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Dear Reader

What If I Made the Main Character Morally Gray?

For me, a good plot twist is what makes a great thriller and I wanted to make this new idea as twisty as I could; a roller coaster ride that was both nerve-wracking and thrilling.Jan 2, 2024


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One question I get asked a lot is…what made you decide to move from YA to Adult? The short answer is…I’m not sure it was a conscious decision at the time. If I dig a little deeper, I could add that I think I was looking for a change. I had just finished writing 10 TRUTHS AND A DARE and I wasn’t sure what was next for me. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I had another book in me after that one.

But then I had an idea.

Really, it was more like I could visualize a scene. It was so clear… the set dinner table, the people sitting around it, the low lighting, the floral centerpieces. And then the conversation began to build in my mind… the questions those guests would ask, the hint that not everyone at the table was being truthful. So, I wrote that scene with no idea where it would lead. I sat with it for a while, maybe a week or two. Couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought…well, what if they did *this*… and I wrote the next scene. The what if’s kept coming, on and on until I realized I this could be my next book. And it was decidedly not a Young Adult one.

It was something new and fresh and different and that was exciting. I decided to just write it and see where it went, to have fun with it and not overthink it. What if I made the main character morally gray? What if there was a little bit of truth in every lie she told? I loved the endless possibilities that every “what if” brought. For me, a good plot twist is what makes a great thriller and I wanted to make this new idea as twisty as I could; a roller coaster ride that was both nerve wracking and thrilling. I also love a good setting. When where the book is set matters as much as the characters. It was important to me that the setting be a living, breathing thing where the events and actions of this story could only happen in these exact places because of the culture of the people who live there.

The thought of trying to break into a new market was scary. It meant getting a new agent and hoping a new publisher would want it. But I just kept thinking… what if they liked it? How could I not at least try?

I’m so excited for you to read FIRST LIE WINS. The opening scene is that initial dinner party scene I first imagined and is almost word for word the same in the final draft as it was the first time I wrote it. I hope my twists and turns keep you turning the pages late into the night. I hope you fall in love with the places in this book – from small town life in Louisiana, to the college towns in the South where football is king, to the bigger locales like Nashville and Atlanta. But mostly, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Ashley Elston

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