Thank you to the Author’s Lounge for inviting me to share my book with readers. I would say this book took me 20 years to write, but only three days to put on paper.
Just like anyone who remembers where they were on September 11, 2001, my memories of that day, of that seminal moment in our history, are in ways just as clear and intense as they were all those years ago. As difficult as this story was to tell, at no point did I struggle to access these emotions. To my surprise, I found them still lingering under the surface, despite the passing of time.
My decision to write The Sun Shone Anyway in verse or poetry format was influenced by my occupation. I’ve spent the better part of a decade working in education and have seen the benefit of this format in the way it engages reluctant readers. This slimmed down format is accessible for all, without compromising character development, storytelling or the emotional journey that any great work takes a reader on.
I decided to tell my story through the eyes of fourth-grader Lucy who is the same age I was on 9/11, which lends credibility to the piece. I put so much of myself into this protagonist that the experience of writing was much more cathartic than I had anticipated. My intention was to write down a line or two that had been occupying my thoughts, but found I’d written an entire book in a matter of a few days.
Despite being a young child when the towers fell, I still remember the time before – a time before lock down drills and being afraid to fly on a plane. For this book to be effective, I felt I had to access that time in my life before 9/11, before this undercurrent of stress and fear began to occupy my mind. Turns out, I’ve been living with it for so long I forgot it was there.
The end product is a commentary on how we – specifically children – process trauma. The reader experiences that day with Lucy, moment-by-moment. Her confusion, fear & questions.
My hope is that readers find some meaning in this book, for those who remember and for those who are learning about it for the first time.
The Sun Shone Anyway: A Verse Novel of September 11th
Ten year-old Lucy is perpetually worried- about homework, piano lessons and surviving the fourth grade. One seemingly normal September day, school lets out early, and everything Lucy knows is changed forever. Her parents and teachers are unable to answer her questions, the things she sees on the news frighten her and she’s confused about why.
Written in verse, The Sun Shone Anyway examines the events of September 11, 2001, through the eyes of our nation’s youngest. This debut novel is a coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of one of the darkest moments in American history.
“Just as many others that have come before this book, which have shared the experiences of others on September 11, 2001, this is an important piece of literature. It can be, for those lucky enough to come across it, a source of healing and relative comfort.” – Amazon Review
“What is most brilliant about the way Ashby presents her account, is the way images of depravity and pain mix and mingle with more child-like memories and feelings of innocence.” – Amazon Review