Saturday, March 24, 2012

Immortal Hope by Claire Ashgrove: Interview & Excerpt


Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll, revealing the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they forever roam the earth protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever-closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation – the return of the seraphs.
Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As he struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold.

Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache, he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she's destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.

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Seeing a thin white scar that spanned across the back of his hand, she traced the mark with her nail. “I want to know about you,” she added more quietly. “What caused this?”
Merrick looked down to where she touched him. Using his opposite index finger, he traced the same path her fingernail had taken. Briefly, their fingertips touched. “’Tis a mark from a lance.”
“A lance?” Anne struggled with the urge to twine her finger around his.
“Aye. ’Twas a battle that came to us unexpectedly. I was not given time to don my armor before the riders set upon us. The knight struck me there, and here.” He touched his ribs beneath his right arm.
Anne’s gaze lifted to the vulnerable spot and pictured the battle as it might have occurred: Merrick standing down an armored knight on horse back, the sharp metal spear that punctured his flesh, the way his face might have contorted as he bit back a painful cry. Impulsively, she gathered his hand in both of hers and lifted it, bringing it to her lips to place a gentle kiss over the scar. “I’m sorry.”
Merrick said nothing, and in his silence, she began to question maybe she’d taken one too many liberties. They’d hardly begun to get along—what if her unchecked impulse just crossed some invisible boundary? Slowly, cautiously, she lifted her eyes to his. What she found in his fathomless dark eyes, however, said nothing of anger or annoyance. They gleamed with startling intensity, light bright enough to make her catch her breath.
“Do not be sorry,” he murmured. His eyes canvassed her face, lingered on her mouth. “’Twas a scar borne from duty. An order I was sworn to obey.”
The husky quality of his voice sent shivers coursing up and down her spine. She tried to look away, ordered her eyes to settle anywhere but on the sudden softening of Merrick’s expression. But her body refused, leaving her unable to do anything but choke down a dry swallow. When her thoughts cleared enough to form coherent words, she sought to lighten the moment with a bit of humor. “Orders can do that to you, I guess. Like now, you’re stuck with me.”
“I cannot say I find these orders entirely displeasing.” Merrick lifted his free hand to push a length of her hair away from her shoulder.

The back of his hand grazed the side of her neck and goose bumps scattered down her arms. “No?”

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

{Happy sigh}  I dream often of Ireland.  Daydream, literal dream… it’s always in the back of my mind, and some day I will get to go.  Although the larger concern is not when but whether I’ll come back J

Why?  I’m fascinated with history and there are so many ruins there.  So many legends and myths, folklore just waiting to be explored.  And the beauty… whoo-boy, it’s breathtaking.  It calls to my soul.

What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?

I am blessed to be surrounded by family, friends, and a significant other who support my writing career 100%.  I can babble plots all day long, insert the random remark about a particular character, and no one blinks, no one laughs for that matter. 

They share my excitement, they give encouragement if I’m in the dolldrums.  When I became a bestselling author, I think they celebrated more than I did.  Laugh!  In any case, they are wonderful, and they are very proud of the books on the shelves. 

Does your significant other read your stuff?

Yes!  Is that odd?  I rely on him quite a bit, actually.  He’s not one to hold his opinion back, very blunt, very to the point, and won’t hesitate to say, “Uh.  This needs a lot of work.”  Course, I had to teach him the “rules” of being an effective critique partner, but once that was accomplished, he’s been wonderful.

Who are your books published with?

Currently, I write for three publishing houses:

At The Wild Rose Press, you’ll find my contemporary romances and my paranormal series, Inherited Damnation.

Tor publishes my The Curse of the Templars paranormal romance series.

Berkley publishes my Black Opal erotic romantic suspense series.

Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?

I do hear from my readers, and love hearing from them.  A lot of them want to know about the background related to a particular story – my research on the Templars, did I know a particular fact, and my favorite, “Whose story is next”.

I try to get back as quickly as possible when folks email me, and I have a couple who engage me regularly, which is really nice.  I’ve exchanged several emails with a woman who descends from de Payans, and that’s been very insightful and very enjoyable.

Others tend to engage me on Twitter or Facebook more than anything, and while I’m not always right in front of Twitter, I try to acknowledge their comments the next time I open it up.

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

Plotter, plotter, plotter.

A lot of what I write is very twisty-turvy and very intricate.  Subplotting is one of the things I love the best, and layering elements in when there’s a scoping subplot almost requires plotting, not pantsing.  Otherwise, a reveal will happen too soon and the whole series can be thrown off.

My critique partners cringe when I mention spreadsheet – they know I have many, for many purposes, for any given series.  Even my characters have a database that tracks associations and nuances. 

I outline like a fiend, very detailed, chapter-by-chapter outlines.  Although I leave some wiggle room for the characters to drive the emotional connection to each other, and once in a while they do surprise me and I have to readjust the outline.  But in general, that rarely happens.

What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

Perspective, commitment, and motivation.

Perspective – so much about publishing can be taken personally, and I think it’s very important for an author to be able to step back from any given story, any given review, or even any given rejection and realize what’s going on is just a tiny pebble in the river of writing.  An author needs to be able to recognize what is or isn’t working, what is important to him or her, and sometimes it’s necessary to just step away.  This is a job, a career path just like any other.  It will have its Monday Mornings, it’s Meetings with the Boss, it’s Performance Reviews.  Keeping that in mind will help keep an author sane.

Commitment – again, publishing is a job.  Readers will find new authors to read if an author doesn’t maintain his/her commitment to both production and quality.  If someone’s seeking publication, being committed to the necessary work is mandatory.  Make the time to write.  Make the time to read.  Make the time to further where you already are.

Motivation – writing is a very solo job.  It’s easy to get mired in a plot that isn’t working and find something more entertaining.  It’s easy to put things off for “tomorrow”.  An author has to be his/her best cheerleader and possess the drive to overcome the rough spots. If he/she is motivated, everything else will fall into place.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Laugh – do not visit me in the early morning.  I will be asleep.  If you wake me, there will be hell to pay J 

Sounds like a grumpy bear to me!!  LOL  Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Let us return to the question about travel – Ireland.  I have a project that is mulling around in my head, and I would very much like to visit both Ireland and England to do research on early civilizations.  Learn stuff that can’t be gleaned through text.  Touch the memories left behind.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

I have two websites and blogs:

Writing isn't my only career, nor my only passion. When I'm not sitting at the computer and ticking out plotlines, I raise and train Oldenburg, Thoroughbred, and Arabian horses. You'll see many of my favorite friends appearing in my contemporary novels. I've ridden horses since I was young, but purchased my first horse, on my own, when I was sixteen. I worked my fingers off to keep that horse through college and as of 2012 he is still a favored resident in our barns. I'm not me without some reference to horses, plain and simple.

Above all things, however, I am a mother of two boys. I never thought I'd be the "boy kind of mom" but they are my greatest blessings and my joy. I've learned how to look at bugs in a whole new light, discovered mud isn't so terribly awful, and that little boys aren't just made of frogs, snails and puppy dog tails -- they have a great deal of sugar and spice thrown in also. Read Longer Bio.


kimba88 said...

Great interview and I loved the excerpt..thanks for sharing this one!

Claire Ashgrove said...

Thanks for having me here today, Laurie!

G. Aliceson Edwards-YA Writer said...

This is great book and hope people read it. Looking forward to more!