Jenn, Katie, and Amy are jumping for joy that we are featuring our Queen today! Her books are near and dear to all of our hearts, we have dibs on many of her characters including but, not limited to; Mitch, Shy, Ty, Joe, Luke, and Tate. We will all be attending one of her Rock Chick Rendezvous this year and fan-girling over one of the best authors and nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yep. Absolutely. From my earliest memory, I wanted to be a writer. At one point in my youth, I got some colored pencils and started designing gowns in hopes of being a clothing designer. But a) I can’t draw and b) I can’t sew, so that was out. I also used to play the organ and would tap keys and press chords in an effort to create music. I think the only thing I did was drive my family crazy! So in the end, I think I made the right choice.
What did you do before becoming a full-time writer?
I’d worked in charity since graduating from Purdue. Charity administration, fundraising, grant writing, HR, IT, you name it, in charity, you do it. There are never enough resources so you have to be resourceful!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Be less cautious. I played it safe for decades of my adulthood, jumping into this dream of writing and publishing full force when I was 42 years-old. Fortunately, the indie publishing craze was taking off so I could take that leap (I had tried to get published previously through traditional means, and failed…repeatedly). But it wasn’t just quitting my job and chasing that dream where that lesson was learned. I missed a variety of opportunities being OVERLY responsible and OVERLY cautious (being responsible and cautious are both good things – being overly so, not so much!).
Do you work on one storyline at a time or do you have multiple storylines in the pipeline?
One at a time. I have a variety of books knocking about in my head all at once but I try to focus on only one at a time.
Let’s play favorites! Who is your favorite character you’ve written?
Tex, from the ROCK CHICK books. I love him. He’s crazy. He’s himself. He’s loyal. He’s loving. He’d take a bullet (and proved that) for anyone he loves. And he’s funny. He went through a tough time and proved that, no matter how long you wait to pull yourself out of the muck of your life, you can do it and you can find happiness. He’s awesome.
Have you experienced any of your stories personally?
Snippets, sure. I use real-life experiences in my stories all the time. A full story, no.
What are your biggest distractions?
Life. You know, when laundry has to get done, bills have to get paid, groceries have to be bought. I tend to dive head first into writing and let things in life lapse, ending up obsessing on them and then starting to get blocked because there’s so much life stuff piling up. I’m learning to balance that, clear out those mental piles so I can be free to sink into a story and not think about anything but that.
What is your least favorite part of the writing or publishing process?
I’m not sure there really is one. I get impatient with having to update my website or read through publishing contracts (and the like) because neither are a lot of fun (and they take me away from the fun part — WRITING). But mostly, it’s a joy. I’m very blessed and take time to recognize that nearly every day. I recently found myself stuck in “work” going through proofs of my Fantasyland Series to get the books ready for print and audio releases. I spent a week doing nothing but reading those books. My sister texted me and said, “I hope you’re finding time to take a break.” And I thought, “Okay, this is work, but I’m reading books! I’m enjoying every second. There is no break needed.”
Do you find it difficult, or challenging to write from the male POV?
Not really. I’m that girl that’s good hanging with my girls, but also hanging with dudes. I’ve got a younger brother and his friends (all his life to now) were my friends. Total buds. And I’m just that chick they feel comfortable with being, well…DUDES. No need to censor their language or worry about offending me. I’ll laugh or say it like it is. I can’t say I’m the Dude Whisperer and know the inner workings of every man’s mind. But spending a lot of time with guys, being an observer due to the person I am and the calling I have, I’ve got a relatively good idea.
What activities do you enjoy outside of writing?
Shopping. Cooking. Baking. Taking walks. Eating in all it’s incarnations, whether it be having my own dinner party or going out to some dive restaurant or fabulous steak place. Hanging out and vegging in front of the TV. I used to be an avid reader but that dropped off when I started writing so much (seeing as reading is quite a bit of my everyday “job”). But I’ve taken that up again and am delighted to be back!
Do you have a favorite author or book?
Many. Favorite romance author is Judith McNaught. Love her stuff. She was an inspiration to me and from the beginning I built my books with the skeleton of how she wrote hers. We have different styles (and she did a lot of historical, something I haven’t done), but that skeleton is there. Favorite book of all time, though, is Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Haven’t read the sequel and have decided not to. I’ve heard enough about it and TKAM means so much to me, I’m not going to pollute that.
Ever think you have a great idea for a book, only to find out someone released the same storyline already?
No. I guess in not reading so much (though, as mentioned, I’m rectifying that), I really don’t know if some of my storylines are the same as others. Though, I probably wouldn’t worry about that. As mentioned above, I go my own way and do my own thing, jumping in if something moves me no matter what.
But regardless, I don’t share a mind with anyone (that I know of) so any kind of storyline with similarities to another will be your own if you have your own voice and style. It’s like Kurosawa’s RASHOMAN. Even witnessing/participating in the same event, there can be many different stories emanating from it.
Have you ever had writer’s block and how do you work through it?
Luckily, knock on wood, I haven’t. I do slow down in a book in the middle/late parts of it because I know soon I’ll have to let go and I don’t want to. But no writer’s block, thank goodness!
Do you ever find yourself jumping up from the dinner to table to jot down a scene that just ran through your head?
No. Though, this is one of the reasons I obsessively write. My brain doesn’t shut down, the story goes on, and I become afraid I’ll lose where it’s gone if I’m not at a keyboard. So when I’m writing, I tend to make long hours of it and do my absolute best to shut down the story when I shut down my computer. Or, alternatively, not allow it to get too far ahead in my mind so I don’t lose it.
What does your writing workspace look like?
I did a photo tour of my office on Facebook once and was super cool to share where I created with my readers. I have an office over my garage with a view of Camelback Mountain. It’s big and gorgeous and filled with my books and Rock Chick stuff and gifts from readers. It’s a special place and I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who could tuck my laptop under my arm and head to a coffee house and write the day away sipping coffee and wearing a beret (okay, maybe not the beret). But I’m not. I like to be in my space, my zone: The Rock Chick Lair.
Sharing your work with the public has to be scary. How do you respond to negative reviews?
I tend to avoid negative reviews if I can. Usually, if folks tag me on reviews, they haven’t said anything negative (or TOO negative). There are folks who tag me who write scathing review, something I don’t get, especially if there’s zero attempt at constructive criticism. In the VERY rare occasion that happens, I take note of them or block seeing their posts.
I do this because it’s upsetting. In the beginning, it was actually crippling. The first ugly review I read, I didn’t write for over a week. I was thrown, paralyzed. It was intensely painful. Now I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like what I do or perhaps they will but not every single book or every single character. That’s the way of the world.
But a good review will be honest, not ugly — definitely not intentionally so — and I might not agree with the negatives, but you cannot live as a human being on this planet and grow in mind and spirit without being open to what others have to say. So you can learn from other’s opinions, and I do that too.
Do you have any visuals for your characters from any of your books?
Not so much. I have a very active imagination and most of my characters are very real and very THEM in my head. That said, when I first saw Joe Manangiello, I freaked because he looked SO like how I pictured Lee from the Rock Chick Series. But other than that, not really.
Can you tell us what you are working on next?
Right now I’m working on the finale to my Fantasyland Series, Noc and Franka’s story. Only a couple of chapters in. But I’ve been working in contemporary for over a year. It’s fun being back in fantasy!
What is in your purse right now?
Hmm…my wallet. My reading specs. A pen. Two packs of bubblemint gum. My little case where I keep my lip gloss, my mirror, my mini-hand lotion, my nail file and my lip balm and my other little case that holds the vast amount of my frequent shopper cards (ha!). I change my purses often (in other words, if I’m going out, every time I go out), never have any idea if I’ll be going big or small so I try to travel light.
Do you have a favorite scene or book of your own?
Many of them, too many, crazy many! But I’ll share with you the one that first comes to mind.
In ROCK CHICK REGRET when Sadie says, “I’m Sadie.” When that first came to my head, every time I read it and every time I think about it, it gives me shivers of happiness. Delighted she found herself. Delighted she could say exactly who she was after the life she’d led and the things she’d endured. Delighted that love and friendship gave her the roots to build that kind of confidence, to know precisely who she was. Love that scene.
Thank you for having me on your Spotlight! Responding to these questions has been fun!
Rock on! xx
Books by Kristen Ashley
More about Kristen Ashely
Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen’s Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning.
Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she’s blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).