I have to mention here that out of all her novels that I have read so far, this is my favourite. I read it on the lead up to Christmas every year. It really gets me in the mood for Christmas and describes how I wish Christmas could be. Although, I have my wonderful husband to share Christmas with so I do not need to house sit to find a new romance!
I hope that by putting this interview together I can help inspire my readers through Trisha Ashley’s own words, as well as using her advice myself for my writing.
I also have an exciting give away…..so keep reading to find out more!
Here is the interview with Trisha, I would like to thank her for taking the time to answer these questions. I appreciate it and I hope my readers do to.
1) What inspired you to become a writer?
I wanted to be a writer and painter from being a little girl and realised that all I needed to do to be a writer was read a lot and get on with life, so I went to Art College. I still paint, which gives me immense pleasure, but the writing has become the dominant strand.
I think being an early reader helped me become a writer, because I quickly wanted to create characters and stories of my own. Some of my poetry appeared in my local newspaper when I was ten or eleven and I won a prize for a short play a couple of years later. I was also much encouraged by my brilliant English teacher at secondary school, Miss White.
I completed my first novel, which was for young adults, when I was eighteen. It was truly dreadful, but I did have kind and encouraging comments in the publisher’s rejection letters, which softened the blow a little. After this I moved on to satirical novels, full of dark humour, but although I was shortlisted for the Constable prize for unpublished novels, I still didn’t find a publisher. It wasn’t until I was taken on by a top London agent that my career really took off. She encouraged me to add a strongly romantic element to my novels and soon afterwards my first romantic comedy, Good Husband Material, was published.
2) Describe a typical day in the life of author Trisha Ashley?
I like to start work very early in the morning, because that’s my most creative time. And I don’t hang about waiting for inspiration to strike: I’m quite prepared to arm-wrestle Muse into submission every morning – and I always win.
After an hour or so, I have a break for breakfast and to have a quick catch-up with my emails, Twitter and Facebook. For very many years I have been part of the 500 Club with authors Elizabeth Gill and Leah Fleming. We called it that because we made a pact to email each other every day as soon as we’d written at least five hundred words, or done a significant amount of other work, like research for a new book. We’ve all travelled on the same rollercoaster through years of being traditionally published and have supported each other through the ups and downs. And here we all still are today: well published and working away on new novels and still emailing each other every day.
After this diversion, I’m back to work, until Dog insists I take him out. (Someone else takes him for a long early morning walk during the week.)
Unless I’ve got a deadline hanging over me, I like to do something else in the late afternoon for a while: potter in the garden, play with the dog, paint, go for a swim.
3) Do you have a favourite place to write?
I have vision problems and am most comfortable writing in my office – which is actually just the dining room end of my living room – where my desktop is adjusted for maximum ease of working. When I moved to this house a couple of years ago I earmarked the long room at the back, overlooking the garden, as my office. Until I’d unpacked, I worked in the dining room…and then I discovered I liked working there best. My son, who moved and set up my office three times, said he wished I’d decided that before he lugged everything to the other end of the house and back…
4) What is your writing process?
I write directly onto the computer, though I print everything out all the time. I need to see the words on actual paper.
Thanks to that wonderful English teacher I mentioned earlier, who got me onto a short typing course, I learned to touch type at fifteen, so I don’t have to think about it. Over the years I’ve progressed from typewriter, to word processor to computer and I’m currently playing with voice recognition software, in case I lose more vision.
5) How do you come up with your ideas?
I don’t see any point in writing a novel unless there’s something I’m burning to say, new ideas to explore. And my characters experience all the ups and downs of life – for example you will find themes in my novels relating to divorce after a long marriage, infidelity, the death of a loved one, miscarriage, breast cancer, abusive relationships – a life is a journey through light and shade and a novel would be a mindless bit of froth if it only skimmed happily over the darker elements. However, the resolution of my books will always be positive and, I hope, uplifting. I want my readers to feel happy when they’ve spent a little holiday in Trishaworld, not harrowed.
I have no idea where my ideas come from, though. Once I begin a new novel they emerge and weave themselves into the story and around the characters, just as the characters also slowly weave themselves around my heart, so that I really care about what becomes of them.
6) From your novels, do you have a favourite character?
I love Sappho, the tall, bossy heroine of one of my early books, The Urge to Jump (currently out of print, but watch this space!). She’s so sure of herself and also certain she knows what’s best for her friends. But she’s so very kind hearted that I’d love to have a best friend just like her.
7) Writer’s block, how do you cope with this when and if it happens?
I find it hard to understand people who say they have writer’s block. In every book there are places where there’s at least one big lump of granite blocking the flow of the narrative, but you just sit there at the desk until your mind slides off sideways round it and the ideas rush on: this is what lateral thinking is for. And presumably you were burning to say something when you first started the novel, so think about that and refresh that enthusiasm from time to time.
8) Finally, what are your top three tips to anyone who wants to become a published writer?
1) Decide what kind of novel you are going to write – for example, thriller, romantic comedy, literary, crime – and read as many recent examples of that genre as you can lay your hands on. (And in your first novel it’s much better to stick to one genre, rather than go skipping gaily over several.)
2) In fact, if you’re a writer there’s a strong probability you will have been reading voraciously all your life and your early writings may well reflect the styles of the authors you were reading at the time. We try out various writing voices before, finally, finding our own strong voice.
3) Get a grip on the basic nuts and bolts of technique before you start – you don’t need a degree in creative writing, or go to evening classes, or read a million books on the subject of writing. I’d read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones for inspiration, Stephen King’s book On Writing, because he tells it how it is and The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook by Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan, which clearly explains the tools you need to build the framework of your novel. What you fill it with is up to you…
Here is a link to Trisha Ashley’s page on amazon. Her latest novel Creature Comforts is out now. (See my next blog for the exciting give away I mentioned above.)
It has been an immense pleasure to read in Trisha’s own words the answers to my questions and to get inside the head of such a brilliant writer.
Thanks again, Trisha!
Make sure to take a read of my next blog…..give away alert! Especially if you are a big fan!