My guest today is Ashley M. Christman who as you’ll see has a very interesting hobby of sorts. Here she tells us about past and present work and offers some writing tips. Check out her incredible Web site at www.ashleymchristman.com
Susan Palmquist(SP)-I think you have one of the best Web sites I’ve visited. Is it all your work?
Ashley Christman(AC)-The layout is a clever template provided by my webhost, but other than that, I’m the one that does all the maintenance on my site. I try to keep it easy to navigate for the most part and I upload new content as often as possible. I think it might be a quicker process if I did have an assistant. Oh well, I can dream.
SP-One of your favorite authors is Anne Rice. What is it you like about her work?
AC-I like how she was really the first to take everything we thought we knew about vampires and turned it into something completely different. In my mind, she was one of the first people since Dracula to make vampires sex symbols. Also, her protagonist, Lestat isn’t really a hero at all. He’s very much an anti-hero, and I love him for it.
SP-Do you think it’s a good idea for writers to pen stories similar to the ones they love to read?
AC-Reading stories similar to ones they write, help them learn. I don’t believe you can truly write in a genre if you’ve never read anything in that genre. How can you write sci-fi if you don’t know what is appealing in sci-fi stories? That said, I think it’s also good to read outside of your genre, that allows for you to expand your horizons and learn new things.
SP-And here’s something that got my attention when I was on your Web site, you go on paranormal investigations…you even have some photos. How did you get involved in that…did you have any training?
AC-I’ve always been interested in paranormal investigating. When I was a kid, one of the many careers I thought I’d have would be to travel the country in an RV and investigate every haunted place in America. I got involved with it because I wanted to do it, so I joined Riverside Investigators of the Paranormal (RIP). A lot of the training involved is hands on. You learn from people who’ve been doing it a lot longer than you and go on as many investigations as possible. Of course, there’s a large learning curve and just when you think you’ve learned it all, something new comes along.
SP-Any good investigations you can share with us?
AC-We were investigating a cemetery a few days before Halloween. These kids thought it’d be a good time to hold a séance at one of the graves and scared themselves. They ran out screaming. Well about thirty minutes later, the police show up and we’re rolling our eyes and actually irritated because we’d just finished setting up our equipment. Well the cops were incredibly interested in what we were doing and asking us all kinds of questions about our equipment and I we caught anything. Afterwards we laughed because it was kind of cool that the cops were more curious than anything.
SP-Do you ever use these investigations as story ideas?
AC-I’ve tried to, but what really goes on in an investigation is actually quite boring. The fun comes from working with your team and just chit chatting.
SP-The Witching Hour is your latest book; tell us about it and how it came about?
AC-Lucky Sands is anything but. His wife is cheating on him, his job sucks, and when she walks out on him and dies in a car crash, the only thing he can think of is drowning himself in cheap booze and cheaper sex. But when he finds his childhood friend Tuesday Peters working in a brothel, his luck takes a steep downward dive after he finds out her twin sister is dead…and that Wednesday’s death was no accident. Together Lucky and Tuesday embark on a search for answers, plagued by spirits and deities alike. Every clue along their path points not just to the truth of Wednesday’s murder, but to divine machinations that prove everything Lucky knows about life to be wrong–and prove there’s no such thing as luck. Only fate…and the madness of the gods.
Lucky and his world stems from an inside joke between a good friend and me.
SP-And Requiem was published by Noble Romance, maybe you can tell us about that too?
AC-Requiem follows Kate Kincaid, a vampire succubus, who for millennia has wandered through life feeding on both the blood and sex of mortals. Even that gets boring after a while. Her life is caught in monotony until she meets Hollywood heart throb, Aidan Cross.
Aidan is human which normally puts him on the menu, but Kate finds herself attracted to him in more ways than one and decides to wait before she kills him to see if the allure is something more than his irresistible good looks. Already confused by her inclinations towards a romantic entanglement with Aidan, matters are not made any easier when Jack, comes to town.
Jack and Kate have a very complicated relationship dating back to the fall of Rome. He’s an angel, she’s not. One night with her will make him fall and be damned to life in the demon ranks. Jack’s presence not only complicates her life, but acts a catalyst for the extraordinary chain of events that will forever change her.
She has to choose between a life with Jack and a life with Aidan. With Aidan she can pretend to be human while with Jack she’ll actually be human.
SP-I think most of us would agree with your statement that the publishing world is brutal. Any tips for aspiring writers, the dos and don’ts of the business?
AC-Hmm…let me think.
Do-Write. You can’t get published if you don’t write.
Don’t-Allow yourself to be easily discouraged. Publishing is a form of entertainment industry. Everyone knows you need a thick skin in the entertainment industry.
Do-Work to improve your craft. You can’t get better unless you work on it.
Don’t-Be unprofessional. Publishing is a small world and your reputation will follow you.
Do-Have a network of fellow writers. Over the last year I’ve managed to make some solid connections with other writers through both my publishers and websites geared towards writers. These have proved invaluable because not only do they have a good eye for honest critiques, but also for being a soundboard when you need advice or just someone to listen. Because let’s face, no one understands what we as writers go through better than other writers. I think that’s because we’ve all gone through a lot of the same things in this business.
SP-What mistakes have you learned along the way?
AC-Every day is a learning experience. The one mistake that stays with me is at the start of my career when I didn’t realize that different agents and publishers handle different things. I didn’t know about sites like Absolute Write, so I sent off a manuscript to the wrong agent and of course it was rejected. Thankfully, I’ve found a place like Absolute Write.
SP-So what’s next for you?
AC-The first book in a new series I’m writing has just been contracted with Lyrical Press and I’m working on various other projects right now that will carry me through 2011. Then who knows?