Special Guest Author Interview: Trisha Ashley
Posted by Juliet Madison
I’m thrilled to welcome author Trisha Ashley to the blog today as part of my Mouthwatering May special event.
It’s set in rural West Lancashire, like several of my recent books. I didn’t start out to write a series – they’re all stand-alone novels – but there’s some overlapping of places and characters. The village in Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues is Sticklepond, where A Winter’s Tale and Chocolate Wishes also took place.
My heroine, Tansy, inherits a run-down shoe shop from her great-aunt and, when her life goes all Cinderella without a happy ending, she throws herself into recreating it as a bridal shoe emporium.
It is a huge success, which is a bit unfortunate for reclusive Shakespearian actor Ivo Hawksley, who has moved next door in search of some peace and quiet. Like Tansy, he has a few demons from his past to deal with – it’s all about coming to terms with what has happened in the past and how it has shaped you, so you can move on.
I suppose I’d describe my books as romantic comedy, though the humour arises from the characters themselves – I don’t try and write in a funny way, I just write.
2) You also have a book called Chocolate Wishes. What do you love about writing stories with a food theme?
The research, of course! The idea for the Chocolate Wishes of the title came about when I remembered making chocolate Easter eggs for my son when he was small and putting in a message from the Easter Bunny: I thought suddenly that fortune cookies would be so much nicer if they were made of chocolate…
Food is often a strong theme in my books because it can be comforting, exciting, reassuring, celebratory or simply an expression of love. I have no cookery training, it’s all just recipes I picked up along the way, or learned from my mother.
Other strong themes in my novels are gardening, especially roses and knot gardens, family (even if sometimes a little dysfunctional) and friendship, from which can grow all kinds of love.
3) How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a novel?
On average, I suppose about four months, though the ideas for the next book will have been fermenting gently on the backburner while I was finishing off the last one. I have twice written a first draft in a fortnight in an unstoppable outpouring, which was exhilarating even if a trifle exhausting.
4) You share recipes in your books. Do you have an all time favourite recipe?
The rich dark fruit cake recipe in Wedding Tiers: I use it for birthdays, book launches, Christmas… It’s easy and always works. The very worst that can happen is that the edges catch a little, or the fruit sinks to the bottom, but it will taste wonderful anyway.
5) If you could name three essential ingredients that make up a great novel, what would they be?
The obvious answer would be: a beginning, middle and an end. By that I mean that a book should immediately transport you to a different place and then take you on a journey through it, with stop-offs to see the sights and have a few adventures. If a reader writes and says that I have provided them with that escape hatch, that Alice-through-the-looking-glass experience, then there can be no finer compliment.
6) What do you love most about being an author?
I usually write in first person and I adore becoming someone else and slipping off into a different world. But when all the characters have taken on a life of their own and start having conversations in your head when you’re trying to go to sleep at night, that can be annoying. I know if I don’t put the light on and write it all down, I’ll have forgotten it by morning.
I also enjoy taking two very different people, building the chemistry between them and then finding a way to bring them together. There have often been traumas in their past lives that make this outcome difficult to achieve, but I find that challenge exciting.
But the bottom line is, to quote Stephen King (I do love his book called On Writing!), writing is the most fun you can have on your own!
7) Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
This may sound very obvious, but it has to be said: writers write, it’s in the nature of the job description. You write every day and feel guilty and bereft if you have finished a novel and not started on the next. So, don’t just think about it, do it. Get in the writing habit, if only for ten or fifteen minutes a day and then build on that. However busy you are, if you really want to write, you will find the time.
1) If you can’t get started at all, read Natalie Goldberg’s book, ‘Writing Down the Bones’.
2) Once you’ve got into the daily writing habit, then do read Stephen King’s book, ‘On Writing ‘ – he really tells it like it is.
3) Read my novel Happy Endings – the heroine, Tina Devino, is a novelist who also runs a manuscript critique service and there are letters to and from aspiring novelists throughout the book. You will learn a lot about what – and what not – to do!
4) Read a lot of recently published novels in the genre you are aiming at. Consider what length they are and what the readers of that kind of book expect from a novel.
5) You will know your main characters are three dimensional when they start having conversations with each other in your head.
But if you never get beyond chapter three don’t despair and give up, but try short stories instead: some of us are built to be sprinters and others for the marathon, you just have to find the writing form that suits you best.
Thank you so much Trisha for taking the time to visit the blog, you’ve given some valuable advice for aspiring authors, and your book cover is beautiful!
~ Trisha Ashley was born in St. Helens, Lancashire, and now lives in the beautiful surroundings of North Wales. She has written twelve romantic comedies and her last novel, The Magic of Christmas, was a Sunday Times bestseller. A Winter’s Tale and Wedding Tiers have been previously shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for romantic comedy. Every Woman for Herself was voted one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years.Visit Trisha’s website here, and twitter here.
…Remember, as part of the Mouthwatering May special event, you could win prizes simply by commenting below and on any of the posts during May. Be sure to subscribe to the blog too, to be eligible for prizes 🙂
About Juliet MadisonHumorous & Heartwarming Fiction ~ Experience the magic of life and love...
Posted on May 10, 2012, in Interviews, Mouthwatering May and tagged author interviews, books, chick lit, competitions, Mouthwatering May, trisha ashley, women's fiction, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.