It was the title that drew me in, and the story kept me there.
The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley releases tomorrow in the Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult genre.
AUTHOR BIO:Kristy Dallas Alley is a high school librarian in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, four kids, three cats, and an indeterminate number of fish. She studied creative writing at Rhodes College in another lifetime and holds a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis. In an ideal world, she would do nothing but sit on a beach and read every single day of her life, but in reality she’s pretty happy reading on her front porch, neglecting the gardens she enthusiastically plants each spring, and cooking huge meals regardless of the number of people around to eat them. The Ballad of Ami Miles is her debut novel.
What’s in a title.
by Kristy Dallas Alley
I wish I was on some tall mountain
Where the ivy rocks were black as ink
I’d write a letter to my false true lover
Whose cheeks are like the morning pink
I wish I was a little sparrow
And I had wings to fly so high
I’d fly to the arms of my false true lover
And when he’d ask, I would deny
-Little Sparrow, traditional ballad
There’s so much riding on the title of a book. Some authors claim to know what the title of a book will be before they even start writing it, but that definitely was not the case for me. Deciding on the title of this book was actually a huge turning point in the writing process for me. I was halfway through the writing with not even a single title idea, but when The Ballad of Ami Miles popped into my head as a title, everything sort of clicked into place.
I knew that I wanted one of my main characters to be musical, and I loved the idea that the long tradition of Appalachian ballads could stretch forward into this post-apocalyptic setting. Those old songs are achingly beautiful in a way that feels distinctly southern to me, and they just seemed to fit the feeling I wanted for my book.
The first time Ami lays eyes on Jessie, she’s playing the guitar and singing Little Sparrow by a fire. That scene was clear in my mind from very early in the writing process, and writing my way toward it helped me keep going when I felt stuck. So there are specific old ballads that Jessie sings and talks about in the book, and then there’s the idea of a ballad itself.
A ballad has rules and structure, and it tells a story that often contains both love and tragedy. There’s even a whole category called murder ballads! Originally this book had a very different ending that involved a violent attack, so that felt especially fitting. During the editing process I changed the ending, but I think the story of Ami’s journey is still a fitting subject for a ballad. And thinking about the structure of a ballad helped me think about the structure of the story I wanted to tell.
This post is part of a tour. You can find the schedule here (http://xpressobooktours.com/2020/09/15/tour-sign-up-the-ballad-of-ami-miles-by-kristy-dallas-alley/)
Giveaway:Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
- Print copy of The Ballad of Ami Miles