INTERVIEW and giveaway: MICKIE B. ASHLING


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Mickie B. Ashling, whose latest book Fire Horse was recently released by Dreamspinner Press in both print and digital formats.  Leave a comment on this interview to be entered into a drawing for the winner’s choice of either format of Fire Horse.

Fire Horse is Mickie’s 13th full-length novel and is set in the rarefied world of high goal polo, where players are  paid an amount commensurate with their handicap rating.  A huge amount of research went into this novel, but the big plus for Mickie was her personal experience with a handful of young men who played the game.

“They were brothers and cousins of schoolmates, and I became involved through association.  I wore the fancy dresses, attended the victory dances, and listened to the gossip that accompanied each win,” she said.  “Fire Horse also spans 35 years, from 1976 to the present, and touches on certain aspects of being gay in the eighties when a wrong decision could mean the difference between life and death.”

She’s close to finishing the sequel to Fire Horse; in fact, by this time she may have already finished it.  She didn’t want to give any hints as far as the plot goes, because she doesn’t want to spoil the experience for anyone reading the original novel.

The most difficult of all her books for Mickie to write was her Basque trilogy: Loving Edits,Tono, and Momentos: Mick’s Journey.  She wrote it in memory of her mother who died of ALS.  The main character in the trilogy also has ALS.

“It sounds like a depressing read, but it’s really a celebration of life,” Mickie told me. “Most everyone who’s read the books has come away with a sense of hope.”

Mickie is her real life nickname, but the rest of her name was created for her writing.

“Ashling is a variant spelling of the Gaelic Aisling, which means dream or vision.  I wanted something that had to do with the creative process and what could be more appropriate than being a dream-maker,” she explained.  “Plus, the numbers were right.  I believe in numerology, and after I counted all the letters in my penname, I ended up with the right numbers.”

Mickie’s first novel Horizons was published in April 2009, but she’d been posting free stories on the internet since 2006 under another name in the Queer as Folk fandom.

“I know there’s a certain stigma related to writers who’ve made their start in fan fiction, but I’ve never kept that part of my literary history a secret,” she said.  “Some of the biggest names in publishing started their careers writing fan fiction.  Case in point is E. L .James who wrote 50 Shades of Grey.  It’s a great way to hone your craft, gain confidence, and receive instant feedback.  My loyal readers gave me the courage to submit my first novel for consideration.  Although I no longer write fan fiction, a lot of my stories are still around, and I’ll get an occasional email from a happy reader.”

The day she posted her first story on LiveJournal was the day she first considered herself a writer.

“I agonized over that send button for a good hour before gathering my courage,” she admitted.  “It was the most terrifying moment of my life, but when I got my first comment from an excited reader I was thrilled.  It finally felt real.”

Mickie told me she has a hard time with social networking.

“I know it’s critical to a writer’s success, but it’s one aspect of this profession I don’t care for,” she told me.  “I would much rather do a one-on-one email exchange with an interested reader than make a random post on Facebook.  I’m happiest when I’m holed up in my writing cave and being productive.  I would rather hire someone to do my promo.”

She’s very disciplined when it comes to her writing. She realized years ago that if she wanted to accomplish anything, she would have to set a writing schedule and stick to it. She has a stressful day job, so writing at night isn’t an option–she’s too tired by the end of the workday.  So, she does her creative writing early in the morning before she leaves for work–from 3:30-5:30 every morning.

“Thank goodness I can get by on 6 hours of sleep,” she told me.

What is your most embarrassing moment?” I wondered.

I went to a week long writer’s workshop at Kenyon College in Ohio.  It was a great experience, and I learned a lot, but the finale involved a public reading.  Each student had to get up and read a short piece we’d written on our first day of class. I had no idea this was going to happen, so when we were asked to write something short and fast we were comfortable with, I wrote a gay sex scene.  When my teacher asked me to read this in front of 500 people, I almost passed out.   She said, ‘If you’re not comfortable reading something you’ve written, then perhaps you shouldn’t be writing in this genre.’  Them were fighting words.  With a little fortification in the form of Chardonnay, I stood there and read my scene.  You could have heard a pin drop, but when I was done, there was a huge applause and I became an instant celebrity on campus. The soccer mom who wrote erotica,” she said with a smile. “Nonetheless, it was my most embarrassing moment, and I shudder whenever I think about it.”

Another embarrassing moment came with her first novel–it was about a football player, and she was so immersed in the love story she sort of bleeped over the football timeline that was integral to the plot.

“It never occurred to me to check my facts even though I had five men in my life who played the game,” she admitted.  “They would have pointed out the mistakes in a minute.  Then again, convincing my straight sons to read a gay romance would have been a stretch.  I can’t wait to get my hands on the book and do a thorough re-edit.  Perhaps I’ll get a chance if it ever goes to a second edition printing.”

“What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?” I asked.

“Explore the sex stores in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Castro, San Francisco.  I was writing a novel in the BDSM genre and wanted to see some gay sex paraphernalia.  You should have seen the look on the salesman’s face when I asked to see a cock ring.  It was priceless.”

Finally, I wondered, “W

hat advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Never, ever go to a review site expecting a pat on the back.  Reviews are mainly for readers and very subjective. Someone once told me that being newly published is like giving birth for the first time.  Nobody wants to hear they have an ugly baby.  It hurts and can be absolutely devastating if you don’t have the right mindset. Once in a rare while you’ll glean something constructive from a less than stellar review, but for the most part, they are one person’s opinion, and you know you can’t please everyone.  If you are morbidly curious, and can’t stay away, do not engage.  I can’t stress that enough!  It’s a lose-lose situation and you’ll end up with a reputation as a misbehaving author who’ll have to beg for future reviews.”

About the Author: 

Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

You can contact her at mickie.ashling@gmail.com or leave a comment on her blog at  http://mickiebashling.blogspot.com.

4_30 FireHorsePreston Fawkes is ten the first time he meets fifteen-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club.  Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor.  The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.

The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges―their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored.  Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.

Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans.  How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future—one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?

 

Comments

  1. Chris Groom says:

    Amazing interview and I really enkoy all of your stories

  2. Judy peddle says:

    I can’t wait to read this. I loved the interview. Lol at your trip to the sex shop.

  3. Great interview, I LOL “Nobody wants to hear they have an ugly baby.”
    Can´t wait to read it! Count me in please.

    • It’s true! Becoming a published writer was a dream come true, and like any new parent, I thought my child was perfect:) LOL. That seems like a million years ago. Thanks for stopping, Connie.

  4. Great interview. I would have like to see the clerks face when you asked to see the cock ring.

    • He thought I’d wandered into the wrong store:) It got worse when I asked if they had any stories involving poly-amorous relationships. My poor sister had to leave she was so embarrassed.

      Thanks for stopping, Karl!

  5. Awesome Interview. Thanks for taking time to do it. I have loved all of your books and am really looking forward to reading this one 🙂

  6. That is odd research

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    • Odd is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I thought it was necessary to actually see and touch the sex toys so my writing would be as accurate as possible. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  7. Congrats on getting such good reviews on your book. Thanks for the chance to win it.

    strive4bst(AT) yahoo(Dot) com

  8. Please count me in. Thanks!

  9. Urbanista says:

    Sounds good! Please count me in, thanks!
    Urb
    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

  10. Indra Vaughn says:

    It’s heartening to hear about successful authors and their starts on LJ, it really is. I have a fair bit of fan fiction floating around and it taught me so much. The stigma attached to it is a bit silly if you ask me, it’s inspiring so many people to write and read, it’s wonderful. And I just finished a novel of my own, largely thanks to people I have met through LJ. Now if only I could manage that two paragraph summary, I’d be all set to send it off!

    Can’t wait to read Fire Horse (and a sequel yay! Series make me so happy!). The fact that it spans over 35 years has me hooked already!

    • I agree the stigma is unwarranted. It’s a wonderful venue to hone your craft. Congrats on the completion of your novel. The synopsis and query letter is your last step to accomplishing your dream. I hope to see your name out in the published world someday.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Great interview:) I would love to Fire Horse

  12. I’d love to win this, please count me in, thanks!

    tuffmomma6072(at)yahoo(dot)com

  13. Thank you for the fantastic interview! I definitely enjoyed reading it. Please count me in. Thanks!

  14. It does sound good. Please count me in too, thanks!

  15. Shania says:

    Hi,

    You have guts to have read that in front of 500 people! What was the teacher’s reaction when you finished? “Soccer mom who writes erotica,” I love it! I agree that it does not matter if something had started as fanfiction, because if it has enough followers it should be considered legit if people are willing to pay for it. Congrats on, “Fire Horse.”

    • My teacher loved it and urged me to keep writing in the m/m genre. I wanted to clarify one thing. None of my published novels are converted fan fiction. Whatever I wrote in the QAF fandom is still posted as a free reads on my other blog.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Wonderful interview! I’m so proud of you for standing in front of 500 ‘listeners’ and reading your gay sex scene. I think I would’ve died instantly before opening my mouth! LOL You are one tough cookie, dear! Atta Girl! I really need to become more organized and dedicated to my own writing. I’ve come to realize I do my best when I’m stressed for time whether it’d be with writing or crafting. I could say I’m allergic to deadlines 😛 Thank you for sharing such a fantastic interview!
    Zeoanne

    • It was the most terrifying moment of my life, bar none. I still can’t believe I did it:) As for your writing, some people work well under a deadline and others need routine. I’m sort of anal about my writing schedule but everyone has to find what’s best for their lifestyle. Just keep plugging away as best you can. Thank you for stopping by, Zoeanne.

  17. Great interview. I totally get it about the social networking. I’m not one for it and I think up keeping such a thing can get difficult if you’re not really into doing so.

    • Social networking is important but it also takes up a lot of time, and I don’t have much to talk about. My RL is far less entertaining than my imaginary world:) Conversely, I love hearing from my readers! Anyone who wants to contact me can find my email addy wherever you see my name in print. Thanks for commenting, H.B,

  18. Love the interview (I figured sex shop clerks would have heard it all, but who knows)…the book sounds great, too!

    • You’d think sex shop clerks would do better at hiding their surprise but I’ll admit, I had a lot of fun shocking the heck out of the guys who attended me:) Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Shania says:

    I purchased Cutting Cords, Vessel, Cleave, and Fire Horse yesterday. I loved all three! Is there going to be a continuation of Fire Horse?

    • I’m so happy that you enjoyed the Cutting Cords trilogy, Shania.

      I just finished the sequel to Fire Horse so yes, there will be more in this universe,

      Thank you for commenting!

  20. The winner for the giveaway is Marie! Please contact me at mickie.ashling@gmail.com to claim your prize.

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