Interview with Jennifer Ashley Part Two

Hey Scribers! Jennifer Ashley is back. In part two of her interview she talks about how she interviews heroines for her heroes. If you missed part one click HERE.  Enjoy!

Author Jane Haddam says that anyone who seriously annoys her gets bumped off in her next book.  How do you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories?

I don’t. When I write, I shut out the real world. The only thing that exists is the world of my characters and stories. If I put real-life experience into the books, it’s in terms of emotional experience.  For example, when I lost someone very close to me, it gave me the ability to understand what a character who’d lost someone close went through. I was better able to write those emotions after going through the pain myself. Or, I took a fencing class to learn what it feels like to hold a rapier and fight with one (good for historicals and fantasies), and I want to learn to shoot for the same reason.

When I read the title for The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie I knew I had to own that book. When I read the first chapter I knew I had to read everything you’ve ever written. Did you set out to write a series or did it come about organically? And how did you come up with a hero that was so atypical and still very lovable?

LOL. Thank you! I came up with the entire series in one go. I was sitting on my couch, staring out the window at my pretty back yard, and the Mackenzie family walked into my head. I saw a family of four brothers, all rich, decadent, scandalous, bad boys. Real bad boys–not guys down on their luck or only perceived of as rakehells.

They get into the newspapers, and get talked about, and deservedly so! I wanted them to have more depth than being just party animals. Each brother’s sad (and happy) history started coming out–Mac with his drinking; Cameron with his bad marriage; Hart with his control-freak nature, and Ian with Asperger’s.

Ian simply announced he was Ian. I started writing scenes for him right away, most of which I didn’t use. I struggled to find him a heroine–Beth was, I think, heroine number five who applied. For some reason, when she met Ian, they clicked. So Beth got the job.

I’m not sure how Ian turned out how he did. I wrote him thinking no one but me would like him, because he’s not yer typical romance hero. I thought I might be tanking my career, but said “what the heck?”

I was very lucky to have an editor who let me experiment with the Mackenzies. I have the feeling that if I’d pitched it as my first novel, it would have gotten turned down like crazy. It was a risky book. But I’ve never liked walking the straight and narrow. 🙂

What’s next for you? Upcoming projects? Life events? Anything you would like to share or brag about?

Tons of things coming up. (Taking a deep breath…)

Shifters Unbound series: WILDCAT(book 3) is out in January.

I’m also writing a series of tie-in short novels (which will be in print and e-), between releases. I think the books are scheduled way too far apart (nothing I could do about that), and I want to fill in the time between with more stories. BODYGUARD came out in November (and did very well!), and there will be 2-3 novellas this year. I have many Shifter characters to work with: Ronan, Spike, Ellison, Shane & Brody, and many others.

Mackenzies: Hart’s book, THE DUKE’S PERFECT WIFE is up in April. After that will come books about characters who have been introduced in the series, such as Elliot (brother of Ainsley from Cameron’s book) in THE SEDUCTION OF ELLIOT MCBRIDE, and Cameron’s son Daniel in his own book. Plus others, but that’s what’s scheduled so far. I would like to do a series of short novels for this series too.

Stormwalker: I will soon be continuing the Stormwalker series I write as Allyson James. Look for NIGHTWALKER soon! (Feb or March)

Historical Mysteries: I’m having a blast re-releasing my historical mystery series (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, by Ashley Gardner), and have just put out Book 7 in the series, A DEATH IN NORFOLK. Book 8, A Disappearance in Drury Lane, will be out this spring. I’m so thrilled by the response to this revived series!

Also another Shareem book as Allyson James. JUSTIN at the end of January if all goes well.

What was your biggest mis-step in your writing career so far?

Signing contracts I didn’t understand. Giving up rights to books when I didn’t understand I was doing it. That has come back to bite me more than once.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

Rueful. Don’t know why that makes me nuts. Or when someone says “This needs fixed.” Or “This needs typed.”  Aaaahhhh!  It’s “This need TO BE fixed” or, in a pinch “This needs FIXING.” It’s a future action. And please don’t give me a rueful smile if you admit to saying this.

What is your junk food of choice?

Chocolate.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Written The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a ‘G’ rated blog! 🙂 }

British TV murder mysteries. I have a collection and watch them over and over again; and love it when new ones come out. Why do I rewatch them when I know who did it already? I don’t know! But I love the writing, the characters, the actors, especially if they have great voices, like Michael Kitchen in Foyle’s War. Big bowl of popcorn, Brit mystery, happy me.

Thanks for joining us Jennifer!

Scribe fans, show your love. Leave a question or comment.

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10 thoughts on “Interview with Jennifer Ashley Part Two”

  1. I love the risk you took with Ian. SO glad you did it. I love characters that are realistic. I can relate to them more, and as a writer, it’s an opportunity to turn hearts and minds for a better understanding and acceptance of all kinds of people.

    Thanks for visiting the Scribes!

    1. Thank you! It truly was a risk, and publishers don’t like “risky” books at this time. But the story was from my heart, and I was going to write it whether anyone liked it or not. I was surprised by the great reception of Madness of Lord Ian, and thrilled that others loved him as much as I did.

  2. I am definitely going to check out those Captain Lacey historical mysteries — they sound like they’re right up my alley! Am I correct in assuming that those were first traditionally published, then you indie-pubbed them when you got the rights back? What’s your experience been with navigating the different publishing venues available now? (traditional, indie, digital press)

    1. The first six Captain Lacey books were trad published, then I re-released them indie. I also wrote an original novella and an original novel (A Death in Norfolk, released in Oct. 2011), and I’m pleased to say the originals did very well! Much better than I imagined.

      My experience navigating them could take up another blog. 🙂 Each publishing path has its own challenges. In indie publishing, you have much more control of the content of your books, and much more opportunity to write and publish something that trad. publishers might say “doesn’t sell” (meaning, it won’t sell in the huge amounts they want to see). But with indie pubbing, you have more responsibility to make sure the book is well-edited and proofread, that your cover is good, that the formatting is near-perfect, that the sales blurb is accurate as well as good at selling the book, and many other things. I personally love taking that responsibility, but some authors find it daunting.

  3. thank you, Ashley for a great and informative interview. It sounds like you are amazingly prolific based on your production schedule. If there is an easy answer to how you manage the writing and the required marketing/promotion, please fill us in!

    1. Thank you! No, there are no easy answers. It’s a matter of scheduling your time. I don’t do a lot of online promo–for me, what works best is paying attention to what I’m putting inside the books. Most readers will never meet you, read your blog, join your FB, or even go to your website. The only contact they will have with you is your book, so it’s best to put your best effort there (which sounds like “duh” advice, but you’d be surprised). I’ve always been a low-key marketer. I think books sell the books. That said, I do keep my website up to date and make sure there’s always fresh content on FB and Twitter. If readers are looking for info, I make sure they can find it. All this plus writing takes time, but I found that when I stopped watching a lot of TV, suddenly the hours in the day were there…

  4. Can I just say – thank you! For concentrating on your next book rather than killing yourself with social media! I really try hard to focus on writing the next book too (and I say this as someone whose first published novel comes out next week). I still have to work a day job and I have to spend my time wisely. So for me, it’s focusing on the next book and keeping my blogs updated once a week. I do Twitter and FB too, but try and keep it to a minimum (hard to do with Twitter because it’s a great distraction for me). p.s. – What’s your twitter handle?

    1. On Twitter I’m JennAllyson. I have another for the mysteries, GardnerAuthor, but I don’t use it as much.

      Congrats on your first release! It’s soooo exciting, and stressful too! 🙂

  5. I was wondering how many readers really find new authors through online promotion. I was an avid reader before I was a writer and I can only recalling going to an authors website once. I find other writers are more likely to visit blogs and etc. I usually find most new writers through friends or titles of books.
    PS. Who are your favorite writers?

    1. As a reader, I’m more likely to go to sites that list nothing but books an author has written, such as Fantastic Fiction. They list all books of an author, broken into series–so if I’m following series A by Author Y, I can figure out which book I’m on and which ones I haven’t read yet. A handy site! No bells and whistles, just info on books.

      As for authors I like: Too many to list them all. I love Donna Leon’s mystery series set in Venice; like Patricia Briggs’ Mercy series, Terry Pratchett for fantasy, and so many others in romance, mystery, and fantasy, my three favorite reading genres.

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