Getting to Know Jennifer Ashley…

Hello, Scribes fans. Today I have the great pleasure of bringing you one of my favorite authors.( Be prepared for unprofessional gushing.) I know her as Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author of steamy historical romances. Some of you might know her as  Allyson James writer of action packed urban fantasy and parnormal romance. And some of you may know her as Ashley Gardner author of Regency era mysterious. And if you don’t know her at all… What’s the matter of you?!  This lady can write. She is the author of over thirty books and you can check them out HERE.  In part one of her interview Jennifer talks about , pleasing publishers, writing in different genres and venturing into indie publishing. Now enough from me. Enjoy!

How do you battle the doubt monster?  Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling while writing, that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

Oh, that doubt monster. I am lucky now that I have many published books under my belt, and I realize that no matter how much the doubt monster pounded at me while I was writing, I finished the book, turned it in, and readers liked it.

Doubt is always going to be there, but I think it’s is a good thing. The complacent writer, who thinks her prose is gold and her storytelling impeccable, is going to be sloppy and lazy and start losing readers. Doubt makes me go back through the ms. as many times as possible to make it as good as I possibly can.

I never have enough time to go through the book as many times as I’d like, but I’ve learned to do my best with what I have.

You write in many genres, under many pen names. Do you have a favorite genre? If so what makes it your favorite?

I go back and forth. I love writing mysteries, because they seem to flow out of my fingers. Possibly because I read so many–it’s my favorite pleasure reading genre. Romance I struggle with a little more, because I want to tell a good relationship story and I want there to be a lot to it. Nothing is more dissatisfying to me than a romance where you find nothing when you scratch the surface. I want to know all about these people, and I like complicated relationships. So much more satisfying when they come together at last!

I also love writing urban fantasy, because there’s plenty of action, mystery, and romance rolled into one.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

I have many stories I want to tell! However, the publishing industry is such that authors don’t simply get to write anything they want and the publisher will publish it.

Publishers have a vision of what they want to publish–and even more, of what “sells”. If your story doesn’t fit into that vision, they don’t want it, which, imho, is the number one reason books are rejected. So, if I pitch a series to my editor that’s off the wall from what has been successful for me and them, they’ll be inclined to say no, or have me change it so much it becomes something completely different (and then I no longer want to do it).

I’m thrilled with the advent of “indie” publishing, because now there’s a way I can write things that bricks and mortar publishers might not want. There might be a smaller audience for what I want to do, or no audience at all–who knows? But I don’t care. I’m not trying to be a superstar; I’m trying to write good books that might not fit the print market. I’ve already made inroads into indie publishing, and the response has been fantastic. I’m going to keep doing it!

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

Making the New York Times bestseller list, winning aRITA(RWA’s award for best romance novels), winning an RT award for best historical mystery. And being nominated for three more RITAs! All those came out of the blue.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

Be a musician or a professional dollhouse miniaturist (not sure I’d try to be an artisan myself or sell other artisan’s work; some very, very talented people in that field.)

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

I completed or partially completed about 10 books before I was published. One finalled in the Golden Heart (RWA’s competition for unpubbed manuscripts), but I never submitted it.

Why? Well, all the books had problems, be it with structure, plotting, characterization, dialog, or just plain bad prose. They were my learning books. The Golden Heart one wasn’t so bad, but I doubt it would have been published as it was. Even then, I had a lot to learn before I was ready.

I have cannibalized plot points and ideas from those learning books for current books. There are two books, each with a courtesan heroine, that I would like to rewrite and get published. The heroes and heroines in those were particularly dear to me, and I’d like to see if I could do something with them.

But if most of those books never see the light of day, it might be a good thing! They weren’t good. 🙂

That’s it for part one, but please leave Jennifer a question, comment or just say hi! Be sure to join us this Wednesday for part two.


16 thoughts on “Getting to Know Jennifer Ashley…”

  1. Thanks Jamie for introducing me to a new author (to me) jumping over to B&N to buy one of her mysteries. I’m looking forward to Wed.’s blog. Marian

  2. Hi Jennifer! I’m a Jennifer too, and I love reading about others of us. Ever notice that so many of the top romance authors names start with J? I wonder if there’s something to that, but of course, I might be biased. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. No idea about that, LOL. Jennifer Ashley is my real name, so I went with it. But yes, there are a lot of Jennifer, Julia, Julie, Jackies out there publishing romance! 🙂 Lots of Lisas too!

  3. Hi, Jennifer! Thanks so much for visiting the Scribes. You are new to me as well (though I know I’ve seen your name(s)), so I’m really looking forward to reading some of your work. I also write mysteries (cozies) and I’m working on a new one right now. Regarding your process: Do you work backward, or forward, when you are plotting? In other words, when you begin, do you know whodunnit and then plot backward from that point? Or do you simply create a bunch of characters in the beginning and see who turns out to be guilty?

    1. Good question. I rarely know whodunit when I start writing a mystery. Even if I start with a villain in mind, it changes as I write the book. I like to start with the crime, then build the suspects around the character of the victim (who should be as fleshed out as all the others–more so, in fact). The solution presents itself to me about the same time the sleuth figures it out!

  4. Hi Jennifer,
    I’m not in the “J” club, but happy to see you here at Scribes. You are a new author for me as well so. I’m going to put your book at the top of my Need to Read list and get it next.

  5. Does PJ count for the Js?

    Welcome Jennifer. I’m with you on the Indie publishing gig. It has opened up so many opportunities for authors, both published and unpublished. Have your agent and editors been supportive of you diversifying like this?

    1. PJ counts. 🙂 My agent has been tremendously supportive of me venturing to indie. He finds the whole thing fascinating and asks me many questions about it. My print editors, thankfully, are too, but I’m trying to show them how indie pubbing can help my print career along–we all win.

  6. Hi Jennifer, welcome to the Scribes. It’s nice to have you here. I’m always excited to read more urban fantasy and paranormal romance (in between writing!). What is your general definition of urban fantasy? It seems like every time I start writing an urban fantasy, romance creeps in and I end up with more of an urban fantasy romance. I can’t help it! My books are more like Jeaniene Frost (where the heroine has her man, while the world around her is still dangerous). I can’t quite give my heroine the Kim Harrison treatment (kill off the boyfriend). While I enjoy reading both types of UF, a miserable ending doesn’t quite work for me in my own stories!

    1. I define urban fantasy as a fantasy set in the contemporary world, in which the plot–action/adventure/danger/save the world from the bad guys–has more space on the pages than the romance. But because I love romance (I refuse to kill off the boyfriend or do the love-triangle thing), I want to show that you can have a plot-driven urban fantasy with romance in it. Hence the Stormwalker series. The world is dangerous, but there’s an ongoing romance that arcs through the books. The couple has been together for a while too, so it’s more a developing relationship than “will they get together???” I don’t know if my method is the most popular one, but I like it. 🙂

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