Best-Selling Author Allyson James
Award-winning author Allyson James is a pen name for New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley. Allyson has written more than 45 published novels and novellas in romance, urban fantasy, and mystery under the names Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James, and Ashley Gardner. Her books have been nominated for and won Romance Writers of America’s RITA (given for the best romance novels and novellas of the year), several RT BookReviews Reviewers Choice awards (including Best Urban Fantasy, Best Shapeshifter Romance, and Career Achievement in Historical Romance), Prism awards for her paranormal romances and urban fantasy. More about Allyson and her books can be found on her Website, Facebook, and Twitter. Her latest books Nightwalker (by Allyson James) and Mate Claimed (by Jennifer Ashley).
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was eight. I realized that all the books on my shelf were things people made up and wrote down. I made up things all the time! So I started writing down the stories in my head. Many, many, many years later, all that writing to entertain myself paid off.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmm. I never write at a desk. I write at booths in coffee shops, on my living room sofa, in a plastic chair in the room set aside for all my dollhouses (another obsession besides writing). Never at a desk in an office. Can’t think in there!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
That I could actually do it! I wrote something that got published, and more people than just my mother bought it. And they liked it! And the publisher wanted me to write more! I never, ever thought that a) I was good enough; and b) anyone would like what went on in my head. 🙂 Go figure.
From everything, everywhere. Ideas come at times where you are certain you will have no more ideas ever , ever again. And then . . . you see something, have a dream, overhear a conversation . . and there it is! The kernel for a story. Cultivate it, think about it, think about it again, and then it’s a book.
I got the idea for the entire Shifters Unbound I write as Jennifer Ashley by looking at guys working construction on the side of the road; I got the idea for the Stormalker series driving down the I-40 in northern Arizona surrounded by summer monsoon storms. I got the idea for an older title, The Pirate Next Door, by glancing out the window and seeing my then next-door neighbor working on his motorcycle.
They’re everywhere, these ideas. Keep the mind open, and they come.
I have lost count now of how many books I’ve written. I think it’s getting close to 50 full-length novels—that’s across all three pseudonyms. Plus a bunch of novellas. All this in the last ten years (started in 2002).
So, my favorite? Ack! There are too many. Right now I’m loving the five series I’m working on: Shifters (paranormal romance by Jennifer Ashley); Mackenzies (historical romance by Jennifer Ashley); Stormwalker (urban fantasy/PNR by Allyson James); Capt Lacey Regency Mysteries (mystery series by Ashely Gardner); and Tales of the Shareem (erotic romance by Allyson James –I love those guys!). I do a lot of work, but I love the characters and stories.
What do you think makes a good story?
Believable, wonderful characters you root for; a substantial plot (the characters, no matter how wonderful, can’t stand around just being wonderful); and an intense experience, whether it be humor in a comedy, edge-of-seat thrills in a thriller/suspense; or emotional satisfaction in a romance. If you have those, it doesn’t matter what genre you write. Readers will read.
What projects do you have up and coming?
Oh, so many. The Shifters series is continuing in October with Mate Claimed, about Eric, the leader of his Shiftertown and a young woman who is Shifter but has been hiding all her life pretending to be human.
On New Year’s Eve, the next book in the Mackenzies historical romance series continues with The Seduction of Elliot McBride.
In September, I published Nightwalker, book four of the Stormwalker series as Allyson James. I’m happy to be able to continue that series through the new opportunity of self-publishing. It’s selling well and getting good reader feedback, I’m pleased to say.
Who are some of your favorite Authors?
I love reading mysteries, fantasy, and urban fantasy for leisure reading. I especially like classic suspense (e.g., Day of the Jackal; Bourne Identity), and I love the books by Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews. When I read romance, I tend to read contemporary, probably because that’s the one subgenre I don’t write (yet), so it’s a nice change of pace. I love to read, and actually, I’ll read anything—any author, any genre—as long as there’s a good story in there.
Who are some of the people that influenced your love of writing?
Some of the books I read as a child (Anne of Green Gables; Little Women; the Laura Ingalls Wilder series) all featured heroines who wanted to be or became writers. I thought it sounded like a fine thing. I learned to write by writing. I had no clue what I was doing (still don’t), but I love doing it.
If you could pick a celebrity to play one character in the movie version, who would it be?
I’d love to see Colin Firth playing Captain Lacey in my Regency Mystery series. He’s spot on. Liam Neeson could be Dylan from my Shifters Unbound series. Harder to cast Stormwalker, but I’m not very good at this! It’s good I never became a casting director.
If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring Author, what would it be?
Just write. Everyone on the planet will try to stop you, often with good intentions (they don’t want to see you hurt if your book is rejected or gets bad reviews). Ignore everyone. You have to. Shut off the TV, Internet, texting, tweeting—use your phone only for emergencies—and just write. You, the keyboard, the page, and your story. Everything else is distraction.
What would you like to say to friends and family of writers (not just your own)?
Be patient, kind, and understanding! I heard another author say that writing isn’t like knitting—you can’t just put it down and pick it up at will. An interruption can mean delay in getting back to the book for days, or never finishing a scene, or the destruction of an entire book. Give a writer space and time when they need it. They’ll love you for it.
Any other questions you would like to answer?
I think we covered it!
Excerpt From Nightwalker (Sep 2012), by Allyson James:
The tinkle of a wind chime was my only warning.
I popped my eyes open, staring at the dark ceiling of my bedroom, my heart drumming in thick, slow beats. The night was silence; no wind, no noise in the vast desert beyond my window. And yet . . .
My wards hadn’t broken. No one magical had entered the little hotel I owned who shouldn’t be there. My fiancé Mick wasn’t there either, having driven off to New Mexico this morning on an errand he’d been vague about. After what had happened between us a few months ago, this worried me, but what had awakened me had nothing to do with Mick.
I lay in the middle of the bed on top of the sheets. July air from the open window touched my bare skin, but the night remained quiet.
Sleep started to overtake me. The hotel was peaceful within, the weight of the night soothing rather than frightening. Tension left my body, and my eyes drifted closed.
A grunt sounded softly in the darkness outside, followed by a twanging sound and a thump.
I was up and into my jeans and tank top before I made any conscious decision to move. I jammed on boots then forced my shaking fingers to make no noise unlocking the door outside my private rooms that led out back. I stepped in silence to the dirt and gravel outside.
The July night was heavy and humid — torpid, that was the word. No wind, no relieving rain, only heavy summer heat that hadn’t quite dispersed for the night, patches of clouds dampening the stars overhead.
In that humidity I sensed two auras. One was human. The other was black and sticky and smelled of hot blood.
The human crouched under the juniper at the edge of the dirt parking lot. The noise had come from his direction, and as I tried to focus on him, I heard it again — a snap and a deadened twang that came from a high-pressure string and a trigger. Crossbow. Son of a bitch.
Someone was trying to slay my vampire.