Today I have another Brain to Books Cyber Convention author feature. Remember, this great event for authors and readers alike is coming to Goodreads this April, on the 8th, 9th and 10th.
Be sure to check out all the details and pertinent links for the event here:
Now on with the main event, our Brain to Books author feature.
Today I have a terrific interview with horror/fantasy author Ash Krafton.
Interview With Ash Krafton
Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
Let’s see…I’m a dog mom with the heart of a crazy cat lady. I collect comics, skulls and ravens, and Indian saris. I’m a tea afficianado (Spring Darjeeling, please) and am quite possibly the most enthusiastic fan of prog rock and metal on the planet. (Rush and Blind Guardian are my madrigals. And, yes. I *do* heart Geddy Lee.)
I’m also a speculative fiction author from northeast Pennsylvania. My work ranges from scifaiku small to trilogy-of-urban fantasy novels long, and lots in between. Most recently I released THE HEARTBEAT THIEF under the pen name AJ Krafton.
THE HEARTBEAT THIEF is an historical fantasy that combines the styles of Jane Austen with Edgar Allan Poe.
It started with a single scene, a conversation between a young woman and a mysterious stranger who steals up beside her at a funeral.
A lot of my stories start out like this, a single scene with no other context. It’s as if I happen across a conversation between strangers and only see one tiny snippet of their story.
Sometimes, the scenes get written and tucked away in an “ideas” folder on my hard drive, lying dormant. Sometimes, a trickle of life stirs within, and a story grows out of that tiny seed.
Sometimes, the seed germinates and grows and blooms into a novel. That’s what happened with that first passage—it was the seed that grew into The Heartbeat Thief.
I went back to the oldest draft of the story and found that original seed. Here is the passage as I’d first written it:
That frightens you, doesn't?
She didn't turn to look at him. His presence was like a thick fog, tenuous yet flowing, something she felt along her skin. She didn't need to look at him—she knew right where he was. That sense of nearness, something she recognized even for all his strangeness.
She knew him. Didn't know why, or how. And she didn't care. It was simply what was.
She pinched her lips together, watching a woman bent in grief, clutching a handkerchief to her mouth. “Doesn't it frighten everyone? Dying--in such a sudden way—“
Ah, it's not the suddenness, or the surprise, or even the shock. It's the brick wall at the end of the road of life. You don't like the ending, no matter how it comes.
She tilted her head, just enough that she could capture him in her periphery. “No. I don't like the ending.”
He drifted closer, hovering just over her shoulder, like an umbrella. His mouth close to her ear, he chuckled a sonorous tone. Why would you? Your beauty, faded? Your charms, withered? Your friends and admirers, all gone away? You'll die alone, bienaimee. Everyone dies alone.
She tugged her shawl tighter about her shoulders. “Don't say that.”
But it is truth. Oh, if only there was a way to avoid all that.
“No one lives forever.”
Do they not?
His voice held such a curious tone, a tease in the words that caught her attention. “In the afterlife, yes.”
In this life.
She faced him, locking her gaze with his. His dark eyes glittered and a smile tugged at the corners of him mouth. “Why would you say things, here?”
Where better to admit the truth? He stole behind her, trailing his finger along her shoulders. In this place, life meets death. They stare each other in the face. The only difference between them is that the dead no longer care.
He drew back, his sudden withdrawal leaving a cold mist on her skin. The only question that remains is…do you still care, bienaimee?
She wrinkled her nose. “Of course, I still care.”
Then, he said, his voice deepening into a throaty chuckle. Don't die.
She turned to admonish him for his audacity but, when she spun around, he was gone.
No way could something like this stay dormant in a dusty old file. The stranger’s mystery and his shadowy threat and the promise of eternal life simply held me captive, and I knew it would haunt me until I wrote it.
That was where The Heartbeat Thief came to life.
How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?
Like most writers, I’d say I’d always been a writer; I simply didn’t start publishing until fairly recently. I began working on a novel idea, which I discarded in favor of a different story that eventually became my first book, BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1). While writing the book, I also wrote poetry and short fiction. My first piece, a poem called “Note To Self:” appeared in Poe Little Thing in the spring of 2009. BLEEDING HEARTS came out in 2012.
Since then, my published list has grown to five novels, one novella, about 100 poems and short stories, and several articles. I also self-publish (mainly under the imprint Red Fist Fiction). So far, I’ve released one novel, a poetry collection that recently came out in paperback, a stand-alone fantasy short story, three anthologies, as well as dozens of articles on writing and publishing.
Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?
They are like children…so if I pick a favorite, the others will resent me and I’ll end up in a crooked nursing home when I’m old and feeble.
I can say that writing each of them was a unique experience, especially when it came to research. Researching a story is almost as much fun as writing it and there was no end to all the cool things I got to do for the sake of “research”. I even got to visit Boston, Massachusetts for the first time in order to lay groundwork for my most recent project.
Why did you decide to write speculative fiction?
I’ve always been the far out kid, the creepy chick, the girl who believed in dragons. Growing up I read a lot of fantasy and horror so it seems my brain is tuned that way. Speculative fiction encompasses everything I love to read—fantasy, horror, science fiction. Anything make makes a person say “What if…?”
What is the hardest part of writing urban fantasy?
It’s important to stay well-read so you can come up with fresh, new ideas. There are so many excellent authors in the field today so the bar is set nose-bleedingly high.
How do you research your books?
Thank goodness for the Internet. I have the whole world, all its culture and history, right at my fingertips.
The majority of my research comes from reading, both on and offline. I also should write off Netflix as a business expense because films help a lot, too. Since I write a lot of fantasy, I do make up a lot of stuff…but even settings need research. Day trips to key locales helps immensely.
I’ve done interviews and consultations with experts, especially for Words That Bind, a paranormal romance featuring a social worker. I felt that, considering the subject matter—the details of a therapist’s practice as well as the concerns of her clientele—I had a responsibility to get the details right and to treat the subject with sensitivity, rather than bend and shape characters to fit my story.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
There is a huge learning curve in the beginning and I think a lot of us go into this business with an established set of expectations. Trouble is, the first lesson you learn is to forget what you think you know.There is a huge learning curve in the beginning and I think a lot of us go into this business with an established set of expectations. Trouble is, the first lesson you learn is to forget what you think you know.
Take time to observe others who are ahead of you on the path to publication. Learn from their highs and their lows. Learn the craft of writing. Learn the ins and outs of the business itself. Reset your expectations and the keep writing, keep submitting, keep getting your stories out there.
Are you working on another book?
Right now, I’m publishing a serial. The first of this new urban fantasy series is up on Wattpad, where readers can read for free and chat about the story as they do so. CHARM CITY is about Simon Alliant, a demonologist/exorcist from Boston. I’m thrilled to say that it’s been selected as a Featured Story and will be promoted by Wattpad starting the last week of April.
Here’s a blurb for CHARM CITY:
The darkness is rising and one man stands against it: the exorcist mage Simon Alliant. But in Baltimore, he finally meets his match...a part-mortal divinity with the power to whisper away demons.
Simon Alliant is an exorcist who battles demons, whether he wants to or not. Sometimes it's not so bad...he gets to play with magic, after all. But for Simon, magic represents a demon of another kind. He's addicted to magic and it takes more than a handful of charms to keep that particular demon at bay.
Chiara is part Light, part Dark, and stubbornly mortal. The woman has a way with words: she literally talks demons into abandoning their human hosts. Simon thinks that's not the only trick she has up her sleeve-and that's pretty high praise coming from a mage like him.
As intriguing as that may be, Simon has too many reasons to distrust her...one of them being his more-or-less partner, an angelic Watcher. Amidst all the celestial warnings of the rising dark comes a new prophesy that makes him wonder: is Chiara a threat to him and all of mankind?
Or will she be his salvation?
I have four or five stories planned for the series, called “The Demon Whisperer”. The second book MURDER THE LIGHT is in progress, as is a prequel STRAITJACKETS AND HOLY WATER. It’s a little disconcerting writing the before and the after stories simultaneously but still great fun.
Although I really planned for each one to be a 20k word novella, released in serial, I have a feeling that each story will end up full length.
Any plans for future releases?
I’ve got two other novel projects in the works for AJ Krafton, and I’ve been back to the poetry notebooks. Happy to say I’ve had several recent publications of flash fiction and poetry with several more on the way.
Where can readers find you?
Oh, all the usual online haunts: Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram…
I'm always happy to invite readers to stop by my website, www.AshKrafton.com. Lots of books to see, news to read, and links to click. Come on over!
I'd also love it if you'd stop by to check out my newest story on Wattpad. CHARM CITY is here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/56172477-charm-city-the-demon-whisperer-1
I'd like to thank Ask Krafton for stopping by today, and be sure to check out her virtual booth at the convention this April.