marriage and thoughts of how, if she had children, she might legally protect them from situations like the one in which her characters find themselves.
“The Madison-Culverts face challenges familiar to a variety of family types,” Dooley says. “They struggle with poverty, illness and misunderstandings between relatives.” Added to these are “custody arrangements, court proceedings and issues arising from the unprotected legal status of their family relationship.” The family is unique, she adds, “but it shares common traits with other strong families—love, dedication, loyalty and appreciation of one another’s differences.”
Ashes to Asheville, April, 2017, fiction, hardcover, $16.99, by Sarah Dooley, and published by Penguin Random House, New York.