Kristen Ashley's Blog - Posts Tagged "jack"

And now, the finale of my multi-part interview with Goodread’s Searock. Remember, there may be spoilers from my books so beware! Searock’s questions are bulleted, mine are italicized.

Rock it!

Starting this last bit of Q&A is a follow up from an earlier question by Searock: The Q was from Part 2 if you wanna go back and check my response.

Searock’s Q: I notice that you don’t defend or reject your hero’s bad behavior and you don’t have them reject their own bad behavior in your stories. They are unapologetic bad-asses for sure. For Tack, he was imperfect, but perfect for Tyra. Do you ever find yourself writing something that begins to feel too imperfect or too scary or unacceptable in your hero and therefore adjust it or do you just let it fly?

And Searock’s response to my response:
I loved your answer by the way, but just want to clarify my question a bit. One of my favorite features in your stories is the very thing you mentioned, that eloquent verbal combination punch (for lack of a better phrase) the heroine gives to the hero when he has crossed a line or has emotionally injured his lady love (Dusty and Tyra get my vote for all-time, stellar favorites). The way the hero responds is always swoon-worthy whether by words or actions regardless how delayed that response may be. It's especially beautiful because the heroine's words affect the hero like no other’s ever could. My term "unapologetic bad-asses" was referring to your heroes who aren't "choirboys", probably wouldn't win "father of the year", use whatever language suits them and don't always follow the letter of the law *grin*. They don't apologize for any of that, and, of course, I fall head over hiney for them every time.

Also, when I stated Tack was imperfect, but perfect for Tyra, I was referring to the part in the book where Tyra says to Tack:
"The perfect I was looking for wasn’t perfection. The perfect I was looking for was the one. And he was you.”
Tack is rocked by that statement. It was awesome!

Just wanted you to know, I really was paying attention, lol!

First of all, darlin’, I didn’t take any offense to the question. I know everyone has their own take on everything. The only further comment I would make is if I think about it with any depth, something, weirdly, I’ve never done until um… right now is that I think this is precisely why, for me, my boys are so freakin’ hot. Confidence is a major turn on. And knowing who you are, accepting it and being it no matter who thinks what is totally freaking awesome. Two of the biggest examples from my books are yours of Tack as well as Knight. They are who they are, they do what they do, there’s a reason why they do it and they understand it isn’t socially acceptable and they don’t give a crap. This is not to say I agree with their takes on the world. But I admire their ability to be as you call them “unapologetic badasses”. Clearly you do too!

As for using whatever language that suits them, obviously this comes through with their characters and is a part of being who they are. I also like to play with this. Words are powerful, definitely, but we give certain words more power than they actually have. I love it that these men, at a glance or upon first impression are men that would smack you back and make you think, “Hoo, Lawdy. I wanna spend about point five more seconds with this dude and get the ef outta here! What a jerk!” Then, as you get to know them and see how they behave, give them more time to express themselves in a variety of ways, all that surface stuff (outside of them being hot, of course) melts away and you see them as deep, complex individuals that are worth a shedload of your time. And I love it that my readers give them that time. I have no clue but I think first-time readers get a load of Hawk or Luke or Joe and think, “What on earth!?!” But as the story unfolds, they fall in love. That… is… awesome!

Now back to the regularly scheduled Q&A:

• Many of your fans and readers are calling Motorcycle Man “Vintage Ashley” (I think Becs coined it first)? Are you aware of some of these “vintage” qualities? Would you embrace the idea that you have signature details and qualities. Do you write with these signature details or qualities in mind?

HA! Funnily enough, I was thinking of this (not the “Vintage” part) when I got these questions from you because I was working on Lucky Stars, or just finishing it at the time. I started Lucky Stars ages ago and it is what I consider a kind of traditional romance. Not my normal gig. Written in third person. Less slang. More description. The setting more idyllic. The hero a bazillionaire playboy. Going back to it, it took me a while to settle into the flow of how it was written and yes, I wrote it! Then, not to spoil anything, but a character came to me (in that book) and part of the narrative switches to his voice. He’s definitely what would be considered perhaps one of my more “vintage” characters so although I was struggling with the flow of the book, when I slipped into his voice, I wrote his passage in, like, minutes. It just flowed. I do love that book and the characters, especially my gentle Jack who could be the most patient, gentle hero I’ve ever written. He’s amazing. But I was much more comfortable, if you will, with this other character. I figure you’ll see what I mean immediately when/if you read it.

So yes, I would embrace the idea I have signature details and qualities. But I don’t write with them in mind. Just more comfortable with them, I guess. That said, anything goes in Ashley world. I like to challenge myself and I write whatever stories come to me. So this could change.

• Are you easily able to keep up the pace of your writing? You have us fans in a near-frenzy with all the impending Kit-crack you plan to release over the next year. Will it mean that you are holed up in a pink cave somewhere with someone bringing you cashews and cosmos to sustain you? Or does that represent a pace that is comfortable for you?

Since my stories obsess me, and I do this for a living, I’m pretty comfortable with the pace. But it is more. I HAVE TO get these stories out. They are all jumbled around in my head and I NEED to let them loose. So, I’m totally thrilled beyond reason and maybe even sanity that I have readers who can’t wait to read my stuff. The thing is, I know this is going to sound weird, but a good deal of the time, it feels like these things, my books, aren’t really FROM me. They are their own entities and I’m the conduit that puts them out there. So, I’m like you. I cannot wait to see what happens.

• Some fans might think your books will become shorter and/or have less of the length, depth and breadth that we were seeing in your earlier work (such as the Colorado series). Is this something we should expect? Can you share about what factors have determined the length of your books to date?

I cannot begin to imagine. Knight was shorter because I was on a mission to tell that story before I went on holiday but also, that story was focused almost entirely on the love affair between Knight and Anya because I felt, due to its intensity, it needed to be about them and what they were building. Not about kidnapping or crazily bitchy exes. There weren’t a great number of secondary characters and a bunch of plot strings woven into the story. I think there is a good possibility that Creed, which will be a story that mingles with Knight’s world and the next in that series, will be longer than Knight. Though I can’t be sure.

But I just tell the story as it comes to me and however long it is, that’s its length. My stories don’t tend to be about boy meets girl, boy wins girl, boy loses girl, boy wins her back. I build communities, entire towns, families, friendships. It’s necessary to tell the story and define the characters in it by having lots of stuff happening, making it action-packed, so how the characters react to all that is happening around them further define who they are.

As an example, rereading
Sweet Dreams right now, I shudder to think what an editor would do to that book. There is a lot that goes on that might not seem pivotal to the story but I feel is essential. Lauren describing Deke picking her up from the airport. The fullness of Lauren’s meeting with Jonas, including the short scene where Jonas sticks his finger in the frosting of the cake Lauren made for him. Lauren and Twyla’s altercation with Neeta’s posse at Bubba’s. Nearly the entirety of the post-Neeta-funeral get-together. The scene with Jonas and the cake, I would assume an editor would delete this whole scene. It doesn’t move the action forward at all and essentially just reiterates what was communicated in the scene before that Jonas is most definitely Tate’s son. But, for me, it would be a little death to lose that scene. The seed planted of the relationship that would grow between Laurie and Jonas from the scene prior buds in that scene and I love it. These are the things I hope to continue to give to you. These little nothings that are everything.

So I cannot promise that my books will be as long as some of them are. What I hope I can promise is that you’ll continue to get love stories that are rich in characterization and plot, showing the planting of the seed and taking you along for the ride as that seed blossoms and, in the end, it’ll be an enriching experience.

Random other questions:
• If I ever met you, I’m a little nervous that I would fan out and squeal or embarrass myself somehow. Has that happened to you yet, a fan going all squeaky or emotional? Would you be excited or would you want to run away?

Nope. Hasn’t happened yet in person. Though I have had folks who have been fangirl/squealing if I e-mail them or some such. First, it makes me smile. Truthfully, it can’t help but feel good to have someone get excited that you responded to an e-mail. So, it feels good and that’s an understatement. But second, I’m Kit. That’s who I am. My cat annoys me but I love on him like he’s the prince of the world. I need coffee to function in the morning. I have way, way, WAY too many shoes. And I perv on hot guys… a lot. I’m just a normal, everyday woman. If I met you, you might squeal but then we’d get a latte or a beer and we’d gab… about hot guys!

• Popularity can be a two-edged sword? Which part of your increasing popularity has been the most pleasant so far and which part the most unpleasant about having a higher profile?

So far, I have yet to hit on the unpleasant part but I don’t really have that high of a profile.

But the most pleasant part has been connecting with readers. I have had readers become friends and these are women I would never, ever have “met” if I didn’t publish books. And these are women who have enriched my life in ways… such ways! How awesome is that? I also have people share personal things with me, how they connected to a story or how a book affected them. Just yesterday I got an e-mail from someone who shared something incredibly intense with me and the instant I read the words, my hand covered my mouth and I froze. Then I read the email again. And again. Then I cried buckets of tears.

I have said to people I know, and now people I don’t, that I wish I had magic. Magic to take away shit that has happened that is life-altering and painful. I have so often in my life wished with all my heart I had a magic wand and could wave that kind of pain away.

So, the most pleasant thing about my “increasing popularity” is connecting with readers and coming to the understanding that I DO have a kind of magic. It doesn’t take pain away. But it makes people realize they are understood. It makes people laugh through times that are hard. It connects people. And it makes people feel less alone. It’s my writing that gives unknown people all over the world that. And knowing my work does that is far more than pleasant. It’s stunningly beautiful.

• Who are your Alpha Male role models?

My brother… he’s very protective, he’s very loving, he’s incredibly generous, he’s funny as all hell and he is a total, freaking man. Anyone hurt me, he’d lose his freaking mind. I was lost, he’d go to the ends of the earth to find me. But he can be a jerk during an argument. Even so, you can’t help but love him because of all that other stuff. Sound familiar?

• Out of all the places you’ve lived, you seem to have the biggest love affair with Colorado. Why is that? What other places do you dream of writing about or setting characters in?

Well, I spent a lot of happy, happy years in Colorado and I know it well. I also miss it so writing books set there takes me back. Especially with Rock Chick since most of that action takes place in places where I lived or went regularly. In fact, it started because I was crazy homesick and it was my way to get over it. But you never know what’ll come next. Lucky Stars is set in Cornwall which is one of my most favorite places on earth. I love, love, LOVE Cornwall. So anywhere that strikes me could be where I tell a tale.

• What kinds of jobs did you have prior to writing full-time? You’ve written about a variety of work settings and they feel quite authentic. Do you have first-hand experience with any of those?

Before giving up work to write full-time, I worked in charity throughout my career and working in charity, you learn a lot. I did IT. I did HR. I did fund-raising. The list goes on. Sibyl’s community centre in Lacybourne Manor is based on a place where I worked and filled with people who I worked with/for/around who I adored.

Mostly, though, I just make it up.

• You are obviously a creative person. Do you have other artistic tendencies? Do you have hobbies like pottery or photography or design?

I can wrap a mean present. My presents are works of art. And I tend to be humble and I still will say my presents are works of art. Ask anyone who gets a present from me. My presents ROCK! And I can cook. Not healthily and I’m not a gourmet. My food is just good. That’s it. I’m woefully bad at anything creative outside writing. I can barely sew on a button, I can’t draw a straight line, my handwriting is barely legible and my pictures are rubbish.

• What three descriptive words have been used about your writing that made you giddy with happiness?

You made me laugh. You made me cry. That guy was hot.

• What is one word that has been used about your writing that makes you cringe when you read it?

You need an editor.

• What two things do you think your readers would be surprised to know about you?

Uh… I’m pretty “out there” so this is a tough question because I’m the kinda gal that lets it all hang out. I’m wracking my brain to think of something but I can’t. Oh! Maybe it’s my tendency to be a geek girl. It is not unheard of for me to sit in front of serious geek TV and geek out. And I’m a Harry Potter fan and on the Pottermore website, the sorting hat put me in the Slytherin house. And I’m proud of my Slytherin-ness. And trust me, I should be. Slytherins ROCK!

And lastly, a famous question from the Artist’s Studio:
• If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“Kit, honey, you done good. Now, do me a favor and bake some cookies.”

Your questions were awesome, babe. What fun! Thank you for wanting to know the answers, taking the time to do this and sharing your interest with everyone. What a blast! Xoxoxxo, darlin’ and rock on!
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Published on June 17, 2012 06:07 • 1,002 views • Tags: anya, deke, jack, joe-callahan, jonas, knight, kristen-ashley, lacybourne-manor, lauren, lucky-stars, motorcycle-man, rock-chick, sweet-dreams, tack, tate, tyra