Ash Van Otterloo (they/them) was born and raised in the Appalachian foothills, then made their home for seventeen years as an adult in Eastern Tennessee. They currently reside in the PNW with their best friend and four wild forest-children. Hiking, plant identification, arc welding, Stardew Valley, painting, and mushroom hunting are a few of Ash’s favorite hobbies! Ash is the author of spooky and heartfelt middle grade books, including CATTYWAMPUS, which was featured in ABA’s 2020 Indie’s Introduce and Indie Next lists, and A TOUCH OF RUCKUS (Sept. ’21).
Ash has many pets, including a loyal mutt, two rescue cats, and a ball python named Sophie Hatter. Whether or not their house is haunted is a topic for gossip among their neighbors. The ones, at least, that the ghosts haven’t spirited away yet! You can learn more about Ash at ashvanotterloo.com.
Book Blurbs & Reviews
The magical story of a hex that goes haywire, and the power of friendship to set things right!
In the town of Howler’s Hollow, conjuring magic is strictly off-limits. Only nothing makes Delpha McGill’s skin crawl more than rules. So when she finds her family’s secret book of hexes, she’s itching to use it to banish her mama’s money troubles. She just has to keep it quieter than a church mouse — not exactly Delpha’s specialty.
Trouble is, Katybird Hearn is hankering to get her hands on the spell book, too. The daughter of a rival witching family, Katy has reasons of her own for wanting to learn forbidden magic, and she’s not going to let an age-old feud or Delpha’s contrary ways stop her. But their quarrel accidentally unleashes a hex so heinous it resurrects a graveyard full of angry Hearn and McGill ancestors bent on total destruction. If Delpha and Katy want to reverse the spell in time to save everyone in the Hollow from rampaging zombies, they’ll need to mend fences and work together.
“Deftly weaving elements of magic and nature with a story of adolescent change, debut author Van Otterloo conjures a timeless contemporary fantasy.”
“Lively and entertaining! Ash Van Otterloo delivers spooky fun and an essential new kid-lit character in this spirited debut.”
–Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor-winning author of Savvy
“Cattywampus is a Southern yarn in all the best ways–it’s warm and welcoming and promises you a wild ride. You’ll want to settle into this story and stay awhile.”
–Erica Waters, author of Ghost Wood Song and The River Has Teeth
“It is southern, witchy, magical fun about friends and family and the histories that connect us and haunt us. The dialogue is fireworks…The subtle creepiness won’t scare you (too bad), but the vibrant, beating heart of this story will haunt you for a good long time.”
–Natalie Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic
“Ash Van Otterloo has crafted such a wonderful magic world, true to Appalachia and brimming with humor and heart… As a Kentuckian, I loved seeing Appalachia depicted in such loving, real detail, infused with magic and written with a poetry and musicality that makes the whole story sing.”
–Karah Sutton, author of A Wolf for a Spell
“Cattywampus has everything: friendship, enemies, a very charming raccoon, magic, ancient family feuds, and zombies. Set in Appalachia, this is the story of Delpha and Katybird, two girls coming of age in very different situations. Funny, smart, and inclusive, the only way to describe this book is as a good ole’ southern yarn!”
– Chelsea Bauer, Union Avenue Books (Knoxville, TN)
A TOUCH OF RUCKUS
TENNESSEE LANCASTER HAS A HIDDEN GIFT.
She can pry into folks’ memories with just a touch of their belongings. It’s something she’s always kept hidden-especially from her big, chaotic family. Their lives are already chock-full of worries about Daddy’s job and Mama’s blues without Tennie rocking the boat.
But when the Lancasters move to the mountains for a fresh start, Tennie’s gift does something new. Instead of just memories, her touch releases a ghost with a terrifying message: Trouble is coming. Tennie wants to ignore it. Except her new friend Fox-scratch that, her only friend, Fox-is desperate to go ghost hunting deep in the forest. And when Tennie frees even more of the spirits, trouble is exactly what she gets…and it hits close to home. The ghosts will be heard, and now Tennie must choose between keeping secrets or naming an ugly truth that could tear her family apart.
Magic and mayhem abound in this spooky story about family legacies, first friendships, and how facing the ghosts inside can sometimes mean stirring up a little bit of ruckus.
Reviews to come!