Jen: Today we welcome our next Historical Romance Retreat author, Ashlyn Macnamara! Ashyln, will you share a short bio with us?
Ashlyn: USA Today bestselling author Ashlyn Macnamara writs Regency romance with a dash of wit and a hint of wicked. She considers this published author gig her midlife crisis but figures it’s less dangerous than skydiving and less expensive than a new sports care. Though she writes about the past, she can be found in such newfangled places as her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Ashlyn: My latest release To Lure a Proper Lady hits e-tailers March 29. It’s the story of the eldest daughter of a hypochondriac duke. She has reason to believe her father’s ailments might be serious this time around so she hires a Bow Street Runner to investigate, and he arrives just in time for the annual house party his grace insists on holding despite his health issues.
I suppose the idea for this story stemmed mostly from the hero. He showed up in What a Lady Requires as a secondary character, and I knew when he stepped onto the page he was going to demand his own book. He had a secret past, but he wasn’t about to reveal it to me unless I set him up with someone good—like a duke’s daughter.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Ashlyn: Oh dear, I was OLD. You know all those authors who say they’ve wanted to write since they were old enough to hold a crayon? I’m not one of them. I used to run screaming every time my English teachers mentioned the words creative and writing in direct conjunction. That might have had something to do with them wanting to make us write poetry, but anyway. I always made up stories in my head, but I tended to keep them to myself, at least until I discovered fanfiction, but that was about 15 years ago. I wrote fan stories to amuse myself for a few years, before I decided to try writing something original.
And that first original story? Yeah, it was baaaaad. No one is ever going to see that. It took me a few tries before I wrote something saleable. I entered story in a writing contest, finaled, and through that contest final got my agent and she sold the manuscript, which became A Most Scandalous Proposal released in 2013. Fun fact: When my agent called me to offer me representation, I didn’t hear my phone ring. To this day, I don’t know how that happened. Thankfully she also emailed me to say BTW, I tried to call you just now, I love your book, etc. etc.
We now schedule all calls.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Ashlyn: My older brother studied journalism. He worked as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor. He’s also 21 years older than I am, so that I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 13 months. I used to have play dates with my niece (though it was the 70s so we didn’t call it that), and I can remember having to be quiet because my brother was in his office working on a novel. I’m not completely sure if he ever finished it, but I have seen some of his short stories.
When I got my first publishing deal, I wasn’t sure how to approach my brother, since he writes more literary fiction. I didn’t think he’d react very favorably to having a romance novelist in the family. It turned out my worries were for nothing. He told me it was wonderful that someone in the family was finally recognized for literary achievement.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Ashlyn: Panster, always. My characters won’t let me be anything else. If I try to force them to do things they don’t want to do, they take their toys and go home. Also part of what keeps me going is because I don’t always know what’s going to happen next. I need to write the next chapter to find out.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Ashlyn: Most of my ideas come in the shower. Or when I’m driving somewhere. Or washing dishes. If I’m home, it’s easy enough to hold the idea until I get a chance to write it down. I have been known to pull out my phone and email myself when I’m not at home (and it’s safe to do so).
I cannot see myself ever writing a contemporary story. Reading, and by extension writing, are escapes for me. I need to lose myself in a world that is not my own. Thus, my love for historicals and other worlds.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Ashlyn: Something completely different. Though there are more books to come in the Duke-Defying Daughters series, in September, my publisher is releasing the first in a fantasy romance series called Destined for a King. See, I’m just a big geek at heart, and I love high fantasy. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing it, so I finally sat down and did something about that. Destined for a King is the first in the Bastard Brotherhood series that revolves around a brigand who calls himself Torch and his band of miscreants. Their quest is to restore Torch to the throne his father lost years ago to a usurper. In the first book, Torch steals a castle along with the heart of the usurper’s intended bride.