A mother and daughter book signing upstairs at The Gallery this Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. will feature the published works of Mount Shasta resident Michael Aiello and her daughter Ashley J. Barnard.

A mother and daughter book signing upstairs at The Gallery this Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. will feature the published works of Mount Shasta resident Michael Aiello and her daughter Ashley J. Barnard.

Aiello worked for decades as a school counselor and for some years as a therapist in the Mount Shasta area.

Barnard, whose maiden name is Walgenbach, attended Sisson School and graduated from Mount Shasta High School in 1992. She lives in Phoenix, Ariz. with her daughter Alexandria.

The authors will sign books purchased at the event and will read from each other’s works.

Aiello credited having two authors in the family to the influence of her own mother, who was a literature teacher. “All four of my daughters and I are avid readers,” she said.

Ashley Barnard

Ashley J. Barnard is the author of four fantasy novels. The first book of her Shadow Fox trilogy was awarded Novel of the Year in 2010 by her Canadian publisher Champagne Books. She also wrote “Cast of Illusions” and has written the historical fiction book “In Byron’s Shadow.”

Barnard said she was led to writing fantasy fiction by her love of fantasy literature as a child and teenager and her childhood passion for “making up worlds in my imagination.”

All of her books are written for adults, and some are rooted in stories she imagined when she was young.

“The Shadow Fox trilogy is loosely based on a fantasy world I created as a child. As I matured, it matured with me,” she said.

Barnard likes literature from the Regency and Victorian periods as well and said she “fell in love with Lord Byron.” In researching his story for a book, however, she discovered that his daughter’s story was equally fascinating and the book’s focus shifted to the daughter and other characters.

For 10 years Barnard co-ran the Actors’ Renaissance Theatre in Phoenix, a Shakespearean company in which she acted and directed. She said she wrote her first stage adaptation of a Jane Austen novel “almost by accident” after an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” mounted by the company turned out to be its highest grossing production.

“We asked ourselves what worked so well about that play – it was historical, the story is fairly light – and my partner suggested I do an adaptation of Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” which Barnard said included some of the same elements.

It turned out she had a knack for adaptation, which she attributes in part to her familiarity with and her work in the theater.

“I could visualize all the scenes in the book and how to combine them, and I combined some of the characters too. It helped to understand the complexity involved in doing multiple scenes and having multiple actors in a production,” she said.

Barnard added original material to the adaptation not found in Austen’s book, which challenged her to keep the tone consistent with Austen’s voice. She asked members of the Jane Austen Society to preview the play and then incorporated what they told her about what worked and what didn’t.

She said she also listened closely to her actors’ feedback as she worked to tighten the script.

Barnard’s adaptation was “scooped up” by Dramatic Play Publishing, she reported, describing the company as the third largest play publisher in the world.

With its staging appropriate for a small theater company and a reasonable budget outlook, “They said my play was ready to go – they made no changes,” she said.

Dramatic Play Publishing also commissioned an adaptation of another Austen novel, “Persuasion,” which Barnard wrote as a one act play geared specifically for high schools and small theater companies.

Michael Aiello

Aiello said she was moved to write her first book, “Nitty Gritty Parenting,” by her work with parents and children. “I saw gorgeous change happening and wanted to bring that to a larger audience.”

That book and two subsequent works recently published all reflect her interests and experience as a counselor.

“Whisperings of the Heart” is a children’s book about adoptive families.

Aiello said 20 years ago she began to help reframe public perspective about who the real parent is in an adoptive situation. The book explores that for children and newly adoptive families.

“The real parent is the one who lives and loves day to day with a child,” she said. “This book is about deep connection, whether it’s biological or through an intricate process like adoption and how bonds are formed in that process.”

“The Reclamation of Self” aims to help people heal from childhood abuse, trauma, neglect or the effects of “any negative parent or caretaker or authority figure,” Aiello explained. “It’s about learning how to love yourself and speak gently and kindly to and about yourself.”

She thought she was done with writing after her last two books were published, but then a children’s story appeared in her imagination.

“I told my daughter Tessa about it, and she was excited. We’re going to work on it together. It’s a fun story,” Aiello said with a smile.

Book signing

Copies of Barnard’s and Aiello’s latest published works will be available for purchase at their book signing Saturday, July 25, upstairs at The Gallery in the Black Bear building at 201 North Mount Shasta Blvd. from 4 to 7 p.m.

For more information about Ashley J. Barnard’s published works go to: www.ashleyjbarnard.com.