I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Barron, author of romantic thriller Ava. Check out the great responses below.
1. What inspired you to write?
A love of reading led me to explore writing fiction.
Before I wrote my first novel, I had no concept of just how much work goes into crafting a story, a plot, characters, scenes, twists, openings, closings, and choosing names for people and places! I now have a great appreciation for the time, energy, and creativity that goes into developing a novel – even if that novel isn’t suited to my reading tastes.
Long before I had finished the first draft of Ava (Book One in the Priya Series), I knew there would be many more books to follow and had already started charting the key element of future novels in the series.
It is addictive, living certain hours of the day in a fantasy world completely of my own creation. On that note, you’d think I would have created a perfect, flowery world filled with peace and happiness. But I didn’t. Not long after I realized my first novel would be a romance, the bomb scene showed up on my page. With that new plot line in mind, I ended up classifying my novel as a romantic thriller.
It is funny how unexpected changes sneak past my conscious mind and make their way onto the pages of my stories. I love it.
2. What is the most enjoyable aspect of writing?
My favorite writing time is definitely a time that annoys everyone in my life. It’s when I turn off the phones, close all the doors, sit down at my computer, and simply start typing.
At the beginning of a session like this one I may think I know where I’m going with my words, my plot and characters, but I don’t. On the best days, the pace of my typing reaches a fevered pitch and I don’t know what I’m writing until I read it on the page, afterwards.
I also enjoy the opportunity to create complicated situations and then bring the story to a positive resolution. I’m a big fan of happy endings, but I also enjoy working through emotional tangles that are made worse by unexpected twists in the plot.
The only time I get to be surprised by what happens in one my novels or short stories is when I’m writing the words on the page for the first time. I believe this is why I enjoy writing so many different types of books: novels, short stories, and non-fiction.
When a new story begins to rise, when I feel new characters pushing their way out of a cocoon-like place deep in my mind, the feeling is one of pure pleasure. I try to release the characters at the earliest possible opportunity, and this often means I’m sitting at my computer, typing furiously, long into the night. For me, there is something so freeing about writing beneath the moon and the stars.
3. What is the most difficult aspect of writing?
I don’t write novels in order. I generally write a series of mini-stories and then weave them all together. When I make a small change to one character or story line, it can be difficult to find each and every sentence in a 100,000-word manuscript that has been impacted by that change. Generally, this happens during the first editing stage, so I would say that this is most difficult aspect of writing for me.
Another complicated aspect came about when I decided to turn my almost completed first novel into a series. Suddenly, every choice, sentence, and action taken by a character had new significance. I found I needed to map out as far down the road as I could see – even knowing there would be many changes when it came time to write those sequels – and to try and find the threads that would fit well into Ava.
I ended up rewriting Ava four full times! Perhaps, it is best to go into writing a first novel with the idea that you will write a sequel or two. It helps to keep loose ends tidy and to give emphasis to secondary characters by adding an extra layer or two to them.
4. Do you plot in detail beforehand or let it unfold as you go?
I’m a combination of plotter and pantser. I do create a general outline of a novel before beginning it, but I find that many changes come along naturally during the writing process. Lately, I’ve been getting into storyboards and charting, too.
In contrast, the short stories I write are not planned. In fact, I never planned to write them in the first place!
There are 18 of the short stories, including The Birthday, Famous, and Zippers, and each one was unexpected. I found that there were days when I simply needed to “tell a story” and not “work on a novel.” (The two mindsets are very different for me.)
So I put my fingers on the keyboard, opened my heart, and simply let the story come out. They are all very emotional stories about love and relationships, but they bear little resemblance to my own life. I’m not really certain where they came from, or if there are any more like them waiting to be told.
5. What attracts you about the genre you write in?
Stories about love have always attracted me, from my earliest of reading days. Love comes in so many different forms. The obvious category is Romance, but there are also plenty of stories about love that center on family relationships, or best friends.
Love seems to have been so sexualized as a word that we aren’t always focusing on the healing beauty of a story that finds a way to bring about a happy ending from a complicated family situation, like a parent with Alzheimer’s, or a spouse or sibling wounded in war.
Every story I write carries a theme of love, of finding a measure of happiness even in one’s darkest hours. Even when it seems impossible. It’s my belief that as humans, hope is our most precious emotion, and that love is not a feeling but rather a series of actions we undertake to communicate to another human that hope lives within us.
It serves to follow, then, by my reasoning, that true love is in fact never giving up hope. Not for any reason. Not at any point. The hope, expressed through the actions of true love, is eternal.
6. Are there any other genres you might consider writing in?
I am laying the foundation for future novels in other genres. I have an action/adventure in the works, plus a paranormal and a YA series in the early stages of development. The timeline for writing and publishing these novels is currently being planned, and though I had hopes for a 2013 release for at least one of them, it is looking more and more like 2014.
At some point, I would like to take one of my stories and turn it into a screenplay. What a fascinating experience it would be to have an opportunity to see one’s own work in a whole new light. Even though writing a screenplay is currently only on my wish list, at least it has made it to some list in my keeping.
I would also like to write a few short stories in which another author and I trade characters. I wrote a blog post on this some time back, and I think pairing my contemporary romance characters with those of a historical romance author would be seriously fun. Suzan Tisdale and I have talked about doing this together and I hope we will find our way to the project within the next six months.
7. How do you think the publishing industry has changed?
Let me count the ways! There is such energy and enthusiasm everywhere I turn. The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in publishing. The most obvious examples are Amazon Kindle and self-published authors, but there are many other areas of the marketplace that are growing. Book cover artists, formatters, and freelance editors are a few, along with marketing experts, web designers, and social media pros.
Change can sometimes be painful, but innovation is always a gift. Small businesses are popping up daily, it seems, and newly-minted authors are bringing their books to the e-shelves. Best of all, readers certainly seem to be hungry for more stories, for new plot ideas, and for cross-genre novels.
Last week, I launched IndieBookWeek.com as a gathering point for self-published and indie-published authors who want to promote a book, share a blog post or book trailer, and meet new potential readers through interviews, blog tours, and contests.
There are a number of new marketing features for authors coming to IndieBookWeek.com in the next few months and all of them evolved as a result of the gaps I found in the marketplace while journeying from occasional writer to published author.
8. If you could be any of your characters, who would you be, and why?
I don’t think I could pick just one; they all carry some small part of me. Maybe it’s my loud and happy laugh, or the way I’m always losing my keys, or that I’m obsessed with flowers. Something in each and every character – even the bad ones – comes from me.
Strange as this many sound, it would feel disrespectful to choose one character over another.
9. Tell us about Ava in a single sentence.
True love is always worth the risks one must take to find it.
10. What can we expect from the sequel?
The second book in the Priya series is Bonner.
Bonner Danilov is a feisty journalist in love with a man, Locke Arden, who is not as he seems. Readers first met both of them in Ava. I must say that this story is going to hurt before it heals. A big part of that is due to the thriller arc started in Ava and carried forward in Bonner.
I’m reasonably sure that no one who read Ava will be prepared for what’s coming in Bonner.
When the story opens, the reader might think Yes, yes, okay, what I expected, right on sched—BOOM! And in a single second, in a moment that can never be reclaimed, everything changes. Forever.
Bonner will be available in paperback and e-book in time for Memorial Day. Get ready!
Ashley Barron loves books, Washington, D.C., her family, and all things small business. In addition to writing novels, short stories, and how-to guides, she is an active blogger and can often be found on Twitter as @dcPriya.