Once more, I'm glad to bring you an interview I did with an author. This time it features Ashley Gardner, also known as Jennifer Ashley.
Here's what I asked:
1) When did you start making up stories?
I was eight years old. I realized that books were just make believe written down. I was good at make believe, so I started writing it down. Recently, I came across a play I had written when I was about nine. It had a protagonist and antagonist, secondary characters, conflict, and resolution. I seemed to know what I was doing! Writing has always been a part of me and my life.
2) How did your family think about it?
My family has always been supportive of my writing. My mother gave me a typewriter and a book called The Writer's Handbook when I was about twelve. My husband has patiently listened to me talk about my stories, and he reads all my manuscripts. His parents love that there's a writer in the family. Everyone is proud of me. It's very nice.
3) How long did it take you to finish your first novel?
My very first novel, I finished in about a year. The first novel that got published I wrote in five months..
4) Could you easily find a publisher for it?
I did not publish the first book I wrote. Good thing -- it was terrible! The manuscript I sold was the seventh I wrote, and I sold it to the first publisher I sent it to. The other six books will remain hidden forever. Believe, they should.
5) Did this book bring you immediate popularity?
A number of people bought my first book, PERILS OF THE HEART, and liked it. It built a good following, and my second book, THE PIRATE NEXT DOOR, also did well. My first mystery, THE HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR, continued to build up a following as well.
6) How did the critics treat your first publication?
I'm pleased that I got very good reviews on PERILS OF THE HEART (I was so nervous!). THE PIRATE NEXT DOOR got even better reviews (including a starred review in Booklist), plus it was also nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice award.
7) What do you have with pirates?
Actually, I never meant to write a pirate book. Then one day, an idea for a story just popped into my head. The more research I did on piratesn the more fascinating I found them. Did you know the crew elected the captain by vote? The the shares were divided equally (more to the captain and those who did the higher-level jobs, of course)? That rules for moderate eating and drinking and keeping the ship running were strictly observed? They really did have a code. They were more efficient and far more disciplined than many of the navies at the time.
8) Would you mind telling us why you write under two pen names and in different genres?
I have a split personality... Actually, I sold my first romance and my first mystery about the same time, but to two different publishers. My style of storytelling in each is vastly different. The romances are light-hearted abd told in th third person. The mysteries are dark and gritty and told in first person. The name is a signal of what the reader will get when they open the book.
9) Have you any preference for any of those two genres?
I am a huge mystery fan, and I love writing them. I can explore many facets of society and characters in mysteries that I don't have room for in romance. In romance, you really focus on the two main characters; in mystery, you focus on everything else. That said, I really enjoy writing romance. I can have fun with the hero and heroine -- it's like watching a Cary Grant movie in your head.
10) Care telling us if you have a favorite writer of your own, or a favorite book?
I read three genres: mystery, fantasy, and romance, so I'll pick three authors. In fantasy, Terry Pratchett is amazing. His books and are funny and sharp and worth reading. In mystery, I have to go with Lyndsey Davis. She writes mysteries set in ancient Rome, which are incredibly well-written and vivid (and amusing). In romance, I'll pick Jane Feather. Not only is she a good romantic storyteller, but her historical detail is fantastic!
Jennifer thanked my for the interview, and I thank her because she gave me the idea I could also write a books in which pirates occur (and I did mind the discipline on board!). That is in THE HAVERSHAM LEGACY.