Ashley York stopped by to share her latest book. The Gentle Knight is a historical romance set in Ireland and England and was released on March 24th. Tell us more!
Ashley- The Norman Conquest series begins with The Saxon Bride, 1075, with a loyal knight of King William's, John of Normandy, being given a Saxon princess, Rowena Godwinson, to wife. Throughout this love story, John's good friend, Peter of Normandy, is fiercely loyal and very helpful in reconciling husband and wife. He was such a great character, I decided he needed his own story. So The Gentle Knight was written.
Peter speaks of his lady love, Jeanette, in The Saxon Bride, but she was not all that he believed her to be. She died in childbirth before Peter returns to Normandy. He is devastated at the loss. The fact that his own mother died delivering him increases his guilt and vows to remain a solitary knight.
He is sent by King William to northern England where they have never accepted William as their king. Peter is accompanied by Mort (also a character from The Saxon Bride) but they come across a strange band of men claiming to be delivering a young woman, Brighit MacNaughton, to a Priory. Peter decides to step in to help the woman even though he's not completely sure of the situation. He learns she has a great sense of family honor and pride and he falls in love with her. She does not want to set aside her father's death bed decree that she become a nun despite her attraction to him.
Nancy- Wow! An awe-inspiring plot. When did you start writing toward publication?
Ashley- I've always wanted to be a writer and even quit my job to write full time. This was before computers, however, and the research and information wasn't readily available like it is now. I raised my family (devouring every historical romance I could find), got my BS in History and then my MA in history both of which exposed me to the plethora of information available online. I always felt like once I met my goal of completing my MA Thesis, I'd never be able to stop writing again. I was right.
I decided to give fiction writing another go and joined a local chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). The information I received there was that the traditional publishers wanted vampires and BDSM. I wasn't interested in writing either. However, the booming small press, e-book only and independent publishing caused vast changes at the traditional publishers. It also put a lot of highly respect editors, etc., out into the freelance business. I was able to find some online chapters that shared my interests with amazingly supportive members at all different levels of publication.
I decided to try indie publishing. I had a few setbacks with "editors" who promised one thing but never delivered. Despite what you may hear, not just anyone can be a good editor because it's not just about reading a story. It's also not just about learning proper English grammar. Also, where the editor is from will change their perspective on writing. Culture does affect what people want to read.
One amazing writer even gave me the name of her own editor when she heard what I'd been going through. He is amazing: supportive, encouraging and sincerely good at his job. You can sign a contract with one of the Big Four and not get that kind of editor. I've also found tremendously talented and dedicated formatters, cover artists, and promotion teams to work with. I feel truly blessed.
Nancy- What is your writing routine like?
|Ashley BEFORE coffee|
Ashley- I'm a morning person so I love to get up with the sun and get going—after my coffee. I do not like winter because the sun takes so darn long to get up. I'm not sure I could live in Scotland during the winter. At the moment it's just me, my husband, two cats and one dog in the house.
Once my husband leaves for work and I get everyone else set, I'm off on my own.
I try to limit the time on social media but promotion and marketing can easily morph into something very time consuming. After a new book release, I have a hard time finding any substantial amount of time for working on my manuscript. Once I have, though, I write for about two hours in the morning and then three to five more in the afternoon.
When my husband goes to work in the afternoon, our time together is the morning. I struggle a little with shifting my writing time to later in the day but I'm not about to spend the few hours we have together to working...unless I absolutely must.
Nancy- Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?
Ashley- The most rewarding thing is to get a letter or a review from a reader saying how much they enjoyed it, how it gave them an escape, how they didn't want it to end, how they wanted to be a part of the story, how they're going to re-read it...these are all the things I always enjoyed about the stories I read and I totally relate to them as readers. That I could actually be an author who gave someone else the same pleasure that I enjoyed, and still enjoy, just blows me away. I'm accomplishing my dream.
Please Share three fun facts about you that most people don’t know.
1) I'm just learning to play the Irish whistle and I'm not very good yet which is why my heroine, Brighit, is so good at it ;)
2) I'm a terrible dog trainer and my two year old labrador still can't walk nicely around our neighborhood on a leash.
3) I'm a terrible chocoholic! If it's not chocolate, why bother? BUT I can't handle chocolate frosting on chocolate cake. That's too much. I love chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and peppermint, chocolate and...well you get the idea.
Nancy- What’s next for you?
Ashley- I'm working on Tadhg MacNaughton's story. The Irish legend I grew up with was that the seventh son of the seventh son of the seventh son had magical powers. My father was the seventh son of the seventh son but he had three daughters. I was the youngest.
In my story Tadhg was the sixth son of the seventh son of the seventh son. If his sister, Brighit, had been a boy, Tadhg always believed she would have been the one with the special blessing. In my next story, you'll learn why that wouldn't be true.
A medieval soldier returns home to find his lover died in childbirth just as his own mother had. Believing he is cursed, Peter of Normandy turns from love. When he must give escort to an Irish princess more noble than many knights, he struggles with his decision to live a solitary life. Can he take the chance that his love won't be a death sentence and possibly make them stronger?
Padraig MacNaughton's death bed decree rips his daughter, Brighit, from the shelter of her protective clan in Ireland. Forced to take vows at a Priory in England, she finds herself in the hands of lecherous mercenaries with their own agendas. Dare she trust the Norman knight to see her safely to her new life as a nun? Even when she finds in him the fulfillment of all she's ever wanted?
Or will honor and duty eclipse their one chance for happiness?
The barrenness of the countryside would take Brighit some time to get used to. Perhaps it was only this area, but it seemed nothing like her home which was so lush and green. She missed her family. A tightness began to build in her throat but Brighit refused to acknowledge it. A splashing sound came to her from just beyond the tree stand.
She glanced back the way she'd come. The need to return immediately or confront Ivan's wrath had her clenching her teeth. That splash sounded very much like the lake Lachlann had mentioned. A chance to clean her face and hands in a refreshing body of water rather than with a soaked cloth? The heat in that confined carriage was making her wilt. She sniffed and confirmed her stench was overwhelming. Before even thinking it through, she headed in the direction of the sound.
Brighit paused on the barely discernible path. Sure she heard rustling, she glanced behind at the open field she'd come from. It was empty. Nothing behind her that could make such a sound. Was it a deer perhaps? Taking a few steps farther, the small rise gave way to the breathtaking sight of a small lake. The top glistened like glass without a ripple to disturb its surface.
The slight breeze carried the pungent aroma of honeysuckle and lavender. The plants would be a wonderful thing to find and put in with her few belongings. Each night she would be surrounded by the smell of flowers. Without another thought she headed through the bushes to her right, careful to not make a sound in case the deer were still nearby. Movement along the banks drew her attention and she froze.
A man stood there dripping wet and naked. He pushed his hair away from his face. A handsome face with a strong jaw and a thick brow. She followed the movement of his hands, sloshing the water off his chiseled body. Blond hair spanned his broad chest and across his rippled torso, leading down his muscular legs, glistening in the fading light. His tarse was visible even from this distance. She looked long and hard. Her breathing became labored. Magnificent.
He turned in her direction. She ducked. She held her breath and shivered in the bush, willing her heart to stop pounding so loudly. When she ventured another peek, he was gone. Disappointment welled up inside her gut. She'd wanted nothing more than to sit and watch him, imagine how it would feel to run her hands down his expansive chest and firm body as he had done, to appreciate the rippled strength there. She blew out the breath she'd been holding and licked her dry lips. That certainly wasn't going to happen, not in this lifetime—as a nun. A small bush of purple flowers brushed her hand and she snatched it. Lavender. The sun was dropping below the hills in the west and she needed to get back. Enough of these wasted desires.
Desire made things happen. It was her grandfather's favorite saying. As the seventh son, he had been a man of some notoriety among Irish nobility. He was given the Celtic Princess, Faighrah, to wed. When he sired his own seventh son, the other leaders turned to him for guidance, for wisdom, in return for unfailing loyalty. The belief always that the seventh son of the seventh son of the seventh son had a special anointing from God. No evil could befall him.
Brighit was no son and evil seemed a little too close. Ivan had told her he would not hesitate to make up a lie about who she was. Even saying she was his wife. Others would believe him because he was a man. Perhaps a little more protection from the same God who made her a female was not asking too much.
More About Ashley York
I have wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade. My first story was a mystery and I discovered that my classmates loved it and it kept them guessing. I was a voracious reader, even at a young age, and loved the history in the novels I picked up. I was so enthralled with that history that I decided to get my MA in History. The early medieval period is my favorite, as you can tell from the novels I write.
Although my works are fiction, I often like to incorporate authentic places, events, and people to increase the reader’s enjoyment. One of the more valuable lessons I have learned as a writer is the importance of using real history with the flair of artistic license. You’ll discover a world of fiction wrapped around historical people and events! I hope you enjoy reading my stories as much as I delight in writing them. I live in New England with my husband, two cats and a yellow Labrador named Caledonia.
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