Named after a goddess who turns her lovers to stone, an insular New England coastal town holds more secrets than it can keep…
We’re interviewing author Celia Ashley today as she celebrates the release another book in her Dark Tides series, Storm Surge. If you like sexy, romantic, paranormal romance then you should check this one out!!
-Tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.
I have always written, from the time I understood it was something you could do, that a book, a story, was not something which appeared by enchantment on paper between two covers. I remember sitting on the floor in our living room in Queens reading Dr. Seuss when I was about four years old and marveling at the cadence of language, the quirkiness of the illustrations, the amazing power of the written word (not in those exact terms, mind you—I didn’t realize until much later what I had been doing). By the time I was seven I had determined to be a writer and wrote my first book—thirty pages of fluff about a girl and her horse, complete with crayon pictures. Thereafter, I found myself reading the first six or twelve or eighteen times for pleasure and then I would take a closer look at the book I’d enjoyed so much and would basically go through it paragraph by paragraph, then line by line, trying to determine (as I mention below) where the magic existed, how it had been crafted, the music of it, if you will.
My first sale was many moons later, when I had children of my own, to the former Warner Books with a story that is still near and dear to my heart, Faith and Honor. That, then, was the start of reality and the progressions and hiccups, disappointments and joys.
(PS: I did eventually release Faith and Honor on my own when the rights reverted to me. This was a very early self-publishing venture, before I knew anything, so if your blog readers happen to go to my Amazon author page and see the book there, I ask that they don’t judge me too harshly. The book cover is AWFUL. I have since improved in that area. Also, the book isn’t actually available anymore. I don’t know how to remove it, lol! Since used copies are sold, I suppose I really can’t.)
-Are there any writers who have inspired you?
When I was young I checked Apples Every Day out of the school library to read numerous times and wrote to the author to tell her how much I loved it. I received a letter in response. Good old-fashioned letter, hand-written, through the mail. I still have it. Even though I had already decided I wanted to be an author, I think that lovely communication solidified the desire for me. So, I’d say Grace Richardson inspired me. Also, Mary Stewart, and later CJ Cherryh (talk about evocative, hair-raising prose!), Ursula K. LeGuin, Diana Gabaldon, LuAnn Rice. Most recently, JK Rowling, not necessarily because of her writing style but due to her unlimited imagination, which, I suppose, is true of all the authors I have named. Probably all the authors there are in this world, really. It’s what we have in common. I have to say, though, that the single most inspiring example of the written word was something I read by an author whose name I do not know. A young woman in my daughter-in-law’s creative writing class. It was the story of a horrific event, beginning several days later and working back to the event itself. The reader starts out not knowing a thing, and bit by bit the truth of the tale seeps into the brain, and I remember protesting out loud that this wasn’t where she was going. It was stunning—beautiful phrasing, deceptively simple format, moving and poetic—and quite honestly the best piece of writing I have ever read. I would venture it was probably cathartic on the author’s part, too. I hope she continues to write, always.
-Can you tell us where you got the idea for the Dark Tides series? I love the ocean and paranormal stories, can’t wait to read these.
Thanks, Kathy! I hope you enjoy them. Dark Tides was originally a standalone book which I submitted to Kensington’s Lyrical Press imprint after a call for submissions was passed via email through our writers group. When I wrote that book, I had decided to deviate from my usual Pennsylvania settings. Years ago I had spent some time in Maine and loved the rugged coastline, the somewhat mysterious feel of the fishing towns I passed through, the haunting quality of the landscape where earth met sea. The isolation of an old house by the ocean became the setting for what is now Book I of the Dark Tides series, Dark Tides.
Asked after the book’s release if I could now make it into a series, I agreed. However, because of the limited number of characters in Dark Tides, I ended up making the town itself the cohesive factor. One character, a policeman, is present in all the stories, though, and does get his own by Book III, Comes the Dark (my favorite of the three, by the way). So, when you ask me where I got the idea for the series, it was one of necessity, since I had agreed to do one. I submitted completed outlines for the second two books, Storm Surge and Comes the Dark, had a few back and forth sessions with my editor at Lyrical, Corinne, and then it went to Kensington for final. After that, I had to bust my behind in ridiculous fashion to meet the deadlines.
-Storm Surge- Secrets and mystery surround a seacoast town. Heroine returns to her hometown to find hunky fisherman/writer living in her old home. Sounds yummy. What else can you tell us about this new release?
I think you just about summed it up. : ) All kidding aside, though, the tale includes ghosts and mystery and a past containing truths that aren’t quite what the heroine had come home expecting to find. She never expected to fall for the hunky fisherman turned writer either. It’s also a story about redemption (somehow, all of my stories are, in one way or another) and, of course, love. It’s a romance, after all. But as an aside to all of the readers out there who think they are going to pick up a book full of werewolves and vampires because it is tagged as paranormal (which happened with the release of Dark Tides), there are none of those in this series. Nothing wrong with the type of creature or any other kind—they’re just not in the Dark Tides series. I had a reviewer incensed over the fact she had expected that kind of novel and I hadn’t delivered. So, fair warning. But, if you like things that go bump in the night, there’s plenty of that.
-What’s next? What are you working on?
A short time ago I finished the final review of the galley for Comes the Dark, which will be released in November this year. If this ends up being the last in the series, I think readers will find it very satisfying. And if it’s not the last book, well then, we might have more to talk about on that subject in the future…
Currently, I am working on a rather dark young adult novel. I also need to finish the next book in the self-published Connor Falls Christmas Romance Series (which I write under Robin Maderich). The prequel, Winter Light, was released last year and Book I, Hurry Home for Christmas, the year before that. Throwing myself into the writing of the Dark Tides series definitely knocked me off schedule for the CFCR series. But, with any luck and a heck of a lot of hard work, I Knew in a Moment should be out in time for the holiday season.
After that, well, I have about five projects in the offing, calling my name incessantly every day until I want to put on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. However, since the voice is in my head, I don’t know if that measure would do me a darned bit of good.
-What elements of the paranormal do you most enjoy writing about?
I have written about a community of others (not published yet) which include the vampire element, shape-shifters and the like, but what I do enjoy most is writing about things I have actually experienced such as ghosts, clairvoyance, the Sight. It is said, “Write what you know”, so…
-Do you write full time or part time?
Argggh, you’re killing me. I sooooo wish it could be full-time. During heavy-duty writing phases, it nearly is, adding about thirty hours to my already forty-hour work week in the, ahem, pesky day job.
-What is the hardest thing about writing?
I find nothing hard about the actual act of writing. Once I get started and the words begin their flow, it become as elemental and essential as breathing. However, sometimes it’s the getting started, because, you know, there’s gardening to be done (you can read about some of that in my blog, and also how I pray for rainy days to keep me inside and on task), and laundry, and, um, there’s that show on television I could watch for fifteen minutes, couldn’t I? I think what I find hardest about writing is the business side. The self-promotion, the marketing you have to do on your own, the social networking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably as social as the next guy (although, there’s a huge chunk of loner in me, too), but having the time to do the whole Facebook, Twitter shtick is time needed elsewhere. Still, I kick myself into gear (not often enough, I’m told) to get it done. I’m just not sure how successful I am at it. It’s required, though, these days. Lyrical expects it. All publishers expect it.
-What do you enjoy most about writing?
The creation of characters and places, bringing them to life, and the fact they continue to live in your head like old friends, popping up again when you least expect them. I enjoy research, too. When I was writing historical, I would spend a month in steady research before beginning each book and I loved learning. I love learning. I shouldn’t have used past tense, there, because I want to continue learning, every single day.
-Any tips for aspiring writers? Can you recommend any favorite writing books?
Write and read, read and write. If you see something that has intrigued you, write about it. Doesn’t have to be sixty-five thousand words. It can be a sentence or two. Then look at it, study it, see if those words have evoked what you felt in those few moments. Also, harking back to reading, that’s how I taught myself to write. I didn’t utilize books on the subject, but have spent my entire life reading first for enjoyment, and then later I would read again, analyzing the magic in the hopes of making some of my own.
-When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?
Usually, that’s phrased as what do you do when you’re not writing? You are asking what I do for fun. I garden (boring to the non-gardening sector of the population), I paint in acrylics and oils, and I occasionally build things out of wood. Things I enjoy, yes, but necessarily fun? These activities make me content, build muscle, keep me active, give me a sense of great satisfaction, but fun…? In consideration of your question, I’m beginning to realize Robin/Celia is a very dull girl, indeed. Good Lord, I think I need a life, lol!
-Is there anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t mentioned?
Never give up. Never surrender. (Now that’s what I do for fun! Campy movies! Also I’m a rabid Dr. Who and Harry Potter fan, so spending time with either is marvelously fun.)
-How can readers discover more about you and your books?
E-mail me and ask a question, make a comment, just say hi, at: firstname.lastname@example.org