Hi, Ashley, so glad to have you here today. Tell us little about The Saxon Bride:
I feel like I’ve been working on this one forever, I love it so much. It’s just in the editing stages now so I don’t have much of a blurb to share but I’m hoping for a summer release. The Saxon Bride is the first in The Norman Conquest series which looks at the combining of two very different cultures. Historically, the English have viewed the Norman “invasion” through different lenses which is very typical. It’s been a thousand years after all, but I think most agree that the “English” as we know them today did not exist prior to 1066.
What inspired this story?
I love this time period because there’s so much vibrancy and life. It’s before the Black Death and over population that occurred that decimated so much of what will be established. The people are just moving into a very productive time period with lots of power struggles but also lots of ingenuity, education, and more centralized governments. It’s just fascinating. There’s the popular history and then the actual nuts and bolts of things. It’s a challenge to write the way we’d like to have been and still be historically accurate.
I considered the powerful Godwin family and what it must have cost them to be overthrown by those continental war mongers and created a sole survivor – Rowena. Being an orphaned woman, she’s subject to the whims of her ward, King William. Most historians agree that King William did what was best for King William and having a loyal knight in charge of the large Godwinson properties would definitely be to his advantage. In comes John, a bastard himself, adores William and thinks he can do no wrong until he falls for Rowena and recognizes the cost of the subjugating an entire culture.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
I’m also working on the next book in The Order of the Scottish Thistle series which should be out this fall. I love that series. The characters begging to have their own stories include Iain, Mark and Elisabeth, Uncle Peter, and Calum.
Just a little about Elisabeth. She’s actually a “noblewoman” from Ireland and I can’t wait to tell her story and how she comes to be in Scotland and married to her own true love, Mark.
Do you have any good news you’d like to share?
Can’t say much about anything at this point but I’d be happy to come back and share when things are finalized.
What are your writing goals for this year?
Write, write, write. Life keeps getting in my way, though. My characters are very real to me. I’d like to do a character interview at some point so readers could get to know some of them better.
In specific terms, I’d like to get one novel and two novellas from The Order of the Scottish Thistle done plus the first one in The Norman Conquest Series. Oh by the way, John and Rowena from The Saxon Bride are Iseabail’s grandparents.
How do you come up with ideas?
I’m Irish! I’m also Scottish! And Welsh! Creativity run through our veins instead of blood.
I love to say “what if” and then I run through my ideas with my family. They love to ask “well, what about this or what about that?” I think they’re trying to catch me up but if just forces me to figure out the specifics.
I “wrote” a whole screen play one vacation that I still think would be a great idea that my daughter, Nicole, helped me flesh out. It’s really good. Suspenseful. Unfortunately, I don’t really know how to write a screen play…but I can learn.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I’ve waited my whole life to finally be a writer. I want to be good at it and I learn more all the time. I take classes, listen to reviews and critiques, so that the reader will really enjoy the experience of opening one of my books and going into a world I created just for them. That’s the way I felt every year when I went to look for the latest Johanna Lindsey book. What adventure will she be taking me on this time? Authors just have to do it faster now.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
I have to research with primary sources and there’s not always a lot available. There is a lot of popular history abounding so I don’t want to be so accurate that I lose the reader. I like popular history, too, but real life matters and the past is not just one big lump of “this is the way it was.” When I was a little girl, I called it “the olden days” which meant anything in the past. Now I realize each culture and time period is unique unto itself. That’s very exciting to me.
What is the best thing about being an author?
When it’s done! I recently read (maybe on Facebook?) that just finishing a project is the only relaxing time for an author. It was said much better than that, though. When you’re working on a project, you’re involved with all that goes into it, creating and worksmithing, and then you move into marketing and promoting and then you’re on to your next project so the minute you can say “I just finished” is really the only down time we get.
Do you have a favorite time of day for writing?
Mornings. I am definitely a morning person. I like to be up with the birds before the sun has even risen. My husband was working nights for a while and I tried to shift to working at night but it’s not the same. The sun rising, the promise of a new day, that’s the best time for me.
Do you listen to music while you write? What are you listening to now?
I can’t listen to music when I write. I need quiet because I am really involved in my head and outside sounds distract me. I do love music. I was a music teacher for a few years. I love contemporary Christian music, Third Day and Robin Mark are probably my favorites. I also love Irish/Scottish music with fiddle, concertina, whistle-session music. I love the Bothy Band from the 70’s and Kevin Burke. They’re just great.
These are few of my favorite things:
- any time spent with my children whether it’s at a meal, a vacation, a movie, a ride in the car, or rock climbing-they are so amazing to me and I love to spend time with them
- nature – I’ve never been able to decide which is my favorite – the White Mountains in New Hampshire or the rolling coastal waters of Maine
A Giveaway! What do you think of when people say “Medieval”? I’ll give one lucky commenter a hardcover, signed copy of The Bruised Thistle.
Excerpt from The Saxon Bride:
Joan gulped. “Do you think he will be kind to you? Tonight, I mean?”
Rowena’s breath caught in her throat. The marriage bed. How would her husband treat her? With kindness? As her husband, he gained much by this union. A lot of responsibility, yes, but also power. Some men loved power.
She tipped her chin up.
“I believe he will be kind as I will give him no reason not to be.”
Joan’s eyes rounded. Rowena smiled tightly.
“Fear not, Joan. I will be amicable.”
“My lady, would that I could impart upon you my own knowledge, but I have none. Your mother’s death before she prepared you leaves you in a bad way.”
“Perhaps he will be a gentle man. John.” His name was all she knew.
“Yes, my lady. He is one of William’s most trusted knights.”
“A warrior.” Rowena’s tone was flat and for an instant she saw again her father. Cold and dead. Blood all around. She forced the memory aside. “Then he will be a good protector.”
“Yes, but of whom?”
Bio: Always an avid romance reader herself, Ashley York decided to get her BS in History to learn what she’d only read about in these books and maybe become a teacher. When she got her MA in History, it was so she could realize her lifelong dream of becoming a romance novelist herself.
She enjoys bringing history to life through vibrant and meaningful characters, writing historical romance novels full of passion and intrigue set in the 11th and 12th century British Isles. Her debut novel, The Bruised Thistle, is set in Scotland and is the first in The Order of the Scottish Thistle series.
When she is not writing, talking about writing, or thinking about writing, Ashley relaxes with visits to the local pubs listening to live Celtic tunes, participating with guitar, voice, and whistle. In the words of one of her favorite songs, she enjoys “…singing songs to pass the night away…”
She lives in southern New England with her husband, three children, and 3 very spoiled animals.
You can find Ashley at:
Website and Blog: http://www.ashleyyorkauthor.com/
The Bruised Thistle
Book 1 in The Order of the Scottish Thistle series:
Iseabail MacNaughton, the orphaned daughter of a Scottish laird, is forced to flee her home and seek assistance against her lecherous uncle, who has usurped her family’s land. When she meets Seumas, a strong and valiant mercenary, she cannot help wondering if he could be the one to stand with her against her uncle. But with a price on her head and enemies on all sides, her trust is not something she can afford to give lightly…
Seumas MacDonell is a man wounded in body and soul, driven by guilt. When he rescues Iseabail from one of his men, he cannot deny the attraction he feels for her, despite the wound that left him unable to act on it. In the hope of finding redemption for his sins, he agrees to help Iseabail…but will his feelings for her prove to be the ultimate obstacle to his salvation?
The Bruised Thistle is available at Amazon.com