BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: The Milestone Tapes by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
I am pleased to feature a guest post by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro, author of the beautiful book, The Milestone Tapes.
Tomorrow I will be reviewing the book!
I think this cover is just beautiful and breathtaking!
ABOUT THE MILESTONE TAPES
Jenna Chamberland never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. That is, until she realized that her life was ending after a three-year battle against breast cancer. Now, all she really wants is more time.
With 4,320 hours left to live, Jenna worries for her loved ones and what she knows awaits them on the other side: Gabe will have to make the slip from husband to widower, left alone to raise their seven-year-old daughter; Mia will be forced to cope with life without her mother by her side. In a moment of reflection, Jenna decides to record a set of audiocassettes — The Milestone Tapes – leaving her voice behind as a legacy for her daughter.
Nine years later, Mia is a precocious sixteen-year-old and her life is changing all around, all she wants is her mother. Through the tapes, Jenna’s voice returns to teach Mia the magic of life, her words showing her daughter how to spread her wings and embrace the coming challenges with humor, grace and hope.
THE MILESTONE TAPES is the journey of love between a parent and child, and of the bonds that holds them when life no longer can.
The Art of Support
By Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
“Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain” – The Wizard, The Wizard of Oz
I was once told by an English teacher that writing a good protagonist is important, but it’s the people around the protagonist that make a story shine. That without them, the all-important supporting cast, it’s nearly impossible to tell a round, whole, fleshed out story.
Creating interesting secondary characters is paramount to the tone and tidal pull of a novel. They become the way a reader learns of the background, they take the voice of reason, they steer the story at times. They can be a villain or a force of good. They are often the most relatable, sometimes they stand to build in conflict and sometimes drive they resolution.
It’s a balance, writing these characters into the thick of a story. You have to do it just right, enough without being too much.
I’m bias of course, but I enjoy all of my characters in The Milestone Tapes. I didn’t write them to be perfect people, they are not without their flaws, but still … it is in their imperfections that I find I adore them. I am, however, particularly fond of Ginny.
When I outlined The Milestone Tapes it was really no more than the quickest dash of ideas; things I wanted to include and how the novel would close itself off, so on and forth. It wasn’t until I got to know Jenna, to spend a little time in her life, that I realized she needed someone, someone I hadn’t yet given to her. Someone I never thought to include.
This dying mother needed another woman to talk to, someone who would get her on another level, one that not even her husband could. Jenna needed someone to help pick up the pieces of her life and be a baseline for her family now and seamlessly transition into what was coming next for them. That “this someone” would have be the sort of woman that Jenna could trust entirely with her fears and the unknown future, but most of all, trust with her child. And so, Ginny was born.
I knew when I wrote Ginny exactly the role she would fill. I knew how I wanted to weave her into the novel, and the voice she’d have, what sort of connection she would build with the primary characters and the impact she would have on.
Ginny is a women who has seen the changes in her personal life unfold. That, I thought, was so important to put into her, it would be the way I shaped her moving forward. Giving her that sort back story and history that would allow her to approach this time in the Chamberland’s life with the realization and knowledge that the world doesn’t end after a loss, it changes, but it goes on.
As I started to figure out who Ginny was and where she came from, I realized she needed to have been a wife and mother and now a widow and an empty nester. That she was starting over, beginning a new chapter in her life that scary and unknown but one she could embrace. She needed to have the flexibility, the personal knowledge of grief and new beginnings to relate to the family at the heart of this story.
At first Ginny’s a very quiet character supporting Jenna entirely with kindness, trying to understand Jenna’s choices. But as the novel goes on she become louder, making the transition from what Jenna needed her to be, into what Mia needed of her. They are very different needs. Jenna needed a friend, Mia needed a mother.
Ginny is the character, in my mind, that makes the biggest change through the most subtle ways. She goes from being the hired help of a woman who is overwhelmed by fate, to raising a little girl full time and loving her as her own. She had done that, for her own children, and just when she believed that part of her life was over, she finds herself beginning again.
Ginny is capable of this patience with Mia that no one else is, because she herself has loved someone and lost him. And then, in the same moment, she knows how to release Mia into the world without fear or hesitance, because she’s done that before as well.
Ginny will tell you, in the novel, that the only thing she is good at is raising children … but I think she sells herself short. Ginny is good at being what people need her to be without trying too hard. She is selfless and loving, she’s a safe place for people who are scared and she became exactly what the Chamberland’s needed, effortlessly rolling with their changing lives.
Ginny is, in and of herself, throughout her time with the Chamberland’s, the life cycle of a parent. The mother, then friend, it just happens to be reversed. And it’s quiet, a docile undercurrent. But without her presence in The Milestone Tapes, the entire story would be so different.
My question to you all … who is your favorite support character in a novel and why?
ABOUT ASHLEY MACKLER-PATERNOSTRO
Ashley Mackler-Paternostro was born in Naperville, Illinois, where she still lives with her husband Mark and their three dogs. A hairstylist by trade, Ashley will often say that some of the best stories she has ever heard were told to her while working behind the chair. A life long reader with an insatiable appetite for good books, she decided to merge her love of great stories — both told and written — into her own brand of story telling.
When she’s not being held captive in her home office by words, Ashley fancies herself a flea market hunter with a weakness for Japanese glass floats and repurposing vintage goods.
Her latest book is The Milestone Tapes.
Visit Ashley at www.ashleymacklerpaternostro.com.