Jen: Today we welcome Ashlinn Craven to Romancing the Book. Ashlinn, will you share a short bio with us?
Ashlinn: Ashlinn Craven writes romance involving people with real ambitions, real passions and real paychecks. While not penning feel-good love stories for fellow romantics, she’s working in the IT industry, doing the mom routine, or consuming unhealthy amounts of Austen fanfic.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Ashlinn: It’s a Jane Austen-inspired, enemies-to-lovers romcom featuring an AI based on Mr. Darcy and two programmers, Zoe and Max, tasked with releasing him into the world. Under the observant eye of Mr. Darcy, Zoe and Max bicker about the best way to tweak the AI to perfection, until their animosity turns to friendship and finally to love. But will Darcy’s omniscient view and outspoken opinions about their secrets destroy the fragile happiness of the two colleagues?
Where the idea came from: I was twiddling my pen at work trying to find a way of making a personal assistant sound exciting for a client presentation. I mean, why would anyone actually want one? For some reason my mind wandered to the most swoonworthy man of them all … Mr. Darcy. And that was it.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Ashlinn: Yes. I’m definitely one or the other, depending on mood and stage of writing and the actual book. I need to know the goal-motivation-conflict in advance but there’ve been books where I didn’t know the ending until I got there. And I never plan every detail of every scene. All the good stuff comes out of leftfield when I’m in the zone trying to get a scene to do what it’s supposed to be doing. You can’t plan humor, you just can’t.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Ashlinn: Heartfelt, observant, fun.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Ashlinn: The book combines two loves of mine—Jane Austen and artificial intelligence. I’m probably the first person in the universe to ever say that, but it’s true. Jane Austen is part of my genetic makeup, I’ve read the originals so many times and devoured the fanfic which I’m happy to say is neverending and often brilliant. In parallel, I’ve worked in specialized AI fields since graduation. This book series just had to happen at some stage.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Ashlinn: Vi Keeland and Penny Reid are two more recent discoveries. I love them! Top all-time favorites are Jane Austen (of course), Charlotte Bronte, Douglas Adams, Richard Curtis (his screenplays) and Alex Garland. I just want to hug everything they’ve written.
Jen: How do you come up with characters’ names?
Ashlinn: If the name doesn’t come hand-in-hand with the character in a flash of inspiration then I do it the hard way—I root around for strong, mono- or duo-syllabic names that aren’t in the top 5 baby names for that year, but are still fairly attractive and modern for that era. Sometimes I flirt with variations until one wins out. For example, Max (in Building Mr. Darcy) was very nearly Matt, or Marc. Dermot (in Core Attraction) was Darrach for the longest time. Because I’m Irish, my characters often have Irish names.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Ashlinn: A sequel to Building Mr. Darcy—naturally! Details available to anyone who signs up to my newsletter. And then some other things in the pipeline, a Gothic romance and a hot new rom-com series.