Ashantay, thanks for meeting me here in my virtual café. Welcome. Let’s have some fun. You’re a romance and mystery writer with a hint of humor. I read the review about Death Stretch, and had to laugh aloud. Killing the yoga instructor who is far too flexible is priceless. I’ve had a dark thought or three about my instructor. So now I have to ask, what would your Google search history reveal about you? Murder, mystery, romance?
Thanks for the invitation to meet you here. The atmosphere is perfect for writers, and the coffee – yum! Google? Well, the first thing that would come up with a search-I hope-is my web site. You may also get directed to one of my three other mysteries, all featuring intrepid heroines.
Writing about writing and reading about other writer’s processes is fascinating to me. I was in a writer’s group a long time ago and one of the writers was only able to write on a collapsible card table. If she went on a writing retreat, she’d take the table with her. I don’t know if that’s extreme are not, but it sparked my interest and my sick fascination with the writer’s rite. Do you have a card table? Tell us about your space?
I don’t have a card table, but gee, that sounds like a great idea! I have a small glass-topped PC desk and a set of bookshelves in the corner of my living room. I live alone, so that set-up works for me.
I hear you’re afraid of heights, yet you live in the mountains of North Carolina. Are you a real life thrill seeker or only the page?
Interesting question! I’m a little of both. I believe that allowing my fears to dictate my responses to situations is not how I want to live, so periodically I’ll challenge myself. I’ve gone paragliding and zip lining to combat my fear of heights, but still don’t like to climb onto my home’s roof. Guess I still have a way to go with overcoming fear of heights. Maybe I’m really more afraid of falling!
What would your words say about you?
Intriguing question, and I’ll ask one in return. Which words – the ones I write or the ones I verbalize? Because I don’t always say what I’m thinking. I refer to that reticence as self-preservation. You know, holding back from telling the testosterone-pumped guy he’s a terrible driver. (grin) The words I write belong to my characters, or at least I try to stay out of their way when I’m transcribing for them.
One question I am always curious about is the writer’s rite. For some writers their process is as structured as the yoga practitioner working through the sun salutation—dot-to-dot. How do your approach the blank page?
Geez, I hate blank pages. Scary stuff. When I’m stuck in a blank spot – often the fault of my brain and not the computer – I’ll use sprints to fill up the space. Other times, I sit my behind in the chair and start typing with no goal in mind. My latest WIP is tripping lightly from my fingers, and I began the work after getting the beginning in a dream.
I take photos to remind me of a moment I want to capture on the page later and scribble in a journal. Do you follow a structure journaling schedule? Keep notes and take photos while you’re writing a novel? If not to all, how do you keep track of your ideas?
I take notes on whatever blank (or not so blank) paper available to me. Sometimes I use envelopes from bills. I also have notebooks and a small digital recorder for ideas. Journaling doesn’t work for me, but that’s what makes the writing process fun – to each their own.
Steven King noted in his book, On Writing—the bible for many writers—to follow your heart and to write what gives you pleasure and joy, and not to give way to popular demands, which is challenging for writers today since writing has become the new black. Has your desire for fame and fortune influenced what you write?
I began writing because I wanted to read stories about people like myself and alternative life styles. I knew going in that fame and fortune are difficult to find in the arts.
Tell me more about what you write.
Ah, great segue! I write about yoga instructors gone bad, massage therapists who find dead bodies on their table, caterers discovering victims hanging under mistletoe, and people who put together toxic mixes of holiday decorations to kill off control freaks (also gone bad). My work is snarky and irreverent, fast moving, and illustrates that humor can help when times are bad.
Since you’re being difficult and can’t pick one song that is a favorite, how about you recommend a half dozen, or less songs every writer should keep on a playlist for inspiration. Oh gosh, where do I start? I don’t write with music playing, but if I’m stuck on writing sex scenes, I’ll listen to Led Zepplin or Def Leppard–don’t ask. Eric Clapton’s Bad Love and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean helped me work out plot points in a happy accident sort of way. Carlos Santana always cranks my mood.
Have you made a play list for Death Stretch?
No, sorry, I haven’t. Don’t want to be difficult, but music and movies are not usually part of my writing process.
Do you have a favorite character in your book? Why? And your favorite character in a favorite book, who and why is your favorite?
Katie Sheridan, who appears in most of my books as the heroine or as a secondary character, is my favorite. She peddles the snark and isn’t ashamed to admit she doesn’t have all the answers. I love Amanda Quick’s (Jayne Ann Krentz) heroine, Lavinia Lake. She’s a Victorian heroine who packs a punch.
Until the Blog explosion and all the other social media outlets the world wasn’t privy to the inner sanctum on the writer’s neurosis. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume a majority of the artistic community has an affliction or three, which some confess without reservation. What would you say about your virtual persona? Veiled or do you wear your madness proud? And the added question for aspiring writers, what practice advice would you add about self-marketing?
Because I write humor, I tend to post stuff that has a comic bent. Unfortunately, I’m a terrible self-marketer who is working to improve. I do suggest new writers only use the social mediums that are comfortable for them. If you dislike Twitter or blogging, your posts will reflect that unease.
Now give us the dirt. Where do you harvest your ideas? Is everything in your life up for grabs?
Everything is pretty much up for grabs, but I do ask people if I can use whatever it is they said or did that attracted me. A woman at the Mighty Dollar asked me to use her first name in a book, so I will.
As far as I can tell every writer has had an ah-ha moment, the 3AM epiphany, where he or she realized their calling to write is stronger than their will. Me, I stumbled into it. What about you? Do you see your destiny in the stars on a starlit night at age nine?
Hmm…I remember spinning angst-filled stories about my paper cut-out dolls. Several of them died in tragic car accidents, and another in a house fire. How I started writing humor after that start in life is beyond me!
Thanks for sharing some of you inner writer-self with me today. It was a pleasure hearing from you and learning a little about your dark wit.
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e-mail – email@example.com
web site – www.ashantay.com
Published works – Death Stretch, Death Under the Mistletoe, Death Rub, Dickens of a Death (Christmas 2014).