I live in the Midwest with my husband of nine years. I used to be an engineer in general aviation but quite my job in January to be a full time stay-at-home mommy to two preschoolers. When I’m not wiping snotty noses, kissing boo boos, or performing my short-order cook duties, I’m writing. That’s pretty much my life. Oh, and I found out a few weeks ago that there is another little Willis currently taking up residence in my tummy who is due to make an appearance this summer.
The Calling is your latest release, can you tells us a little about it?
The Calling is sort of a mix of both paranormal and contemporary romance. The hero and heroine are normal people who are dealing with everyday problems. Mandy is coming out of a dark place because she’s had a mastectomy due to breast cancer, and to make her life more difficult, her fiancé left her a week before her surgery. She’s learning to cope with a new reality. Justin has been dealing with the separation of his family for almost his whole life. Needless to say, they both have a lot of unresolved issues. All that may sound grim, but a number of people have said there are as many light scenes in the book as dark scenes, and I’d have to agree. Add to that the paranormal aspect, with Justin’s supernatural ability to command the seas, and you have the makings of a strange story. But hopefully in a good way.
What is your writing day like?
Unfortunately, I don’t have writing days; it’s more like writing minutes that I snatch between requests for goldfish crackers and juice. The only large blocks of writing time I have are on the weekends when my wonderful husband entertains the kids for a few hours. God Bless the man.
When you’re not writing what kind of books do you like to read?
Currently I’m reading the Nightwalker Series by Jacquelyn Frank. I’m on book three Elijah. It’s a great paranormal romance series with very hot demons, druids and shifters. I’ve also been in the Christmas mood lately so I’m reading Holly Lane (Destiny, #4) by Toni Blake. If you enjoy contemporary romance, Toni Blake is a great author who writes very realistic love stores that will make you swoon.
What are 3 things that are "must haves" for you when you sit down to write a book?
A strong cup of coffee, internet for research and a thesaurus. That’s about it. Of course, the most important of the three is the coffee. Oh, wait. I forgot to add earplugs. I wear them on the weekends when my hubby is watching the kids. He might keep them out of my office, but they still sound like a tribe of monkeys swinging from the ceiling fans.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never thought “I can do this,” until I finished The Calling in the Spring of 2011. I wrote my first book, Killing Abel, in the fall of 2009, then spent a year revising and editing and rewriting and revising some more. I felt like I was never going to make that book worthy of publishing, so I put it away and started The Calling. Seven months later, I handed it off to my editor, and I felt confident about the story. All the lessons I’d learned while writing my first book were applied to The Calling making the process smoother, easier and much more fun. After that experience, I knew I wanted to be an author.
How did you come up with your idea for The Calling? Anything particular inspire you while writing?
This is always the hardest question to answer because my stories generally pop into my head as a character or two. As for Justin, I knew he was the descendant of a water god, and I knew Mandy had had breast cancer. Then, the ending played over and over in my mind like a broken record. By the time I even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I knew how the story ended, how it began, and who the main characters were, though I had absolutely no idea where the central idea for the story came from. It was probably a combination of brainstorming and moments of blind inspiration. I know that doesn’t answer your question, but hey, it worked for me.
If you could give your lead characters one piece of advice, what would it be?
No matter how much I torture you, no matter how many obstacles you must overcome because of my wicked mind, I will make your wildest dreams come true at the end of the story/series. There will be times when you want to give up, times when you want to curse me for being so mean, but nothing worth having comes easy. So suck it up!
Since becoming published, what has been your favorite part of the process?
I love the whole shebang. I think that’s because I’m self-published and therefore in total control of the final product. Working with my cover artist to come up with a memorable image was a blast. Working with my editor and critique partners is painful but so worth it when I see how much better the story is because of their input. And while it’s scary to send my baby into the world to review bloggers, even that is fun because I love interacting with their followers and receiving their opinions on my story good or bad. If the feedback’s good that validates my writing. If it’s bad, I take it as a lesson learned and try to do better next time.
If you can, tell us what is up next for you?
I’ll sum it up in two words: Killing Abel. That’s my next book, scheduled to release in the Fall of 2012, maybe sooner. It’s an urban fantasy about a band of immortal brothers and the woman who tears their world apart. Killing Abel is the first in a five book series, and it’s actually the first story I ever wrote. In other words, it’s going through extensive edits to fix all the bad habits I had back when I wrote it. I’ve never seen so many adverbs on one page in my life! If you want to know more about it, you can find the blurb and the first chapter here. http://authorashleylynnwillis.blogspot.com/p/killing-abel.html
Thanks for having me, Anna!
BY ASHLEY LYNN WILLIS
Mandy Hardy lost more than a breast to cancer; she lost her fiancé when he dumped her a week before her mastectomy. Her ego bruised and her self-esteem battered, Mandy’s sure she’ll never fall in love again.
Justin Seward is a headstrong Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer with a heart of gold and the supernatural ability to command the seas. He had to hide his feelings while Mandy was engaged to his best friend. Now that she’s free, he’s vowed to make her his.
Together, they may hold the key to each other’s salvation. But when Justin’s past catches up with him, and Mandy’s ex-fiancé wants vengeance, they realize they might not live long enough for happily ever after. The Calling is a 360 page contemporary romance with a paranormal twist.
Where To Buy:Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords
GIVEAWAY:Thanks to Ashley I have (2) digital copies of The Calling to giveaway. To enter leave a comment along with your email address. Open to everyone, International too. The winners will be announced on December 17th. Good Luck!