AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: AINSLEY
Stealing a few minutes with author Ainsley…
Thanks for having me! – Ainsley
What is your most current work out?
My recent release is Quenched, out through Whiskey Creek Torrid. It’s co-authored by E.C. Stacy. I’ll mention here that I love our cover. My writer partner worked with the cover artist on it and they nailed the story perfectly.
Tell us a little about Quenched.
The story is about Ethan and Savannah, a detective and reporter respectively, following a trail of murders. When the murderer comes after Savannah and proves to be a vampire, Ethan has to make a drastic decision in order to save her life and stop the murders.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
As I mature as a writer, I plot more and more. Early on, I lost too many months to wandering threads and not knowing what the hell should happen next. That’s the kiss of death when I’m under deadline. But I don’t nail down all the details. I generally synopsize and let the characters fill in the rest. For instance, in my current WIP (work in progress), one character just insisted my hero kill someone. I didn’t plan it, but after it happened I realized it was exactly what he would advise. My characters always assert themselves through dialogue.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I’ve written fantasy and science fiction for years, sold several short stories, and I edit a speculative fiction short story magazine. Truly, I never featured myself as a romance writer. But I had a two-book deal fall in my lap and I thought writing sex and romance would be an excellent creative challenge. I was right – it’s hard!
For the past two years, I’ve been writing a mainstream future fantasy, I always have a romance book going, and usually a short story. I always have several projects backed up. My hard drive is full of book synopses and I have big moleskin of short story ideas, half-formed to fully plotted.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I really admired Chere in Quencher. She turned out differently than I envisioned her at first, very strong and unapologetic about going after what she wanted. She taught me how to write female characters that I actually like. I can’t stand female characters with a chip on her shoulder, and I’ve had trouble finding great female characters to study. I think people sometimes mistake bitterness and snark for strength in female characters. But I don’t like super-snarky people, in real life or fiction.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
I had a female character in an unsold urban fantasy who’s too serious and whiny. I have trouble with female characters anyway, but if I had it to do over again, I’d written her out and not wasted any more words on her. Now I’d never try to sell a character I wasn’t satisfied with.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I’m trying to sell an epic fantasy right now that features a character based on this guy who used to go to my gym. He was a real black-ops soldier, huge, tattooed, and perilous. He used to watch everyone in the mirrors. Since I’m a writer, I watch everyone, too. I sort of reckoned he knew I watched him, but I didn’t think anything of it. Then he told our mutual trainer that he noticed I watched people! He didn’t ever talk to me personally. Seriously, I’m glad. He looked like a guy who’d just as soon slit your throat as say hello. I think it would be wicked cool if I could get him to come and stand behind me in chainmail and black leather armor at signings and readings.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Seriously, short stories are brutal to finish. I have fun for about 4 pages and then every word after is like pulling toenails. I’ve learned I must plot before I write a word or I don’t finish them. I think they are invaluable to honing craft, though, so I try to write a few each year.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
People seem to be surprised to learn I snowboard. I ride every weekend and some weekdays during the season. I even have Winter Park listed on my “appearances” column on my website. No fans have ever tracked me down there, though!
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I’m Episcopalian. Guilt is against my religion. That said, I swear too much and probably should feel bad about it. But fuck is the most versatile word I’ve ever found, and I’m addicted to all its nuances.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I prefer to be in my own office, tea to hand, surrounded by my books, tunes blaring, my dog under my feet. But I actually can write anywhere if no one talks to me much. Kids aren’t included in that rule. They don’t seem to bug me like ‘grups’ do.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Savannah seems so grown up and mellow, I think she’d like The Fray and U2’s older stuff. Ethan is a classic rock dude. I can see him listening to Stones, the Eagles, maybe some Creedence Clearwater Revival.
I listen to music constantly, mostly punk rock, and I’m an avid concert-goer. Lately I’ve been listening to Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns, Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown, U2’s No Line on the Horizon, Bad Religion, Rise Against, Sum 41, Darling Thieves, Cage the Elephant, Nickelback, plus a lot of Ozzy and The Who, which my son has been playing on the drums for the past few months. I could go on and on about music. The poetry and music inspire me no end. It’s a very important part of my life.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
A fan at a convention I attended a couple of weeks ago mentioned she thought the cover depiction of Ethan looks like Matthew McConaughey, which would work. I envisioned him as the sort of guy who’s attractive and courteous and able to crack a joke at his own expense, but he’s probably had his nose broken before. Savannah is willowy, blonde…Cameron Diaz, maybe? I actually don’t think in movie stars when I create my characters. That’s a tough question.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was on vacation at my brother’s house in Kansas. My writing partner finally called me since he couldn’t raise me by email for a few days. I got a Blackberry right after that.
Most of my family doesn’t truck with vampires or romances, and I’ve always been the weird cousin, you know, the creative one, so the fanfare passed pretty quickly. I kind of like that they’re not impressed by me just doing my job. It always surprises me when people are awed with what I do. I mean, it’s making up stories. It’s tricky sometimes, but it’s not like teaching or going to war.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I read the stuff everyone did: Forever, The Flowers in the Attic. I read older stuff very early though, so I’m sure I was reading inappropriate stuff by the fourth or fifth grade. But I read everything, and I still do. Most of my romance I read online or in eBooks. I even surf fanfic sites and free magazines online. I have so many writer friends that I literally can’t keep up with all their books. I get a lot of free books, too. I got ten ARCs and first editions at just one con this fall.
If you still have one of those pesky day jobs what is it?
I’m a full-time writer, just coming off a full-time mothering gig. Well, I still have the mom gig, but they’re at school for long stretches now. It’s awesome to write without a baby under my feet. Of course, now there’s the dog…
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m writing a space opera, hopefully to come out mid-2011. It’s got dogfights in space, indentured servants, rebel forces, a cruel military regime that spans six galaxies, and a romance between would-be enemies. I’m also playing with an unfinished fantasy project, thinking of adapting it to romance. It’s a great story, if I could just work out how it ends. Besides that, a couple of epic fantasies and a novel that takes a different tack on your regular apocalyptic story. Interestingly, as I go on, I find the lines blurring between my mainstream and my romance. I find myself thinking about my mainstream stuff, They’re gonna have sex now. Why not show it? Until writing Quencher, I was mostly a closed-door sex scene writer.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
I have a quote by John Updike at the bottom of my outgoing email: “I’m willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else’s living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite.” I think we owe it to ourselves as artists to be brutally honest, and I’m unapologetic about what I write. If I was ever going to get one of those cute painted signs people have, like “Live, Laugh, Love” mine would say: “Where Lies Come To Die.”
I’m delighted to write for my job, romance affords me a great deal of creative freedom, and I like writing romance and sex. It’s fun.
Not to mention that romance bolsters the struggling book industry – last I heard it was about 13% of the book market. It’s a $1.4 billion genre and growing via ePublishing. I have a lot of respect for the genre because romance/erotica leads the eBook charge, something I feel very strongly about. And, hell, the romance industry is as tough to break into as any other. Ask any writer.
Where can readers find you?
On Facebook you can find me by my real name: Betsy Dornbusch
Ainsley’s Facebook fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ainsley/173912932619636
My magazine: http://electricspec.com
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Kit Kats, I guess.
Dang. Now I want one.