Today I have one of my most anticipated interviews. Well it is to me because it's one of two where I really REALLY wanted to know the answers and they were everything I could have wanted from a response. Ashley Carlson author of the Charismatics is joining me on the blog today and to stop me rambling with excitement I'm just going to get started.
1. How did you come up with the idea for your book “The Charismatics?”
Hey Rhianne, I just wanted to say thank you for having me on the blog! I’m honoured. I came up with the idea of “The Charismatics” from a Real Housewives episode, actually. It was just the kernel of an idea, but one of the “wives” was in a loveless marriage with her husband, and it was interesting to watch how she’d behave; sometimes angry, sometimes trying to convince him to want her, but always seeming so deeply unhappy. I began to imagine what that would be like for a young woman, and I’m a huge fan of the fantasy genre, so the two melded together very quickly. It was never meant to be a steampunk novel, but the world of Shinery and Legalia (with the floating cities and rich/poor dichotomy) really lends itself to the steampunk genre.
2. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I used to be a pantser, but now I’m sort of a mixture of the two. Each has its own pros and cons—when you pants, you’re continually surprised with your plot and that can be very exciting. It can also be daunting as hell. ☺ So I try to have a very rough outline of the storyline to go off of, though many times I deviate. For “The Charismatics 2” (yes, that’s the “official title” … until I come up with something better), I am definitely going to be utilising a detailed outline, because of so many plotlines that need to be further unfolded in the story. I could never remember to explain them all if I didn’t have it organized beforehand.
3. Do novels need outlines?
Welllllll looks like I just answered that question unwittingly up above! I suppose to reiterate, I would tell fellow writers this: do whatever gets YOU to write. If it’s outlining for days, understanding your characters, your world, your themes before you’ve even put actual “book words” on the page, then do so. But I caution people about this; sometimes people outline to put off having to actually write the dang thing. So if you have a set of characters in a world you (mostly) understand, and you know what your main character wants, then get started. Editing and redrafting are for strengthening and streamlining; just get the words on the page.
4. Have you got any new ideas for future books?
Yes, I’ve actually got several projects in the works. One is an anthology called “It Begins Here,” which I am organising and contributing to. Me and several fellow women writers are submitting short stories about “the beginning” of something, and it’s going to be really fantastic. I love supporting the self-publishing industry, as well as my fellow female writers, and I’ve also written Merry’s back story to contribute. It’s about how she entered the drawing to become Duchess Ambrose’s handmaiden, and the harrowing experiences she had to undergo to make that happen. I feel really bad for Merry … I’m not very nice to her. ☺
Update: It Begins Here is now available!! (This is the problem with scheduling ;) aha)
5. Is reading an important part of your life as well as writing?
Besides writing it is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing. The most important. For a long time I didn’t read as much as I should, instead preferring to draw inspiration from music and movies I enjoyed. And although they can be really useful, since I’ve begun reading a lot more I’m floored by how I read differently now. I’m reading all genres, especially ones I’ve never read before—action thrillers, and contemporary novels. I recently finished J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy” and couldn’t believe her use of characterisation—it was unreal. Yes, it’s good to read in your genre (“The Charismatics” is YA fantasy, which I usually read before I began to write it), but now I’m branching out into Ted Dekker books (I love his spiritual/fantastical side, which I also weave into my books), and just bought two signed copies from one of my favourite indies, Ksenia Anske.
6. Do you do any other form of work aside from writing excellent novels?
Yes, I do, and thank you for asking! I have my own editing, ghostwriting and marketing business, called Utopia Editing & Ghostwriting Services, LLC. I provide a variety of editing services from copy-editing (fixing grammar) to “big picture” critiques, and I’ve even assisted clients in writing their novels/memoirs/business copy. My fees are very reasonable, which is important to me—I know it’s an investment, and one that for a lot of people is so important, but not always deemed necessary. I provide blog posts and marketing copy for businesses as well who want to build their ranking organically on search engines as well—it’s been such a wonderful endeavour to be a part of. I’ve been a waitress for years (16-hour shifts!), and I’ve worked in behavioural health, so I’ve definitely experienced the “serious grind” of 9-to-5 jobs for a long time. To be my own boss, work from home and do something I love has me over the moon, and I never want it to end. ☺ Anyone who is interested in my services can contact me through email any time: firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out my website for fees details.
7. One piece of advice for aspiring writers?
One?! One?! Ha! I will offer three things that have really made a difference in my writing career.
1. DO NOT, and I repeat, do not read what you write until you’ve finished the storyline. First drafts usually suck, and if you read them before you’re done you run the risk of giving up and *maybe* throwing your computer out the nearest window. I did it for years and never finished anything—so don’t read it. Just don’t. Are you reading it? Stop. Reading. It.
2. DO read books, lots of them, in all different genres, indie and traditionally published. Fill your head with new words, examine things you like about a novel (and things you don’t). Get a feel for pacing, and voice, and different POV’s, and mostly just enjoy yourself. Get lost in the book, and continue to try and understand what it is that keeps you coming back, so that you can infuse your own storyline with similar traits.
3. Get some writer friends. They are literally the best thing ever to have, especially when doubt strikes. I have several of my writer gals in my phone, and we text every day about writing and life. It is the best feeling in the world, to know you’re not alone in this creative endeavour.
See how amazing is she?! I love the advice, and will definitely be implementing all of them. Want to know more about Ashley? Contact her or read her bio below.
Ashley R. Carlson grew up wanting a talking animal friend and superpowers, and when that didn’t happen, she decided to write them into existence. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with four (non-talking) pets and one overactive imagination. She is the owner of Utopia Editing & Ghostwriting Services, LLC, a company that makes editing, content creation and marketing fun and enjoyable for any need. Her award-winning fantasy novel, “The Charismatics,” can be found on Amazon and her website. Follow Ashley R. Carlson’s writing at: www.ashleyrcarlson.com.