Author KRISTEN ASHLEY can’t write fast enough (pour moi). That’s saying something since she has published just under 50 books and 10 series, if I counted correctly. If you didn’t read KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM’s ode to Kristen’s work, you must. Then, consider yourself duly warned that once you turn that first page you will disappear into a pleasure hole of anti-heroes, kick ass chicks, bikers, witches, cowboys (and more), love and lust like you’ve never done before. This New York Times best-selling author offers contemporary, steamy romance, erotic romance, fantasy and paranormal stories that kidnap you. I swear. So don’t say we didn’t warn you. Check our interview with KRISTEN below (with questions from KIERSTEN, too!)
ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Does writing come easy to you? I get the sense you channel characters, given how “alive” they are on the page.
KRISTEN ASHLEY Yes, fortunately, fingers crossed it never ends, writing does come easy for me. I do have times in books where I slow down, usually around two-thirds, three-quarters of the way through when things get tough. But I figure this is because I know I’m coming to the end and I don’t want to say good-bye. But mostly, luckily, it usually flows (ward off writing hexes! so I can keep it that way!).
ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: In terms of genre, are there genres or settings you’d like to explore (soon)? Zombies? Urban fantasy? Dare I ask, historical? Or, perhaps there is a culture (like your bikers) that you’d like to explore?
KRISTEN ASHLEY Weeeeelllll…as I’ve mentioned around and about, I recently read the excellent NATURAL LAW by Joey W. Hill. [Editorial note: We love Joey, too!] I’ve never gone full erotica or BDSM. Though, I did write a complementary short book about Valentine (the witch from my Fantasyland series) that I was going to release alongside BROKEN DOVE which was much in this bent (BDSM erotica with an alpha-sub). I chickened out and never finished it. But when I read Joey’s fab NL, it just opened something up in me and I wrote Amélie and Olivier’s story, setting up an entire new series if that book is taken well. As I’ve mentioned it in a variety of places and there’s been a lot of love thrown my way to release it, we’re looking into that. So that’s one genre I’ve not done that I’ll be jumping into. [Editorial pause from Elizabeth: HAPPY DANCE. SQUEEING. TOSSING HAIR AROUND LIKE CRAZY WOMAN.]
As for the others, anything can happen. I love historicals and they were actually my favorite genre back in the day. So, once I complete some series I’ve got going, who knows what will happen!
ELIZABETH SAFLEUR & KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM (KHK): With the your most recent release, Sebring (The Unfinished Heroes Series Book 5), you’ve finished your erotic romance UNFINISHED HERO series. What did you like most about writing this darker series? What more do you wish you could have done in it? Did you find the experience of writing an erotic romance series any different from writing your contemporary series?
KRISTEN ASHLEY I’d always wanted to write anti-heroes. Tack and all the Chaos boys are somewhat anti-heroes and, well, most of my heroes have a significant edge. But really diving into that…I mean, really, I loved it. It was freeing and it was fascinating. Not sure there’s a thing I’d change or add. I think those stories are the bomb. They’d just run their course, what with Nick bookending it after his intro in Knight. And thus it was time to move on!
ELIZABETH SAFLEUR & KHK: Again in SEBRING, you have a heroine (Olivia) whose family defines dysfunction and, in her case, is a day-to-day danger. What makes you revisit the theme of “the family you’re born with vs the family you find/make” in so many of your books?
KRISTEN ASHLEY I really don’t know. It’s just what comes to me. And it’s important to offer depth to a character and one of the things that defines us is how we’re raised, the family we’re born into, what they give us – not to mention the family we make for ourselves through friends.
I think family is a crucial component in life (for good or bad). In my case, I’m fortunate to have a large, crazy, loving, generous, wonderful family so for the good parts, I have lots of inspiration. But when it comes to the bad, when we have to carve a beautiful life for ourselves despite the familial hand we’re dealt, that’s fascinating too.
In the end, the people around us, family and friends, how we let them enrich us, or if we need to endure them, define us and I use that with my characters for the same purpose.
ELIZABETH SAFLEUR & KHK: We’re total fan grrls. One of the reasons Kiersten says she’s compelled to re-read your books is because she’s so into the alpha heroes, even when they’re bossy and demanding. (She’s even rated her top five favorites. Shhhh. Don’t tell them.) What is it about the alpha hero archetype that appeals so much to you? Do you think you’d ever write a beta hero?
KRISTEN ASHLEY There are a variety of things I like to inject in my writing. My heroines can be anything – crazy, goofy, shy, outspoken, survivors – but each in their way, they’re strong. They also can be curvy, or have no ass, petite or super tall, and like all of us sisters in real life, their beauty shines through and the people around them (particularly their heroes) see that…big time.
To round that out, I like to share that a man can be a man. He can say what he has to say, do what’s in his nature to do, be strong and this doesn’t overshadow his heroine. He doesn’t cow her or break her either purposefully or through the force of his personality. They complement each other. I want to point out that women can be women however that’s meant to be, they like to cook, want to stay home with their kids, run successful advertising agencies, are talented private investigators, and they can find a man who is what he is, strengths and “flaws,” and they work great together.
I have actually written and released a beta hero. Joker in Ride Steady (Chaos) has alpha traits but he’s a beta in his pack. So yes, I’d write one because I already have! 🙂
KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM: There is so much humor in your books. My first time through the ROCK CHICKS, I realized it felt like the cray cray in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series…with much better sex. Do you find humor difficult to bring to the page?
KRISTEN ASHLEY Luckily, no. Not sure it would work if I tried to be funny. Then again, this may seem odd, but I sometimes feel it isn’t me who’s funny. My characters are so real in my head, and I’m just going with their flow, it feels like it’s their sense of humor. I always think Indy’s a stitch. Or recently, Justice, in the upcoming BOUNTY, is pretty freaking hilarious. So when I was doing read-throughs, I kept thinking, “Justice is hysterical!” like she was her own person. And in my head she is.
That said, I’m glad their humor works for you!
KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM: Your epilogues at the end of series are infamously satisfying. Does it feel like leaving family when you end a series? Do you ever have the urge to, say, go back to the ‘Burg for another go?
KRISTEN ASHLEY: Yes. I delayed writing Rock Chick Revolution (Volume 8) for months and months and months for this exact reason. That was the end and it had to be the end and I didn’t want it to end.
But I don’t think of going back. I realized a while ago that I’ve created (with my contemporaries, not sure Lee Nightingale is gonna show up in one of my fantasies – though again, anything can happen!) a whole world. So when I need a security expert, there’s Joe (from AT PEACE). When someone needs an investigator, well, you can take your pick. Or a bodyguard, there’s Mace and his boys (to come, of course). This means I really don’t have to let go. I can revisit them whenever they come to mind…and big bonus, in turn I can give them to my readers.
ELIZABETH SAFLEUR & KHK: Okay – one last question: any rock chick gathering we should be looking out for? We travel, ya know…
KRISTEN ASHLEY: My schedule of appearances is on my website, with links to the official sites for the different events, including the Rock Chick Rendezvous site, and some links to pre-order books for events. We keep that up-to-date as we confirm appearances and we also share the schedule in my newsletter. So it’s always there for folks to find! Visit here!
FINALLY…THE LADYSMUT FAST LANE:
LADYSMUT: Favorite rock song? (Check out her playlists here. #LOVE)
KRISTEN: God. Seriously? Hard to narrow down to just one. I’ll pick meaningful: “Daughter” by Pearl Jam
LADYSMUT: Favorite rock chick accessory?
KRISTEN: My Cactus Mountain beaded chokers. http://www.cactusmountain.com/
LADYSMUT: Driving the motorcycle or riding on the back?
KRISTEN: Riding on the back! Who wants to pay attention to driving when you’ve got unobstructed scenery and the wind blowing in your hair?
LADYSMUT: How many LBDs to you have at this point?
KRISTEN: Hmm…two, no, wait…three.
LADYSMUT: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes?
KRISTEN: Well, right now it’s my Joie suede booties. They’re comfy and totally kick ass. But it’s winter. In summer, I’d say my carnation pink Choo pumps.
And, when you’re done one-clicking all the books above, be sure to come back and check out more LadySmut-ness. We know what we like…and we talk about it aaallll the time. XO
Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it — “it” being the smex, the BDSM, or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington.