Welcome Katharine Ashe to Interview an Awesome Author Day!

As writers, we have so much to share and learn  from one another. Knowing we are not truly alone in this seemingly solitary  endeavor, we gather strength in hearing how others hone their craft, how they draft,  and dream, and defeat their doubts. And how they expertly take readers (like  us!) on a magical journey full of charismatic characters, to exotic locations,  and through plotlines we often wish WE had written!

Today, I am launching my “Interview an Awesome Author” series! Thanks to the generous participation of  many fabulous writers, I will share with you tips, tricks, and tid-bits about their path toward publishing success.  Join me each Thursday for a new featured writer, and please comment if you learned something from the interview, would like to ask a question, or just want to say hi.

For this, my maiden voyage into interviewing, please welcome the delightful and talented Katharine Ashe. Katharine’s most recent release, IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS, is part of Avon’s K.I.S.S. and Teal  campaign to raise awareness about the whispering symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. For each book (print or electronic) sold of the seven K.I.S.S. and Teal titles,  Avon will donate 25 cents to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, up to $50,000 for research and support services for victims of this stealthy disease.

Know the Important Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer and help spread the word! Visit http://www.KissandTeal.com  for more information. You may also visit Katharine on her website at www.katharineashe.com.

TB:  Katharine, welcome and thanks so much for being here today and sharing your personal story.  Please tell me a little bit about your most recent release and which aspect of this particular story do you love the most?

KA:  Seven years ago in the heat of the exotic East, they tumbled into first love… passionate love… forbidden love. And they were torn apart. Now she has returned to England, but he’s no longer the man she lost her heart to. Instead he is a powerful, wealthy lord. He has never forgotten her, the taste of her lips or the touch of her hand. This time danger threatens, and he will do anything to protect her… and to have her again.

I adored writing this story. The hero and heroine are so deeply in love yet everything conspires against them—including their own hopes and fears. Every scene was mingled heartache and bliss to write, and I simply love that kind of story.

TB:  Me, too!  Can’t wait to read it. What are you working on now, or plan to begin next?

KA:  IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS is the final book in my Rogues of the Sea Trilogy. So now I’m working on a new project, my Falcon Club Series. In a desperate bid for normalcy, five secret agents of the Crown abruptly quit. But the past just won’t let them be.

Book #1, WHEN A SCOT LOVES A LADY, will be in stores next February.

TB:  Nothing warms up February like a Scotsman in love!  I’ll be looking forward to that one, too! What inspires you and gets those creative juices flowing?

KA:  Music. Musicians have an ability to bring to sound emotions that I feel so powerfully, and these go straight into my characters. Sometimes a song’s lyrics will inspire me too.

I’ve written many a scene and developed many a character with the help of a particular song. I think of the musicians who write these as ghostwriters of the soul. I make a playlist for every book and listen to it all the time while I’m working on that story, except when I’m actually writing. When I write a book it’s really hard for me to step away from it to do other things, so listening to the songs while I walk the dogs, do errands, cook, run, whatever — it’s a treat. My playlist for IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS is on my website, in fact: http://www.katharineashe.com/extras.php

TB:  That is a great way to get into the ‘mood’ of a story. I have playlists as well, and sometimes the turn of a story is based on lyrics from a song. What other techniques do you use to help develop your story? (Storyboarding, outlining, daydreaming? Having a psychic reading for a character?)

KA:  I use a Ouija board and cast bones. No. (Though I’m not dissing Ouija boards and bone casting, mind you!) I plot with a structure I learned from screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff. But plot comes second. My stories always begin with the hero and heroine, and entirely revolve around their romantic dynamic. Everything else — other characters, the intrigue and adventure — is there only to serve their love story. I come to know my heroes and heroines by some magical This Is Meant To Be thing that just happens. I usually know one of them first as a minor character from another book. But almost as soon as that character grabs my attention, her lover simply presents himself to me. That’s how it happened with Ben and Octavia, the hero and heroine of IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS.  Octavia was a younger sister that I blithely threw into a story I was writing at the time, a hoyden of a miss, barely sixteen and dying to travel to the East Indies. I knew her no more than days before Ben appeared —looking all dashingly tall, dark and mysterious — and told me with great certainty that she would be his someday. It truly happened like that. And when a couple presents themselves to me, I simply must write their story.

TB:  I love it when the characters take over and I think to myself, “I didn’t know that about her!”  It makes you feel a little crazy but I think it happens to each of us.  Katharine, if you had to choose a 2nd genre to write in, what would you pick? What would the title of that book be?

KA:  I’ve written time travel romances and they were so much fun! The first had the working title THE MEDALLION, and it’s an unusual sort of medieval-contemporary time travel. I’d love to publish those someday.

TB:  I hope you do!  Describe a perfect writing day.

KA:  Walk the pups at dawn, feed my son and get him off to school, run, write, write, munch on cookies and coffee while I write, write, eat a little lunch while writing, write, write, write. I like best writing on the deck that looks out onto the woods. It’s dreamy.

TB:  I tend to get sidetracked by the cookies. But that does sound like the perfect day. Do you have critique partners and if so, how do you ‘work’ together?

KA:  I have beta readers whose help I appreciate immensely! (Their names are always in my Author’s Notes at the ends of my books.) Generally I’ll send them a bunch of chapters at a time and they’ll read them right away and give me their reactions. I’m so grateful for their help and my stories are much better because of them.

TB:  What and where was your first writer’s conference and how did you feel attending it?

KA:  RWA National Conference in 2008 in Atlanta. I felt like I was in heaven. Heaven! So much learning, so many wonderful women, so much excitement in one place. I had no idea a professional conference could be such fun.

TB:  It is a little like group therapy, isn’t it?  Meeting so many like-minded writers out there? I have made some great friends at conferences. (And if may I add a personal note, I met Katharine at the 2011 RWA National conference in New York and she was the most gracious, engaging and encouraging person imaginable.  That’s why I’m so tickled pink she agreed to be my First Interviewee!) Now on to something non-writerly. Katharine, what five things (not including live beings!) would you take with you to live on a deserted island for one year. Let’s say this island has food, shelter and plumbing!

KA:  Within a year on a desert island I would die of a broken heart. I need people, and dogs, and everything else that’s life in this world. Even a few weeks without a hug or kiss or cuddle or the sound of another person’s voice would kill me. Um, does that answer the question? So, I guess, a coffin? (I can be very practical when necessary, you see.)

TB:  Gosh, that’s so sad!  I think I need to re-word the question next time!  Can’t have my interviews offing themselves right in the middle!  Let’s change gears again. What advice would you give to an aspiring, newbie writer?

KA:  Read great writing and always stretch yourself. It will make you a better writer. And, most of all, write what your heart tells you to write. I wrote a Regency about scandal-besmirched lady and a vigilante anti-slaver disguised as a French priest because I simply adored the idea of their story. I never, ever thought it would sell. It was far too weird. But it got me a fantastic agent, a contract with my dream publisher, and it was nominated for an industry award. If I hadn’t written what was in my heart, I probably wouldn’t be published now.

TB:  It can be so hard to balance the stories of our heart with marketability. But your emotion and love for this story clearly came through on the pages. Good for you for following your own voice. What are a few ‘myths’ about being a writer that you’d like to dispel? (Aside from the one about us making loads of money!)

KA:  The myth that it gets easier. Nora Roberts talked about this a year or so ago in an address to the RWA National Conference. (Note: I just included that so it’ll seem like I have something in common with Nora Roberts.) It doesn’t get easier. It is an enormous amount of work, and all the same anxieties are still there haunting you if you allow them. But if you love writing more than anything else, it’s so worth it.

TB:  As I’m working on my 2nd and 3rd books, there is an odd comfort in hearing that. I think we, as writers, tend to think it’s easier for others, and that if we were ‘as good as them’ we wouldn’t still be struggling with doubts. But from interviewing several multi-published writers, I’m learning that we are all constantly hoping that our next work will be good. I imagine the discipline improves as we grow and develop, but that niggling fear is what pushes us to always strive for more.  Tell me something most people don’t know about you and would be surprised to learn.

KA:  I have a dolphin tattoo. But maybe that’s not much of a surprise.

TB:  What is your all time favorite movie?

KA:  Moonstruck. Quirky, hilarious, fantastic script, fabulously acted, breathtakingly romantic.

TB:  I love that movie!  When Nickolas Cage tells Cher that he loves her, and she slaps his face and says, “Snap out of it!” is the best moment ever. I might have to watch that one again very soon.

Katharine, thank you again for being here today and sharing your wisdom, humor, and personal journey. It was wonderful learning more about you and your breathtaking love stories.

Everyone should read IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS!  You’ll be swept away….

Be sure to visit TracyBrogan.com next week to hear more pearls of writerly wisdom from another Awesome Author! Until then, keep writing….



34 thoughts on “Welcome Katharine Ashe to Interview an Awesome Author Day!”

  1. Ora says:

    I’m glad you have written what was and is in your heart. You are a wonderful storyteller.

    1. Hi, Ora. You’re so kind to say so, and I’m grateful to be able to do it. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Great interview! I love how your hero “told” you who his heroine would be– that happened to me in the manuscript I just finished! It’s the second in a series, and I knew for sure who the hero would be, and I was all set to pair him with someone totally different…and he wouldn’t let me. He just kept pointing to this other character and saying, “But…I want *her*!”. So I had to let him have her, else run the risk that he’d stop speaking to me altogether 😉

    I’m so excited to snap up the Rogues of the Sea series! And would like to offer my personal thanks in advance for the hot Scotsman in February. As Tracy said, perfect timing, hehe.

    Great interview! Thanks ladies!

    1. LOL, Kimberly. You know exactly what I mean! They really do tell us what they want, don’t they? On occasion, I’ve actually tried doing what I wanted with characters when they were telling me to do something else, and IT NEVER WORKS. The last time it happened, I had a scene all plotted out and even partially written in which they were supposed to be quarreling fiercely. I really tried to make them quarrel. But they wanted to make love! So… I let them. I’m easy that way, I guess. 😉

      1. OMG, I think we were separated at birth, you and I! I’ve done that TOO! I just kind of looked up and said, “Huh. I guess they’re in bed again” and finished writing the love scene, hahaha! My characters are so bossy (I cannot imagine where on earth they get it from, snicker).

        Now I *really* want to dive right into your book! *searches for Kindle*… 🙂

  3. Great interview and the story sounds amazing! I love to hear about authors and publishers willing to donate money to a worthy cause. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi, Christy. Avon’s K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign is so exciting. Through it, so many women have already learned about the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer (including me!). It’s empowering. 🙂

  4. Going to go find this right now, and also love that it is for a good cause! Thanks for presenting these fabulous author interviews, Tracy, I learn so much!

    1. Hi, Jen. I’m honored to be a spokesperson for this amazing cause. Thanks so much for supporting it!

  5. Nancy Gideon says:

    Great interview! I’m so proud to say I knew Katie when… It’s so exciting to watch talent rise to the top. Well done, Ms. Ashe! My Kindle app will be looking for your book when I get home from work.

    1. Thank you, Nancy! Your help and encouragement years ago gave me confidence and helped me maintain hope through the journey to getting published. I’m so grateful for that. Everyone at the fledgeling stage of this business should know such a fabulously gifted and generous writer like you!

  6. Thank you, Tracy, for your gracious welcome. It’s so fun to be here today, and I’m honored to help launch your blog’s author interview feature!

    1. Tracy Brogan says:

      The honor is mine. 🙂 It’s so fun to hear from those in the trenches! I’m thrilled your are achieving such success and your passion for your stories is evident. And inspiring!

  7. Lisa says:

    Hi Katharine!
    Great interview. First of all, I have to agree with Tracy and say that Katharine is indeed one of the nicest, most encouraging people you’ll ever meet. She’s the one who really helped give me the encouragement and push to pursue this whole romance novel writing thing myself!

    But Katharine, I wholeheartedly agree with you that I couldn’t survive on a deserted island. I’m definitely one of those people who need other folks around. In fact, I sometimes get stir crazy in my office by myself, and will pop my head into my co-workers office to say hi and see how they’re doing. lol.

    1. Hi, Lisa. Thank you for your kind words! It was such fun meeting you at the RWA Literacy Autographing. I’m so glad you waited in that wretched line. 🙂 And I hope your writing is going swimmingly these days!

  8. Good morning, Katharine. Loved the interview. Just downloaded your latest on my Kindle – a treat I’ll allow myself after my pages are done today. Your story-telling and word-painting talent is outstanding. Thanks for allowing your heart to lead you. I look forward to reading many more of your books.

    Thanks, Tracy, for such a great Thursday treat.

    1. Hi, Loralee. Thank you so much! I’m blushing, and humbled by your praise. I can’t wait to read ALL THAT MATTERS. September 9 come quickly please!

  9. Tracy, I love the interview. I’ll definitely be here every Thursday to check the series out. 🙂

    Katharine, it’s so great to hear your advice about writing what your heart tells you to write. There are different stories calling out to each one of us, and we need to write them. I’m looking forward to reading your books. They sound wonderful. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Donna. It seems like there were months and months (up to a few years, actually) when all I heard at workshops and conferences and on publishers’ and agents’ websites was that I should write A, when I was dying to write Z. So I wrote Z. I actually tried writing A, and that was good for me as a learning experience. But we’re writing in a genre that’s all about people’s hearts. If my novels don’t come from my heart, I’m thinking they’re not going to be very good romance. You know? 🙂

  10. What a great idea, Tracy — and a fantastic way to launch your new feature.

    Katharine, your book sounds wonderful — just the kind of book I read when I’m in a historical mood.

    1. Thanks, Arlene! I’m so happy Tracy asked me to be here today. 🙂

  11. Hi Katharine –

    Great interview, full of lots of advice and fun info! I picked up Swept Away by a Kiss at the Literacy Signing at RWA 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also spent an enjoyable few minutes chatting with you. Thanks so much for all your great advice. Good to see a fellow MMRWA member doing so well! Congrats, and I’ll definitely pick up In the Arms of a Marquess!

    1. Hi, Alyssa. It was lovely meeting you at the Literacy Signing. The national conference is usually the only chance I get to see the wonderful ladies of MMRWA and I miss them! I’m happy for you that you get to be part of that group. Thanks for your nice words about SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS, and I hope you enjoy MARQUESS!

  12. Nan Dixon says:

    Great interview! Love that your characters demand to be written. Can’t wait to pick up one of your books.

    1. Thanks, Nan! Lovely of you to be here today. 🙂

  13. I know just what you mean about your characters taking over. If I try to make them do what I want them to do, they take their toys and go home. I’ve learned not to fight them, even when they’re driving me nuts, because they’re not going the way I want them to.

    I am currently working on the draft of my second book, and going through all the doubt stuff. What if my editor hates it? What if they realize I’m a fraud? Etc. I guess I just have to keep pushing through and learnt to deal with it, because it’s never going to go away, is it?

    Thanks for a great interview.

    1. Hi, Ashlyn. Congratulations to you on your first book, and I wish you the best with the second one. For me, some of the worries have faded, but new ones always seem to take their place! I definitely think a little of that is healthy, though. A little prodding stokes our fires to burn as bright as possible. It certainly keeps me trying to make every book as good as I can possibly make it. 🙂

  14. It doesn’t get easier!? : )
    Great interview Katherine and Tracy!

    1. Katharine (with an A). So sorry!

      1. Thank you, Valerie! Btw, folks misspell my name so often (my entire life!), I’m used to it by now. But you are lovely to correct it.

        Do you know, the heroine of my first book is Valerie. Love your name (and so does her hero!). 🙂

        1. Katharine,
          I am an editor in my *day* job and cannot in good conscience leave a misspelling. Ha!

          Now am running out to get your Valerie book! I’ve never seen a Valerie heroine before. Woo hoo!

  15. Suzanne says:

    Great interview, Ladies! I have to agree that it never gets any easier. You would think at some point we’d have the rhythm of story so ingrained in us, writing would flow, plot would just unfold. Instead, each time I start a new book I’ve got that terrible fear that I don’t know how! There’s something daunting about those blank pages–especially when we expect the next book to be so much better than the last. My best books come when I haven’t spent too much time working out the details, when the story is brimming over and I’ve just got to sit down and write. That way I’m not thinking about a blank page or how to write a novel. It just comes. I’m glad to hear that bit about Nora, because I did imagine story flowing out of her naturally. It makes it less stressful to know we all share similar experiences.

    Your book sounds utterly romantic and I look forward to reading it, Katharine.

    1. Hi, Suzanne. A book really does come easier when I don’t over-think every tiny detail. I do like to plot, and I generally have a pretty strong idea of where I’m going with a story (often scene by scene). But with the characters guiding me through those scenes, it’s a fantastic rush!

      Actually, in saying it doesn’t get easier, I was speaking of the professional side of the writing career. When Nora made that comment in her address at the conference, she was responding to folks who apparently wave away her success by saying she’s been at it so long and is so famous that of course she’s successful. She was making the point that she works hard at her success every single day, and even more importantly that she worked her butt off getting where she’s gotten, for years. I’ve found this career to be more work-intensive than I ever imagined. Of course, I adore the work. So that makes it fun, happily. 🙂

  16. Julie McMullen says:

    Hi Katharine and Tracy!

    Just wanted to say thanks for such an engaging interview. I have really enjoyed your books, Katharine, and hope to read many more in the future. I’ve marked my calendar for your next release and can’t wait for a hot romance to take the chill out of winter!

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