I’m not sure who was the catalyst behind this whole day devoted to Kristen Ashley’s Unfinished Heroes, but when our reviewer YaYa mentioned the idea to me (Grace), I was totally on-board. Joining forces with The Literary Gossip and TeriLyn Reviews, I think we have put together a fun day. We will have hourly posts to honor these oh-so-fine Alphas!
Note from Grace: If it wasn’t already clear, I’m a huge Kristen Ashley fan – she is one of my favorite authors. I have yet to meet her, but my fingers are crossed for a signing next year. I’m fairly certain I will cry when meeting her. Yes, I’ll be THAT girl. Truth be told, I teared up when I found out I’d get this opportunity to interview with her. I’m a sap, oh well. So, without further ado . . .
Grace: You’ve amassed a very large and loyal fan base over the years, your Rock Chicks, who are drawn to your funny/sexy/emotional stories. Do you get as emotional when writing your stories as some readers (like my sappy self) do when reading them? What male/female character that you have written about are you most emotionally connected to and why?
Kristen: I absolutely do. I just put the finishing touches on WILD AND FREE, the finale to The Three Series, and I bawled my eyes out while writing the last two chapters. Then I did the final read through before handing it off to my copy-editor and laughed out loud while reading the book and bawled again during the last two chapters. I also get ticked or freaked or scared. I’m totally in the zone with my characters while writing, and fortunately, I get back into the zone during re-reads.
But I must say, it’s a huge compliment that you feel the same when you read!
As for which character that I’m most emotionally connected to, truly, I’m connected to them all, even secondary characters. However, the one who gutted me was Sadie from ROCK CHICK REGRET. When she came to me, she came to me hard, her history and what had happened to her. The instant she arrived in my head, I burst into big, sloppy, ugly-face tears. I was actually writing Stella and Mace and I quit just so I could get dug into REGRET and guide Sadie to her Happily Ever After!
Grace: I believe you mentioned on FB that Deacon gave you a book hangover. Could you explain why without giving spoilers?
Kristen: I found Deacon (the character) much like Joe in AT PEACE. He was pretty ravaged by his history. Going along on his journey with him (as well as living it through Cassidy) was tough. Hopeful and frightening. Cassidy had to take a giant leap of faith that her feelings for Deacon were on the money. And Deacon got that. Totally. He lived it and breathed it and he was actually more worried he could be the man she needed him to be (or the man she saw that he was) than she was!
But I think that anyone who goes through what Deacon went through, as who he was or anyone who loves someone like the person in question, and what happened happens to them, asks themselves a lot of uncomfortable questions. Questions that have no answers. They also assume a great deal of responsibility that they really don’t have. Being with him as he struggled to come to terms with all that was an honor, but it was also very draining. In a good way!
Grace: After finishing Deacon, my first thought was, is there going to be a fifth book to the series?! And if so, when do you think it will be released? (you kind of left us hanging, so unlike you)
Kristen: I tend not to do that but in this instance, it isn’t actually keeping you hanging since it’s been known for some time (it’s noted on my website) that Knight’s brother Nick will bookend the series. So although there’s a teaser, Nick’s been teasing us though KNIGHT, CREED and RAID so it fits with the series that the ultimate tease would end DEACON to set up SEBRING, the finale to my Unfinished Heroes.
(Side note from Grace: I completely forgot about this fifth book. But after readers finish Deacon, they will understand why it is absolutely necessary.)
Grace: Knight was actually the first book of yours that I read. What made you decide to get into erotica? How did your die-hard fans react to this genre?
Kristen: I didn’t actually decide to get into erotica. Instead I really wanted to write about an anti-hero. I’d always wanted to write an anti-hero and the call to that just could no longer be denied. Anti-heroes have always fascinated me. In fact, Ty in LADY LUCK was supposed to be an anti-hero; he just refused to come out of my head that way.
What got the ball rolling was that I had a friend, who is also a reader of mine, ask me what I’d always wanted to do with my writing. I pretty much did what I wanted to do. I’m a throw the “rules” out the window and go for it type o’ girl. But, for some reason, I’d always shied away from the anti-hero. After I answered her, I thought, “Why am I shying away? I should just go for it!”
So I went for it with KNIGHT but the way he was coming to me, the sexual relationship was much different than my other books. My other books are sexy and descriptive in that manner but not like KNIGHT.
Obviously, I was terrified. I’d wanted to be a romance novelist for decades and by that time I had a very loyal following and then and now, their opinion matters a great deal. I didn’t want to alienate anyone. I don’t write with beta-readers but, fortunately, I was able to reach out to a group of reader-friends (their names are in the Acknowledgements of KNIGHT). They all enthusiastically took my back and read KNIGHT (and then CREED) along with me while I wrote them. Oh man, they were so supportive, it was amazing. They lifted me up when I was certain I was going to crash and burn. Honestly, even now, when it turned out so well, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to go for it if it wasn’t for that group of women supporting me along the way.
When KNIGHT came out, there were those who were a little taken aback. HA! But mostly, it was embraced wholeheartedly in the sense that this series is my top indie seller, behind the Rock Chick Series. So…shoo!
Grace: I figured that someone from the Rock Chick series would be in Deacon, but was surprised that it was Marcus Sloane. Which got me thinking. I know that the Rock Chick series is complete, but have you ever thought of doing a novella about Marcus and Daisy?
Kristen: Actually, Marcus is also in RAID. He fits the Unfinished Heroes, no? But Lee and the boys from the Rock Chicks are mentioned in CREED. Not to mention Hawk from my Dream Men makes an appearance in that book too. And Sylvie from CREED is mentioned in ROCK CHICK REVOLUTION. I do that…can’t let my characters go, so I don’t!
As for Marcus and Daisy, outside of Elvira from my Dream Man/Chaos Series, they are the ones who get the most requests for their own story. I do hope one day to be able to do a Rock Chick Rewind and tell their story. I’d like to explore it more. Their love is very beautiful and it would be immensely cool to see how it unfolded. So, keep your fingers crossed I can find the time!
(Side note from Grace: The Unfinished Heroes series was the first series of KA’s I read. I’ve only gotten into the Rock Chick series recently which why I didn’t recognize his name at first. But you don’t need to read the Rock Chick series to follow along with the Unfinished Hero series.)
I could go on and on, but I know you are busy.
Kristen: We all are, darlin’, but I’m glad you found the time to throw some questions at me! It was fun to answer them! Rock on!!!!