5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Alex Ashe

Indie Author Interview with Alex Ashe - Author of the Mystery / Crime Thriller Death on the Water.

Alex Ashe writes from her home in rural New Hampshire and incorporates the history and cultural influences of the region into her novels. Alex creates an authentic New England experience for her readers through the use of folk lore, Yankee superstitions, and legends.

Interview with Alex Ashe

Author Alex Ashe
Author Alex Ashe
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Alex Ashe: Writing has always been an area where I felt comfortable expressing ideas and concepts. Having grown up working in my family’s restaurant, I wrote menus, sent out newsletters, and sent many special occasion cards.
I entered fiction-writing contests for fun during my college years and became a technical writer after graduating. I started writing fiction full-time in 2011 and love that my varied background has influenced my writing.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I love reading everything from fiction to cookbooks to crime reports. My favorite fiction writers are James Lee Burke, Nevada Barr, Conan Doyle, Robert B. Parker, and J.A. Jance. Robert B. Parker is perhaps my favorite author with three fantastic character series that I love: Spenser, Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone. I loved his New England influence and grew up reading the Spenser novels.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Do you re-member the first story you ever wrote?
Writing was always part of my life. While growing up, I wrote newsletters for different groups and clubs. Throughout my childhood, I kept detailed diaries and notebooks.
When I was in college, I loved researching topics and writing term papers. I spent far longer on each paper than was required, and enjoyed every minute of it. During my sophomore year of college I had to write a piece of historical fiction. Unbeknownst to me, the professor for that class entered it in a writing contest. One day he called me after class and explained that I had won. This was the first time I realized that I could write for others in a way that wasn’t just informative and it was as if I had discovered a new world.

"When I move into the writing phase, I feel like I can’t work fast enough to get the words down."

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

While writing is an invigorating and satisfying process, it also requires considerable discipline to make it into a career. Characters, plot lines, and settings all require research to make them authentic. I spend around eight months researching specific events or places for each book and then another six or eight writing the story.
When I am in the research phase I will study, travel, interview people, and take courses and lessons to immerse myself in the reality I will be inventing. During this time I let ideas generate spontaneously and work themselves out. At this point, I always carry a notebook to record any idea or detail that sparks my interest. I might see an interaction between two people at the grocery store that intrigues me. I’ll record the incident, even if it’s just a blurb, into my notebook. I do this for months and when I’m ready to start the writing phase, I’ll reread these notes and weave them into a tale.
When I move into the writing phase, I feel like I can’t work fast enough to get the words down. After months of planning, the words just flow, and I have to race to record them all. I start writing in the morning and work until my eyes are dry. The days go by quickly and often the sun has set before I have even eaten lunch.
When I start to struggle with a plot or character, I take a break and do something unrelated to the story, like drawing or painting, for about an hour. This down time allows the ideas to work themselves out in my head. By the time I’ve cleaned my last brush, I’m ready to edit my previous work and excited to add to the story. This process distracts my conscious mind and allows my subconscious to explore story-lines and character development. It prevents writer’s block and refreshes my mind, and actually helps me to focus on my writing

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
I’m fortunate that my desk is anywhere I can bring my laptop when I write. I can sit on a plane and write just as easily as I can at my studio table. And I take advantage of that fact. However, unlike most people who can bring their laptops to coffee shops to work, that seems to be the only location where I struggle to write. I’m too busy people watching and getting material for my next book to focus on the current one.

"The hardest part of writing is creating character growth."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
For me, the easiest part of writing is creating personalities for the characters. I love to develop characters whose mannerisms are distinctive and novel, yet familiar to all of us. I like to make each character play off the people around them; some jibe, others clash.
The hardest part of writing is creating character growth. I want my characters to mature and yet stay true to their core traits. There’s a difficulty in developing a character without losing the essence of who they were. It’s similar to seeing an adult as the toddler you used to know. The challenge lies in creating growth and still being authentic to the character.

"Writing is the best job in the world."

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is the best job in the world. Being an author gives me the opportunity to explore different professions, interview people from all walks of life, and imagine people and places that I’ve dreamed about. Writing lets me voice my opinion and explore issues from all sides of a situation. Writing is freedom.

Alex, please tell us a little about your Mystery / Crime Thriller Death on the Water.
Death on the Water is the third book in the Mena Young Mystery Series. It follows a private investigator during her work in rural New Hampshire. Mena Young is a flawed character who fights her own inner demons while working with the police to solve horrendous crimes. Be-cause of an abusive childhood, she’s able to relate to the victim’s family in a credible way that brings compassion and competency to the in-vestigation. She is sensitive to things that others overlook and presses past her anguish to uncover all the details of the crime.

Death on the Water (Alex Ashe)
Click to Read an Excerpt

Death on the Water delves into the history of the Lakes Region in the early 1900’s as well as current day. What happened in the small New England town when a body was found in the middle of winter? Mena uncovers secrets from unexpected places and is pushed to her limits in Death on the Water.

"What happened in the small New England town when a body was found in the middle of winter?"

What inspired you to write the book?
New Hampshire is a small state made up of over two hundred towns. In January 2013, the MV Kearsarge cruise ship sank in the icy harbor of Lake Sunapee. Hundreds of people responded to the tragedy and I was swept up in the news reports. Immediately, a story began to form in my head and I was inspired to write a tale that took place under similar circumstances. The boat was salvaged and set sail again in June 2013. Intrigued by this unusual situation, I contacted the owners of the ship and interviewed them. They were so helpful and informative about the incident and I was inspired by their love for the ship. Armed with this new information, I created characters that would portray this affection and appreciation for the community.

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
My target audience would be anyone who enjoys reading fictional crime thrillers. Even though the books are centered on crimes, there are many aspects to them that anyone can enjoy. There is a large cast of recurring characters, and the interplay between them makes the Mena Young Mystery Series an enjoying read for anyone. Death on the Water can be purchased on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo.

What makes your book special?
There are two unique features to the book. Firstly, Death on the Water is a murder mystery that takes place in the New Hampshire countryside. And secondly, it’s told from the perspective of a female private detective who works with the police as a consultant. She is versed in criminology and investigative procedure, but tempers professional skills with compassion. She is a strong lead whose humble beginnings and tumultuous past shaped her professional skills. Death on the Water shares a taste of the frigid New England winter with the world.

"I love to hear from readers who ask questions and recognize geographical details."

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
Death on the Water (and the Mena Young mysteries: Death of a Player, Death at the Notch) have been a success beyond measure. I was honored to have many readers who had never been to New England tell me that after reading the Mena Young books, they felt like they were familiar with the landscape. I love to hear from readers who ask questions and recognize geographical details.

How long did it take it to write the book?
It takes me twelve to fourteen months to research and write each novel. Death on the Water took approximately 12 months to complete.

"Writing is an immersive process so everything you observe, experience, and study is valuable."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?

Writing is an immersive process so everything you observe, experience, and study is valuable. Be aware of yourself and if something sparks your interest, record it to use later. Trust your instincts and, even if you can’t explain why something is intriguing to you, trust that it will be valuable.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
My next book, Death on the Island, will be released in fall, 2015.
Death on the Island takes place just days after Death on the Water ends. This time, Mena leaves her comfortable New Hampshire surroundings and heads to Florida for a trip with her husband only to discover that death seems to follow her.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
The book market has been changing quickly and will continue to do so. EBooks are just a continuation in personal technology, like phones and watches. Books became synonymous with stories, but they are just the method of delivery, not the actual story. Bookstores for hard copy books will decrease, but not be obsolete. There will always be people who love holding books and experiencing the story through touch as well as sight. I think it will just be more difficult to find all stories in book form.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I love the iPad and having the ability to read different sources from one location. On the same device I can write emails, research using the web, and take photos. As smart phone screens are getting larger, I think they will overtake my iPad as my e-reader of choice.

How can readers connect with you?
I love to hear from readers. Please contact me via alex-ashe@alexashe.com

Thank you very much for the Interview, Alex.

About the Book Death on the Water

Death on the Water (Alex Ashe)
Click to Read an Excerpt

The MV Hargbol has been navigating Wild Goose Lake for years as a luxury cruise vessel.

During the cold, winter off-season, the unexpected occurs.

The Hargbol sinks in the frozen water while still docked at the harbor. Locals spring into action to restore the ship, but they are ill prepared for what they find.

Investigator Mena Young, Chief Dean Cunningham, and Sergeant Joey McCarthy look into the unanticipated discovery and find that not all secrets are best shared

"This was a great book. It had a lot of great intrigue and kept me guessing. Another ringer from Alex Ashe! Keep them coming!" - Reader Review

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Death on the Water with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook Death on the Water with Excerpt on Amazon

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