A.C. I write this genre because it’s fun. I can use my imagination to its fullest. As for telling people about myself—well, that’s another book. If people really want to get to know me, I have a yahoo group Ashlyn’s New Best Friends. We chat about anything and everything. I answer all questions and enjoy getting to know my fans as well.
2. What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires (or insert the paranormal creature featured in your book here instead), that fascinates you so much?
A.C. There are interesting legends that can be used as a springboard when the author creates their own mythology. I wonder if Bram Stoker enjoyed coming up with his brand of vampire as much as I do.
3. What inspired you to write this book?
A.C. The series was inspired by Tom Brady—quarterback for the New England Patriots. I heard that he owns a condo building in Boston—in my old neighborhood, the Back Bay. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to live in his building. Then my imagination took over and Strange Neighbors became an idea for a book. Suddenly, there were so many fun characters begging for their own stories to be told that it became a whole series.
4. Please tell us about your latest release.
A.C. The Vampire Next Door is about Sylvestro Flores, or Sly as he’s called. He lost his pregnant wife and almost lost their unborn daughter to the vampire who turned him. Now, 26 years later, he has finally reunited with his daughter and things begin to look up. Morgaine is a witch who lives in the building and has finally decided to date again. With a little matchmaking, the two of them hook up. Then Sly’s maker appears and wants Sly for himself. Morgaine is no longer safe. Sly has to help her overcome her severe agoraphobia and make a trip to New York City. They’ve set up a trade—her magical skills for a bottle of Vampire Vintage. It’s a special (and extremely expensive) wine that protects vampires from sunlight and abates blood lust. Only with that advantage can Sly defeat his maker and live a nearly normal life with Morgaine. Then there’s that nasty matter of immortality. Sly already lost one wife and grieved for twenty-six years. Morgaine is willing to be turned so he won’t have to go through that again, but he desperately doesn’t want her to become the thing he’s hated about himself for so long.
5. Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
A.C. I just let the name “come to me” first. If the right name isn’t popping into my mind, I ask my fans to help me name the character. So far they’ve done an awesome job and I haven’t been stuck for a name yet.
6. Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
A.C. Sometimes I can’t get a handle on the character until I have the right name. I’m convinced names come with personalities. It’s interesting you asked about this right after the name question.
7. Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
A.C. I love my smart-ass characters like Chad. The building is haunted by the ghost of a reporter from the sixties. He’s still wearing his bell bottoms and love beads and sports an enormous afro. His expressions from the era show up when he communicates with the groovy Morgaine. For the longest time, she’s the only one who can hear him and they have quite a love-hate relationship. He scares off anyone who tries to rent his “pad” until Morgaine and her cousin/roommate begin fighting over Sly. Chad lets Gwyneth move in with him rather than let the witches harm each other and violate the witch’s rede.
8. Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
A.C. With my degree in behavioral sciences I have a distinct advantage when it comes to knowing how my characters are going to behave. I’ll start with the character’s name and occupation and a couple of quirks or flaws and go from there. I get to know them pretty quickly, just as my reader’s do. Morgaine’s cousin is from the hills of Tennessee and has some fabulous colorful expressions. She really grew on me and I had to give her a happily-ever-after ending too.
9. What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
A.C. Hands down it’s the true death of Sly’s maker Vorigan Malvant. Let’s just say it’s botched at first, then takes a really funny turn, and I’ve told it from the villain’s point-of-view so you get the whole “Oh sh*t” moment.
10. Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
A.C. I didn’t need to do a lot of research for this book because I had already created my vampire lore in a previous book—Vampire Vintage (published by Ellora’s Cave, 2007.) I did do a lot of research for that one. I learned about Romania’s past and present, Vlad Dracula and Joan of Arc. I think it’s important to keep my own mythology consistent. As such, I reread the book to remind myself of the details, and I found myself thinking, “Did I write this? Damn I’m good!” LOL
11. What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
A.C. Seriously? You really want to go there? I mean, I’ve written a lot of erotic romance and always include pretty graphic sex scenes. How do I know if the physics work unless…oh, never mind.
12. Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
A.C. It doesn’t differ a whole lot. I usually set my books in familiar places with accurate details—it’s my characters who are completely fictional. For instance, the Strange Neighbors series is set in Boston, in an actual neighborhood. My book’s building on Beacon Street could actually exist. The way I described it in the first book is loosely based on one of the buildings in which I lived. I simply added a penthouse. A few of these old buildings have modern additions.
13. With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
A.C. they can stand alone. A reviewer recently admitted she hadn’t read the first two books but said she thoroughly enjoyed the third one in and of itself.
14. Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
A.C. Thomas Wolfe said “Every novel is an autobiography.” I agree with that to an extent. Certainly I don’t know what it’s like to be a werewolf or a vampire, but I try to put myself in my characters’ shoes. I think readers can tell when you don’t do that. There’s a bit of me in all my characters. My experiences, what I imagine my emotions would be, etc.
15. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
A.C. I refuse to give in to it. I try to write every day. If I’m stuck on a particular book, I’ll switch to something else, but I won’t let myself get out of the discipline of writing. Sometimes you have to let one story percolate, but there’s always something else to write. A short story, a novella, even a blog.
16. Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?
A.C. Okay, some people might think this is weird—I say a little prayer each morning, then rub my hands together real fast until the friction creates heat and energy. Then I hover my hands over the keyboard. Who knows? Maybe it infuses the thing with energy, maybe not. It can’t hurt.
17. Do you write in different genres?
A.C. Not much anymore. I’ve done a contemporary romance from time to time.
18. When did you consider yourself a writer?
A.C. When I began to write with the intention of publishing. I’ve heard that’s the definition of a writer and it works for me.
19. What are your guilty pleasures in life?
A.C. My hot tub. I like to get in there with a paperback as long as the outside temp is between thirty and ninety degrees.
20. Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
A.C. I make jewelry. I love the water and kayak or walk the beach. If I had a private pool, I’d swim until my hair turned green.
21. What was the last amazing book you read?
A.C. Amazing? Let’s see…I’ve read a lot of amazing books. I really loved Welcome Home Cowboy by Karen Templeton. I read it as a judge in the Rita’s. (RWA’s version of the Oscars.) I was so happy when she won.
22. Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
A.C. Yes. I read in two places. My cozy corner in my living room is what I call our “puzzle pit.” It consists of three big pieces covered in soft microfiber and they all fit together to make a large squishy sofa you can stretch out on. I have a reading light aimed right over my “spot.” My other reading spot is my hot tub. I read my nook indoors and a paperback in the tub.
23. What can readers expect next from you?
A.C. I’m putting the finishing touches on a novel in the Vampire Vintage series for Ellora’s Cave. I can either start the next novel or work on the series of short stories my agent and I came up with. I also have a proposal for a whole new series of novels reminiscent of Strange Neighbors with my agent.
24. Where can readers find you on the web? The following:
Plus I do a lot of guest blogging.
25. Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
A.C. Of Course!
From The Vampire Next Door:
Morgaine opened her door the moment Sly knocked. She might have been standing there because she’d sensed someone coming to see her. Psychics were fun that way.
“Hi, Morgaine, uh…”
His throbbing fang distracted him so much that Sly hadn’t looked up to see her face yet. When he did, he was met with an intriguing surprise. The woman he thought would be dressed in black with long, black hair, and wearing heavy black eye makeup and red lipstick, almost looked like a different person. He had to blink and look again to be sure she was indeed the witch he was looking for.
She smiled. Her face seemed softer with glowing skin, pink lips, and golden hair falling around her shoulders. Her dress was a dark shade of purple. Maybe something called plum.
A few moments passed before he realized he hadn’t finished his sentence and was staring at her.
“Sly? Is there something I can do for you?”
He recovered and said, “Uh, yeah. There ith. Can I come in?”
She tipped her head. “I invited you in years ago, didn’t I?”
“Yeth. But if you’d rather not—”
“Don’t be silly. Of course you can come in. I was just wondering if you thought vampires needed to be invited in again after a certain amount of time passed.”
“Like an ecthperathion date? No. Even if there wath one, I’d knock and athk.
Her lips twitched in a smirk. He realized she’d noticed his lisp and she too was trying not to be rude.
“Please come in.” She stepped aside.
He strolled in and admired her apartment. A far cry from his secret lair in the basement, hers was a bright and cozy place with a slipcovered couch, a rocking chair, and a trunk for a coffee table. Its only decoration was a glass dish holding some colorful rocks and crystals.
Lit candles graced the fireplace, making the lavender room glow. Wind chimes he’d heard during summer months hung silent in the window, which was closed against the chilly night air.
“You mutht like thith color.” He indicated her dress and the walls.
“Yes, plum is my favorite shade of purple, and purple is my favorite color.”
“Plum, huh? Ith pretty on you.” He meant it.
He didn’t often compliment people, not that he didn’t appreciate a good-looking woman, but ever since his wife had died and left him a widower twenty-six years earlier, he’d had no interest in starting up a relationship with somebody else. It wouldn’t be fair to let a woman think she’d be able to replace his late wife, so he avoided giving anyone the wrong idea. Morgaine had no such illusions though, so he felt safe telling her he’d noticed her attractive change.
“I had a makeover. Roz took me to a school for aspiring cosmetologists. It took them all evening to get the black dye out of my hair and recolor it to match my natural shade.”
“Tho you’re a natural blonde?”
“I guess so. My hair hasn’t been natural for about thirteen years, but I don’t notice a big difference at the roots now that it’s growing out.”
He wandered around the apartment, scanning the new-age books on her shelves and noticing how neat she kept the place. “You mutht have gotten into the goth thing a long time ago.”
“Yeah, you could say I was the high-school weirdo.”
He smiled. “We were all weird in high thchool.”
She grinned back. “Have a seat. Can I get you some tea?”
“No, thanks. I came to athk you for thum magical help.”
“You want me to heal your fang?”
“Yeth.” He sat on the comfortable flowered sofa. “Did your thycic ability tell you what happened?”
“No, your lisp did.” She giggled and sat next to him.
Man, she’s pretty when she smiles.
“Let me see.” She scooted closer, and he opened his mouth.
Her gentle, warm fingers pushed his upper lip out of the way as she examined his mouth. Her own lips were slightly parted as she studied his injured fang thoroughly. Her breath was pleasant. Minty, as if she’d just brushed her teeth. He could lean in and capture those sweet pink lips in his and… Whoa. What was happening?
“Does it hurt?”
“Like a mutha. I have a metallic tasthte in my mouth too.”
“I can see why you wouldn’t be able to go to a dentist. It looks like the fang that isn’t healing well won’t retract, and I guess they’re not able to work independently, so the other one won’t retract either.”
“It’s not the fang that’s broken—or if it was, it’s healed.”
“Yeth. The fang grew back, but the pain won’t go away. I bit into a thick thilver necklath.”
“Ohhh… You were poisoned. Okay, I’ll have to make a healing poultice so I can apply it directly to your gum. It will draw out the silver poison in your system. I’ll reinforce its power with a healing spell if you like.”
“Thankth. Will I ever be the thame?”
“Of course you will. Unless you’re talking about your pre-vampire days. That I can’t heal.”
He hung his head. “I know. I remember athking you that when I learned you were Wiccan. You thed there wath no thpell to cure vampirithm.”
“I’m afraid not. I’m sorry.” She rested her hand on his knee.
When he looked up, she had a soft, sad expression on her face. It wasn’t pity—not exactly. Empathy. That’s what it was. He knew she had a kind heart, but there was more to it than just that. She was a nurturer. Much like his daughter, Merry, the pediatric nurse. An innate healer.
“Pardon my curiothity, but… the makeover? Are you dating?”
Her face colored. “I—well, no. I wouldn’t mind meeting someone, but it’s just not in me to go out to bars or anything.”
“Thumthing tellth me you wouldn’t meet the right kind of guy there anyway. Have you tried the Internet?”
“Not yet.” She hesitated as if there was more to say, but instead she placed her hands on her knees and pushed herself up to a standing position. “Well, I’ll go whip up that poultice. You try to relax.”
© Ashlyn Chase, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2011
THE VAMPIRE NEXT DOOR BY ASHLYN CHASE – IN STORES AUGUST 2011
Room for Rent: Normal need not apply
This old Boston brownstone is not known for quiet living… first the shapeshifter meets his nurse, then the werewolf falls for his sassy lawyer, but now the vampire is looking for love with a witch who’s afraid of the dark… and you thought your neighbors had issues!
Undead Sly is content playing vigilante vampire, keeping the neighborhood safe from human criminals, until Morgaine moves in upstairs. Suddenly he finds himself weak with desire, which isn’t a good place for a vampire to be. And Morgaine isn’t exactly without her own issues—will the two of them be able to get past their deepest fears before their chance at “normal” slips away?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Multi-published author Ashlyn Chase specializes in characters who reinvent themselves, having reinvented herself numerous times. She has worked as a psychiatric nurse, for the Red Cross, and has a degree in behavioral sciences. The first two books in the Strange Neighbors series are Strange Neighbors and The Werewolf Upstairs, which are both available now! She lives with her true-life hero husband in beautiful New Hampshire.
For more information, please visit www.ashlynchase.com.
Would you like your very own copy of The Vampire Next Door?
Sourcebooks is offering 2 copies for giveaway
So 2 lucky winners will be chosen from the comments on this post
Please leave your email with the comment
Giveaway open to US and Canada Shipping Only