I’m so excited to have Claire Ashgrove here today as part of her blog tour for Immortal Hope: Curse of the Templars! Claire was kind enough to answer a few questions, and is also giving away two (2!!) $25 Amazon giftcards to 2 lucky winners! One will be given away during the tour, and another at the end of the tour. All you have to do is comment (and please leave your email address), so be sure to hit all of the tour stops (the more you comment, the bigger your chances of winning!)
Please welcome Claire to the blog!
Claire, you’re the author of more than 10 novels and short stories, and in your bio it says you’ve been writing since your early teens. Did you ever imagine that you’d become a published writer?
Not in a hundred years.
In fact, I didn’t want to be published… because my mother wanted me to be.
When I was in my early twenties, my mother began nudging me to pursue publication. The neighbor was a published romance author, I wrote – mom knew best, right? Well, what began as nudging became pushing. I did speak with the neighbor and learned about RWA, but never followed through. Writing was for me. Nothing else.
Until I was a bored, stay-at-home mom with an infant that slept 18 out of 24 hours a day. Then I sat down to write, really liked what I wrote, and decided… this was it… I was going to do what I never followed through on. I did; joined RWA and three local chapters, and here we are now, four years later.
Your new paranormal romance, Immortal Hope, just came out, and is the first in your Knights Templar series. What made you decide to write a paranormal? Can you tell us a bit about it?
IMMORTAL HOPE is a dark and sexy paranormal about the cursed Knights Templar, demons, and the most unholy Azazel’s ascension to the highest throne. It blends historical fact with a touch of speculative fiction and a whole barrel of steamy romance. In it you’ll find sacred secrets hiding amidst the ancient swordplay and treasured relics. IMMORTAL HOPE is the first book in the series, as you mentioned, and is published by Tor Romance.
What made me decide to write paranormal? I honestly don’t know. I started out in fantasy romance. Had a few agent bites, scored pretty well in the Golden Heart (though not well enough to final), and then it just really ended up not being saleable. Combined with that love is an equally great love for a good medieval historical. And somehow… I ended up weaving history into modern society, twisting legend, and writing paranormal.
You have at least two more books planned for the Knight’s Templar series. Do you hope to write more?
I do hope to write more! The series isn’t projected as a never-ending series, but it does encompass more than three. Fingers crossed the contracts will play out that way.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Goodness… too many to name?
Faulkner and Steinbeck play a huge role in my love of fiction and embedded symbolism. I strive to be able to convey as much as Faulkner did with the singular sentence comprising one chapter: “My mother is a fish.”
More modern, Steve Berry – his speculative fiction and action scenes are awe inspiring! I am a devoted Christopher Paolini fan, as well as an R.A. Salvatore fan.
Within romance Maya Banks, Shayla Black, Karen Tabke, Sylvia Day, Lauren Dane, Meredith Duran, and Johanna Lindsey have all inspired me.
What’s one of your most unusual writing quirks?
Spreadsheets. I was a former project manager. I live by the “critical path”. And dear Lord, I will go INSANE if I don’t have boxes to check off and dates to analyze.
As a mom of two boys, do you find it’s hard to juggle a writing schedule with family life?
Oh yes. Moreso now that my eldest is actually in school, ironically enough. I had to readjust my schedule, and long hours at night were cut. Then evenings were cut as that’s when he now needs / wants Mommy time, where before he had plenty throughout the day and would entertain himself quite well after dinner. With playtime cut in half, the house is no longer quiet when it used to be, and my youngest is reaching the age where he’s challenging rules and boundaries. Fun times! And an often exhausted Mom.
I’ve read that you raise and train horses! Can you tell us a little about that?
Well… that’s presently on the back burner. But yes, that’s my second passion in life. The economy shift however hit the horse world hard, with horses outside of the five and six figure range not being highly marketable or profitable. So breeding is out right now. Which means my current hold is old, and very young.
That said, I started officially learning how to ride at 15, and was sucked in hook, line and sinker. I still own my first horse – he’s 24 this year. And my second, who’s 26. I found though, that I don’t particularly like to “finish” a show horse, and I used to drive my trainer crazy by constantly bringing new horses to lessons and having to start all over with the new mount. I ride dressage primarily, and jump secondarily – both disciplines that really require time and effort to “master”. Taking a completely uneducated horse and bringing it up to novice level was far more fun than working on leg cues, bending, and spiral circles day after day. So when I do train, it’s basic ground work through introductory saddle work and then on to introductory dressage and low-level fences.
Fun! Although that ground gets further away each year. Thankfully, my training approach hasn’t seen me bucked off though. :knocks on wood:
How else do you like to spend your free time?
I haven’t had free time in I don’t know how long. From Aug 31, 2011 to September of 2012, I anticipate fourteen releases. I try to make sure we maintain family game night with the kids, but beyond that? No free time.
Is there any advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Never box yourself in and believe you can only write one thing, one project, or one genre. True, you want to brand yourself in one area, but always keep an open mind because opportunities will present that weren’t anticipated.
I never dreamed I’d have an alternate pen name and write erotic romantic suspense as Tori St. Claire. Romantic suspense, perhaps. Erotic? Hah! I couldn’t write the word “nipple” at one point in my career without turning five shades of red.
It was my agent and my editor who sighted that opportunity. They asked. I agreed. If I hadn’t been open to considering the prospect, or if I’d become locked behind “I cant!”, I wouldn’t be celebrating a second release at the same time as IMMORTAL HOPE.
Other people can see things in your writing that you cannot. The good and the needs improvement. Listen objectively, consider the possible outcomes, before you opt-out of ideas or feedback.
Do you have any news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share?
As I mentioned above, I’m celebrating a secondary release this month. STRIPPED, by Tori St. Claire released January 3rd. It’s a dark, very edgy erotic romantic suspense published through Berkley Heat about covert CIA operatives (The Black Opals) and human trafficking. In conjunction with the IMMORTAL HOPE Book Tour, I toured STRIPPED as well. While that tour ends tomorrow, you can read more about STRIPPED and the companion title coming later this year, LIE TO ME, on my Tori St. Claire website.
Thanks again for having me here today! It’s been a lot of fun!
Don’t forget to comment to enter the $25 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway!!