Welcome back to another Monday Morning Author Interview. Today we have a new voice in the field of fantasy/paranormal, Heather Ashbury. She’s the first-time author of More Than Human, a planned 3-book series. She lives on a quiet farm in New Mexico with many different animals ranging from turtles, chickens, dogs, cats, fish, a gecko, and more! She’s a practicing herbalist always yearning to learn and in her spare time (when I have any) she enjoys photography.
But why listen to me? Let’s hear from her!
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: Pretty much as soon as I could read more complex things I started making my own stories. By 11 I was writing poetry and short stories. In high school I was able to further explore my creative writing and during a special one-week “project period” I succeeded in writing twenty-seven poems.
Q: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
A: More Than Human is the first book that I have written. I started actually writing the story itself at 27 and officially published at 31. Let that serve as a reminder to anyone who doubts that it is never too late to write your book and never too late to publish.
Q: Do you like to create books for adults?
A: This books series is geared more towards young adults or new adults, but I’ve had a surprising amount of readers in their 30s-40s fall in love with my book and even one fan in their 70s!
Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A: It does both, honestly. I get very excited and “amped up” for my story and the progression, but after a while it feels like my mind has run a marathon and it absolutely drains me. I often have to take a nap after long periods of writing.
Q: Do you try to be more original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A: I honestly don’t try to make my writing fit any kind of narrative. I had a story in my head and the only way to get it out was to put pen to paper (in a sense). I’m just fortunate enough that my own style of writing and delivery has pleased many readers.
Q: Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
A: My ultimate goal is to make each book able to stand on its own. I think that in order to get the whole story, though, it would be best to read the entire series. There’s a lot of development that occurs and I think it’s an enjoyable ride from beginning to end.
Q: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
A: The idea of More Than Human really stemmed from a game I liked to play with myself. If the people around me were creatures of fantasy, what would they be? I would take into consideration personal habits, traits, appearance, personality etc into consideration and then decide that Person A fit the description of a nymph or that Person B seemed like they would be more of a dragon. And yes, I still play this game.
Q: What’s your favorite under-appreciated book?
A: I have two and they are both the main reasons why I published a book in the first place. The first one is Demon in My View by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and the second is Blood and Chocolate by Annette Kurtis-Klause. The latter is what really began my love of werewolves.
Q: What other authors are you friends with and how do they help you become a better writer?
A: I’m friends with a few different authors but the one that stands out the most is K. R. Leikvoll who helped me edit my work during a tragic time. Her feedback and suggestions are invaluable. She has an incredibly creative mind and a brilliant way with words.
Q: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
A: I have only had a reader personally reach out to me about my book once, maybe twice. The most feedback that I get are through reviews, even though I ask questions directly to my readers on my FB page. From reading the reviews left for me, my readers seem to really enjoy this different approach that I have taken to familiar creatures of fantasy and that they love my descriptions in the book. My goal was to have my readers feel as if they were there, seeing and experiencing the book themselves, and I believe I have accomplished that.
Q: What does your family think of your writing?
A: My father enjoyed my book well enough, I think. But, my oldest son is my biggest fan, I think. He read my book really fast and had a hard time putting it down. He constantly asks me how far I have gotten in book 2 and when it will be finished.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: My other hobbies include gardening, herbalism and photography. Photography and being outside in nature as well as editing and touching up my photos afterwards is really a therapeutic thing for me, I think. It calms me down quite a bit and requires me to pay attention to detail and I cannot draw or paint so…
Thank you so much for dropping by! Anything else for our readers?
How about a sample of the book?
Yes, please! Right after your links.
Pain shot through Jule’s head as she regained consciousness; the effects of the drug that was pumped into her bloodstream still lingering. She strained to open her eyes. The sunrise, with its blinding pink and orange light, peaked over the hill. She struggled to her feet, her body sore from lying on rocks and sticks for hours throughout the night. Still in a haze, she took in her surroundings and tried to piece together her broken memory. She remembered being with William by the fire, and then having to pee.
“Oh no, William!” Panic swept through her again as she wasted no time in rushing back to the house. She burst in through the back door and frantically began searching for a phone.
“The kitchen,” she said to herself as she darted towards it.
A phone hung on the wall just inside the kitchen across from the sink. Jule grabbed the phone and immediately started punching in Loki’s number memorized by heart. Not a single signal came from the phone. Not even the beeps from the buttons on the pad made any response. Irritated, Jule slammed the phone back into its place and began searching for her cell phone. She recalled leaving it on the coffee table in the living room and rushed to it, finding it smashed in pieces on the floor instead.
“There’s got to be another phone in this house!” she cried out in frustration.
Jule frantically searched in every room, but each phone she found was just as dead as the first. She flipped a light switch on the wall of the bedroom but the light gave no response. Angrily, she flipped the switch off and on again, expecting that maybe if she did it enough times, the light would magically respond and turn on. Nothing happened.
“Shit, they must have cut the power to the whole house,” she mumbled to herself. “I’ve got to get out of here!”
Deciding to drive back to town, Jule sped down the stairs out to William’s truck, only to find the tires slashed and the engine wires cut. The truck was going nowhere.
“Fuck!” she shouted and began to cry. What am I going to do? I have no vehicle, no way to contact anyone, and I’m out in the middle of nowhere, she thought dismally to herself. The only thing Jule could think to do was to walk back to town. She quickly ran inside, grabbing her backpack and some water, and then headed out on her long journey.
The early morning sun warmed her chilled bones as she walked with a quick pace down the driveway to the main dirt road. Her body and head still ached as the drugs continued wearing off, but she pushed herself forward regardless. Jule shielded her eyes with her hand as she looked at the position of the sun to get a sense of time, though she was more guessing than anything. I think it’s been a few hours already. She frowned and concentrated back on her task. Racing against time she quickened her pace, fighting through the throbbing pain in her head and aches in her legs to make it back and find William.
As Jule rounded a corner in the road, the rumbling sound of an old truck approached from behind. Jule threw herself into some bushes to the side of the road. Someone from the Order must have still been around William’s house. I wasn’t careful enough, Jule thought, punishing herself for her carelessness. The noisy truck slowed as it got nearer to where Jule abandoned the road for cover and pulled over, the brakes screeching as it came to a halt. The exhaust rumbled noisily. The foul fumes rose into Jule’s nose, making her gag. She hunkered down lower as she heard the driver’s side door creak open and feet hit the gravel, crunching as they approached. Shit, they saw me. Jule’s heart raced. She balled up her fists and swallowed hard.