Posted on 03/21/2019 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Remember turning twenty-five?

You probably wondered where your youth had gone (oh, how you now laugh at that thought) and reflected wistfully on the dreams you hadn’t pursued.

Gregory Ashe was no different. He wrote prolifically in high school, but college slowed him down, even though he took a course from a New York Times bestselling author.

And then, all of a sudden, he had stopped thinking about writing, unless it was to dismiss it as a possibility and denigrate his talent.

“I was convinced that ... if I'd been meant to be a writer, I'd be able to produce things instantly and easily — well, maybe with some light revision — that everyone would recognize my genius, etcetera,” Ashe says.

But turning twenty-five was a reality check for him. Not in terms of his mortality, but in terms of his attitude.

Ashe, who went on to graduate school and a full-time career in education, explains how he corrected course to produce well over a dozen novels, including the Hazard and Somerset and Hollow Folk mystery series.

SADYE: So what inspired you to write for publication?

GREGORY: Definitely one transformational moment was turning twenty-five.

It doesn't sound old (especially now that I'm a decade past that age!), but somehow it hit me really hard. ...

Turning twenty-five made me think seriously about those ideas that were in the back of my head, and I started doing some research on writing and the craft.

I came across Dean Wesley Smith's blog, and it was like someone had turned on a light.

I took Dean seriously: I write as much as I can, as often as I can, and when I believe the work is the best I can produce (at that point in time), I publish it.

That's how I got started — and it took over ten years before people started buying my books.

SADYE: In a previous interview, you mentioned writing the gay role models that you wish you could’ve read as a youth. Have you had much direct feedback from readers on that?

GREGORY: Yes. In fact, that's one of the most rewarding parts of this experience.

Many people have written to me to tell me that either they're in a law enforcement career and have no gay role models in the profession, or they're gay and they had no strong gay role models growing up.

One of the great things about what's going on right now is that I'm not the only one creating these role models.

We have so many amazing authors writing strong, brave, emotionally-stable gay role models in healthy, committed relationships.

It's such a wonderful counterpoint to the way gay men are frequently stereotyped in TV and cinema (and even a lot of more mainstream literature).

SADYE: We’ve heard high praise for your audiobooks — what do you suspect is prompting that?

GREGORY: I've been incredibly lucky to work with an amazing narrator: Tristan James.

He's done a great job of giving Hazard and Somers their voices. And, on top of that, he's very kind and patient with me when I freak out.

So much of what makes an audiobook succeed really depends on the narrator.

The best writing can sound flat with a bad narrator, and even chunky dialogue can get new life with a skilled one.

SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to trade places with?

GREGORY: I don't know if I would like to trade place with any of my characters. They all go through hell!

I guess if I had to pick (and I'm limiting my options to the protagonists), I would probably least like to trade places with Vie Eliot from the Hollow Folk books.

He has just had such a horrible life, and even though he has risen above it in a lot of ways and tried to be a good person, he's going to carry that trauma with him forever.

I would probably most like to trade places with either John-Henry Somerset or Shaw Aldrich (he's one of the protagonists in my upcoming Borealis series, which will launch in May).

Somers is really a good guy, plus he's attractive and funny and knows how to get under Hazard's skin.

Shaw is probably closer to who I am, but he's got this amazing friendship that has defined him, plus he's just so darn good-hearted (I wish I had more of that!).

I'm excited for people to get to know Shaw later this year.

SADYE: You’ve written in a variety of genres; which is your favorite and why?

GREGORY: If you had asked me two or three years ago, I would have definitely said fantasy.

I grew up on a steady diet of fantasy, especially epic fantasy (I discovered Jim Butcher and the urban fantasy genre much later, and I immediately fell in love with it).

Over the last few years, though, I've really found myself moving toward mystery.

I like the intellectual side of crafting (and solving) the puzzles, and I like that mystery, as a genre, can take a position about a moral universe that is both idealized (evil deserves to be punished) and nuanced (everything has shades of gray).

I also like that the genre constraints of mystery really for a great deal of creativity —like the structure of a sonnet, for example.

SADYE: Are your students aware of your other career?

GREGORY: This is so funny because there's been a recent development.

Somehow, a few of my students found out that I write novels — I'm still not sure exactly how.

Fortunately, they haven't figured out my pen name.

I told my colleagues that I'll be more public about my writing, especially sharing it with students who are interested, after I have tenure!

I do write with my students, although I never work on excerpts from novels I publish.

I like them to see me going through the same process that they are, and I think it helps them realize that writing is craft that requires time and dedication.

* * *

Learn more about Gregory Ashe on his website, where his books can also be purchased, and like him on Facebook.

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Categories: Author Interview

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