Posted on August 20, 2020 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we're interviewing author Betsy Ashton, who writes mystery, suspense, and literary fiction novels.
Ashton was born in Washington, DC, and raised in Southern California where she ran wild with coyotes in the hills above Malibu.
She is the author of the Mad Max Mystery series (Unintended Consequences, Uncharted Territory, and Unsafe Haven); a stand-alone serial killer psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without A Face; and a work of literary fiction, Out of the Desert.
She is also the past president of the statewide Virginia Writers Club.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
BETSY: I started writing in third grade. My first bit of fiction was an assignment to write my autobiography. I was eight.
I hadn’t done anything, so I made it up. My teacher called my mother in for a conference and told her either I was going to be a fantastic liar or a writer.
I continued playing around with writing, mostly burning the majority of my early efforts in the fireplace.
After writing nearly 500,000 words and still not knowing how to write, I became serious, joined writing groups, and began to learn my craft. A few years later, I thought I had something worth sending out to agents.
After 109 rejection letters, including my favorite (the agent returned my original with a big red REJECT on it), I landed an agent willing to take me on. Since I’d always “written,” I was surprised I still had so much to learn.
After polishing my first manuscript, my agent secured a three-book traditional deal with a small press.
Then, and only then, did I think I’d gone from writing to being a published author. It was a heady realization.
SADYE: Which of your characters would you least like to trade places with?
BETSY: I would least like to trade places with my female serial killer.
She was the most difficult to write, because I worked so very hard to make her interesting and not simply repulsive.
Since I chose to write in first person, I had to get into her mind. It was not a comfortable place to be, but she developed some redeeming qualities along the journey.
Many of us fantasize about killing someone. Thankfully, we don’t act on it.
That said, I was able to “kill” off types of people my main character thought were too evil to exist. People who prey on children, women, and the elderly all fell during her thirty-year career.
SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?
BETSY: I had to laugh at two different one-star reviews for one of my Mad Max books.
One reader said I was no Jessica Fletcher. She was right. I never tried to write a cozy or be another writer.
The other was disappointed with no explosions or chases across the desert. I think that one hit when Mad Max: Fury Road was in the theaters.
SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?
BETSY: I have never written a book, short story, or poem that doesn’t have a serious message in it.
My Mad Max series takes on traumatic brain injury, racism, pastoral abuse, and medical experimentation over the course of three books.
I want my readers to think while I tell them a story meant to entertain. Even my serial killer has a message: we are not all what we seem.
Lastly, my work of literary fiction, Out of the Desert, attacks family abuse, drugs, and homosexuality, as well as working hard for goals to lift yourself up.
I don’t write to make money. I write to make a difference.
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
BETSY: I’m not sure if being raped in grad school or losing a favorite cousin when I was twelve and he was thirteen were the most influential.
I worked rapes (and near rapes) into several narratives, and I turned my loss of my cousin into an entire book where I gave him the life he never had.
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Categories: Author Interview