Sunday, May 20, 2012

Anne Ashby Promo

I am pleased to welcome contemporary romance author Anne Ashby, who happens to come from New Zealand where I used to live. If you're looking for sweet love stories that you can share with your family, Anne's trove are the ones you should be reading. Her stories are not scorching erotica but have plenty of sizzle regardless.

Hi Anne, welcome to Booked Up.
Thank you for inviting me, I’m looking forward to sharing the day with you.

I love that you have used the things that are precious to you in your books, like your homeland in New Zealand, your employment in the Royal New Zealand Navy and even your interest in genealogy to tell your stories. What got you started in writing? While you enjoyed your career in the navy, you indicate on your bio that you dreamed of writing one day. Were you writing at all before 2000? If you hadn't turned to writing, where do you think your interests might have put you career wise?
I hate to think I would have ‘done nothing’ career-wise if I hadn’t started writing but I had already retired from a very satisfying career in the Navy, and had four kids to chase around after. They managed to fill a fair bit of my day.

You lived in the U.S. for a short time in 2000. Did you acclimate or find the differences too overwhelming? What's something about living in the U.S. you miss now?
We loved our two years in US. I think the biggest shock we got when arriving in MD was just how many things we hadn’t gleaned from TV/movies. There were so many ‘foreign’ words, and some of the customs were quite strange eg. We got such strange looks walking around with bare feet. There was so much more to learn than driving on the other side of the road with back to front cars. With no social security numbers, setting up telephone, cable etc was a real hassle but we persevered.
One story I still tell is about finally understanding toilet seat jokes. (Toilet is an acceptable word in NZ – something else we learned, never use it in US! – oh those disgusted looks in fast food places when we were overheard telling our kids to ‘go to the toilet’- before an ex-pat kiwi warned us). I could never figure why the big deal if the seat got left up or not! Our toilets are designed quite differently than in US.
My first story Worlds Apart is about a kiwi woman visiting MD and included some of the differences we encountered. I wrote it while we lived there so little snippets were getting added all the time. What do I miss about US? the lovely people. We made loads of amazing friends and have tried to stay in touch with them all. Later this year we are meeting up with a couple from PA and canalling in England with them. Taco Bell and Dairy Whip were things I definitely acquired a taste for that don’t exist over here.
I started writing in US after attending a “writing romance” course at a local collage run by Loree Lough. The idea of having a kiwi heroine arrive in US and encounter all the strange things we’d found, while she was subjected to a slightly arrogant hero, seemed like great conflict to me, especially when I was able to slip in very small pieces now and then to hike up the tension. Would I have written otherwise? Who knows, I actually doubt it because there was so much to learn and without Loree’s course I doubt I would have found out how to “write properly” – my couple of cowboy stories I wrote as an early teenager (I used to read all my brother’s books) would have probably been the sum total of my writing career.

I am intrigued that you say that growing up you were the last family in your neighborhood to get a television set. Was your area just not wired for it or was there no desire from your parents? Without TV, how did you pass time?
My mother was widowed with three young children and while we never felt we lacked for anything, television was a huge expense when it first arrived. Initially it only ran for a few hours a day, but I loved to visit neighbours sometimes to catch a programme. We never had any trouble passing the time. We lived in a very small coastal community and spent most day light hours doing something outside, gardening, fishing, gathering firewood. We were a very close family and worked together to make ends meet. Evenings were filled with the radio, books and my mother’s story telling. She was the greatest story teller around, we were often crying with laughter at her reminiscences. She taught me to appreciate family history and love the written word.

You were in the Navy for a while.
I spent 21 years in the Royal NZ Navy and loved almost every minute. I was fortunate to serve for 2 years in Singapore, an amazing and eye-opening experience for a 20 yr old country girl. My husband is a serving officer so I still have links to the Navy. I am heavily involved in the Ex-Navalwomen’s Association and love meeting with old shipmates to share a yarn or two.
For readers who have never been to New Zealand, what natural wonders of the country do you share in your stories? What would be your message you'd like to say about your homeland? Are you an environmentalist?

I dont think I would call myself an environmentalist. Rather, I consider my rural upbringing has alerted me to the need to preserve the natural environment. I enjoy what NZ has to offer, the open spaces, the bush, the beaches, the farmlands. I think we have everything anyone could ever want. NZ is an ideal place to live, we have so many diverse natural wonders all wrapped up in such a small package. Our weather is temperate with not too much difference between summer and winter, and kiwis are renown for our friendliness. Come visit us and enjoy a laid-back, relaxed holiday amongst friends.

What's your writing environment like? You have four children you're raising with your husband. How do you eke out the time to write with all that responsibility? Do you have your own room dedicated for your work with a big DO NOT DISTURB sign on it for those times you're writing? How do you do it? I am sure there are readers who are wannabe writers with similar home lives and I think they'd like to know how you balance your life with your passion for writing.
My children are grown now so writing should have become easier to manage. But no, now there are babysitting ‘duties’ with grandchildren, which I wouldn’t change for the world. I do have an office, slightly disorganised right now because we have recently had multiple visitors staying with us. My door sign actually says “Writer at Work”. For years I have devoted school hours to writing. The minute the kids left for school, I went into my office and I stayed there until they were due home again. It worked very well. Because it was a routine I stuck rigidly to, I didn’t begrudge any time they needed support with homework/sports etc and I never felt pressured to leave them to go to write. I only ever wrote during school hours. During evenings, holidays/weekends etc, I rarely enter my office. With one son in his last year at school, I’m still sticking to that same routine. I find I can whip through housework, meal preparation etc while still being ‘available’ to the family.

What's your writing process? Do you start with mapping out your storyline or do you start with a concept and start writing and see what flows from your proverbial pen?
I’m a very disorganised pantser. I have an idea and usually end up writing multiple scenes before trying to figure out where they should fit into the story. Then I have to come up with the ‘glue’ pieces to stick them together. Therefore editing is not a simple task for me, it takes me forever. I accept this is a silly way to write but despite starting every new story with a plan outline (empty squares on a piece of paper), I only ever manage to sit and stare at it for ages before just letting the fingers take off writing.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book that was released in March?
Wilderness Liaison is my fourth story and the first one to really explore some of NZ natural environment. A fair portion of the story takes part in the generic bush setting where my heroine is the expert while the hero is an out-of-his-depth city boy trying to match her. I sprinkled little snippets of nature throughout to bring the story to life.
Back Blurb
The concrete jungle defines financier Shal Gregory. He thrives on the liveliness and sheer vitality of the fast paced business world. So how does he find himself alone in the thick of the New Zealand bush with a feisty guide who undoubtedly despises everything he stands for?
Jodie Mathieson’s devotion to the wilderness fulfils her. She isn’t prepared for an intimate liaison with a man who clearly does not share her love of the great outdoors. But the sparks between them ignite and soon scare Jodie into flight.
Bewildered but determined, Shal tracks Jodie down and resolutely embarks on a course to convince her that having some differing life goals isn’t enough to keep them apart.
But can Jodie ignore past experiences? Dare she believe him?
What's on the fire now? Do you have a new book in development?
I’ve just received another contract from The Wild Rose Press for a story with the working title The CEO Gets Her Man I’ve just finished the first edits so expect it will be out perhaps toward the end of this year. Set in the southern region of NZ it features something of the area where I grew up. My work in progress is an off-shoot of Worlds Apart where I am developing the story of a secondary character. I always meant to write “Justin’s story” but it has taken me this long. Although I want to set my stories in NZ, this one has to take place in Washington DC. Justin is a kiwi though so I can still bring a little kiwiana into the story.

Thanks for your time and for stopping by Anne. I wish you continued success in your writing.
Thank you so much for inviting me to come join you. I’ve enjoyed your questions very much.

You can find further information on Anne, her books and where to buy them on her website.


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