An Interview with Trisha Ashley
I have been very excited about this actual moment since I first started blogging. My very first guest author to visit this site! Today it is my extreme privilege and pleasure to welcome and introduce you all, the very popular UK author, Trisha Ashley.
Although we have never actually met in person, I like to think that Trisha and I have been virtual friends for almost over a year now. As a busy author, Trisha has always taken the time to answer my questions, provide me with sound advice in relation to writing, and when I asked her if she would do an interview for my new blog, agreed without any hesitancy at all!
Trisha’s books can be found in all good bookshops, the major UK supermarkets and many of the well known online book trading sites such as Amazon. Trisha is the author of thirteen novels with her fourteenth, ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, coming out in October this year. Her current book, a romantic comedy entitled ‘Chocolate Wishes’, has consistently remained high in the UK book charts, since it was first published by Avon Harper Collins in March of this year. Another of Trisha’s novel’s entitled, ‘A Winter’s Tale’, turned out to be a ‘Times Bestseller’ and was also shortlisted for the ‘2009 Melissa Nathan Award’ for romantic comedy! Her novel ‘Every Woman for Herself’ was recently shortlisted as one of the three best romantic novels of the last fifty years.
Trisha Ashley was born in St Helens, Lancashire and studied architectural glass, at Swansea Art College. Since then, she has supported her writing habit by taking on a diverse series of part-time jobs, including working for a lead light maker and plumber and painting portraits. She has now given up her fascinating but time consuming hobbies of divorce and house moving, and has settled in North Wales, though her only stated claim to the area is a Welsh grandmother! The combination of her Celtic creative streak and her typically Lancashire dark sense of humour in adversity, has made Trisha what she is today, a very well known and popular UK author of romantic comedy!
TSR: A very warm welcome to you Trisha, and very big thank-you from us all, for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
'Thank you - but it's always a pleasure to talk about books and writing, especially with someone who is equally enthusiastic!
TSR: Trisha, can I start by first asking you what sort of books did you enjoy reading as a child?
I read everything that came my way, but a major early influence was a set of large books of stories, legends, fables, nursery rhymes and poetry, called ‘The Golden Pathway.’ I passed it on to my son in due course. After this, I began to work my way steadily through the shelves of the small local library.
TSR: Do you think the books that you read as a child influenced your writing in any way?
Everything you read influences your own writing to some extent at the start, and your early attempts at novel writing tend to reflect what you are currently reading. But at some point I had that moment common to most writers when I was not entirely happy with the novel I was reading and I thought ‘I could write a better one than this!’
TSR: Did you always want to become a writer?
Yes, a writer and a painter together: that was my ideal. I still paint, when I have the time.
TSR: Where do you do your writing best?
I like to write in my study, which is the tiny box room overlooking the sea. I haven’t always had a room of my own, but I have always had a pasting table to work at and a wall behind it to stick things to relating to the work in progress. The pasting table is very important! I bought it during my first term at art college, after arriving with a rucksack, folding easel and portable typewriter, because I needed a table to work on. I could just fold it up and take it away with me when I moved.
TSR: What made you decide to focus upon writing romantic comedy?
That’s a long story! I wrote satirical novels for years, without getting published, then wrote two light Regency Romances which were published by Hale. But after that I went back to the satire and remained unpublished again until I was taken on by top London agent Judith Murdoch. She called me down to London and during three hours tore my current novel to shreds, then told me how to put it back together again. Almost the first thing she said to me was: ‘Trisha, this romantic comedy hasn’t got any romance in it at all!’, which of course it hadn’t, because it was satire. But I realised that by simply adding a romantic element to what I was already writing, I would fit into the romantic comedy genre: and I went straight back home and did just that. Good Husband Material was published by Piatkus, the first of my romantic comedies.
TSR: Do you have a set routine when you are working on a new novel?
I work under contract, so I have delivery dates for my novels. It is important to keep to them, since otherwise it throws the whole publishing schedule out and causes difficulty. I love to work very early in the morning, but I usually carry on late into the day and, towards the end of the novel, sometimes through the night!
For years now I have had a pact with two other novelist friends, Leah Fleming and Elizabeth Gill, that we will email each other as soon as we have written the first five hundred words of the day: we call ourselves the 500 Club. I’d recommend this to anyone trying to write novels and three is the best number.
TSR: How did you think of and develop the main characters of Chloe and Grumps in ‘Chocolate Wishes’?
Because I write in first person, I have to create the character of the heroine first, so I can slip into her skin while writing and do and say things the way she would: and this is by no means the way I would do or say them! Other than that, I have no idea where they come from, they just bob up to the surface of my mind and take on a life of their own.
TSR: Which character in ‘Chocolate Wishes’ do you like best?
I have a lot of sympathy with Chloe: she’s been dealt a difficult hand in life and she has dealt with it with humour and creativity. Raffy is, of course, entirely gorgeous but a quite complex character.
My secondary characters, like Grumps and Zillah, often take on much greater prominence than I expect them to do at the start. But then, all my characters tend to come alive and surprise me with what they do and say!
TSR: ‘What was your inspiration for writing Chocolate Wishes?’
When my son was small I bought a small metal Easter egg mould at a jumble sale and made him chocolate eggs, in which I put little messages from the Easter Bunny. One day I was thinking that it was a pity fortune cookies didn’t’ taste nicer and the idea popped into my head that they would be better if they were made of chocolate. So I gave my heroine the same experience and she started to make her Chocolate Wishes, each one containing an inspirational reading from Angel Cards.
TSR: What is your favourite book and why?
I do find Pride and Prejudice one I re-read over and over, but there are books that I have read once that have stayed with me forever, like The ‘Poisonwood Bible’, ‘The Colour Purple’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’... And some that were extremely important when I first read them, like ‘Catch-22’ and Ted Hughes’ poetry collection ‘The Hawk in the Rain’, which I still return to from time to time. My favourite romantic comedy writers are Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Judy Astley, and Leah Fleming for wonderfully-written historical romance.
TSR: Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?
I’ve just read a wonderful non-fiction book called ‘Small Dogs can save Your Life’ by Bel Mooney and ‘Wigs on the Green’ by Nancy Mitford. I’m about to start re-reading all of Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler detective novels up to date and I want to get her new spine-chiller ‘The Small Hand’, when it comes out.
TSR: Have you another book in the making at the moment?
Yes, I’m working on another book with a rural west Lancashire setting.
TSR: Trisha, I am delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be the first author interviewed on this new literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today and also to yourself and your publisher Avon Harper Collins, in supporting us with our first author’s book giveaway!
It has been lovely talking to you, and I feel the honour is mine, in being asked to be your very first author to be interviewed! If anyone would like to find out more about me, or sign up for my newsletter, they could visit my website at www.trishaashley.com
International Book Giveaway!
Trisha and her publisher Avon Harper Collins, have very kindly supplied three copies of 'Chocolate Wishes' for my very first International book giveaway.
This giveaway will only be open to the Google Connect Followers of my blog. You have to join this blog as a Google Connect Follower, in order to be able to post comments to this blog.
Post a comment to this author interview , between the 11th -17th September, to be entered into a draw for this great book giveaway. Winners will be posted on this blog after the draw has taken place. Winners will be asked to send their postal details so the books can then be shipped to the winners by the publisher.