Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview with Sharon Ashwood

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Sharon Ashwood. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Frostbound: the Dark Forgotten. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Imagine meeting someone who was young, handsome, protective, and handy when it came to fixing a leaky tap or taking out the villains. He’s the go-to guy in the community for problem solving and leadership. Everybody likes him. He oozes competence and has a great sense of humour.

Unfortunately, he’s not only from the wrong side of the tracks, but is the wrong species entirely. Just to complicate things, this alpha male with the Ruger Blackhawk is the only person standing between you and an unknown killer who just beheaded your roommate.

This is what happens to Talia Rostova, the fugitive vampire in Frostbound. When she meets Lore, the hellhound Alpha, the first thing he does is chain her to his bed for safekeeping. It makes perfect sense to him—even if she does a lot of yelling—until he stops thinking of Talia as simply a vampire and a murder suspect wanted by the cops.

Frostbound is an adventure story, but it’s also a very sensual tale about forbidden love and personal choices.

Frostbound is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The title came in two ways: there is a freak snowstorm that slows down the city where the story takes place. The other is that the two main characters are trapped by their cultures to see the world a certain way. They have to break free of those ideas and obligations before they can move forward.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve always read stories of the supernatural. When I was growing up, there was of course epic fantasy and horror, but there was also a fabulous stream of stories that blended contemporary settings and ancient magic. A lot were from the UK—Susan Cooper and Alan Garner come to mind—and I gobbled them up the moment they appeared on the library shelves. I guess you could say I was programmed from that moment forward. Resistance was futile.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Lore. He’d been demanding a book since he first showed up in Ravenous. He was meant to have a very minor part, but he simply would not go away. It’s appropriate he’s a hellhound—he has that canine ability to shove his way to the centre of attention and look innocent about it. It helps that he’s hot.

Anyway, because he kept showing up again and again, the hellhounds started evolving. For those not familiar with the series, they begin as prisoners in another dimension and eventually escape into our world. By Frostbound, I was really curious about how they would adapt to life among the humans. They’re essentially an immigrant people, with all the challenges and joys of having a tight-knit community only partially in tune with the city around them. Lore is their Alpha, and we get to see what that really means. It’s a huge amount of responsibility and sacrifice.

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

My favorite paranormal books are reprints of historical books about magic—usually eighteenth or nineteenth century works. I don’t think there’s a lot of useful data there, but they give a fascinating insight into how people thought about the supernatural back then. I have some old books of spells and, no, I’ve not tried any them. With my luck, they’d work and I’d turn my cat into a footstool or something.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

In Frostbound, Talia was the greatest challenge. She wasn’t always fun to write, because she has such deep emotions and such a terrible past. Bringing her through the difficult moments, especially once she’s finally grappling with her demons, was hugely rewarding. However, I was exhausted by the end. To write well, I have to internalize what the character is going through and her journey was pretty harrowing!

For pure amusement, I love writing Perry the werewolf computer nerd.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

My characters walk into my head pretty much fully grown. They don’t always reveal all their secrets right away, but they are well-defined individuals. I don’t really need to work on them in a formalized way, although I do make notes about their motivation and goals. I would say that the characters often drive what research I do. If they show up and say, “Hi, I’m a lion tamer!” I’ll need to go off and find out what a lion tamer does.

That’s exactly what happened with my heroine from Unchained. When I first “met” her, I knew very little except that she’d run away from home, gone to Spain and married a toreador. My first thought was, “huh?” But it turned out to make absolute sense by the time her book rolled around. The hardest part is trusting the process. The story knows what it needs, even if the author doesn’t.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

The Dark Forgotten world is largely our own, so my approach is a bit more relaxed than if I were writing epic fantasy. The most elaborate system I have is a bunch of toys on my desk that I move around to figure out action scenes.

However, my world has a ton of detail on magic and I just keep adding to it. On my website, I’ve got a page called the Monsterpedia and it’s full of facts about the various places, history, and species. It’s there as much to keep me on track as for the readers!

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Lots. There are so many great paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors. I also read older authors like Dickens and Jules Verne, contemporary and classic horror, and social history. Right now I’m into a big fat historical novel about the era of the Tudors, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It’s an absolutely amazing book.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

My theory is that excited readers are the best advertising, because they tell their friends how great an author’s books are. If I say how great I am, it’s never as convincing.

What do we have to look forward next?

Frostbound is out on June 7. Next up is an ebook anthology in the fall. The working title is Crave the Night, and I am contributing a novella. One of the characters in Frostbound (Darak) makes an appearance. What’s different about this story is that it takes place in ranching country. A little cowboy hotness just to change things up.

Thanks, Sharon!

To celebrate her book release, Sharon will offer a copy of any one of the Dark Forgotten series Ravenous, Scorched, Unchained, or Frostbound (reader's choice) to someone who comments on this post. This is open to international mailing. Check out her book page for trailers and excerpts. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Sharon Ashwood is a free-lance journalist, novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle fantasy would never work out, so she writes paranormal romances instead.

Sharon lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

Check out author’s website at


Kim Watters said...

Good morning Sharon. Thanks for joining us today. Your chocolate will be ready momentarily. Frostbound sounds delish. Wrong species? Love it. I grew up on the east coast among ghosts and witch lore, which fascinated and scared me at the same time. Yes, I've seen a ghost and had a few other encounters. I've even met modern day witches. No vampires though, except in books. I prefer to donate my blood to the blood bank. :) Enjoy your day with us and let me know if you need more nourishment.

Sharon Ashwood said...

Thanks for having me, Kim! I look forward to the visit.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Sharon. I love your books. Frostbound sounds wonderful. Can't wait to read this fabulous book.

Sharon Ashwood said...

Thanks, Crystal! I hope you enjoy it!

Angela Addams said...

Very excited about this one! Please tell me there are plans for more in the series!

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Sounds like my kind of book, Sharon! Looking forward to reading it.

Sharon Ashwood said...

Hi, Angela, thanks for reading! You should watch for another Dark Forgotten story coming this fall in an ebook anthology called Crave the Night. The other authors are Patti O'Shea, Michele Hauf, and Lori Devoti. It's going to be fabulous!

Hi, Kathryne,

Thanks for commenting. I hope you enjoy it!


catslady said...

I've not heard of your Dark Forgotten series but it sounds intriguing. I've always enjoyed a bit of the dark side lol. Are they all connected and should you read them in order?

Estella said...

Frostbound sounds like a Great read!

Tia Dani said...

Hi Sharon, Congratulations on your new relaese. Frostbound sounds like a book we will love reading.

Caris said...

Hi, Sharon,
So, do you have a pic of your toy graveyard!?! I loved the visual of moving toys around to create an action sequence! Awesome! BTW, you have a fantastic website!
Congrats on your books!

Caris Roane

Sharon Ashwood said...

Hi, catslady (I'm a cat lady, too!) The books make sense by themselves; however, as the same characters show up from time to time, those who hate spoilers may want to read them in order. I would say they are loosely connected but don't form a continuing plot.

Estella and Tia Dani: thanks for commenting!

Caris: Glad my graveyard amused you! Right now I have a Dracula's castle set up and a fake crow sitting on my printer. Glad you like the website; I'm quite proud of it!

Kaysi Peister said...

I've been waiting this WHOLE time for Lore to have his own book. I've been enamored with him since the beginning and can't wait to get to know more about him and what makes him tick exactly :) I hope other characters from previous books make some appearances too (maybe??)as that would just be fun. But I trust you, I love your books as you write them and am sure this one will knock my socks off as well! Thanks for sharing your talents with us!! And don't worry, I definatly do my part in getting the word out that everyone should read their books, it's part of my duties as a devoted reader :) Thanks again Sharon & long may you continue to write....

Kaysi Peister said...

(I detected a typo in my previous comment, let me correct that. Sorry!)

And don't worry, I definatly do my part in getting the word out that everyone should read your books, it's part of my duties as a devoted reader :) Thanks again Sharon & long may you continue to write....

Sharon Ashwood said...

Hi, Kaysi,

Thanks so much for stopping by! If you remember Perry and Errata, you'll see lots of them in this book. I thought it was time they got to be on stage!

Jen (Mistress J) said...

I didn't see a timeline for expiration to enter the contest - so I hope I am not too late. I do love this series - have bought each one to date and will buy this one too. Cannot wait to read it.

Tina LaVon said...

So glad you could drop by MCTT. I love the title and great concept.
Good luck with your book.

Cathy M said...

Hi Sharon,

The Dark Forgotten series was one of my favorite reads last year, and I love the we get to read Lore's story next.

BTW, great job on the trailer, I loved the graphics and music.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com