Author Spotlight: Leah Ashton
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve always been told I wrote well – but more in relation to things like essays or assignments. I never did particularly well in creative writing in high school – in hindsight I think I was firmly a genre fiction writer back then, too – which clearly didn’t appeal to my teachers! I only started to write when a close friend of mine revealed she was writing a novel, and we attended a one day romance writing workshop back in 2006. After spending a few years faffing around with opening chapters but never actually finishing anything, I started writing seriously for publication in 2010. I was then fortunate enough to win the international Mills & Boon New Voices competition later that year, which lead to my first contract with Harlequin. I’m now working on my sixth book.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
In 2010. But I started attending RWA conferences in 2007, and they were integral to my writing career. I attended the writing craft workshops religiously – I had so much to learn!
Tell us a little more about Nine-Month Countdown:
I like my books to twist romantic tropes where possible, so I decided I wanted to write a billionaire heroine – and it was from this idea that Nine Month Countdown evolved. In Nine Month Countdown, workaholic mining magnate Ivy Molyneux has a completely out of character one night stand with SAS Soldier Angus Barlow, which leads to her worst nightmare – she’s pregnant only months prior to when she’s supposed to take over the family empire! Angus has his own demons to deal with, and has no space in his life for relationships, and certainly not for a baby. Set partly in the gorgeous Karijini National Park, Nine Month Countdown is an emotional, fun and sexy story.
What one character trait will most endear both Ivy and Angus to your readers?
Ivy is an extremely accomplished, successful woman – but she used to be incredibly shy and lacking in confidence. Around Angus she finds herself reverting to a teenage habit – counting her steps and fidgeting. It drives her crazy, but just goes to show what Angus does to her! As for Angus – well, he’s convinced he’s a heartless, fighting machine incapable of love – but of course he’s completely wrong. Beneath his tough soldier’s exterior is a wonderful man who will be an amazing father.
Congratulations on your recent RITA win, what a fabulous achievement! What has been the best thing to come from winning the award? And, how will you top this?!
I think the best thing to come from the RITA (so far!) is the boost to my confidence. Like most writers, I regularly doubt myself and my ability. I mean – I can still see flaws in my RITA-winning book (Why Resist a Rebel?). It means so much to me that a book I love was also loved by my peers. As for how to top this? Well, my dream is to write single title – so I guess a RITA for one of my single title novels would be my next goal… just need to write it, first! J
You describe yourself as “a lifelong reader of romance”, how has your love of reading shaped your writing career?
Every reader wants to read an utterly captivating, “can’t put it down” story that keeps them up until the wee hours of the morning. I love those stories, and almost always – for me – they are romance novels. So as a writer, I aspire to deliver that experience to my readers. I’ve also read across most romantic sub genres, and some of my favourite authors write very different stories to me – authors like Linda Howard, Patricia Gaffney, Jenny Crusie, Karen Robards and Lorraine Heath. But what I’ve learnt from those authors I love is that it’s all about the author’s voice – and so I always do my best to stay true to my own, authentic voice, and hope that readers connect with me the way that I’ve connected with my favourite authors.
What do you want readers to know about the romance genre?
Readers who already read romance know how awesome romance is, and that there is a flavour of romance for almost everyone! My only suggestion to current romance readers who maybe haven’t picked up a category romance before is to strongly encourage them to give it a go – you’d be amazed at how much story, emotion and romance can be packed into a short format. And for readers who don’t read romance? You’re missing out! And if romance isn’t for you, that’s fine too – just please don’t go around dismissing the genre or denigrating its authors and readers. That’s just lazy, ignorant and terribly lame.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Looking after my two girls under two, baking, reading – and still working at the day job as an IT project manager.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just had my second baby (last week!) so once the dust settles a little, I’ll be finishing off my sixth book for Harlequin, and then writing my single title romantic suspense which I plan to start shopping around mid next year.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
Untamed by Anna Cowan
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Don’t panic, a boy WILL kiss you one day!
Favourite Christmas recipe?
Melting snowman gingerbread – although I haven’t had a chance to make them since having kids!
Favourite Christmas tradition?
As a child, my sisters and I used to always gather together in one of our bedrooms really early on Christmas morning, so that we could all go discover our presents under the tree together. And now with my own family, I’ve just started something new – on Christmas Eve we all get a gift of new pyjamas (so we are all wearing our new pyjamas on Christmas morning), a DVD we can watch as a family, plus lollies/chocolate to eat while watching the movie. My kids are too young to really be able to sit down and watch a movie yet, but hopefully my little family will grow into this tradition over time J
Share with us your biggest New Years Resolution for 2015:
To finish my single title.
Favourite travel experience?
Hoi An, Vietnam with my husband.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
Write that single title J
Milk, dark or white chocolate? White!
Red, white, bubbly? Red in winter, bubbly in summer!
About the Author:
An unashamed fan of all things happily ever after, Leah Ashton has been a lifelong reader of romance. Writing came a little bit later, although in hindsight, she’d been dreaming up stories for as long as she can remember. Sadly, the most popular boy in school never did suddenly fall head over heels in love with her… Now she lives in Perth, Western Australia with her own real life hero, their two daughters and a menagerie of pets. By day, she works in IT, and by night she considers herself incredibly lucky to be writing the type of books she loves to read, and to have the opportunity to share her own characters’ happy ever afters with readers.
One night at a wedding…
Workaholic Ivy Molyneux is primed for the biggest promotion of her life—she couldn’t be more ready to take over Australia’s biggest mining operation! Trouble is, after a wildly-out-of-character (and just plain wild) one-night stand at her sister’s wedding, it may have to be delayed…by about nine months.
Ivy thought hooking up with fellow guest Angus Barlow was pretty crazy—until she finds herself telling this gorgeous SAS officer that she’s pregnant. Craziest thing of all? She finds him even more irresistible than ever! Ivy’s hoping it’s just the baby hormones, otherwise the next nine months are going to be even more challenging…