Thanks for joining me today on Night Owl Romance.
Tammie King of NOR: To get us started can you please start by telling us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
Jennifer Ashley: My May 2009 release is The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, the first of a historical series involving four brothers. Ian, the youngest, grew up in an asylum. He has Asperger's Syndrome, which is considered high-functioning autism, but in Victorian days, no one knew what it was. Is he mad or isn't he? Everyone, including Ian himself, doesn't know how to answer that question.
Enter Beth Ackerley, a woman who grew up in the slums of London then was bestowed with wealth by an eccentric elderly lady. Beth thinks she finally has the chance to find a little peace and stability in her life, then Ian Mackenzie hits her like an avalanche. But Beth is not someone to sit back and let even the decadent Mackenzie family run over her.
Tammie King of NOR: Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Jennifer Ashley: I'm a full-time writer, something I aspired to be all my life. I live in the southwestern U.S. where it's hot and dry and the sky is big. I love it out here. Before I became a writer, I got my master's degree in English lit (reading novels for a degree is just cool), I taught a little, and I was an editor at a medium-sized nonfiction press. Medium-sized nonfiction presses are a dying breed so I soon decided to not pursue more editorial jobs and turn to writing (which I'd been picking for a while). Once I made writing my primary job, I started selling (in 2002), and here I am.
Tammie King of NOR: If you could be one of the characters from this book - Who would you be? And why?
Jennifer Ashley: My characters go through so much pain and heartache that I prefer to remain me!
However, if I had to choose a character from Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, I'd pick the heroine, Beth Ackerley. She inherits a fortune, goes to Paris, and gets pursued by a gorgeous, hot-bodied guy. I could go for that.
Tammie King of NOR: Can you please give us a sneak peek into the book?
Jennifer Ashley: The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz. The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women. Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband. And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her. You can read Chapter 1 here: http://www.jennifersromances.com/Madnessoflordianexcerpt.htm
Tammie King of NOR: What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
Jennifer Ashley: Best advice: Stay published.
Worst advice: "Don't make your books too hot; readers don't like it." And "Don't write vampires. They don't sell."
Tammie King of NOR: Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Jennifer Ashley: It's taken me seven years and 30 books and novellas to figure out how I write.
I don't outline per se. Ideas for characters and situations rove around my brain for months to years. Once I sit down and write these ideas, I pump out the first 100 pages in a fiery heat with no pre-plotting or synopsizing or anything of that kind.
Writing the 100 pages in a fever lets me get the gunk out of my brain and develop the characters/plot in a firm direction. It also lets me know whether I have something substantial to continue.
After the 100 pages, I pretty much know the end of the story (if I didn't already) and the major events that will take me there. I can then write a synopsis for my own use. If I'm trying to sell the book, I send a cleaned-up version of that synopsis and a revised, polished first 3 chapters (from the 100 pages) to my agent or editor.
I don't do charts, grids, post-its, spreadsheets, index cards, collages, or whathaveyou. I've tried all of those, and they just slow me down and frustrate me. I have to have that intensely creative push right at the beginning or I can't write the book.
I intensely rewrite, and sometimes I throw away the first hundred pages and start again. But I don't believe that any writing is a waste of time. Even if I throw it away, those hundred pages taught me something (even if it's "don't do that.")
Tammie King of NOR: Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
Jennifer Ashley: I would like to write romantic suspense (I love mysteries and have a mystery series under the name Ashley Gardner). I'd also like to write more mysteries (and finish the Ashley Gardner series).
For now I like what I'm writing--paranormal and historical romances.
Tammie King of NOR: What was your first published work and when was it published?
Jennifer Ashley: The first novel I sold was Perils of the Heart, published in 2002 by Leisure/Dorchester. It's still in print and still available. Any bookstore can order it (if they don't have a copy on the shelf); it's also orderable through B&N, Amazon, or the publisher.
Perils of the Heart is my husband's favorite of my historical romances. He loves it.
My very first *work* on the other hand was a short story sold to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine in 1994. It was I think 3000 words, and I got $150 for it. Someone bought my writing and paid for it! My dream had come true! I still like that story.
Tammie King of NOR: Please tell us what you have planned next?
Jennifer Ashley: I am already contracted to write the next book in the series, and I plan so far to do four books:
2. Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage 3. The Many Sins of Lord Cameron 4. The Duke Takes a Wife
I'm also working on a brand new paranormal series, starting with PRIDE MATES which is coming out in January 2010. In this I speculated-what would *really* happen if shapeshifters were revealed to be real? What would the world do?
I decided the world would round them up and put them into more-or-less internment camps (Shifter-towns), try to take away their strength, and keep them having any powers (unless they could be harnessed for "normal" people's use). So the Shifters have pretty much lost their freedom and their power . . . or have they?
Kim Fraser, a defense attorney who is put in the position of having to defend a Shifter on a murder charge, is about to find out.
Tammie King of NOR: Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
Jennifer Ashley: I have one critique partner, Glenda Garland, who published Regencies with Kensington before they stopped their Regency program. She is an amazing plotter and can tell me where my plot holes are in two seconds flat. I always have her read about the first 100 pages and tell me whether I'm off to a good start, and then the rest when I'm finished. She's given me so much helpful advice, it's amazing.
I don't belong to a group, because it confuses me to have more than one person give me advice. I tend to think *everyone* is right and try to make my book please them all--result, a complete mess.
Sticking with Glenda has been a good thing. We've been critiquing each other since before we were pubbed.
Tammie King of NOR: What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
Jennifer Ashley: I am all over the Internet!
Website: http://www.jennifersromances.com and http://www.allysonjames.com Blogs: http://www.jennifersromances.blogspot.com, http://www.jenniferonwriting.blogpost.com and http://www.thechatelainesblog.com (a group of Leisure Historical authors)
I'm also on Facebook and on myspace at www.myspace.com/jenniferashleyauthor
You can link to ALL of these from my http://www.jennifersromances.com website.
Or readers can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for this opportunity!