The first person to ever raise concerns about Ashton was my husband after reading a few chapters of my first draft.
"I like Luca, but I don't like Ashton," he said, "She's pretty mean."
"Good," I responded. "That's how I want her to be."
While writing Impossible, Ashton did a few things that made me wonder if I wanted her to do them at all. But I kept the scenes because they showed what kind of a person she'd become. I made Ashton that way because I know from first hand experience how mean some girls can be.
As a teenager I have experienced mean girls and even as an adult I have experienced mean girls. In my head, I made a collage of mean girl behavior and I gave them all to Ashton. Some girls do know what they're doing, but recently I've had to deal with a mean girl who I am quite certain doesn't think she is a mean girl at all.
This puzzled me. How could someone not know that what they're doing is considered "bullying" or "mean"?
With Ashton, I tried to piece it all together. I wanted to take a look into WHY someone is like that and what causes them to be such a horrible person. Someone might not consider their behavior as bullying because they feel justified in what they are saying or they have gotten away with it for so long that they think their behavior is normal.
A lot of it does come from insecurities and the need to put someone down to make yourself feel better. I think once you fall into this habit it's a hard one to break, but Ashton does break out of it because Luca believes in her. And that's what the story is about. How Ashton overcomes her demons.
The great thing is that Ashton is a character with flaws; she isn't perfect. What I love is that readers can make up their own minds about her. Some readers will hate her or be annoyed with her and not be able to forgive her actions, and other readers will be like, "She's a teenager and she made a mistake, and she changed in the end."
Either way, her behavior and actions can be discussed and debated, which is a wonderful thing. And I totally heart my readers for it! You guys are amazing! <3