Ash Krafton : Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Niina. I’ve loved your blog since the first moment I saw it!
Niina : Yay! Thank you! Let’s get started! Can you tell my readers here 4 fun unknown facts about you so we can break the ice?
Ash : That’s tough—unknown facts? I’m pretty open so I don’t know if I have any secrets!
1) I love costumes—not overboard Halloween costumes but dramatic clothing. Military coats, corsets, heels, outrageous long hair. My long-time friend Kelly once told me that, before we were introduced, she liked watching me when I came into work because at the time I wore a black overcoat. I’d come sweeping into the store in a swirl of coat and long blonde hair that fascinated her. It’s funny but I still love that drama. I also love Kenzie’s wardrobe on “Lost Girl” and I really connect to her love for costume wear.
2) I’m a cat person who owns a dog. I feel like I’ve betrayed myself by loving the enemy.
3) I’ll never be a farmer because I can’t grow a damn thing. Once I had an amazing tomato plant in a planter but our swimming book ruptured and the pot got carried away in the flood. I was devastated and I’ve had a black thumb ever since.
4) I’m dying to go to a hypnotist who specializes in past life exploration. I’m convinced I must have a recycled soul inside me.
Niina : I share #4! Now, tell us something about your book, Bleeding Hearts, that we wouldn’t know by reading the blurb?
Ash : It goes deeper than boy meets girl, boy gets pushed closer to becoming vampire, boy tries to eat girl. Bleeding Hearts describes the power a woman has when she’s determined to save her lover from himself. He believes he’s too far gone to be redeemed. She’ll stop at nothing to prove he’s wrong. That’s the core of the story—redemption.
Niina : How did Sophie and Marek come to life?
Ash : It all started with a vague dream when I woke up with the tagline in my head—“saving the world—one DAMNED person at a time”. I also had Marek’s name and I have no idea where it came from. Weird thing is, I’d already been working with an agent when I met someone whose last name is Marek. I almost lost it—and so did he when I told him he might be a demivamp. Poor guy. He was so confused.
The story originally started as a vamp who hunts a woman but the woman turns the hunt back on him—she’d try to change his ways. But sometimes stories have a mind of their own and, since I let my characters be true to themselves, they told their own story.
Niina : What was the best part about creating the demi-vampire world?
Ash : Definitely the research. The origin of the vamps lies within the realm of the Egyptian gods. I got to visit a load of museums and buy stacks of books to fill in the details of the demivamp/Were storylines.
Didn’t hurt that I got to build my heroes from the ground up. Why should I be the only girl lucky enough to daydream about these guys?
Niina : I love Egyptian gods and goddesses, seriously, part of why I loved Marek and Sophie's first/second meeting! ;) What character did you most enjoyed writing and why?
Ash : Ooh, tough question. I’d have to say Father Jared. He was a challenge because of his vocation as a Catholic priest—who’d been Sophie’s boyfriend when they were teenagers. As a Catholic, I wanted no tarnish on a priest. I’d been raised to respect them and to pray and support them if they stumbled. Writing his character meant I had to acknowledge the pure love he and Sophie still felt, the love that transcends the physical, because even though he’s celibate he still cares for her very deeply. Sophie also knows he’s hands-off but she remembers their past.
He’s my favorite because, although he was a tough bugger to write, he has a warmth and a strength to be admired. He also looks great in a t-shirt. ( Hey, it happens. )
Niina : I have to ask, how come Sophie and Marek waited so long to hook up?
Ash : I know that drove you crazy. Me too—if I was Sophie I would have flung myself into his arms. They both had to take it slow or it wouldn’t have been genuine. Sophie is love shy and cautious...and Marek respects that, even though he pretty much tells her right from the beginning he’d have her. He’s a gentleman—but he also knows there is something about her that isn’t average everyday human. I think that’s why he doesn’t go all alpha male and ravage her.
Niina : LOL! It did drive me bit nuts. ;) What are you working on right now? Can you give us a sneak peak?
Ash : The sequel, BLOOD RUSH. I’ll be finishing it in May and sending it to the editor in early June. BLOOD RUSH tells a few stories—it focuses on Rodrian and Shiloh, a Were that won’t leave Sophie alone, and a visit from another Sophia. Here’s a sneak peak from the draft:
I arrived at the Tenth Street offices ten minutes early.
Not that I was in any particular hurry. It had been almost a year and a half since I'd ridden this elevator or stood in this reception area or looked at the broad door that led to the interior of Rodrian's office. Fifteen months was a long time--time enough to change wall art and hire new receptionists and make strangers out of two people who had once been as close as family.
I arrived ten minutes early only because I was nervous. I walked quickly when I was nervous.
At the receptionist's polite nod I took a seat near the windows. The sparse waiting area had not been designed for comfort. People waiting to see Rodrian Thurzo needed no distractions or trivial ways to pass time. I longed for a stack of well-worn magazines, something to occupy my hands and my mind.
Instead, I curled my hands together in a quiet semblance of patience and dreaded the moment the door would open. I never had to sit out here before, waiting to be granted an audience.
My composure slipped and I squirmed. Technically I didn't ask for an audience with Rodrian. I'd been summoned.
Bossy jerk that he was, Rodrian probably wouldn't have thought twice about commanding me but he didn't. His letter had been politely written, a carefully worded request.
However, the moment my skin touched the paper I triggered the compulsion he'd placed upon it. Mental actions spoke louder than words. Request or not, I really had no choice. He had ladened it with emotion and was clever enough to use the one particular emotion I couldn't ignore.
Niina : Awesome, I always liked Rodrian! What’s the best compliment you’ve received on your writing? And who complimented you?
Ash : When I accepted a contract from my publisher, Pink Narcissus Press ( www.pinknarc.com ) I felt an instant connection to the editors. Editor-In-Chief Rose Mambert told me that one of her editors ( who became my personal editor and the Champion of My Book ) cried when she read my book. I treasure tears of every kind—I treasure the pain and the joy and the desperation that summon them and I treasure the people brave enough to shed them. That a stranger shed tears reading my book was and still is the greatest compliment I could every receive because it means she connected with my characters enough to feel for them.
Several people have said wonderful things about my book and I am sincerely grateful for every word and every smile. It kind of blows my mind a little.
Ash : Denim jeans, worn and broken and perfectly fit to the body. I’m not into low-cut waists so the Dream Jeans would be Levi’s 501 button-fly. A little roughed up, a little fringe, and snugly contoured.
Niina : Not easy to look bad in jeans ( though some manage ;) ) What’s the biggest turn on in a guy, fictional or real life?
Ash : His voice. The audio center of my brain must be hyperactive because I love sounds—music, rhythms, voices. I love the sound and texture of a sexy voice and I love sexy word play. Even in the dark when he’s not touching you, his voice can reach you. You can’t see him, you can’t feel him, but you can still hear him...
Niina : Agreed! Would you rather meet real vampires or werewolves?
Ash : Werewolves. Definitely. Vampires are scary. Werewolves, however, can still be regular humans as long as the moon isn’t around. Dark Shadows ( the movie ) seems to make fun of vampires. Even if every vampire looked like Johnny Depp, I still don’t want to meet one.
I like tigers, too, but I don’t want to sleep with one. Scary things belong in books and cages, not in my bed. =)
Niina : What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Ash : Watching Bollywood movies. There is a modest sensibility to the films and I have yet to see a passionate kiss on the mouth—but there is suspense, a building of passion. Watch Jodhaa Akbar—the emperor is the sexiest man I’d ever seen in a Bollywood movie and the romantic suspense is soooo intense. Plus, I love the songs and the dancing and the clothing. Bollywood is definitely my guilty pleasure—I should be getting work done around the house and instead I’m glued to the screen, singing in Hindi along with the film.
My mother is Polish American and her daughter sings in Hindi. How weird is that? ( You should see me in a sari. I rock those things. )
Seriously. Bollywood is hot.
Niina : LOL! I should get one! ;) Before we finish, here are some Quick Fire Questions:
Night or day? Night. I’m a star-gazer and a shadow-watcher. Love, love, love the night.
Pick-up or Mini-van? I’m a pick-up truck gal, through and through.
Boots or Heels? Tough call—but boots. I collect wicked boots and name each pair. You should see my Van Helsings.
Cocktails or Shots? Cocktails. I get drunk quickly so I like to linger over my drinks.
M&Ms: With or Without Peanuts? Without. I don’t want to confuse my taste buds. I have so problem with the pretzel ones, though.
Treats: Sweet or Salty? Sweet!
Date: Going to Park or Going to Movies? Movie. It’s been almost twenty years since I was on a date and going to park went out the window when the car seats got installed. A real mood killer.
Winter or Summer? Summer. I have a huge crush on the Green Man and the winter means he’s asleep.
Jewels or Chocolates? You are KILLING ME. Jewels, because I can visit them and wear them and keep them forever. I love shiny things.
Men: Alpha-male or Submissive? Alpha. They keep my bossy streak in check. I’m pushy and I need a guy who pushes back.
Men: Clean Shaven or Stubble? Stubble. I like the rough look.
Men: Bad boys or Good guys? Good guys because they can do bad things if they have to without changing their essence of goodness.
Tattoos or Piercings on a guy? NO.
Brunettes or Blonds? Yikes. Brunettes, since I’m a strawberry blonde. I like contrast.
Romance: Vampires or werewolves? Vamps. Laurell K. Hamilton ruined me on crushing on a werewolf. Ugh. What a mess.
Romance: Fallen Angels or Sexy Demons? Ooh! Fallen Angels! Lucifer learned a tough lesson and it’s a great story to explore.
Romance: Cops or Cowboys? Cops. I’m an East Coast girl. Cops are the real heroes around here.
Time-Travel or Sci-fi? Time-travel—I love history and have crushes on several historical figures. ( I heart George Washington. He was a real manly man, the toughest a guy could be. )
Romance or Erotica/Erotic Romance? Romance. I’m not a big reader of erotica because I love the build-up, the suspense, but the culmination leaves me feeling like there is nothing left to look forward to.
Male POV or Female POV (Point Of View)? I identify with the female POV more because I’ve read a few male POVs that didn’t feel genuine.
Times New Roman or Courier? TNR. Courier looks so hollow. It also reminds me of scary editors who like to reject my submissions.
Niina : Thanks for visiting the For The Love of Reading, Ash! Any news would you like to share with your readers, or websites they can check out?
Ash : I’m on Facebook ( http://facebook.com/ashkraftonauthor ) Twitter ( http://twitter.com/ashkrafton ) and Goodreads ( http://goodreads.com/ash_krafton ). I also blog at http://ash-krafton.blogspot.com . Right now I’m polishing the sequel BLOOD RUSH so I’ll be doing my best to stay off line in May—and I’m positive I will fail.
I’m hoping to see some good reviews in May and there will be a Goodreads giveaway in mid-May to promote BLEEDING HEARTS. I hope some of you will follow along—I am so grateful for reader support and I love the family that is growing around Bleeding Hearts. Hope to see all of you again sometime.
Thank you, Niina, for having me. Being on your blog is an absolute thrill for me. I’m also grateful for a chance to try and make you feel better about the long wait for Sophie and Marek’s hook-up. =) I never meant to torture you, sweetie!
Niina : LOL! Thank you. ;)
And thanks everyone for stopping by. I hope we intrigued you enough to check out Bleeding Hearts, available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Sophie and Marek are waiting for you...and so are my demivampires.