Name Ashe Barker
Age I won’t see 50 again
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I live in Yorkshire in the north of England, right on the edge of the Brontë moors. Here’s a picture to show what it’s like where I am. I like to set my stories around here if I can because the scenery is just so stunning.
I have a social sciences degree, Interdisciplinary Human Studies. It sounds grand but is really just a bunch of –osophies and –ologies. It was fun to do though, and helped me to understand more about what makes people tick, which comes in sort of useful. I also have a Masters degree in Social and Community Work Studies.
I’m married, for over thirty years now, and we have one daughter who is almost eighteen.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
One of the most exciting things to happen recently was to get on the USA Today best sellers list. Along with a bunch of thirteen other authors we released Bound, Spanked & Loved, a Valentine’s themed collection of hot spanking stories, then we worked like demons to promote it. We scraped onto that coveted list, one place behind The Great Gatsby.
I also have two new releases out just now. The Highwayman’s Lady is a historical erotic romance featuring Gray, who makes a decent living out of relieving wealthy travellers of their valuables. Nothing much surprises this cynical bandit, but when he holds up a coach on a lonely road the last thing he expects to find is a woman fighting for her life inside the carriage. Will he intervene, or just help himself to anything of value and leave her to her fate?
My other new release is Bodywork, a MM novella which first saw the light of day a year ago in the Brit Boys: On Boys box set. The story is now available to buy as a standalone, or to borrow on Kindle Unlimited.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in 2012. I’d wanted to write a book, for years really, but never had the time to devote to it. I took voluntary redundancy from my job at the time, and suddenly all things were possible. The awesome success of Fifty Shades at around the same time was an inspiration too, and convinced me that the smut I wanted to write had a readership out there.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I remember the precise moment. It was one evening when I was watching television and an email popped up on my phone. It was from Totally Bound, telling me that The Dark Side, my first attempt at writing a novel, had been accepted for publication. I passed the phone to my husband and announced, ‘There, I’m an author now.’
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The popularity of Fifty Shades was a revelation. I had always enjoyed reading erotic romance and tended to buy most of my smut on line, but until that book came out I had no idea how widespread that interest was. Erotic romance was suddenly thrust into the mainstream, and I wanted in. I wasn’t sure if my writing style would be good enough for others to want to read, but there was only one way to find out.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think I do. My sex scenes in particular are explicit and descriptive. I try to get inside the head of my characters, to share what they are feeling and why they do what they do.
My books are always erotic, but with a strong storyline underpinning that. Particularly in my contemporary stories I try to weave in current issues which I think are important and frame plots around those. So far my books have featured mental illness, domestic violence, disability, homelessness, grooming and sexual abuse to name but a few.
I also love to write historical erotic romances, and usually try to set those against some specific and well-known era. The Highwayman’s Lady draws on the Jacobite Rebellions, a particularly turbulent time in Scottish history.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Sometimes the title of a book seems obvious and is there right from the start. That was the case with Bodywork, because the story features a car repair shop but could also conjure up other more sensual ideas too. Well, it did for me. With other books such as The Highwayman’s Lady my publisher might suggest something. It’s quite an art really, and occasionally it can be really difficult to hit on just the right title to entice readers.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think the key message in The Highwayman’s Lady is that people are not what they seem, and help can come from the most unlikely source. Imogen does not expect a highway robber to become her rescuer, but Gray turns out to be full of surprises.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well the story is fictitious, obviously, but highwaymen did prowl the main routes between cities in England and elsewhere in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries. They were armed robbers, and most were hanged for their trouble if the authorities got hold of them, but rather oddly they were generally regarded as romantic, likeable rogues by the wider population. The hangings were always well-attended, with much weeping and wailing among the female members of the audience.
The historical backdrop of the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 is described as accurately as I could make it.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My contemporary stories are often based on real life experiences and events, and of course I sometimes have to disguise those quite heavily. If I opt to go for a real-life setting I try to make it as accurate as possible so places are easily identified. My characters on the other hand tend to be a blend of various people who I know so I doubt anyone would actually recognise themselves – thank heavens.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
At school I read all of Thomas Hardy’s novels and loved them. I still have my entire collection, somewhat dog-eared now, on a shelf. Good old Hardy was the chap who probably solidified my love of literature.
Some of the most memorable historical romances I have read have been Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, Katherine by Anya Seton, and The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. There are others, but these are the ones that stand out. If I could write something even half as great I’d die happy.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m actually reading the rest of the stories in Bound, Spanked & Loved. I’m in awe to be in such brilliant company
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
New (to me) are Annabel Joseph, Katherine Deane and Alexis Alvarez. I love their fresh and slightly quirky styles. And I adore the stark sensuality of Christina Mandara’s characters.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
My first series, The Dark Side, is to be re-released by Totally Bound in April so I’m concentrating on promo for that, and of course for Bodywork, and The Highwayman’s Lady which both came out on 5 March.
On the writing front, I’ve just put the finishing touches to a M/M paranormal story which will be part of a wider series with a bunch of fabulous authors. It is to be published later this year.
This week I started a story set, at least initially, in a prison in the UK. It features an armed robber doing time for his part in a post office robbery, and a female prison officer. I’m about 20000 words in so far.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
That’s easy – the community of other authors. I’ve come to know so many wonderful, generous, helpful people, some in person, many more on line. I entered this weird and wonderful world of writing smut as a total novice just three years ago. I still consider myself a beginner, but I’ve learnt such a lot from writers who were happy to share their experience and their wisdom with a clueless rookie.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, definitely. It’s not my only source of income (yet) but I suspect eventually it will be. I’m as ambitious as the next person I daresay, and I know that if I’m serious about being an author then accolades and awards count as well as book sales. It’s about building a profile, which is why the USA Today listing was so significant. Some of my titles were nominated for awards for 2015 – Red Skye at Night did particularly well. This pleased me no end as it suggests I’m getting recognized by the industry, a sort of validation.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. There will always be critics and reviewers with suggestions to make and I’ll listen, obviously, and maybe take on board their comments for next time. But every book I release is as good as I could make it at the time.
The re-release of The Dark Side has been a rare opportunity to do it all over again and in drafting the new content I did add in some scenes I sort of considered first time around but didn’t include. I didn’t make any significant plot changes though
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Not really, but I think it was always there. For the first fifty years of my life I indulged my love of stories by reading, and over the years I must have spent a vast amount of money on books. These days I look on that as an investment as it brought me to where I now am.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Of course. Here’s a little teaser from my prison story – completely unedited at this stage, so please be gentle.
Northern Lights – copyright Jared North, 2014.
I flick through the glossy volume of landscape images, each one depicting a wild, untamed vista, evocative scenery, dripping with atmosphere and mystery. It was the cover art which first captured my attention – a rugged, timeless moorland broken only by the stark silhouette of a wind farm on the horizon. I picked up the book in a second hand shop in Soho. It reminded me of my home, in Yorkshire, so I bought it on impulse. It was only when I leafed through the pages later that I spotted the photographer’s name – Jared North.
It’s not a common name. It could be the same man. It must be…
The last time I saw Jared North he was brawling with a mob of rioting prisoners in a disturbance at HMP Leeds. I narrowly escaped that skirmish unharmed but I was badly shaken, my confidence shattered. I never returned to my job as a prison officer.
That was five years ago, and so much has happened in my life since then. There have been major changes, massive upheaval. I’ve learnt a lot, about me and perhaps about him. Or should that be, I now know much more about men like Jared, or I think I do. I hardly know him at all, not really?
Leafing through his beautiful pictures my memories of the man himself flood back, unleashing powerful emotions, secret desires, and above all a huge sense of loss. I am crying, tears stream down my face though I could not really say why.
One thing I do know, with absolute certainty — I have unfinished business with Jared North.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Time management is my big challenge. Once I get down to it I’m productive. I have a target of 4000 words a day on the days I do write, but I can spend an entire morning finding rubbishy reason not to start quite yet. Social media is my worst time-stealer – I have to be really disciplined and stay off Facebook until at least the late afternoon.
Thinking about the writing itself, I love starting a new book. I pour everything I have about the characters and the setting onto the keyboard, and it gets off to a flying start. Then I hit the doldrums in the middle and sort of lose my way, or so it feels to me. I meander about, wondering what’s coming next, then as I approach the end I speed up again.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have one single favourite, though there are several in my genre that I absolutely love, my one-clickers. It’s always risky to make a list because of the fabulous writers who I might leave off, but I’ll have a stab at it.
On my ‘A’ List would be Renee Rose, Cara Bristol, Natasha Knight, Normandie Alleman, Sue Lyndon, Lily Harlem, and I’d probably add Katherine Deane, Alexis Alvarez, Christina Mandara and Annabel Joseph to the list now.
All of these have a clever way with words, and can bring their characters to life. Their sex scenes are hot, their plots strong and original, real page turners.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I go to author events around the UK from time to time, and of course I use travel as a way of gaining inspiration, but that’s a by-product rather than the reason for the journey.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My covers are almost always designed by my publishers. At Totally Bound that’s the wonderful Posh Gosh, and at Stormy Night the covert art is done by Korey Mae Johnson. I self-published Bodywork so had to shop around for the right image then buy the cover design from a graphic artist.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For me it’s always about hitting on a strong and original core premise in the first place, but once I have it, I’m away. I usually have a stack of story ideas swirling around my head, but I tend to forget them as new inspiration arrives. These days I write my ideas down and like to flick back through my notebook. It’s amazing how many good ideas would just get swept away by the newer ones.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
For The Highwayman’s Lady I had to research the history around the Jacobite Rebellions as that was not something I really studied at school. The internet is such a fabulous resource and I’m sure younger writers take it for granted much more than I do. I’m old enough to remember libraries and encyclopaedias, huge, dusty tomes to be pored over. These days it’s the Great God Google
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
For years I made all sorts of excuses about not having time to write. I’m busier now than I ever was, and I find the time because I want to.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes. A HUGE thank you. I love it when people buy my books, I love it even more if they leave me a review, or even just a star rating. We authors are needy types, we crave feedback. I appreciate every single one of my readers and I’m always delighted to hear from them.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not so much the first book I read, but I do remember learning to read. I remember standing beside the teacher’s desk as a small child, with a Janet and John book open before us. She ran her fingers under the words and I tried to articulate the sounds of the letters and run them together to make a word I could recognize. I remember wondering if I’d ever get the hang of it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My daughter, on both counts. She’s such an awesome individual and I can’t wait to see what she does with her life. I consider her a work in progress, of course, but these days I have to accept I have very little influence over that.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Not wanting to become too maudlin, but there is one person. I gave birth to a stillborn baby boy in 1996. He was called Jack, and would be 20 this year if he had lived. I often wonder what he would have grown to become had things gone differently, so I’d love to meet him, as an adult.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Made a difference.
If I can claim nothing else in my life, I’d like to think I left some impression, somewhere.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I enjoy reading, obviously, though I tend to think of that as research these days. I recently took up pole dancing – yes, really! – and I love that though I’m pretty rubbish at it so far. I shall persevere.
I have always enjoyed digital photography. I never go anywhere without my camera – and I don’t mean the one on my phone, though I appreciate that too.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like dramas, especially crime ones, and occasionally costume. I loved Downton Abbey. I also enjoy some reality TV and current affairs stuff. I read hardly any newspapers so this is how I keep up with what’s happening out there.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I adore pretty much any sort of curry, and also chili con carne. I wouldn’t describe myself as a great cook especially, but I can make those.
Colour – purple, though I wear a lot of black.
Music – Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf, Brian Adams
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Writing is my second career, so to speak so I already had the chance to do something else. I was a community worker for over 30 years and before I jumped off the greasy pole I ended up as director of a regeneration company. I was well-paid, but I love what I do now much more.
Roads mot taken? I once considered joining the police force but decided against it at the last minute because I didn’t fancy the regimented hierarchy of it all. I often wonder if that was a good decision or not.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, you can find me on www.ashebarker.com
The other places you can stalk me are