Name : Jessica Aspen
Where are you from: Boulder, Colorado
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m a Colorado Gal married to a Colorado Guy and we live with the typical two kids, cat, and a dog within fifteen minutes of where we grew up. Maybe that’s why the mountains and snow figure so strongly in my writing. I have two degrees, one in Elementary Ed that I’ve barely used, and one in English Literature. Loved my degrees, but I’ve found that I needed an entirely new set of tools for writing, so I’ve taken many, many classes in workshops and online classes in writing and romance writing. College didn’t teach me what I really needed to know to be an author, get your butt in the chair and write! When I’m not writing I love to hike, swim, and eat dark chocolate, and much of my time is spent making sure my Lab-mix, Molly, is happy and exercised.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am inches away from my second release in the Tales of the Dark Court. Maybe even by the time this interview is out there Prince by Blood and Bone will be published. It’s another steamy, twisted fairy tale and I am happy to announce that it is twisted from the classic Beauty and the Beast. Then I’ll be off and working on book three, Broken Mirror.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve written off and on for years, but in 2007 I got serious and decided I was going to really finish an entire book. In 2008 I started The Dark Huntsman, and now I have four (maybe five!) books published.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My very first one was a romantic suspense that is still sitting unfinished on a disk somewhere, but The Dark Huntsman was inspired by my love of fairy tales and my desire to see more twisted fairy tales and paranormal romance out there. Of course, since then both paranormal romance and twisted fairy tales have taken off, but in 2008 they were just beginning to have their hey-day.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I like to have a story that moves, in fact, my critique partner is always telling me to slow down and add details. Which I do, but I love fast paced plotting and fast paced romances with some steam.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic? None of it. I love fantasy because you can create entire worlds. Even my modern day world that Trina and Logan go in and out of is different from our world. It has the gypsy witches, magic works, and the fae have a strong influence on our Earth.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
This is difficult. I think, in regards to these books, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, Laurel K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series, George MacDonald’s fairy tales, have all influenced me strongly. But I’m a huge reader and avid devourer of fiction and history, so it all comes into play somewhere.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Even though I have never met him, and I don’t read horror, Stephen King’s On Writing has been an amazing influence. I love to re-read it and learn something new every time. I think the best thing he teaches is that writing is hard, and the only way to be successful is to treat it like a job. Writer’s who wait for the muse do not succeed, so write!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading Holley Trent’s Shrew & Company series about women who were experimented on to control their mood swings and have now formed a paranormal detective agency. Love it!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Thea Harrison is my new favorite. If you haven’t read the Elder Races series, run out and buy it. Seriously, right now. Dragon Bound won a Rita in 2012, and it truly deserved the honor.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Currently I’m working on getting my twist of Beauty and the Beast, Prince by Blood and Bone, out the door. This project has been fraught with delays, and it’s been a big lesson to me in acceptance as well as making sure I have contracts in place on due dates. But it should be out in February! Here’s a quick blurb:
Lost Underhill, trapped with a monster, Bryanna must draw on powers she doesn’t believe she has and escape to find her family. But when the monster turns out to be a handsome fae lord who needs her as much as she needs him, will she be able to find her strength and become the witch he believes her to be?
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Love that phrasing, ENTITY. ‘grin’ Seriously, the Romance Writers of America and especially my local chapter, Colorado Romance Writers, have both been instrumental in my career. I thought given my English Lit degree and my massive experience as a reader of romances, that writing a romance would be easy. It’s not. It takes an average of eight years of focused writing to see a book successfully published, and if it hadn’t been for the focused workshops and classes I’ve been able to take for very low cost, I think it might have taken me a lot longer than that. I truly appreciate the people and support both of these groups have provided. Thanks everyone!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, absolutely. I work part of the year at another job, but for much of the year I am writing, working on my books, and my career full time. Ever since I started focusing on writing as a job, and not a hobby, my happiness has increased. Even when there is no reward, or there is criticism, this is what I want to do. I love being an author!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think authors always find things later they’d change, but at some point you have to say it’s finished. If you don’t, the editing never ends and the book is never published. I try to just move on to the next and focus on that one.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was about three years old I learned that people actually wrote books. I can remember the wonder of it all. A person created this amazing thing. At that point I wanted to be a writer and it became my number two goal, after being a mommy, bumping artist down to number three. I’d still love to be an artist, but I think I’ll stick to writing and parenting for now.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s the blurb from The Dark Huntsman, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court
Desperate to save the last of her family from the murderous Faery Queen, Trina Mac Elvy weaves a spell of entrapment. But instead of a common soldier, the queen has released the Dark Huntsman, a full blooded fae with lethal powers.
Caged for treason, Logan Ni Brennan, is ready to do anything to win free of the manipulative queen, even if it includes running a last errand for her…murdering a witch. The sight of Trina, ready to fight despite the odds, gives him another option: use the witch as a chess piece, put the queen’s son on the throne, and bring down the queen forever.
As the queen slides into insanity and her closest advisor makes plans to succeed to the throne, Logan secrets Trina away in the enchanted forest and makes a decisive move in his dangerous game of manipulation. But the gaming tables of fate turn on him, and when Trina’s life is threatened he discovers he risks more than his freedom…he risks his heart.
Riding into the dry-as-bones mountains on the back of the puca, Logan’s anger seared bitter in his chest. It rolled off him in waves, pulling thunder down from the sky. He toyed idly with the storm letting his anger draw the danger of the lightening to him as he seethed. Fifteen years away from his hounds. Fifteen years of Solanum’s running wild, the puca causing havoc wherever he went. Fifteen years of Logan’s life eaten away in the hole of the queen’s dungeons.
And now he was to kill witches for the queen. A fact that rubbed him raw.
Humans were amusing companions, why create trouble? Irritated with the brief flare of morality, he smothered it with brutal force. It didn’t fucking matter what he wanted. It never had.
Lightening cracked. The eerie silent hounds of the Dark Hunt tightened around him, their tense glances and snapping teeth reflections of his flaring emotions.
He had no room for second thoughts tonight. The Black Queen had given him no reason why she needed these witches killed, but if he satisfied her it might give him his freedom. At the very least it would give him some space. Maybe some time to figure out a way to stay out of the dungeons. And time to figure out how to truly extricate himself from her bloody dominion.
Because no matter what she had promised him, he knew, there was no way she would simply let him go. Not after the way he had betrayed her.
Solanum tossed his head and bucked. “Quit squeezing my ribs.” Lurid green faery flames leapt from his hooves, igniting short-lived cold fires in the dry Wyoming brush.
“Cease, horse,” Logan said, squeezing his legs a little more. Punching Solanum’s buttons felt good, really good. Just like his wrath at the queen felt good. Justified.
The puca tossed his long mane into Logan’s eyes. “Lay off, or you’ll be eating dirt,” the puca snarled, his nostrils flaring in the dimming light.
Solanum’s irritation put a hard smile on Logan’s lips. He tightened his legs and drove the puca harder down the hill through the brewing storm.
A hound pushed in close. Solanum’s hoof lashed out, connecting with a solid thud. The hound’s yipe sounded inside Logan’s head as he regained his balance, cursing the hound’s behavior and the puca’s intolerance.
He was back. The hounds would get used to him again. And Solanum too.
Thunder crashed in the sky, following him down into the shadowed hills as he approached the witches’ lair. Nostrils burning from the ozone, nerves tingling, he distracted himself with the dark moist wind, manipulating it to blow through the dry autumn brush like a child’s tantrum.
He laughed, the spiteful wind stealing away the dark sound as cracks of thunder echoed off the mountains. He let the anger simmer and the lightening moved further away. He wasn’t free yet, and he wasn’t suicidal. What he was, was trapped. And it pissed him off, the frustration riding him like a hag.
What could he do when the queen changed her mind and refused to release him from her service? What if the bitch thought she could use him then put him back into her dungeons Underhill, calling him to her side like a lapdog? He needed a way to show her there would be repercussions. He needed leverage.
In the distance, thunder rumbled and they tipped over the edge of the valley in search of the witch. A wavering glow of candles shone above the last few rocks.
The telltale traces of a spell raised the hair on the back of his neck. He extended his Gift to perceive what he couldn’t yet see. A labyrinth set by a single inexperienced witch. His lips twitched. As protection it might have worked, had the Faery Queen sent her regular henchman. Unluckily for the witch, the queen had unleashed him. The Dark Huntsman.
He would kill the wench, and be done with this thing between himself and the queen of the Tuatha De Dannan. And when the queen refused to release him? He’d deal with that when the time came.
The wind carried the hot dry smell of sage mixed with the smell of fear and musky female. He inhaled the raw flavor of the witch, the taste of her fear and anger and power slid down his throat, easing his rage.
The anxious hounds shifted around him, sensing the proximity of their prey. Solanum rounded the rock.
And there she was.
The sight of her rocked him back like a blow, almost knocking him to the ground. And he realized that despite the stasis, fifteen years had been too long a time to be without a woman.
Glimmers of power limned her naked body and the silver blade of the athame that gleamed between her breasts. Her legs were spread slightly apart, tensed for battle. Long black hair crackled and lifted with static. Her expressive face was poised on the edge of dilemma, her body caught between the need to hold the spell and the need for action.
He paused to let the feel of power and woman roll through him.
Green, almond shaped eyes widened. Her stance firmed, her shoulders pulled back, and her full breasts rose, nipples tightened with cold or fear. Something wild and raw he hadn’t felt in a hundred years stabbed low in his gut.
His agenda changed.
The queen wanted to kill the witch. Why? His plan of placating the queen suddenly seemed weak. She’d never let him go without leverage, and here was leverage standing naked and lovely before him. He had a new plan.
Screw the queen.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Everything, LOL! Seriously, when I’m writing, it’s the writing, and when I’m editing, it’s the editing. Right now I’m waiting on the cover for Prince by Blood and Bone, and the waiting is so very difficult. I feel like a kid forced to wait an extra week for her birthday party. I want the book to come out now. Yes, I’m channeling that girl who turns into a plum in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but when my cover gets here I’ll forget all about it and the most difficult thing will be getting it all put together and on Amazon.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Kari Ayasha with Cover to Cover Designs has done an amazing job on both covers, The Dark Huntsman and Prince by Blood and Bone. I love her new take on fantasy romance.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing, make a schedule and stick to it, and stop editing and get it to someone else to look at. We’re our own worst critics, let someone else have a chance!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I am so appreciative of all the amazing reviews The Dark Huntsman has had. I wasn’t sure if twisted fairy tales and fantasy still had a place, you hear a lot about how paranormal isn’t big anymore, but I think it does have a fan base and I’m thrilled so many of you love my books. Thank you!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but I do remember my two favorites were Ferdinand, and Are You My Mother. I read them both to my girls and somehow that poor bird’s search for a mother still has resonance with toddlers, despite the lack of a variety of colors. I think they both contain life’s essential question: where do I belong?
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love to walk and to hike in the Rocky Mountains. I read (of course). I’ve tried everything from knitting to jewelry making, but given all those up for writing.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Justified, Downton Abbey, CSI, Bones. Oh, and True Blood. I’m looking forward to seeing how Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander plays out this summer.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Dark chocolate, all colors, and lots of different music. Right now you would find everything from Hedley to Tom Petty to Pink on my ipod. Anything I can work out to is great!
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Believe it or not I wish I’d studied DNA and biology. I took a lot of anthropology courses when I was in college and the study of DNA fascinated me but I had no idea of using that as a career. Now I wish someone (say a guidance counsellor?) had talked to me about everything I was interested in and let me know what kind of opportunities were out there. Would I have stuck with it? Who knows? Maybe I’d still be here writing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I do, I blog at least twice a week on writing, the paranormal, and miscellaneous subjects. Here it is and also a few other ways to get in touch with me:
To discover The Dark Huntsman, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court
Add to Goodreads Shelf: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18481503-the-dark-huntsman
Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email please go to: http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj
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