Natalie Wright (NW): Do you have any news to share about your work?
Ashley grinned excitedly and said, “Yes! Osric’s Wand: The Wand-Maker’s Debate hit Amazon.com’s Epic Fantasy bestseller list last month! It is holding its place in the top 10 of the Dragon category as well. We are thrilled to have been received so well by fantasy readers.”
“We were expecting it to take years to gain best seller status since our advertising budget is limited, but with one well timed promotion we have arrived! We are so grateful to the help we have had from many amazing authors and some very beneficial classes on marketing, social media, and cross promotion from a great organization, the Indie Book Collective,” Jack added as he refilled his iced tea,
“We really do need to give the Indie Book Collective credit here, they know their stuff. We highly recommend them to anyone who is an author. They have many publishers coming to them for classes on how to sell books. We can’t stress how valuable their wisdom in this arena has been. Everyone should check them out!”
NW: What books have you written so far?
“The Wand-Maker’s Debate is actually our first novel, but we are hard at work on the second book in the Osric’s Wand series.” Jack looked over at Ashley with a grin. “You know, I have been promising on twitter to tell our fans the name of the next book in this interview.”
“I know. It has been so hard to keep it a secret since the title inserted itself into my mind. Go ahead and tell them,” Ashley responded excitedly.
“Well you named it, so I thought you should be the one to ‘cut the ribbon,’ if you will.”
“If you insist,” she grinned. “I am pleased to announce to all of our current and future fans, the second book in the Osric’s Wand series is . . . The High Wizard’s Hunt!”
Jack gave Ashely a high five and shouted, “Now, that’s how you do a reveal!”
Ashley laughed at his excited antics. “It’s moments like this when I can see where Pebble gets his charm.”
NW: What was the inspiration for your book?
“I get asked this a lot. It sort of evolved from reading other novels that I love,” Jack said, “I am somewhat of a fantasy nut, and I soak them up like a dry sponge. But I have a personality that notices things, not just in books, but in our world. In our world, magic (sorry folks, I believe this so just follow me if you don’t agree) doesn’t exist. That fact is a universal constant, no creature of any kind wields it. So, what would a world where magic exists look like?” He paused for emphasis, and Ashley couldn’t help but interrupt.
“I personally feel Jack doesn’t notice much at all if he thinks magic doesn’t exist in our world,” she said with a teasing smile. Jack continued, unperturbed by her sarcasm.
“For us, our magic is science. In the world I imagined, I would think their science would be magic. I would also imagine that if magic was wielded by some, it would be able to be used by all. Not to the same level of course. I mean, a butterfly uses science everyday to fly, but it doesn’t have a big screen TV in it’s living room!” Jack gestured excitedly with his hands as he spoke, “And of course, I fell in love with the wolf dream from WOT, and talking animals from numerous other fantasy novels. That made me think, Hey, why wouldn’t some animals talk? Not all of them, but in a world with magic, I am sure that MANY would,” he realized he was rambling a bit and continued in a nonchalant manner, “So that’s what started the whole process. Thousands and thousands of hours of reading, and thinking.”
NW: What is your favorite scene from your book and why?
Jack’s boyish grin returned as he thought back to his favorite scene, “Chapter 2, when Gus lives through a bad “hunt” and then ends up being so nice to a woman later in the chapter. I think it shows a great deal of how life is on Archana, and even more about his personality. I did not start out wanting him to be like this. I wanted him to be a wise old man, er prairie-dog, sort of like Dumbledore from Harry Potter, but he refused to be written that way. He was just as stubborn to write as he appears in the book!”
“I have a hard time choosing a favorite, but I would have to say it is a scene close to the end where Osric finally gets a glimpse of his own power. If I told you any more it would spoil the ending. If you have read the book, my favorite part begins when Osric punches Thom,” Ashley added with a knowing smile.
NW: What works in progress do you have?
Ashley responded, “We are about half way through The High Wizard’s Hunt, the sequel to The Wand-Maker’s Debate. Since we have completed the first half of the book in about 3 months, we feel a fall release is going to be fairly certain. The Osric’s Wand series is well on its way!”
NW: Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
Jack rubbed his chin as he pondered his answer, “It is really difficult for me to choose a favorite, knowing the characters like I do. But if I was pushed to choose, I think I would have to go with Gus, or Pebble. They have distinctly different personalities, but I can identify with them both. Gus has this grumpy, knowing way about him, and Pebble is just adorable!” He grinned, thinking of the prairie dog pup’s childish antics. “As for who I am most like . . . I have no idea. I tend to think of myself as Osric, but that is because I write more of him than I do the others, and I have to really think in order to get him correct. I have a hard time writing about myself too, that is why I think I am most like him. I know his thoughts, and his motivation, but putting it on paper is a struggle because there is so much involved with each choice he makes.”
Ashley sat in contemplation for a moment before responding. “I would have to say my favorite character is Machai, because he is so much fun to write. As for who I am most like, that is much harder to say. The obvious choice might be Bridgett, as she is the main female character. But she and I only have a few similarities.” Ashely thought about how each character may develop in later books and added, “Perhaps she will turn out to be more like me than I know, since I write most of Bridgett’s parts in the books. Jack has a hard time writing in a female character without make them sound like shallow, giggling girls.” Jack feigned like he was going to throw something at her, but nodded in agreement instead.
Jack nearly jumped out of his seat, “Hands down, Brandon Sanderson! No other author that I have read gives a payoff like his books! You invest all this time and energy into a book, or series of books. When you finally reach the end, you want something that makes you go “WOW, time well spent!”, and pisses you off that the ride is over. I think Brandon Sanderson does that like no-one else. For my dollar, he is the best fantasy author on the planet right now.”
“I, however, find it impossible to choose a favorite,” Ashley stated. “I have read so many wonderful books by talented authors, I could never narrow it down. Although, I can say, books by Anne McCaffrey, Terry Goodkind, and Elizabeth Moon are on the top of my list.”
NW: How long have you been a writer?
“I started writing Osric’s Wand in December of 2010, so that puts me at a year and five months. However, I have to say if I had known that it was this fun, I would have started years ago! Ashley came on board quickly. I can honestly say, this book would have been very different from what it is today without her. She is an amazing writer who writes an almost flawless first draft. I, on the other hand, need every step along the way to refine what I put on the page!” Jack responded avidly.
Ashley smiled at the flattery and rolled her eyes, “I have been writing since I was very young. I tend to vent my emotions on paper, and my poetry, lyrics, and stories could tell my life story if anyone could interpret them. However, I never thought of myself as a writer until we published The Wand-Maker’s Debate and it started to outsell my greatest expectations.”
NW: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Ashley replied, “As much as I love the constant banter and debate with my co-author, I think my favorite part is finding out what happens next. We plan out what we think will happen and brainstorm together, but once we start writing it evolves and tells its own story, regardless of our intentions. I love the anticipation and surprise that comes with each chapter we write.” Jack’s jaw hung open in exaggerated surprise, and he pointed over at her discreetly.
“If you had any idea what a control freak she is, you would be as surprised as I am to hear that’s her favorite part,” he winked and added, “Honestly, I love every bit of it, but my favorite part is watching it come together as we write. We have several people who come around to watch us as we write, and seeing their reactions to the evolution of the books is so much fun! It is an experience every writer should have. There is nothing like a fan flipping out, excited about words you just put on the page,” Jack said.
Jack responded quickly, “In my eyes, there is nothing better than The Princess Bride. Swordfights, magic, pirates, giants, true love, revenge, miracles and humor… That movie has been in my house since kindergarten! I have worn out 5 VCR tapes, and 3 DVDs! I could watch it every day and not get tired of it.”
Ashley shook her head in disbelief at how easy it is for Jack to choose a favorite, “Again, impossible to narrow down to just one. Right now, I would say anything with Sean Connery or Nicolas Cage.”
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