Interview: The indomitable Ash Litton

Ever meet someone and instantly respect them? Some combination of confidence, poise, articulation and something else, something indefinable – maybe just a general feeling that they are at ease with themselves. I felt that way the first time I met Ash Litton, and that initial impression has only solidified with our every interaction.

Ash always has a gentle, intelligent, thoughtful response. Never brash, always calm. Impressive really. And quite the opposite of me. She’s one hell of a fine writer, as well, and a tremendous editor. It’s always a pleasure working, or even just chatting with her.

So, it is with great pride, that I introduce to you, Ms. Ash Litton!

Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of No Signal, Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, and Comeuppance, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects.

When she’s not writing, she’s drawing, and when she’s not doing either of those, she’s dreaming up new projects to work on. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Ash has always wondered what things lay hidden in the hills around her. She attended West Virginia University, where she studied the English language before returning home to her family in rural West Virginia.

You can follow her on her website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Me: When did you decide to become a writer?

Ash: I think I was in elementary school when I wrote my first fanfic (based on the anime Guyver); up until then, I’d only ever made up stories in my head as I played with my toys. Middle school, I got in to Transformers fanfiction, and then the older I became, the more interested I got in trying my hand at my own original fiction. So I’ve always been a writer, I’ve just only recently started writing for myself.

Me: How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write?

Ash: I try to write every day, even if it’s just completing a sentence with 10 words or 1,000, I write. If I put fingers to the keyboard, then I’ve accomplished something for that day.

Most often, I do all my writing in the evening (late night into early morning seems to be when the juices really start to flow), but there are times of the day when I think of a line or a bit of dialogue, and I write it down as fast as I can to keep from losing it. Other times—and this seems more seasonal—I write throughout the mornings (8AM on through noon) as my sort of “peak” writing time.

Me: Where is your favorite place to write?

Ash: In a comfy chair. Preferably one that’s a recliner. If I can kick my feet up, recline a little, and have my tablet or laptop with me, then I’m in my favourite spot. I could be in any room, or outside—it doesn’t matter so long as I can be at ease.

Me: Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate?

Ash: In a way, yes. I took part in an Indie anthology, with all the authors writing short stories within the same universe. One of my friends had recommended me to the organizer of the anthology, and that’s how I got involved. I’m glad I did, too, as I’d always had this idea for a short story, but never a place for it, and the anthology just so happened to a perfect place to ground the idea.

Me: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Ash: Stories come from amazing places, so write every day, even if it’s only a few words. Read every day, even if it’s only a few words. Dream every day, and summarize what you thought about. Every moment and every word is an opportunity to build a story.

Me: Thank you, Ash!

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Interview with H.T. Lyon!

It was a special pleasure to sit down with writer, H.. Lyon today and pick his brain. Something I love to do! There’s so much to learn by speaking with someone who practices the same craft.

About HT: I am aspiring writer of science fiction. A futurist with a keen interest in where our society is heading, I tend focus most of my attention on stories that examine the direction our society is taking or that shows where we could end up. Optimistic my nature, I believe that one day we will look to settle the Solar System as we outgrow our planet and some of my stories examine how this could look. Currently, I have a number of novels underway and some short stories. My aim is to get one of these up and published before the end of the year around the other committments that exist in my life. Visit my blog at https://beyondescapevelocity.wordpress.com/ for a perspective on what interests me.

Welcome HT! Thank you so much for taking the time. Science Fiction is a fascinating Genre because it relies on imagining something somewhat outlandish, or making a prediction about the future of our species in some way. So where do you get your ideas?

Originally, my ideas were few and precious. One or two things I read when I was young prompted me to think and dream up ‘how would that work?’ A good example is I found some ancient popular mechanics books from the 50’s that talked about nuclear powered aircraft. I spent years wondering where the hell would that be of any use, until I dreamed up the plot for something set in the atmosphere of the planet Jupiter.

Now it’s different, any discussion where there are conflicting opinions and no right answer can drum up a plot. The prison crisis in the US, gun control, genetic testing, the TPP agreement, whatever. Stories fall out of them faster than I can write.

The ideas can be the easiest part, in my opinion, it’s staying focused that’s my challenge. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

That’s a difficult question to answer because the speed of my writing depends a lot on what goes on in my life. Overall, I seem to write in spurts where a sudden surge is followed by a period of quiet. The number one issue is editing which for me is a much slower business. For a novel end to end, I’d say it would take the best part of nine months. The short stories I’m currently writing however are much quicker. I’ll need to focus on getting some of these published and then I’ll have a better idea of how long the process takes.

I used to think writing the book was the hardest part. Now, I think it might be publishing or more still, marketing. What are your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?

My views on social media marketing are mixed. It can be a real challenge because it is a crowded market out there and with so many people marketing, there’s a lot of noise to try and get beyond in order to reach an audience. On the other hand, social media marketing is hugely democratic in that it’s very cheap (or free) and it rewards those who put the effort in and have the customer is mind. But my book won’t attract people, not like a blog could, that talks about our society, or offers writing tips, or book reviews. The secret I see to social media marketing is to add value to the lives of the audience you are trying to reach. Overall, despite the fact that it’s difficult and crowded, the democratic and customer-centric nature of it is a good thing.

I like the pragmatic approach. Does that extend to your writing in general? Do you come across any specific challenges when writing?

The main challenge is time. That’s a challenge for every new author so to help you better understand me, here it is…. Firstly, my strength is in drafting and my editing is slow, unreliable and difficult to get into. The longer and more serious the work, the harder it is. Part of that is wanting to get to perfection and part of it is fatigue in seeing the same work over and over. I have more drafts on the go than is probably good for me as a result. Also, I have a weakness with description. My work tends to have more action and dialogue and although this can help move the story along at a serious clip, it can make it seem a bit superficial. It’s something that I am aware of and need to watch. Again, it’s a bigger problem with a longer work as the reader needs to stay immersed to stay interested. Finally, I have a tendency for my characters to be a little too similar to one another. It’s something else I need to be aware of as a good story really rests on having a rich variety of characters.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

What motivates me to write is to get ideas out there. To think about things from a different perspective. To challenge what I think and what I may believe about the world. I love this more than anything would love to think that I could influence others to do the same. We live in a democracy, we have unprecedented rights and unprecedented protections over about ability to contribute to the national debate yet so many of us vote the way our parents did. I believe that we have an obligation to think critically about our choices and I want my writing to reflect that. The reason to go indie is that transitional publishing means I give up too much control. I want to control my ideas. Also, from what I’ve seen, traditional publishing takes too long!