KA time, book junkies!!!! If you know anything about me, you know that I am not JUST a Kristen Ashley fan. I am addicted, dependent on, always craving and find nirvana in a KA book. It leaves me hazy-eyed for days to come and I’m shamelessly proud of it.
When I started planning my Birthday Extravaganza, I knew I wanted to have as many of my favourite authors in it as possible, as a sort of ‘homage’ to the incredibly talented individuals who make my life richer with their beautiful stories and make me dream with my eyes open. It might be my birthday but this has all been about them. I was uncertain about what to do for the ‘grand finale’, but nothing could have ever prepared me for the offer that flew into my lap when I was told I could have an interview with the Queen of the Alpha Males, the rockin’ one and only, Kristen Ashley.
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Welcome to my little blog, Ms Kristen!
Wow, honey. What lovely, lovely things to say. I’m honoured to have been asked to help you celebrate your birthday and I so hope I can keep you “hazy” for a long time to come!
There is absolutely no doubt about that! If you continue writing at the pace we’ve become accustomed to, I see only KA-haziness in my future. Now, let’s get down to business and talk a bit about those fabulous alpha males of yours! I have on more than one occasion “blamed” you for ruining all men for me by creating heroes who are not only perfect male specimens, but they are also kind, protective, dominant, territorial, loving, sexy as hell …. *fans herself* … where was I? Oh yes, your heroes … They take no rubbish from anyone with their no-nonsense attitudes, they love their leading ladies fiercely, body and soul, and they never deliver a bad line. Who inspired these fabulous badass men, Kristen, and please include full names and addresses?
HA! The truth is I grew up around alpha-males, from the strong, silent type to the strong, not-so-silent type so I guess it’s just what I experienced. In my books, there is, of course, a healthy dose of fiction involved and some embellishing, but sometimes my brother will say something, or my uncle, or I’ll remember how my grandfather used to be, and I’ll think, “Ah, there it is. That’s where it came from.”
I still see no addresses in front of me… You mention the way the men in your life talk – the language used by your alphas, especially those from the Dream Man series or the Colorado Mountain series, is quite unusual for someone who’s never heard men speak that way, very direct and uniquely to the point. They also make for some of the sexiest dialogues I have ever read. No one can make a male character say, “Babe.”, and make him speak volumes with just that one word. This is what defibrillators are invented for, Kristen! My favourite book quote ever is one of yours, of course …
“I was your man, you were halfway around the world from me, honey, I’d f*cking phone you … If you told me you needed a timeout, first, I wouldn’t f*ckin’ let you have one. Second, I wouldn’t give you reason to f*ckin’ want one. And last, you took off anyway, I’d f*ckin’ phone.” (The Gamble)
You manage to make it sound so authentic and unforced. So sexy and yet so to the point. To me, KA males are really gentlemen that just happen to have a deliciously rough exterior. Apart from your family members, did you grow up around men who always spoke like that?
Kind of. But mostly it comes from how I write. It’s very strange but my books play like movies in my head and I’m frantically typing to get down what I’m seeing there, where people are, how they’re moving their bodies, their faces, what they’re wearing and, perhaps most crucially, what they’re saying. I’m also “in” the characters so, especially in the voice I’m writing (say, if I’m writing in the heroine’s voice), I actually experience what they’re feeling.
I’m delighted it doesn’t sound “forced” because it isn’t. These characters exist in an alternate reality in my head, I hear their voices, I see their faces, I watch them move and it just flows through them to my fingertips to the keyboard!
And then they end up in our heads, ruining all men for us in the process! What about your heroines? Your female characters are just as strong and just as opinionated as your male ones. They are smart-mouthed, sassy and they give their leading men a run for their money. No one could ever accuse your books of being sexist when you have created inspiring female leads that are so passionate and independent in their own right. From the endless interviews with you that I have read over time, I think I can safely conclude that there is a bit of you in each one of those ladies. Did you also grow up around strong women who inspired such characters?
Absolutely. Thinking of this and wracking my brain, I can’t actually think of a single woman in my life growing up who wasn’t her own brand of strong and wise, kind and funny, loving and gracious. And also those in my lives now that I’ve grown up! So I have a very deep well to draw from for my heroines and their friends and loved ones.
I think I want your life… These fabulous stories you write, Kristen, they must make your mind race all the time like constantly changing channels but with no control of the remote. Before you start a new book, do you have the entire plot in your head or does it develop as you go? I’ve heard of authors waking up in the middle of the night because they’ve had a breakthrough in their story, desperate to jot down these thoughts before they forget. When do you find that ideas most frequently come to you?
I never have any clue how a book is going to go until it’s going and I don’t know how it’s going to end (except there will be an HEA) until it’s done. It develops as I go. Sometimes, there will be things that I know are going to happen somewhere in the book, a reveal, a piece of history explained, and I write to that then beyond. But I get to see it play out in my head much like you get to read it play out in my books.
There are times when characters don’t “come to me”. Usually, they come to me very strong and I know pretty much everything about them. There have now been two times, Sam and Kia in HEAVEN AND HELL and the heroine of the book I’m currently writing, who are sharing their secrets with me as I write. It is a bit anxiety-inducing because I’m wondering what’s going on and where the story is leading me. But I think of it as very much having what my readers have when they read my work, not having any clue what will happen until I turn the page. Which is awesome!
As for inspiration, I find it everywhere. It can happen all the time. There isn’t a time when it most frequently comes to me. As you probably know, recently, I was supposed to be writing the final ROCK CHICK, but I was sitting outside, staring at the night sky, saw a shooting star and on the heels of that, Raiden Miller came to me full-on. BAM! I tried to fight it but he took hold so I had to go with him and tell his story with Hanna, I was desperate to get him to his happy ending. So I just did it.
Now, I have no idea why that star led me there. I’m just so glad it did!
The stars must have been on your side because you self-published all your books (am I wrong?) and became one of the first authors to achieve international stardom that way. You focused on eBooks rather than old-fashioned paperbacks, making it no secret that that was your priority because it meant your books would be widely accessible to readers at lower prices and instantly. In hindsight, is this a path you would recommend to new aspiring authors? If you could impart one piece of advice to someone who wishes to write for a living, what would that be?
I am, indeed, self-published however, I am journeying forward both as an indie author and with a traditional publisher. I signed with Grand Central Publishing last year and they are publishing my Dream Man and Colorado Mountain series in print (they’re still in eBook) this year. I am also working with them on the launch of the Chaos Series (a spin-off of Dream Man) and the next two Colorado Mountain books.
That said, I’ll still be publishing indie and have, until GCP, published only indie. I chose to focus on eBooks mostly because I had decided to change the path of my life and focus only on writing and publishing for a time to see if my passion could take flight. And I didn’t have a great deal of money to test this theory! And eBook publishing is very inexpensive (that is, free). If I could have afforded to go to print at the same time with all my books, I would have. Many, many, MANY readers still only read traditional books and I have not even begun to tap that readership (though, at least nineteen of my books will be available in print in the coming 12 months).
I also didn’t have money for a good editor and copy-editor and these relationships are very important. I would hate to see my books in print in the state they were in with grammar and punctuation errors, as well as needed editorial pruning. So, as it turns out, the way it worked for me worked!
As for advice, I’d say the absolute most important piece of advice I’d give to someone who wanted to write is… do it. Finish your book, get it where you want it to be but then let it go and let fly. It might not work but at least you’ll know. Don’t hesitate. Explore your dream. Always, always explore your dreams.
Did you say NINETEEN paperbacks?! Dear Santa, I promise to be a very reasonably good girl … What is next for the fabulous KA? What stories should we be anxiously awaiting?
Personally, I’m anxiously awaiting all of them and wish I could write five books simultaneously because there’s a great deal rolling around in my head that I’m dying to get out!
But what’s definitely coming up next is RAID, the next in the Unfinished Heroes series, will be available in eBook on February 28 (with the print book available on or very close to that date). The first in the Chaos series, OWN THE WIND, will be available in eBook on April 2 (print June 25). The second in the Chaos series, FIRE INSIDE, will be out in eBook in July 2013. With the next in the COLORADO MOUNTAIN series coming out later in the year. And I hope to squeeze in the final ROCK CHICK and, if my fingers can go fast enough, the next in THE ‘BURG series and the FANTASTICAL series in late 2013, early 2014. And then onward!
OMG, Kristen, so MANY stories to look forward to!! I don’t think I have that many sick leave days left… By the way, I have to ask this and I know I am not alone in this, when are you coming to Australia??
Ha! I wish I could say next week. I love Australia. Since having a vacation there years ago, I’ve wanted to go back, like, bad. And I hope one day to do just that. And we’ll have a drink, darlin’, and go find this awesome bike above! Holy cow! That freaking rocks!
It’s a date! THANK YOU so much, Kristen, for turning a day that normally gives me hives each year into a truly special one! No one will ever make me dream about biker dudes and rock chicks like you do.
Thank you so much, Natasha, for asking me to be a part of your special celebration. It truly is an honour! Wishing you a happy birthday, hoping you have fun, find trouble but don’t get caught and here’s to many more blogs and birthdays!
Now, about those names and addresses, Kristen… ;)
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