Sharon Ashwood e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (December, 2009)
Sharon Ashwood is a freelance journalist and novelist who has great enthusiasm for the weird and spooky. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness. She has an English literature degree and works as a finance geek. When not completely immersed in the next instalment of her Dark Forgotten series, she busily adds even more books to her to-be-read pile and plays with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits that the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle would never work out for her. To compensate, she decided to write paranormal romances. Sharon is a newbie to the supernatural romance scene. Her debut novel, Ravenous, came out this past February to rave reviews, and her recently released sequel, Scorched, is already well on its way to garnering equal critical acclaim.
Q: Have you experimented in other genres or is writing about demons, vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures a natural fit for you?
A: The paranormal is a natural fit for me, and I've always written stories with a magical or fantastic element. I have experimented with historical settings, since I love swashbuckling drama and I've written horror. I'd like to try writing mystery. The craftsmanship of a really well done who dunnit is very appealing. However, I think I'd always be working within a paranormal world.
Q: What makes your supernatural world of the Dark Forgotten different from those of other paranormal romances?
A: I write with a touch of fantasy as well as straight urban fantasy elements. The Castle, which is a prison for supernatural creatures, provides a different setting. It's another dimension filled with unwanted magical creatures - some good, some evil, some just very strange. As a writer, it offers a world of possibility.
The other thing that I try to incorporate is a sense of the world as a whole. How does the advent of the supernatural population impact the economy? The legal system? We're seeing things from the characters' viewpoints, but I incorporate radio clips, headlines, and other media elements to try and put the supernatural/human interface into context. Most of it I just hint at - this is a paranormal romance, after all - but my characters don't live in a vacuum. The forces that drive us in our everyday lives drive them, too. Taxes. The price of gas. Parking tickets. There's a lot of opportunity for humour there - and I like my paranormal to be both funny and dark.
Q: Your world isn't just populated with vampires, werewolves and demons - you've incorporated a large cross-section of additional otherworldly creatures. Why so many and how do they fit into your mythology?
A: I grew up on fairy and ghost stories, high fantasy, mythology, and the classics like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I've been stockpiling mythological creatures for years, just waiting to use them! I introduced a number of creatures in Scorched because the Castle is where all the supernatural critters were banished. Naturally, there's a ton of different species in there and, when Mac is inside, he's going to run into many of them. It's the magical kingdom waiting for a hero to come and bring it back to life. The other factor is the sensibility of the story. Scorched is essentially a fairy tale with shamanic elements. It needed strange and terrible creatures that even the modern day urban vampire or demon would fear.
Q: Most paranormal readers and writers are suckers for vampires - indeed in your debut novel, Ravenous, lead character Holly Carver's sidekick and lover Alessandro Caravelli, is a vampire. Is the continued popularity of the vampire the reason you created Alessandro?
A: Alessandro kind of created himself. He began as a very secondary character who elbowed his way onto centre stage and consigned the previous love interest to oblivion. When I was writing the story, I wasn't thinking about market trends but rather how much fun I was having. He's a great character to write.
Because of the lag in time between writing a book and seeing it on the shelf, there's little point in chasing trends. By the time your book arrives, a fad could have come and gone. As far as the shelf life of vampires goes - heck, they're immortal. I've been devouring horror fiction all my life and always will.
Q: Scorched, the just released second instalment of your series, finds former cop turned demon, Conall Macmillan, caught in a magical prison, along with newly made vampire Constance. Without giving too much away, can you give us a short overview of their story and how it furthers your mythology?
A: Ravenous left Mac in a pickle - he can't go home again, and he doesn't have much of a future. When he learns that Constance's adopted son has been kidnapped, his cop instincts kick in and he finds purpose. Unfortunately, there's a steep price to pay for getting involved.
Scorched takes us into the Castle and we learn a great deal about the creatures inside and how it fits into the history of the supernatural in my world. There's a major flaw in how the Castle has evolved, and my characters have to figure out how to fix it. The decisions they make impact future books.
Q: What’s next after Scorched?
A: Unchained tells the story of Ashe, Holly's sister, when she comes back to Fairview to live. She's a monster hunter by trade, but she's trying to make a reasonable home for her daughter. Captain Reynard, one of the guardsmen from the Castle and a bad boy from the eighteenth century, comes to her for help with a very peculiar problem. They're a fascinating combination of personalities.
Q: Was there any particular book, movie or other forms of media that have influenced your love for the weird and spooky?
A: Definitely books. As I mentioned above, I was a great reader of mythology and fairy tales growing up. I also had a lot of books of artwork - Brian Froud, Frank Frazetta, Sulamith Wulfing, and other fantasy artists. I use to lie on my bed thumbing through the pages and daydreaming.
Q: You're offering three free downloadable greeting cards on your website: one each for Christmas, warm winter wishes and Valentine's Day - all in support of the Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders (GVAC). Please tell us a little more about this program and how fans and fellow animal lovers can get involved and help.
A: It's very simple - for every card that's sent from my web site - at no cost to the sender - the folks here at the Castle make a donation to the GVAC to assist with the veterinary bills of rescued animals. I have pictures and bios of the animals on my site as well as some wonderful stories about some animals who found happy endings!
Q: Why did you decide to support this particular animal rescue agency?
A: They're completely volunteer-based and extremely reputable. No money goes to administration. All the animals are fostered in the homes of the volunteers. Every dime goes to the animals and they help well over 1,500 fuzzy friends a year.
Q: You share your life with a rescued cat - tell us a little about Demon Lord of Kitty Badness - and is that his real name????
A: The name tag at the shelter said Jordan but he became the DLKB within minutes. The first thing he did was try and climb my china cabinet. Young and agile is not always a good thing. One of his favourite tricks is to steal something from a high/delicate/breakable location and leave it in the middle of the floor so I'll find it. I think he's just showing off his ninja skills.
I got him at about eight months and he'd been in a shelter for most of that time, so he was fairly pushy and anxious for a while. He needed some medical care, which involved the usual barrage of eye drops, pills, and other exciting pet/owner bonding experiences. But, once he started to settle down, he turned into a terrific companion. He really is a clown.For more information about Sharon and her Dark Forgotten series as well as how you can help the Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders, visit her website - SharonAshwood.com.
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