Interview with Ashley Hodges Bazer

Published 2014-09-01.
Describe your desk
My desk doesn't exist. I normally write on my little netbook while sitting on my bed. Occasionally, I will move to our dining room table, where I used my dad's old desk chair. It's the perfect height!
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in sixth grade. I wrote Star Trek fanfic to entertain friends. In college, I wrote short romance stories just for fun. And while working at a nationally recognized theme park, I wrote Dr. Seuss-esque poems based on the people I worked with.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is a little on the different side. I do not write chronologically. I start with a scene I want to write, oftentimes in the middle of the story. I let it flow, and flesh it out from there.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a full-time wife, mom, and radio producer. When I slow down from all that, including writing, I enjoy watching Firefly and crocheting.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My children. They are my biggest fans and supporters. As I am launching my writing career, they are following suit. My son has plans for a book series. Getting my books published has inspired them to dream big.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy is when someone comes back to tell me how my writing has impacted them in a positive way.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My five favorite books are:
1) Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier--beautiful story that removed me completely from this world.
2) Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold--great space opera!
3) Firebird by Kathy Tyers--showed me writing could not only entertain, but could offer a strong message.
4) The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis--a particular scene in his story spoke to me when I needed it.
5) Elsie Dinsmore by Martha Finley--classic story of a young girl in the pre-Civil war era. I've actually collected old editions of this book!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle, and although I use it frequently, I'm still a fan of the printed word.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Many years ago, I lived alone, a great distance from any family. I had a few friends, but no one I could really count on. Being lonely, I sought comfort and solace on the Internet. With the brand new Star Wars trilogy about to release (not my favorite, but I didn’t know that at the time), I discovered the world of online role playing.

I created a variety of characters that frolicked through AOL chat rooms. I copied and pasted many of the chats into text documents, and two of those characters quickly became my favorites. The first transformed into Selah Clairet, whose story has yet to be told. The second developed into Raven Criswell. Her story will be released in November in the book,Heralds of the Crown: Fusion.

I had to change a great deal about the characters and their stories, but much of Raven’s has stayed true to the original. After I wrote Fusion, I knew there was more to it. I wanted to explore the backstory of the characters I had created. Where did they come from? Who were their parents? Why were they important?

This is how Heralds of the Crown: Poison was born. I traveled back in the timeline to learn the origin stories of the characters. My villain gained depth and strength. My Fusion hero now had a motive behind his actions. And I had a story arc that captured an entire trilogy.

On a much more personal level, Hanileh, the heroine of Poison, struggles to reconcile her past with her faith. That is my struggle. Back in the online role playing days, I was a different person. Over the years, I developed a strong faith in God. I even became the wife of a pastor! But that faith isn’t rock solid all the time. I still face doubt and questions. Thankfully, my husband does have that rock solid faith. In those moments, I can count on him, as Hanileh counts on Gaultier. Just as he grounds Hanileh and returns her to a more lucid state, my husband does the same for me.

As I wrote this story, I’d had a disagreement with my older brother. It was a dark time, as we had lost my dad just a year before. I used that disagreement as a springboard for the relationship between Gaultier and Velius. It was tough at times, but in pouring that problem into my writing, I was able to work through much of the emotion I felt. I’m pleased to report that we’ve since resolved the issue, and not in the way Velius and Gaultier dealt with it.

The most touching moment I experienced while writing Poison came as I wrote the ending. Without revealing too much, I cried bitterly when I finished the closing scene. It was a natural way to finish the story, and it carried into the next book in such a beautiful way, but it was hard to complete that final scene.

Another personal touch came in the character of Velius. I’m a Broadway fan, and as I write, sometimes I’ll listen to cast albums or soundtracks. This had quite an influence on Velius. When I learned his secret, it added a much darker, creepier tone to the entire story. This insight has made him one of my favorite characters of all time.

I think a great deal of an author’s personality and personal life can be found in their writing. The old saying, “Write what you know,” comes into play. I don’t know much about space beyond our solar system and the awesome stories I see on various websites. My knowledge of stars and space travel is limited to my love of science fiction. But I can draw on my experiences and circumstances to develop characters and situations. This, partnered with my imagination and knowledge of the craft of writing, produces an exciting story that lures you away from this world.

And how thankful I am to my readers for joining me on this crazy adventure.
What are you working on next?
I have Books 2 and 3 in the Heralds of the Crown series in the works. Fusion (Book 2) is complete. Reconciliation (Book 3) is in development.
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