After spending countless hours memorizing both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, perfecting her tones, and practicing her speaking with any Chinese native she could find, Ashley successfully graduated with a degree in Mandarin Chinese. She was determined to be the next best Chinese translator in the world… Then she discovered writing historical romances was as much fun as reading them, and her Chinese capabilities have never been the same. When she isn’t writing sexy, emotional historical romances set in the Victorian Era, Ashley stays busy trying to entertain her two young daughters, attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of Colorado.
And now on to my very first interview.
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If you woke up in a jail cell – who would be sitting next to you, and what would be the first words out of your mouth? I’d say, “Well, this sucks” to the dissident sitting beside me because we’d both been arrested for insulting King Henry VIII and his proclivity for arresting/beheading those who didn’t agree with his policies. (What, you expected me to NOT think in historical terms? 😉 )
What has been the single biggest change in your life since you’ve become a published author? Trying to be “present” when I spend time with my family. I have a large to-do list, and I must always try to concentrate on leaving my author persona to the hours of the day when I’m not with my family. They are my number one priority, and I want them to know that by my interactions with them.
Who are some of your favorite authors, in or out of the romance genre? In no particular order, my favorite romance authors are Lisa Kleypas, Julie Anne Long, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Sherry Thomas. There are many, many more, but it would be a VERY long list. 🙂 Because I don’t have a lot of time to read I typically stick with romance, but the last non-romance book that I remember making an impression on me was the historical fiction novel I, ELIZABETH by Rosalind Miles. What are you reading right now? THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE by Jenn LeBlanc. It’s an illustrated time-travel romance written by a fellow Colorado author and I’ve heard so many great things about it that I knew I had to read it myself. If only I had more time–I’m lucky if my schedule allows me to read a chapter a week.
Your novels are set in the Victorian Era – what about that time period so appeals to you? What are your favorite parts of it? I enjoy that SO MUCH happened during the Victorian Era, and I don’t mean because it spanned multiple decades. Changes occurred constantly, both in England and abroad. The dark tone we usually associate to the era appeals to me (as opposed to the lighter tone of the Regency); the transition from the power being held by the aristocracy to the middle class; new innovations and inventions; the advance of medicine and education. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas for new stories.
Do you write your stories with a particular message in mind? And if so, is that clear from the beginning, or does it take shape during the course of writing? As of right now it appears to me that my author theme is forgiveness/healing, as these seem to be very important in both SEDUCING THE DUCHESS and ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. However, I don’t have a particular message or theme in mind when I begin writing a book. My goal is to discover who the characters are as I write; even after plotting the book I usually end up (pleasantly) surprised by who they become and what they do.
On your website – you alluded to being very interested in Chinese, what aspect, the language, the history, etc? And do you plan on incorporating that interest into any of your future novels? I’m a polyglot. I love languages (even I though I can no longer speak those I’ve studied). It was the challenge of the Chinese language that initially attracted me, but as I find so often when learning a language, soon you become enamored with the people, the culture, and the history as well. I would love to visit China some day. I’ve played with the thought of a Chinese setting or characters, but usually an idea has to strike me first to be able to plot out a novel. Once an idea hits me for a Chinese setting or character, then I won’t be able to help myself. However, it hasn’t happened yet.
What is the craziest/worst writing advice you’ve ever received (and promptly ignored)? Before I was published, I had someone critique my writing and tell me that you’re absolutely not supposed to use the word “was.” This is an example of someone learning about the misuse of the passive voice and taking it to the extreme.
Thank you so much, Ashley, for taking the time for this interview! For anyone that would like a copy of her debut novel SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, please leave a comment and tell me what the “Craziest or Worst Writing Advice YOU’VE Ever Received” and I’ll choose a commentor at random to have the book shipped to. And don’ t miss the next release of Ashley’s, out Sept. 7, 2011, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS.
SEDUCING THE DUCHESS - Win a copy!