Today I welcome author Andrew Ashling, who has answered my seven Author in the Spotlight questions about his journey as a writer. Welcome Andrew!
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I have no great literary ambitions. I just tell stories, and I try to do it as good as I can, hoping other people will enjoy reading them.
Most of them have explicit scenes in them, often of a rather kinky nature. But they’re only the raisins in the pudding, because—as I already said—I actually enjoy telling stories. That means there always is a plot, or, more often, several plots.
I love exploring what makes people tick, what makes them do the often quirky things they do. Also, I enjoy playing with expectations, boundaries, taboos even.
All my stories/books have gay characters, but not just gay characters.
My current project is the Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse series. There are now several volumes.
SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:
#1: Why do you write?
The most classic of answers applies: the books I wanted to read weren’t written yet. So I wrote them.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience:
No embarrassing questions, please.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
Most of it consists of listening to my characters, dreaming, drinking coffee, and watching the plot unfold. Surprisingly little time is devoted to typing it out.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
I have positively no idea who influenced me. I’m afraid I’m a literary proletarian.
I have read from age eight, whatever took my fancy, and there have been periods in my life I read a complete book a day and started a second one before going to bed. I have read a few of the classics, some minor classics, and a lot of great and not-so-great books.
In a pinch I’d mention Simon Raven as a writer who influenced me. His Alms for Oblivion series made quite an impression on my young(er) mind. I also love Mary Renault for the ease with which she can make you believe her version of ancient Greece is the true one. (Which it probably isn’t.) Pirsig, Heller, Kennedy O’Toole… The Belgian writer George Simenon, the French writers Margueritte Yourcenar, Maurice Druon, Albert Camus, Arthur Rimbaud… There are so many, I can’t possibly hope to be complete. I love the sparse style of Caesar as well as the flowery diatribes of Cicero.
We proletarians are omnivores. We just eat what seems tasty at the moment. Or what is available.
I used to take what I call “author-baths.” Read twenty Stephen King novels one after the other in a few weeks. Then Ludlum. Then Asimov or Heinlein. Colleen McCullough. I don’t recommend it if you want to keep enjoying these authors. After a while the latticework starts peeking through the canvas. Maybe that’s where I learned the most. Inevitably you start thinking, “So, that’s how he does it.”
Historians. Mustn’t forget them. Take John Julius Norwich and his History of Byzantium. The man isn’t a great historian — Schama on him — but, boy, can he tell a story. And I mean, “tell, don’t show.” Same goes for Winston Churchill and his History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
Let me get back to you when I have this thing you call success.
#6: Describe your writing method:
I’m not sure I have one. The first thing I know about my stories is how they end. I also know the main turning points. The most trouble I have is where or when to begin the story. Of course, I know my characters and what drives them but sometimes they manage to surprise me.
As for the actual writing: I try to write every day. At least a paragraph.
For me writing is like planning a vacation. My object is not to arrive at my destination as quickly as possible, but to enjoy myself. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, anyone? Before I depart on my journey (start writing), I’ve looked at the map and read the brochures (done my research). I take the scenic route, rather than the more efficient highway. However, maps can tell you only so much. So, it’s possible I arrive at a quaint little village where I had only planned to pass through, but where, as it turns out, I like the people and the atmosphere. I will throw my schedule overboard without the least hesitation and stay there a few days. If they tell me there are these mysterious ruins, ten miles from the village and my planned route, I will visit them.
Sometimes bridges that are on the map aren’t there anymore when I arrive. Fine, I’ll make a detour and figure out a way to cross the river by some other means.
Summarizing: I have a plan, but I’m not it’s slave.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
I’m probably not the right person to ask, but here goes:
Read and write. A lot and daily. Don’t be one of those people who has a book in them that never comes out. Except when it’s better for civilization in general that it stays where it is, of course.
Try to determine why you write. Is it because you like to tell stories or because you like money? Not that they’re mutually exclusive. I’m talking about prime motivation here.
Listen to your characters. They know better than you.
Characters beat story. Story beats language/grammar/writing rules.
Be yourself. Do you really want to be the umpteenth Stephen-King-wannabe?
This is probably the most important one: don’t listen to people who give tips for aspiring writers.
(Actually, listen to them but then find out for yourself.)
About Andrew’s Books:
Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse
An epic series with gay MCs set in a Medievalish world…
Five volumes, one in progress, one projected.
The Invisible Chains Trilogy
- Part 1: Bonds of Hate (book 1)
- Part 2: Bonds of Fear (book 2)
- Part 3: Bonds of Blood (book 3)
The Invisible Hand quadrilogy
- Part 1: Gambit (book 4)
- Part 2: Castling (book 5)
- Part 3: Pawn Storm (book 6)
work in progress
- Part 4: Mate (book 7)
While the kingdom of Ximerion is threatened at its southern border by a major power, the high king sends his two youngest sons, the half brothers Anaxantis and Ehandar, as Lord Governors to the Northern Marches where minor raids by wild barbarians are expected. Under the guidance of an old and trusted general, the king hopes to keep the young princes far from the major conflict in the south, while at the same time providing them with a valuable learning experience. The estranged half brothers are rivals, but soon they feel attracted to each other. As if this was not enough of a complication, they begin to suspect that they were set up by their own father. The result is a fierce struggle for power where the lines between hate and love become almost indistinguishable and where nothing is what it seems.
You can read the first twelve chapters (60,000+ words) online or download them for FREE in epub or mobi, directly or from Amazon, ARe, Kobo and Apple’s iStore.
I’ve also written a dystopian novel, A Dish Served Cold and a collection of fives humorous short stories, Just Don’t Mess With Us
The links for FREE downloads and more info are here
- Ximerion (my site) in epub and mobi
- Amazon in kindle format (azw, azw3)
- ARe in epub and mobi (kindle compatible)
- Kobo in epub
- Barnes & Noble in epub
- iTunes for iPad (and all iOS devices)
Fan email address: http://www.ximerion.com/contact/