Mar 31, 2009
Sharon Ashwood - Interview
A big welcome to Sharon Ashwood author of paranormal romance/adventure Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten. Sharon describes herself as "a free-lance journalist, novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky." Besides being an excellent writer, she also has a wicked sense of humor.
Sharon thanks so much for this interview!
PVN: You have created a complex world for Ravenous. Holly, the main character comes from a family of witches. Please tell us about Holly and her family.
Sharon: Holly Carver and her grandmother are the only family members living in Fairview at the moment. Holly’s parents are dead and her older sister, Ashe, has moved away.
Despite the fact that her magic was damaged during a childhood trauma, Holly is in charge of the Three Sisters Agency, their family spellcasting business—she does a lot of ghost-busting, finding lost items, getting rid of imps, and so on. She’s having a tough time running it alone, so she takes Alessandro along when she needs muscle. It’s a good arrangement - he’s chipper when he has a legitimate reason to beat something up and, with a vampire around, no one stiffs her on the fee.
PVN: Holly's love interest is Alessandro, a vampire. What is his story?
Sharon: Alessandro is the dark hero trying to break free from old loyalties and find his way into the light. He’s 600 years old and has spent much of that time as the champion swordsman of the vampire queen, Omara. He was the only survivor of an attack on his clan, and she took him in rather than let him perish so he owes her a debt of loyalty.
At the same time, he’s in love with Holly. (Enter angsty drama, because no author can have two strong women interested in the same hero and leave well enough alone. It’s a natural law.)
Alessandro’s what I call a thinking alpha hero. He’s an aggressive predator, but he knows when to take a step back and work smart. He knows he has to give Holly space to do her thing. When his loyalty and his love come into conflict, he tries to find an honorable solution—which would work better if everyone else played by the rules, too. Eventually he has to make some huge choices and start kicking butt.
PVN: What do you think makes vampires so romantically attractive?
Sharon: My vampires are dangerous. Their bite carries a venom that gives a huge erotic buzz but turns their lovers into mindless addicts. This may sound like fun, but zombie love slaves are high maintenance and never do their own laundry.
Unfortunately, vamps can’t really *enjoy* themselves without biting. This is why Alessandro hasn’t pursued Holly the way he would like to—he doesn’t want to rip away her free will.
To me, this sums up the push/pull vampire attraction. You want them even though they’re extremely bad for you. They’re not safe; vampires belong to the realm of death itself. It brings to mind Keats’ poem:
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath . . .
PVN: Omara, the vampire queen, is so fascinating. She is beyond egotistical yet very much a diplomat. How did you come up with this character? Have you known someone like her?
Sharon: Omara is a composite of a number of people I’ve known who were brilliant, charismatic, talented and truly had the greater public good at heart. Unfortunately, they were extremely difficult on a one-on–one level. They contributed a lot to my violent fantasy life.
Omara is actually a sad character. She’s unable to have real relationships because she can’t let control over any situation slip. The more vulnerable she feels—and vulnerability is essential if you’re actually going to share yourself with somebody—the more she fears loss of control. The result is someone who is manipulative and hurtful. And yet, she’s essential to the vampire’s survival in the political arena. It’s no wonder Alessandro has extremely mixed feelings about her. The only reason he survives their relationship is because he has a strong sense of his own worth. In the end, though, Omara respects him.
PVN: In the world of the Dark Forgotten Hell has a very different connotation than that of the Judeo-Christian tradition. (Or maybe in some ways not so different.) Would you describe your take on it?
Sharon: The “hell” my characters encounter is not a fire-and-brimstone hell but an alternate dimension created through sorcery. However, as Alessandro says, it’s so bad it may as well be the real thing.
This alternate dimension is called the Castle. It’s a dungeon for all the supernatural creatures (like demons) the ancients could round up and shove in there, regardless of whether those creatures were good or evil. They’ve been captive for thousands of years and now everyone’s afraid to let them out because they’re going to be really mad and/or really crazy. One key ingredient to closing the portal to the Castle is a Carver witch, like Holly. Unfortunately, the last one to close that portal died. (Cue ominous soundtrack)
PVN: There are a variety of paranormal creatures in your novel. The changelings were something new to me. Would you tell us about them?
Sharon: The changelings resemble the nosferatu of the old horror films. They’re vampires that didn’t Turn properly and, unlike other vamps, their human personality perished during the change. Regular vampires hate them because they’re uncool and disgusting.
Periodically, the two groups wage war for territory. The last time they did this, the changelings lost badly and everyone assumed they had died out. Then they saw Revenge of the Nerds and dared to dream large . . .
PVN: There will be at least one sequel. Would you mind telling us something about it?
Sharon: The next Dark Forgotten book is Scorched and, according to the all-seeing eye of Amazon, it will be out on December 1, 2009. In this book, the Castle is a primary setting so we learn more about the residents, its history, and what goes on there. I think of it as a sex, death and resurrection story—kind of shamanic, actually, with a lot of fairy tale elements. I finished the most recent draft a few days ago, and I was absolutely exhausted! The ending is a pretty wild ride. One of these days I need to have a quiet hero who solves everything from an armchair.
PVN: . Describe your writing environment and your writing day.
Sharon: I have a full-time job and I’m also taking work-related university courses, so creative time happens around that. I typically write in the evenings between 7:00 and 10:00ish and then whatever I can on the weekends. I guess I work about an 80-hour week, but I wouldn’t give any of it up right now. I love to write but I like to eat, too.
PVN: Do you have other writing projects?
Sharon: I’ve done a lot of freelance work for newspapers, although I don’t do much of that now. Too many vampires, too little time. Right now I’m in the planning stages of a third Dark Forgotten book.
PVN: Where can readers find you on the Internet?
Sharon: My website is www.sharonashwood.com. I’m also on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and I blog at www.SilkandShadows.com, which is a group of five paranormal authors. We have a great time there!
PVN: What do you do to relax?
Sharon: Occasionally one of my cats sits on the keyboard, and I have to stop working until it moves.
Seriously, I don’t get a lot of time to relax (see #8 above), but I do love to read (I get through about a book a week) and I really enjoy a few TV shows. My favorites right now are 24, Supernatural, and I’m getting into Fringe. I love the fact that I never know what they’re going to do next. I love that the mad scientist really is mad.
PVN: Fringe is a favorite of mine as well. It's one of the more creative series on broadcast TV.
Sharon, what a fun interview! I really appreciate your visit to PVN.
Now for the Contest information:
One lucky commenter will win a copy of Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten
For a chance to win do one (or more) of the following:
*Comment on any subject from the interview. Each comment on a different subject counts as an entry.
*Ask Sharon a question. Each question counts as an entry.
*Link to Patricia's Vampire Notes and send me the URL. Each link counts as an entry.
Be sure to include your email information so that I will be able to contact you.
The contest will end Friday April 3 at 11:59 PM ET