After five years of waiting, fans finally can pick up the sequel to Christian Cashelle’s first novel, “Ava’s Story,” just in time for summer.
Released June 3, “When All Else Fails” begins two years after Ava has gotten past the ordeal of being forced into prostitution, gang raped and birthing a child. However, as nightmares begin about her past, she finds she is on the same journey and must discover the course for her life that could set everything right.
“There were a lot of questions unanswered (in ‘Ava’s Story’), and because that is the first book I branched out with, I felt like I owed it to that book to put this book out,” said Cashelle, who published the first book while still in high school. “It feels really good to put it out because I actually started it in 2011.”
Though the events Ava struggles with through book one and its sequel can be difficult, Cashelle means to inspire. It is such a core in her writing that when she searched to get her books published, she couldn’t find a company with a genre that truly portrayed her style. She settled to start her own publishing company called Dynamic Image Publications with two other authors. Her focus is inspirational fiction.
“I see a lot where young girls, especially young black girls, are not given too many options,” she said. “I wanted to be able to give them a little bit of a voice and let them know that you can be different. You don’t have to follow what other people are doing in the area and, just if (something tragic does happen), you still have ways of making your life better — that’s not the end. I think it’s very important that people know everybody is going to make a mistake, but you have to figure out a way to move past it.”
In “When All Else Fails,” Ava finds and looks to deepen her relationship with God to get her life on track again, but the past is not an easy thing to get away from. Her daughter, 4, is a direct link to the night she was raped.
“There is a section in the second one, without giving too much away, where something happens to her daughter that she doesn’t really know how to deal with,” Cashelle said. “It was really hard for me to write because, I don’t know, you get so attached to the characters. I don’t want to make her in pain.”
Though Ava is very real to Cashelle, she admits Ava’s origins not being based on any one thing. A 1988 Jodie Foster movie, “The Accused,” propelled her concept and Cashelle’s own personality is a base, too, but the rest of Ava just pieced together after time.
“I read ‘Ava’s Story’ a lot — I reread it and I’m seeing a lot of things that I may not have known. And I actually wrote little short stories on her on my blog, so I have always had her in mind as a character,” Cashelle said. “And (Ava) was just like ‘Hey, you need to finish my book.’ It was time to finish it.”
Don’t begin “When All Else Fails” thinking this is the end of Ava, though. Cashelle revealed she has always planned a part three. “My Mother’s Daughter” will be about Ava’s daughter discovering the conditions in which she was conceived and figuring out how to handle that. There is not a date yet for this release.
“I think the best thing I would want people to understand is that anybody has a story that is worth being told,” Cashelle said. “Valuing yourself and just being able to realize there is something in you that is worth it is the biggest thing I want people to get.”
To honor the virtual release of “When All Else Fails” and celebrate the book release, a social media celebration is under way. Through the end of August, there will be weekly contests and giveaways. To be part of the celebration, go to facebook.com/DIpublications.
Cashelle was born and raised in Alton and discovered her passion for writing as young as age 8, nurturing it into a reality throughout high school. She was first published in 2009 and authored “Revisions of Life” and “My Joy” between the books of Ava. She was the 2011 Author of the Year at the St. Louis Traffic Music Awards and was a nominee for the African-Americans on the Move Book Club’s Author of the Year.
Dynamic Image Publications was founded in 2006. For more information on it or Cashelle, visit www.dynamicimagepublications.com.