January 2014 through December 2014 - Page 26

Ashley Weaver Getting It Right the First Time Interview by Sylvia Ney M any writers dream of seeing their book published. While thousands may be published every year, very few authors can claim they scored a fourbook contract with their first publication. Ashley Weaver accomplished just that. The Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish Libraries, Weaver lives in Oakdale, Louisiana. The first book in her series, Murder at the Brightwell, released October 14, 2014. Minotaur Press is expecting to publish one a year for the next three years. What was your journey to this contract? After writing the first book, I submitted it to literary agents, and one signed me as a client. My agent sent the book to publishers; a few months later I received an offer. Please tell us a little about the series. The series follows the adventures of Amory Ames, a wealthy young woman living in 1930s England. This is one of my favorite eras. I felt it was a natural fit for the story. The first book, Amory is questioning her marriage to her playboy husband, Milo. When her former fiancé, Gil, shows up and asks for help convincing his sister not to marry Rupert, a similarly disreputable young man, Amory agrees to accompany Gil to the Brightwell Hotel. Rupert is murdered, Gil suspected, and Amory sets out to clear his name. Further complications develop. When did you first start writing for pleasure? In elementary school, I wrote my first little book, complete with my own illustrations. First full-length novel I was a freshman in high school. I brought it to school and my friends would read at lunch. That was my first taste of writing for an audience and getting feedback. Are you a member of any reading/writing clubs or organizations? I started a book club with college friends. We’ve met every month for almost nine years, reading and discussing a wide range of genres. I also recently joined Sleuths in Time, a group composed of 8 mystery novelists. How do you work to improve your writing? My undergraduate degree was in English, which helps me hone my craft and I work on my writing by doing lots 26 Southern Writers of it. I sometimes read books and articles on writing to get different perspectives. Where did you get the idea for your book? The idea for this first book developed after I had a dream with a woman named Amory Ames in it. I thought it would be a good name for a character and I had a clear idea of the woman I wanted her to be: strong, confident, and comfortable in her surroundings. What is your favorite part of being an author? Creating characters and situations, watching how they develop as the story goes on. It’s amazing how something that starts in my head takes on a life of its own! What is your writing process? I work full time, so I do my writing in the evenings. Sometimes I’ll write a few sentences and others I’ll write for hours. I try to get something on the page every night. What about writer’s block? I definitely have days where the ideas don’t come as quick, the writing doesn’t flow smoothly. My strategy is to keep writing. If I can’t get anywhere in the scene I’m working on, I’ll skip to a different scene and work. Eventually it starts flowing again, if I keep working long enough. What one key would you pinpoint that differentiates good writing from bad? I feel good writing makes me forget I’m reading someone’s words and I’m drawn into the world of the story. Best advice you’ve been given, or heard given? I think it was Stephen King who said, “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” That has been true for me. Reading is a great way to learn the craft, and the more you write, the more your skill develops. How do you know when you’ve done enough research? I like to have enough research done to lay a solid foundation for the story. I can research little details as I go along. Most memorable moment as an author so far? Publication day. It was a dream come true. Also, as a librarian, the day I cataloged my own book for our library collection was amazing! n nnt health