Debut Author Snapshot: Ashley Weaver

Posted by Goodreads on October 7, 2014

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The upper crust of 1930s England gathers at a seaside resort for sun, surf, and foul play in Murder at the Brightwell, a debut historical mystery by Louisiana librarian Ashley Weaver. Left at home at their country estate while her playboy husband, Milo, frolics in Monte Carlo, Amory Ames is all too willing to do her former fiancé, Gil Trent, a favor when he comes calling. She risks gossip and scandal to accompany him to the Brightwell Hotel, where she soon finds herself investigating a murder, and Gil is the prime suspect!

Proud to say she can now see her own book on the shelves, library branch manager Weaver is planning more books starring her amateur sleuth, Amory. The author shares some of the 1930s elegance that inspired her adventurous whodunit.

"From waved hair to satin shoes, the ladies of the 1930s were elegant from head to toe. It was fun to write the wardrobe changes, but I imagine it would be a bit exhausting to always look so glamorous in real life."
Goodreads: Readers are comparing Murder at the Brightwell with the mysteries of Agatha Christie. Are you a fan?

Ashley Weaver: I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie, so the comparison is probably the biggest compliment someone could give me! I started reading Christie in my teens, and she has been my go-to author ever since. I love her characterizations, her subtle humor, and, of course, her ability to always trick me into thinking the wrong person is the murderer. If readers see even a hint of similarity between us, I am thrilled!

GR: Team Poirot or Team Marple? Or do you have a different favorite detective from literature?

AW: Tough question! I love both Poirot and Miss Marple, but I'd give the slight edge to Poirot. I really enjoy his flamboyance and indefatigable ego. I have to say, though, that my favorite fictional detective is Sherlock Holmes. In my opinion, he's kind of the gold standard for detectives, a pure mystery-solving machine. I not only love the Holmes stories, but also almost every television adaptation that has ever been created. I have even threatened to use Holmes as a name if I ever have a son!

"One really fun thing about 1930s fashion is the accessories that accompanied every outfit. I love these ladies with their patterned parasols, classy even in the sand and surf."
GR: 1930s high society is such a delightfully lush world. What drew you to write a mystery in this setting?

AW: The 1920s and '30s have always had a special appeal for me. I have always claimed that I was born in the wrong era. I grew up watching black-and-white movies from the 1930s and '40s and fell in love with their glittering portrayals of glamorous and sophisticated people. I love the image of elegance the era invokes: men wearing tuxedos to dinner and ladies with an evening gown for every night of the week. Though it was an increasingly modern time, people still adhered to many social conventions and were expected to behave in a certain way, which made for a very interesting balance between stalwart tradition and the [growing] modernity of the 20th century. Plus the fashions were fabulous. Whether on the beach or in the ballroom, women had lovely clothes for every occasion!

Actress Anna Neagle: "I could picture Amory wearing a sophisticated evening gown like this one. She might also wear a similarly suspicious expression!"
GR: What was your inspiration for amateur sleuth Amory? Will we see more of her in future books?

AW: This might sound like a cliché, but Amory came to me in a dream! Well, her name did anyway. I had a dream with someone named Amory Ames in it, and though I didn't remember the particulars of the dream, I woke up thinking it would make a good name for a character. Right from the start I had a very strong idea of who I wanted her to be and in what era she belonged. I pictured Amory as an intelligent, elegant, and confident woman who is very at home in her world. While she's aware of the boundaries of society, she is also independent and modern, ready to solve the mysteries that cross her path. And yes, Amory will appear in my next book, in the thick of another murder investigation!

GR: Have you always wanted to write a novel? How does your career as a librarian help you as a writer?

AW: Writing a novel has been something I've aspired to from an early age. I first remember writing my first "book" in elementary school. It was actually a mystery, complete with my own illustrations. My first full-length novel was also a mystery, a dramatic Prohibition-era gangster murder mystery/romance set in Chicago. I started it my freshman year of high school and would bring installments for my friends to read at lunchtime. My love of books and writing led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in English and then a graduate degree in Library and Information Science. I had worked on different writing projects over the years, but everything seemed to connect when working on Murder at the Brightwell. When I found out it was going to be published, it was a dream come true!

"I tried to incorporate some of the different types of vintage beach fashion, such as beach pajamas, into the novel. Swimwear has certainly changed in the last 80 years!" (Photo: Ladies' Home Journal.)
Being a librarian has helped me as a writer in a couple different ways. For one thing, there has always been that motivation to see my own book on the library shelves! In addition, it's definitely a helpful place to work as far as research goes. I've got a world of materials at my fingertips and a lot of training on how to use it!

GR: What's next for you as a writer?

AW: I've just finished up my second Amory Ames novel and am looking forward to starting work on the third. I have the plot set, and the ideas are beginning to come together. It's always fun to see what sort of trouble Amory will get herself into next!

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by Janet (new)

Janet M I can hardly wait to read about Amory's adventures.

message 2: by Mary (new)

Mary Phillips Sounds right up my alley!

message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Phillips Sounds right up my alley!

message 4: by Geri (new)

Geri sounds like a great rainy day.

message 5: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Kimball just got the book cant wait to read it

message 6: by Jacinta (new)

Jacinta Okoye As I am a massive fan of Agatha Christie and adore Port, I Look forward to reading this book. When I was a child I played with a dress belonging to my mother. It's only in later years I realised it was her wedding dress from the thirties. It was magnificent. Looked so sleek just like the ones displayed in this review.

message 7: by Jacinta (new)

Jacinta Okoye Dratted predictive text I meant Poirot NOT Port (although it's not bad).

message 8: by Tonya (new)

Tonya Mathis Can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

message 9: by Veronica (new)

Veronica Read it and loved it! Can't wait for the next book.

message 10: by Jan (new)

Jan Will check out the library immediatelyl. How about Adam Dalgleish? Anybody like him. Especially on PBS.

message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn hope I can find it soon!

message 12: by Claire (new)

Claire The book was quite stellar, I'm so excited for the next one!

message 13: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Kimball I have read this book and love it hope there is a other book soon

message 14: by Gerry (new)

Gerry Hi there Ashley - Just read 'Murder at the Brightwell' and it was great. Looking forward to finding more of the titles that are now published.

I just love Amory and her husband Milo is quite a character, too!



message 15: by Gerry (new)

Gerry PS Enjoyed the interview, too, I meant to say!

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