Thursday, July 28, 2016

Interview with Sharon Ashwood, Author of Enchanted Guardian

What made you decide to be an author? I’ve always had invisible people nattering inside my head (it’s either madness or creativity, take your pick!) and so started writing down their stories at a very young age.  I made the conscious decision to pursue publication much later, after I’d been a freelancer for several newspapers for a while. That experience doing short pieces made a huge difference for me, because I learned about editors and deadlines and the writing profession in general. It built confidence.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
The best part about writing is the act of creation—when everything is going well and I’m living my story, the mechanics of typing and software and all that disappear and I lose time.  It’s as if I’m barely involved and the story is flowing through me. The other brilliant thing is having readers respond to what I create. That act of communication and communion is why I do this.  There is nothing more uplifting than getting an email or meeting a reader who loves what I’ve put out there.
The business end of being an author is much less fun. I dislike anything that takes time away from telling stories.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?
Everything—from skydiving to raising kids to pushing paper at the office to gossiping at the hair salon—is great storytelling material and the more a writer has, the better. I believe that’s why many artists don’t hit their stride until their later years—up until a critical point, they’re gathering their stories and learning what makes people do all that crazy, wonderful stuff that makes up daily life.

But the other component is awareness. Some teens are so acutely conscious of the world around them, they can make the most artistically of what few years they have under their belt. There is a great quote by the poet William Wordsworth about poetry taking “its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” I’ve always taken that to mean creative expression requires not only having an experience but also taking the time to examine it for meaning.

I apologize for a wordy answer, but I’ve actually thought about this issue a lot! The bottom line is writers are like fine wine and a little dust on the bottle is a good thing.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? Yes, definitely. I’ve had a little bit of that with every book. I know a character is fully formed when he or she starts insisting on actions I haven’t planned. If that doesn’t happen, I know I haven’t dug far enough into their character to truly understand them.

You’ve written 16 novels and are working on a 17th novel. What’s your favorite time management tip? I work full time as well as write, so I try to streamline where I can. I cook ahead, use a planner with all my tasks pinned against certain days, and say “no” as much as I need to. But the best piece of advice I ever got was in one of my very first jobs, when my boss told me to pick a task, any task, finish it and move on. Going back over the same ground over and over is the biggest waste of energy. It was a dreadful place of employment and I left ASAP, but that was a great takeaway.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer? I outline, and then wander off course. Being too strict with the plot can choke the life out of a book, but I started out as a pantser and learned that I need some kind of road map if I want to actually finish the book anytime soon. I can go on and on and on . . .

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? Don’t rush. Enjoy the process. Make it good. No one is brilliant first time out of the gate, but you will get there if you keep working. Give yourself the space to learn your craft.

Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? I don’t listen to music while I write, but I remember spending a lot of time with some early Clannad CDs when I was writing Enchanted Guardian. The Celtic flavor seemed perfect for a story about knights and fairies.
In another time, in a place once known as Camelot, they had been lovers. Torn apart by betrayal and lies, Lancelot Du Lac and Nimueh, the Lady of the Lake, had each suffered greatly.
But the magic of the fae had reawakened a man once trapped in stone, and Lancelot was determined to find his long lost love. Only, Nim was desperate to hide her fae soul, as she was marked for death by their mutual enemy.

Though centuries apart had not diminished their passion, they would once again face a dangerous test to prove each was the other’s destiny. 
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Excerpt

Lancelot caught her arm, pulling her up short. Nim scowled down at the long, strong fingers. Fine scars ran along his tanned knuckles, evidence of a life around blades. Heaviness filled her, a primitive reaction to the strong, aggressive male taking control of her in the most basic way. Once it might have grown into anger or lust, but now it confused her.

“Take your hand off me,” she said, letting her voice fill with frost.

“No.” He pulled her closer, turning her to face him. “You will answer my questions.”

Nim jerked her arm free. They were so close, she could feel his warm breath against her skin. “About what?”

His nostrils flared as if scenting her. Still, Nim studied his tense jaw and the blood flushing his high cheekbones. The heat of his emotions made her feel utterly hollow. His hand closed around her wrist again, almost crushing her bones.

“There are too many people here,” he growled.

“There are enough people here for safety. Perhaps I don’t want to answer you.”

His eyes held hers a moment, dark fire against the ice of her spirit. That seemed to decide him, for he pulled her close and took a better grip on her arm. “Come with me.”

“Where?”

He didn’t reply, but steered her toward the door, moving so fast she skittered on her heels. She took the opportunity to pull against him, but this time he held her fast. “Don’t.”

The threat was real. Her fighting skills were nothing compared to a knight’s. Lancelot could crush or even kill her with a single blow. Still, that didn’t make her helpless, and she would not let him forget that fact. Rising up on her toes, she put her mouth a mere whisper from his ear. “You forget what I can do. My magic is nothing less than what it was when I was the first among the fae noblewomen. I can defend myself against your brute strength.”
Just not against what he’d done to her heart. She closed her eyes a moment, feeling his breath against her cheek and remembering the past for a long moment before she denied herself that luxury. “Let me go,” she repeated.

In response, he pulled her to the side of the building, refusing to stop until he was deep into the shadows. The ground was little more than cracked concrete there, tufts of grass straggling between the stones. He pushed her against the siding, her back pressed to the rough wood. “Not until I’ve had my say.”
He had both of her arms now, prisoning Nim with the hard, muscled wall of his chest. Anyone walking by might glimpse two lovers in a private tête-à-tête, but Nim drew back as far as she could, something close to anger rising to strike. No one handled her this way, especially not him.

“Then talk,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Aren’t you even surprised to see me?” he demanded.

“Why should I be?” She needed to squash any personal connection between them. Even if she was whole and their people were not at war, he had betrayed her.

He put a hand against her cheek, his fingers rough. She jerked her chin away, burning where his touch had grazed her.

But he was relentless. “I’m told you were caught by Merlin’s spell along with the rest. I know what the fae have become.”

Soulless. As good as dead inside. Lancelot didn’t say the words, but she heard them all the same. “It’s true,” she replied. “It’s all true.”

His expression was stricken as if hearing it from her lips was poison. Good, she thought. Better to be honest. Better that he believe her to be the monster she was.

“Maybe that’s true for some. I don’t believe that about you. You still have too much fire.”

With that, he claimed her mouth in an angry kiss. Nim caught her breath, stifling a cry of true surprise. The Lancelot she’d known had been gentle and eager to please. Nothing like this. And yet the clean taste of him was everything she remembered.

His mouth slanted, breaking past the barrier of her lips to plunder her mouth. The hunger in him was bruising, going far beyond the physical to pull at something deep in her belly. Desire, perhaps, or heartbreak. She wasn’t sure any longer, but she couldn’t stop herself from nipping at his lip, yearning to feel what she had lost. A sigh caught in her throat before she swallowed it down. Surely she was operating on reflex, the memory of kisses. Not desire she might feel now. The warmth and weight of him spoke to something older than true emotion. Even a reptile could feel comfort in the sun. Even she…
Still, that little encouragement was all the permission he needed to slide his hand up her hip to her waist and she could feel the pressure of his fingers. Lancelot was as strong as any fae male, strong enough certainly to overpower her. That had thrilled her once, a guilty admission she’d never dared to make. She’d been so wise, so scholarly, so magical, but an earthy male had found the liquid center of heat buried under all that logic and light. They had always sparked like that, flint against steel.
But then his hand found her breast and every muscle in her stiffened. This was too much. Memory was one thing, but she wasn’t the same now and she refused to have a physical encounter that was nothing more than a ghost of what it should be.

Nim pushed him away. “I don’t want this.”

Something in her look finally made him stop, but his eyes glittered with arousal. “Are you certain about that?”
Sharon Ashwood is a 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 would never work out, so she writes her adventures instead.

Sharon is the winner of the RITA® Award for Paranormal Romance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

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