Thursday, October 11, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Jennifer Ashley

Thanks so much for inviting me to the blog! I hope you enjoy the answers to my questions. I’d like to do a giveaway—either a signed copy of Mate Claimed, or any other book from my Shifters series.

1. What inspired you to write this book?

At my former publisher (Dorchester) my contract called for a book in a “new paranormal series.” I had planned to write a vampire series, but the marketing department said they didn’t want to have to try to sell “yet another vamp series.”

I understood (they were right that the book world was getting flooded with vampires), so I decided to do shape-shifters.

One day I was driving to the airport and saw some guys working construction on the side of the road.

I thought “What if they were all shapeshifters?” Then “What if they were shapeshifters related to each other—father, two sons (brothers), and a nephew of a deceased brother? All bachelors, all living in the same house?”

The Morrissey family (Liam, Sean, Dylan, Connor) flowed into my head. I thought—why are they all living together, and what do their neighbors think about them being shapeshifters? The whole Shiftertown concept was born and grew from that.

Happily, though Dorchester ceased to exist, my editor at Berkley picked up the series, and it’s been doing well there.

For this book in particular (Mate Claimed), I was interested in exploring what would happen if a Shifter tried to pretend to be a normal human—in this world, an illegal thing to do. What obstacles would she face, and what happens when a Shifter discovers her secret?

Thus, Iona was born, and Eric spies her across a crowded bar. They meet first in Wild Cat, which includes a very sensual scene between them (and chocolate).

2. Please tell us about your latest release.

Mate Claimed. Shifters Unbound, Book 4.

Shiftertown leader Eric Warden knows that half-Shifter wildcat Iona is passing for human, living without a Collar in the human world. He also knows that if she does not acknowledge her Shifter nature and her mating hunger, it could kill her.

Iona finds the mysterious and dangerous Eric haunting her dreams, but she vows never to take the Collar, fearing backlash against her mother and sister for hiding the fact that she's Shifter. But Eric is a compelling Shifter male, and Iona's hunger calls to him.

3. 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?

When I come up with a character name, I think about the character’s background—who their ancestors were, where the book is set and in what period, and about the person him- or herself.

For instance, many of the Feline Shifters originated in in Ireland and Scotland, the first Shifters created by the Fae about two thousand years ago. Many of their names reflect Gaelic, Celtic, Irish, and Scottish origins: The Morrissey family:  Liam, Sean, Dylan, Connor; The Warden family: Cassidy and Eric; Eric’s new love, Iona.

The wolves are from Europe but also North America, as are the bears, so their names will be mostly European with some Americanized. Spike, for instance, from Hard Mated, has ancestors from South American and Mexico—his real name is Eron Reyes, a Spanish name.
The English-set Regencies or Victorians Scottish books I write have to have names that are both historically accurate and regionally accurate.

I have lists, and add to those lists all the time. I have lists of English names, Scottish names, Irish names, Hispanic names, Navajo names, and others.

4. What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

I’ve learned to oil paint and gone sailing. There’s nothing like feeling a boat under your feet running on nothing but wind power. You feel it coming up through the rudder to the wheel and into your whole body. Reading about it can’t convey the actual sensation.

For painting, I can’t paint a lick but I learned how to choose colors and how to mix colors (did you know many artists don’t actually use black but a mixture of other colors that get close to black? And that you lighten or darken a color, not with white or black, but with lighter and darker shades of the same color? I didn’t until I had to do it).

5. 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?

There are two Shiftertown arcs: One Shiftertown is in Austin, TX, and is ruled by the Morrissey family (Liam, Sean, Connor, Dylan). The characters Ronan, Spike, Ellison are from that Shiftertown.

The other Shiftertown is in Las Vegas, headed by Eric Warden and his sister Cassidy. The bears next door (Shane, Brody, Nell), keep things lively there.

If you read the Austin arc (which currently has the most books), readers should start with Pride Mates—however, I do try to make sure each book can be understood on its own.
The Las Vegas arc begins with Wild Cat, but again, I try to make sure I explain as I go along.
Many readers have said they could follow even when they jumped into the middle of the series, but if you like to begin at the beginning, it’s Pride Mates.

6. What are your guilty pleasures in life?

I stopped feeling guilty about enjoying myself years ago, LOL. I work hard; I get to enjoy a few things. I do love to read, and I’ll read anything. I think it’s ridiculous when people say you should only read certain kinds of books, or books that are “good for you.” Read what you want. Read everything. People who are well-read are smart enough to know what books are excellent and which ones are crap.

My other indulgence is miniatures. I build dollhouses and rooms, and decorate them inside and out. I find it therapeutic (except when I drop a tiny piece on the floor and can’t find it). I love creating beautiful spaces—easier to do it in miniature than in full size.

7. Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

The dollhouse miniatures of course. I also dabble in music—I play flute and guitar, not brilliantly, but well enough to enjoy myself. I’ve been known to accompany my more talented musician friends either with these instruments or voice. I love to cook, but rarely have time for it anymore, sadly. Writing takes up most of my time, but I enjoy stepping back into these hobbies to catch my breath.

8. What was the last amazing book you read?

The Day of the Jackal. It’s been out for, what, thirty-some years? And I’d never read it. It was celebrated when it came out, and I understand why. It’s an excellent read. Anyone wanting to write thrillers should definitely read it.

9. Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

Everyplace! I can read anywhere. I read ebooks on my iPhone, which is nice, because I can whip the phone out of my purse or pocket whenever I get stuck somewhere, and have a library at my fingertips. That’s not to say I don’t read paper books any more. I do. I carry one around in my purse all the time too. I often am reading a print book at the same time I’m reading a different ebook.

10. What can readers expect next from you?

So many things! At the end of December (12/31/12), will be the next in my historical Mackenzies series—The Seduction of Elliot McBride. Comes out New Year’s Eve (unless the Mayans are right).

I just released Nightwalker in my Allyson James side of things, Book 4 of the Stormwalker series. It’s out in e- and print.

Next year will come more Shifters books with a couple full-length stories (Tiger Magic, the next hero; a short book for Ellison, and a novella in the Unbound anthology in March).

I plan to continue my Captain Lacey Regency Mystery series (as Ashley Gardner), and the Tales of the Shareem series (as Allyson James), as well as more Shifters, Stormwalker, and Mackenzies!

11. Where can readers find you on the web?

Twitter: @JennAllyson

12. Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

From Mate Claimed, by Jennifer Ashley

Iona didn’t see Eric between church and restaurant, nor did she when she returned home to finish prepping for Nicole’s party. Nicole and her friends arrived soon after, and the party started to swing.

Well toward midnight, the doorbell rang. Iona pretended to be busy in the kitchen, and Nicole’s friends goaded Nicole to answer it.

Nicole screamed with laughter when a fireman sauntered into the house, complete with hose, and started shedding his gear in the living room. The women surrounded him while he danced to a thumping beat, and Iona watched from the doorway with a smile.

The music wound louder. The music, combined with the women’s excitement, embraced Iona and made her want to dance too. The living room was dim except for the middle where the stripper gyrated—someone had turned on one of Iona’s ceiling spots and killed the rest of the lights. The girls danced with him, Nicole laughing as the man wrapped his hose around her.

Nicole spotted Iona in the doorway. “Come on, Iona,” she yelled. “You know you love to dance!”

Iona shouldn’t. Too dangerous. But the music called to her, the rhythm synching with some rhythm inside her body. The thrum, thrum, thrum was fierce and primal.

The ladies whooped as Iona kicked her shoes off and danced in. The stripper grinned, a good sport, and wrapped the end of his fire hose around her waist.

Iona raised her arms in the dance, her blood getting hot, but not because the guy was attractive. He smelled too much of human sweat and cologne, not a good combination to a Shifter. Eric always smelled clean, like wind and the night.

But Iona was loving the dance, her hips swaying, the beat of the music like the rhythm of sex. The stripper was a good dancer, smoothly pulling Iona into synch with him. He had Iona straddling his knee, locking her in close as they rocked together. The other ladies whooped and screamed.

The noise and heat grew suddenly too intense. The panther inside Iona wanted to tear away from the man who held her, swat him aside, and then run around the room, ripping down decorations like an unruly kitten. Then she’d devour the entire hors d’oeuvre tray, especially all the shrimp cocktail. Yum.

Control, Eric had told her. You can control it.

Maybe if she’d grown up Shifter with years of training and discipline, she could have.
The fireman leaned in and tried to kiss her. Iona forced a laugh, though she wanted to bite his face off. She whirled so hard she untangled from the hose and was halfway across the room before he could stop her.

She nearly ran away from him, but two of the other girls instantly took her place, and the fireman turned to them, not minding. Breathing hard, Iona slipped out of the room into the back hall, seeking peace in the relative coolness and darkness.

Two strong arms folded around her from behind. Iona found herself trapped back against a hard male chest, while a grating voice said in her ear, “No, Iona. You belong to me.”

“Eric, what the hell are you doing here?”

For answer, Eric turned her around and pressed her into the wall.

His kiss stole her breath, his lips forcing her mouth open, teeth scraping. The thump of the music in the other room pulsed through her, and she curled her fingers on Eric’s chest. 
Fingers became claws, tearing Eric’s shirt.

Eric shed the shirt and turned them together so that now his back was against the wall. “If you want to feast on someone, you feast on me.”

For the giveaway, comment on why you like shape-shifter romances (or why you don’t!) to win a signed copy of Mate  Claimed or other of my Shifters books of your choice.)

Open to US Shipping

Thanks so much!


Jennifer Ashley


entrümpelung wien said...

شكرا على الموضوع
entrümpelung wien

KMichelleC87 said...

i love shape shifter books because i think it would be amazing to have that gift


Rebe said...

I love shape shirter books, especially when the characters exhibit characteristics similar to the animals they shift into! Shifters offer authors lots of creative opportunities, as well.


Texas Book Lover said...

I love shifter books because they are far from reality, they are dangerous and usually very hot!

Thanks so much!
mmafsmith AT gmail DOT com

booklover0226 said...

Loved the excerpt. I have added this to my wish list.

I love shape-shifters for their extraordinary strengths and abilities.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Debby said...

Shape shifter books are fantastic. Loved the teaser and I love sailing,.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Really like how you come up with names and choose them accordingly to where their family's originaated. Love the Celtic names..

Raonaid at gmail dom com

Barbara E. said...

I love shape shifter stories because it's fascinating to me to imagine a creature who can appear human and then turn into a powerful beast, or other creature with all the attributes of that creature. I love to see the different worlds that authors come up with for these creatures to inhabit, it's always a lot of fun. :D

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Dragon Momma said...

I SO adore shifter books!!! I think its because there is that primal, sexual thrall that falls over those involved with or are the shifters. Things become more wild than tame, less refined, which appeals to my baser needs. *grins*

When I read the first in this series, I was blown away. I insisted my oldest daughter read it and she TOO was blown away! We now both own the series. ;)

Stacy Wilson

dragn_lady at yahoo dot com

Margie subia said...

i love shifter i think its beacause deep down we do want them to be all protective of us and take care of us. and they are soo sexy.

Rebecca at the Well said...

I will read and have some favorite vampire books, but my first love has always been the shifters. There is something so compelling to think about a human who can "run with the wolves" or tigers or bears ... oh my :D. They understand devotion and loyalty and faithfullness!

Leslie Rodriguez said...

I love shapeshifters. They are the ultimate sexy, beautiful, cool bad asses around. To be able to do the things they do, pretty freaking amazing.

vadeluna07 said...

I love reading shifter romances because I just love the alpha males and seeing them trying to cope with their animal sides whike trying to romace a woman. Plus I just love the idea of a human turning into an animal and having those animal senses. Who wouldn't love that?


Carriefort29 said...

I love shifter romances because I want a man in that animal way! So I love reading over others having that animal attraction!!

leann said...

Shifters = Mated 4 life!! Every shifter book I've read, they all mate for life.

Anonymous said...

I thought that I didn't like shapeshifter books, but I love them now!


bn100 said...

I like shapeshifters because they make for more interesting reading.


June M. said...

I love shifter stories because they have the best of both worlds (both the human and the animal sides). They shifters are also loyal, faithful, intelligent, etc.
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

Cheryl S. said...

Shapeshifters are amazing! I love the Alpha males and how they take charge of everything!!
Thank you for the giveaway!

donnas said...

Congrats on the new release! Shifters are fun to read, they really are a what if type of character. What if someone had that ability what would happen.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

gamistress66 said...

I enjoy shape shifter stories -- that idea of a part of you being "wild" and close to nature is intriguing
gamistress66 (at) aol (dot) com

Mary said...

I've been waiting for this book to come out, I love this series. I love shifter stories because the author gets to take it in ways that just can't be done with realistic stories. Turning into an animal or acting like an animal just isn't done is let's say Historical romances. But in shifter type romances these characters get away with so much and I love it.

jo said...

Still reading Mate Claimed and doing it oh, so very slowly because I don't want it to end!! love your books!

joannamoreno1 (at)hotmail (dot)com (no spaces)