Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Author Interview and Giveaway: Ashlyn Chase (Strange Neighbors)

Today I welcome author Ashlyn Chase to My Reading Room.  Ashlyn's new book, Strange Neighbors released earlier this month and I reviewed it here.  It's a fun, light romance that's a perfect summer read.  

Ashlyn has graciously joined us today to answer a few questions and I also have two copies of Strange Neighbors to giveaway.  So join us for the interview and then enter the giveaway.  So without further ado, here is my interview with Ashlyn.

1.      How did you celebrate the first time you found out you would be published?

I was alone. My husband was at work and all my writing friends were at our local conference. Those were the days before Twitter and Facebook and I very nearly internally combusted! LOL. When my hubby got home, he took me out to dinner and we celebrated each new contract that way...for a while. E-book contracts and releases became sort of ‘routine’ for him until I was lucky to get a hug and a ‘yay you.’ Now that I have paperbacks coming out, he’s taking me out to dinner again. Probably because they don’t come out as often, each one is a big deal.

2.      Was it just as exciting to find out Strange Neighbors would be published?

More. This was my ‘breakout’ novel. The first Mass Market paperback with a traditional publisher. Getting that multi-book deal also helped me hire an agent. Now I have professional advice on my career, not just my books.

3.      You have a lot of great humor in Strange Neighbors and I really enjoyed it - does this come naturally to you in life as well as when you write?

It depends on who I’m with. If I’m comfortable and know my humor will be taken in the right spirit, I let it out. If I’m not sure about the company, I may keep it under wraps a little bit.  Some of my comments can be pretty off the wall. You should hear my husband and I watching the news.

4.      Without giving anything away - what is Strange Neighbors about?

It’s a series that takes place in a Boston apartment building—one that tends to attract paranormal residents. Birds of a feather flock together, as they say. Book one is about the Landlord, a professional baseball player who happens to be a shapeshifter. Pardon my blatent self promotion for a moment:

Strange Neighbors
When star pitcher and shapeshifter Jason Falco buys a small apartment building, he sees it not only as an investment but as a place to escape the demands of major league baseball.

That is, until he meets his tenants--a sarcastic unemployed vigilante vampire; a wereraven with a morbid sense of humor; a werewolf thief who sells security systems; and two witches with an owl who work as phone sex actresses. Not to mention a beautiful, all too human nurse. But with all the hooting, howling, and hollering going on, how's an all-American shapeshifter supposed to sweep a girl off her feet?

The book can be found at all major bookstores and online retailers!

Okay, commercial over. You are hereby returned to your previously scheduled interview.

5.      As I read Strange Neighbors, I really was hoping this was going to be a series, is it?

Yup. Book two is finished and awaiting line edits. It stars our werewolf Konrad and Merry’s best friend Roz Wells. And just like the town in New Mexico, she seems to attract weirdness. Book Three is about Vampire Sly and one of the witches. I won’t tell you which one yet. They’re cousins from opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Since both women want him, a mini-civil war breaks out. (Picture magical fights in the hallway.)

6.      Strange Neighbors is full of paranormal creatures of every type, where did you get the idea for Strange Neighbors?

I blame everything on Thalia, the muse of comedy. In truth, I don’t know where my ideas come from. Just my warped imagination, I guess.

7.      I loved Merry and the fact she is own her own for the first time and trying to experience life to the fullest but then she falls in love, and that worries her because she’s not sure she’s ready to settle down.  Do you believe love often happens when we least expect it?

Yes, although I was always ready for it. Ready, willing, and waiting to pounce. I’m what you’d call a cougar. My husband is 13 years younger than I am. Now that he’s prematurly gray and my hair stays “magically” blonde (with the help of L’Oreal) you can’t spot the age difference as easily anymore.

8.      How much research did you do for Strange Neighbors?

Not much was needed. I used to live in the neighborhood I wrote about, in the kind of building I wrote about. I’ve invented my own ‘mythology’ regarding shapeshifters and vampires from past books I’ve written, and I keep those things consistent. The only thing I needed help with was my baseball hero! I’m a faithful football fan.

9.      Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?

I used to write by the seat of my pants, but with a long story, and especially a series of them, I need to plot. Sometimes I’ll just start writing and at about chapter three I’ll stop and decide where I want to go and how to get there. It’s like going for a ride in the country, then saying, “Hey, since I’m heading toward the lake anyway, maybe I’ll just pull out a map and see how easy it is to get there from here.”

10.  Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?

I try to read a little every day. My brain usually shuts down in the afternoon and I’ll either do errands or relax with a good romance. I prefer hot to sweet, but if there’s a good story that captures my attention, I’ll wait for the sex scenes. (wink) I look forward to that precious time each day if I’m involved in a really good story. I rarely finish a book in one sitting. If that happens, I neglect my own work and have to chew out the author for writing such a good book.

11.  What is your favorite room in your house?

Interesting question. I like my husband’s office. I know, Weird huh? Maybe it’s because I don’t work there. I visit. It’s plesantly decorated too, thanks to yours truly.

12.  What is your favorite spot to read in?

We have what I call a “puzzle-pit.” It’s 3 oddly shaped microfiber sofas that fit together and make a huge lounging area. It’s filled with pillows and I pile a whole bunch of them together and lean back. A tray sits next to me holding a glass of ice tea or coffee. There’s a reading light right in the corner too. It’s the perfect spot.

13.  What is your favorite snack food?

Mixed nuts. I usually have a can of those on hand. Whether I’m on a low carb diet or not, I can have those.

14.  What is your favorite season?

Summer! I like Spring because it means summer’s coming. Fall makes me sad because it means summer’s gone. Yes, autumn is beautiful here in New England, but with winter being my most hated time of year, it puts a damper on the lengthening nights and cooler days.

15.  Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?

I’m usually pretty disciplined. It’s how I get as much done as I do. I get up early with my hubby, and when he leaves for work, I got to my office and answer email. Usually when that’s done, I begin writing. When writers complain to me that they can’t get motivated, I tell them to make it a habit to get in front of the keyboard at the same time of day each day until it feels funny if you don’t. Recently when I was at a conference, I got up early and took my laptop into the bathroom to write so I wouldn’t disturb my roommate. It felt good and ‘right’ to start my day that way.

16.  Where do you do the majority of your writing?

My daughter’s old bedroom became my office. That’s the best thing about the kids leaving home. If you do your job as a parent right, they’ll grow up and leave you an office.

17.  Did you find writing Strange Neighbors to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?

It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life! I had signed the contract based on a proposal and three chapters. That meant I had to write the rest on a deadline—with no plot! Eek! I sat in front of my computer each morning and greeted my characters, then said, “So, what are you up to today?” That’s the definition of a character-driven novel.

18.  Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?

My whole month of June is a blur. Yours is my next to the last blog in a month-long tour of 23 or 24 (I’ve lost count) blog stops. Plus toss in 5 book signings, a conference and a newspaper interview. I called my blog tour the “I Must Be Nuts” blog tour since I saw this insanity coming. It didn’t stop me from doing it to myself though. Never again...until the next book.

19.  Do you have a new book in the works?

I’m working on book three in the Strange Neighbor series. And I’m letting some ideas for future projects simmer on the back burner until I’m finished. My deadline is Sept. 30th, but I should finish before that. I’m starting the third act now. I have an unfinished project for Ellora’s Cave after that. By the time that’s finished, I hope to have plotted out a whole new series. I’ve been discussing a couple of ideas with my agent.

20.  Anything else you would like to say?

Yes, I enjoy chatting with readers and have a yahoo group where we can do that. I’d like to invite anyone interested in joining to check us out. http://groups.yahoo.com/ashlynsnewbestfriends/

Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with me!

Thanks for the opportunity to meet more readers!


He’s looking for peace, quiet, and a little romance…
There’s never a dull moment when hunky all-star pitcher and shapeshifter Jason Falco invests in an old Boston brownstone apartment building full of supernatural creatures. But when Merry MacKenzie moves into the ground floor apartment, the playboy pitcher decides he might just be done playing the field…

A girl just wants to have fun…
Sexy Jason seems like the perfect fling, but newly independent nurse Merry’s not sure she’s ready to trust him with her heart…especially when the tabloids start trumpeting his playboy lifestyle.

Then pandemonium breaks loose and Merry and Jason will never get it together without a little help from the vampire who lives in the basement and the werewolf from upstairs…

About the Author

A multi-published, award-winning author, Ashlyn Chase specializes in characters who reinvent themselves, having reinvented herself numerous times. Among her many day jobs, she has worked as a psychiatric nurse, run blood drives for the Red Cross, and now uses her degree in behavioral sciences to avoid writing exhaustive character sketches.  She lives with her true-life hero husband in beautiful New Hampshire.  For more information, please visit http://ashlynchase.com/.


Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks, has kindly allowed me to giveaway 2 copies of Ashlyn's book, Strange Neighbors to two lucky readers who comment.  Simply answer this question and leave me a way to contact you - What is your favorite paranormal being/creature?

Open to US/Canada only.  Additional entries for being a follower (rss, twitter, google friend, networked blogs, etc), tweeting (1 per day), and posting on your blog.  Please comment for each entry.  Giveaway open through July 6, 2010.