My Guests

Why Do We Write What We Write? by Anne Ashby

I’m delighted to welcome my fellow Wild Rose Press author, Anne Ashby, to my blog today!

Hi Babette,

It’s great to visit with another Wild Rose writer, thanks so much for having me. I thought I’d do something a little different from interview questions and hope this gives your readers a little insight into me and my writing.

Why do we write what we write?

This is a truly complex question and one I’m not so sure if I can answer. But I intend to give it a try, as much for my own understanding as anything else. Why do I write what I write? Oh, a quick dissecting of the question into parts makes answering it easier so I’ll just grab a chopper and start hacking.

I write contemporary romance. Why?

Primarily because I’m lazy. I admit it. I couldn’t be bothered doing all the research necessary to set a story in the past, or to develop a world of the future. I am in awe of writers who achieve such amazing stories in these settings. But I’m certain if I ever tried, I’d miss something. I’d be the writer giving a watch to the Shakespearean character in Julius Caesar or something equally as blatant to show my lack of depth of research. For me, it’s better to stick to today’s world. I’m finding the research necessary for a contemporary story is quite enough for me, thanks. Is the fact I like to read only contemporary stories relevant or not? I guess it is.

I write sweet-sensual romance. Why?

This is the level of intimacy I feel comfortable with. I have seriously considered trying to ‘vamp up’ my stories as I believe more explicit romances are selling in larger numbers, but I’ve decided its important to be comfortable with my writing.  If I’m not at ease with detailed descriptions of love making, then this will surely come through in my writing and dissatisfy readers. Writing a seventy  thousand word romance with the bedroom door shut, but the sizzle still obvious, provides a writer with a formidable task which I hope I’ve mastered. There are many sub-genres within romance. I chose to stick to the sweeter end of the scale.

I write about New Zealand and/or New Zealanders – why?

Is it because I’m a Kiwi, because I’m proud to live in such a beautiful country, or because I want my stories to be different from so many other romances? Yes, yes and yes. But it’s more than that. One of the first things we’re told as budding writers is to write what we know. I have been fortunate to travel to many countries and I often read stories in which I recognise glaring errors. The author of a romance set in Italy or Greece or USA or Scotland who has never been to those countries must be so very careful not to expose this fact to her readers. Its true huge amounts of detail can be gained from the Internet, but this cannot substitute for personal experience, for writing what we know.

So I’m primarily writing about where I know. New Zealand. Although my first story “Worlds Apart” was set in Maryland USA, it was written while I lived there. I used our family’s experiences of learning to live in a foreign country to describe how my New Zealand heroine felt when visiting MD. My next four stories are set in New Zealand so they provided me with little effort to make the setting seem real. I just had to go outside my door and I was “in” my story’s setting. With my current work in progress I have had to digress slightly. Because I’m using a secondary character from “Worlds Apart” as my hero I’ve had to return to Maryland for its setting, but as Justin is a New Zealander I am able to continue using New Zealand as a focal point within the story.  I admit I’m relying on my memories of MD to see me through the story, but I feel confident that they are still so vivid, they won’t let me down. I’ll still be writing about what I know.

I write about ordinary people – why?

You won’t find any Greek or Italian billionaires in my stories. You won’t even find any New Zealand billionaires. I write about the person next door, or down the street, or who you run into at your children’s school concerts. None of whom are ordinary. The stories “ordinary” people have to share can be exciting and suspenseful, sad and confusing, happy and delightful. I believe these are the people we can all relate to, so we are quick to bond with them and their problems. I’m not too fond of the Alpha male, the way they are often written up in romance stories is too much of a fantasy for me. Romance might be a whimsical genre but I like my heroes to at least seem real. Just because they may “live down the street” doesn’t mean they lack all the heroic characteristics we love.

My heroines just about always end up totally different from how I intend them to be. I’ve recently realised that I write about scarred women. It’s not intentional, I promise. I had a wonderful childhood, I have a great husband, a happy marriage, delightful children (well most of the time) and now gorgeous grandchildren. I have no axe to grind. But I realised each of my heroines decided somewhere along the line to develop sad or painful pasts which have impacted strongly on them. This was not of my making. I wanted them to be light hearted and funny. It’s just they disagreed with me. But perhaps it’s my psychological attempt to encourage women that they have the strength to overcome almost anything and to search for that happy ending they deserve.

Anne Ashby (1)Bio:
Anne Ashby grew up in a very small coastal town in Southland, New Zealand. An eagerness to travel, fostered by her mother, led her to join the Royal NZ Navy where she enjoyed a very satisfying career. She has travelled extensively and lived in Singapore and Maryland USA. Anne has a keen interest in genealogy, an obsession for rugby and a definite dislike of housework. When not reading or writing, Anne finds plenty to occupy her time with her family commitments. She lives in Auckland with her husband and one of their four children. Four grandchildren also live close by.

Wilderness Liaison“Wilderness Liaison” a sensual contemporary set in New Zealand
Back Blurb

The concrete jungle defines financier Shal Gregory. He thrives on the liveliness and sheer vitality of the fast paced business world. So how does he find himself alone in the thick of the New Zealand bush with a feisty guide who undoubtedly despises everything he stands for?

Jodie Mathieson’s devotion to the wilderness fulfils her. She isn’t prepared for an intimate liaison with a man who clearly does not share her love of the great outdoors. But the sparks between them ignite and soon scare Jodie into flight.

Bewildered but determined, Shal tracks Jodie down and resolutely embarks on a course to convince her that having some differing life goals isn’t enough to keep them apart.

But can Jodie ignore past experiences? Dare she believe him?


“Last night was a mistake,” Jodie began, refusing to make eye contact as her waved arm encompassed the room behind them.

“A mistake?” Shal’s voice had dropped. “It didn’t feel like a mistake to me.”

“Well it was, and it won’t be happening again.”

Although she tried, she couldn’t shake off Shal’s fingers as they grasped her chin and forced her to look at him.

“What?” he frowned, “I don’t understand.”

Jodie tried to look away from his confusion, but his hold on her chin tightened.

“Talk to me, damn it. What’s wrong?”

You are, she wanted to scream at him. You’re all wrong for me, nothing like the man I’d want in my life. But she swallowed the truth along with her panic and prayed her voice sounded calm. “Like I said, last night was a mistake. It shouldn’t have happened.”

He was silent for so long, Jodie wondered if he was ever going to reply. His dark eyes swept the vista in front of the cabin before returning to drill into hers.

“Your head might be telling you that,” he murmured, “but you’re body’s saying something quite the opposite.” Mesmerised she watched his eyes drop to her neck. “I can see your pulse beating, Jodie – it’s racing—-“

“Only cos I’m angry.”

Shal’s hands cupped her face and his fingers slid up through her hair. “You’re not angry, Jodie,” he whispered, his lips tantalisingly close. “You’re aroused.”

Unconsciously her dry lips opened, her tongue flicking across them. She felt an exhilarating sense of power when a groan escaped him as his mouth captured hers, demanding, and getting a response.

Shal clutched her shaking body. “Last night was fantastic. Don’t spoil it by denying that.”

Feeling herself falling deeper and deeper into a hole, Jodie somehow gained the strength to yank herself away from his touch.

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7 thoughts on “Why Do We Write What We Write? by Anne Ashby”

    1. Thank you so much, I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Please forgive me for not getting back to you sooner, but we got caught up by a freak tornado that hit our suburb of Auckland on Thurs and we have only just got our power restored. All is well except for the massive cleanup needed, but I lost my opportunity to socialise with you at the time of this post.

  1. Anne, I think you and I are twins separated at birth! You’ve described perfectly my reasons for writing contemporary romance! Although (or maybe because) by profession, I’m an historian, the necesssary research for historical novels puts me off (and by the way, Shakepeare did have a clock chiming in Julius Caesar LOL). It takes me all my time to research things for my contemporary novels. I also prefer ordinary people. One of my heroes was fairly rich but it was because he worked hard, not because he was an Italian count or Greek shipping magnate! Alpha males don’t appeal to me either – far too arrogant. I like my heroes to be sensitive and caring, and my heroines to be their equals.

    1. Hi Paula, maybe you’re right lol. Its so refreshing to hear there are others who feel the same, I sometimes feel if you dont write Alpha billionaire heroes, then readers think something is missing. I disagree so strongly. Its harder to write about ordinary people and make them seem extraordinary. I reckon that takes skill, well, its my theory and I’m sticking to it lol – thanks for stopping by and commenting

  2. I’d like to apologise to Babette and anyone reading this post for my non attendance. On Thursday a freak tornado (we very rarely see such things in NZ) struck my suburb and we have been without power for 36 hours. The very time when I should have been participating in this blog.

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