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Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley

 

By Mirah Welday (mwelday)

 

I recently discovered the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series by Ashley Gardner and was hooked with the first book! So far I have read the first five novels and one novella from the series.  A fine mix of gallantry, romance and mystery, the series is fun and intriguing.  After doing some research, I discovered the author was Jennifer Ashley, writing as Ashley Gardner.  I found Jennifer on twitter and made a comment that I loved Captain Lacey and would love to have an opportunity to interview Jennifer for the PBS blog…and I got a response from her!

I hope you enjoy my interview with Jennifer and that you’re inspired to pick up one of her novels, she writes a variety of genres so there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! So without further delay…..

MW: You are prolific writer, writing a variety of genres as Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James.  What made you decide to create the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, writing as Ashley Gardner? Is there something particular about that time period that interests you?

JA: The Regency does fascinate me, because it was such a complex time. Jane Austen’s world is only a small part of it, and even she hinted at darkness–the dangers to a woman unprotected by family, for example.  I wish I could remember *exactly* what prompted me to set the mysteries in this time period, but I think it was simply that I loved reading about it and researching it. Then when I “met” Captain Lacey, I wanted to write about him.

I love that you say you “met” Captain Lacey; I think it’s fascinating how the mind of a writer works.  What is your process when developing new ideas and writing for the series?  Approximately how long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about 2-3 months to write a full Captain Lacey novel. I write 5-7 novels a year, total, so I can’t spend all my time on Lacey, darn it. But while I’m writing other things, I think about the book a lot, make notes, and do research on the aspects I want to bring up. I have quite a lot of material once I finally get to sit down and write.

Captain Gabriel Lacey is a dynamic character.  He has a strict sense of honor and integrity and, while a proud man, he is also humble. I think Lacey is wonderful but I am probably a bit biased since I’m married to someone in the military!  What was your inspiration for Captain Lacey?

Thank you! Actually, when I thought about doing a Regency series, I toyed with the idea of having a Regency dandy as the sleuth. Then I realized that had been done (several times–Beau Brummell has been the star of a few series), and I wanted a character the exact opposite of a wealthy Regency dandy.  I didn’t deliberately create such a character; I just let the idea swim around in my head. Captain Lacey took form and kept on growing, while I stood back and watched him. He’s a very organic character, and very real to me, in many ways.

My husband also was in the military–in the cavalry, in fact! He is a great source for information about weapons–and will quickly tell you all the gun errors made in TV shows and movies–quite a few!

Lacey isn’t the only great character in the series. I just love Grenville.  He and Lacey are an odd pair of friends in some ways but it really works!  I enjoyed The Sudbury School Murders because I think it took their friendship to a different level. What is it about the two of them that you think makes them a great pair?

Grenville is like the famous George Brummell in that his taste set fashion daily, but different because Grenville is from an old and titled family (though Grenville himself is only a distant heir to the title). Grenville has inherited a lot of money, and his wise investments have only made him richer.  At the same time, the proper English existence is not enough for him–Grenville has an adventurous streak he constantly feeds. This makes him a good friend for Lacey–Grenville envies Lacey his forays into danger, but also values Lacey’s resourcefulness and wisdom. They play off each other, though deep down inside, they are much the same: both are honorable, compassionate men who are willing to put themselves in danger for others.

If you had to cast the two of them in a movie, what actors do you think you would want to play Lacey and Grenville?

That’s a good question! I’m very bad at keeping track of who’s who in the acting world. Colin Firth certainly could play Captain Lacey. I’d be interested to hear what readers think about who should play whom.

No doubt, Colin Firth would make an incredible Captain Lacey…and I think I’d love to see Jonny Lee Miller or JJ Field as Grenville!  That’s a movie I would love to watch!  And then there’s James Denis (I’m thinking Jason Statham could play him in the movie)…he’s involved in shady dealings and is known to be a dangerous man but I can’t help but feel hopeful that deep down he’s good.  I don’t want to like him but I do! Why do you do this to me, Jennifer? Are we going to learn more about Denis in future novels?

Of course, you will learn more about Denis. He is a fascinating character to me, a villain definitely, but he has an honor, and understands that honor in Lacey. I know readers who are more or less in love with him, and that’s fine! I like him, because I’m never quite sure what he’s going to do.

Well, if you’re not sure what he’s going to do, I think we’re all going to be in for some Denis surprises!  In each novel of the series, relationships are tested.  I think A Body in Berkeley Square was all about secrets being revealed from various characters.  I can’t wait to see what happens with these relationships in future novels now that these secrets have been revealed.  Do you already know where you want these characters to end up or do you take it one book at a time?

I have a vague idea how relationships will develop over time, but I do like to take things one book at a time. I might develop something unexpected in a book, and I want to leave room for it to grow naturally, instead of forcing my characters into certain paths. So the answer is yes, I know where they’re going, and no, I don’t.  🙂  I do want to explore more of the Brandon / Lacey relationship, as well as those with other characters as the series progresses (don’t want to spoil…)

I think (so far) The Sudbury School Murders is my favorite in the series. I liked seeing the reactions of Marianne, Bartholomew, Matthias, and Lacey to the incident with Grenville.   Do you have favorite moments from the series or a favorite book?

I have a fondness for A Covent Garden Mystery, where Lacey’s past runs into his present. I liked that book. I also like A Death in Norfolk, because Lacey goes to his boyhood home and deals with more of his past. And we learn a lot about James Denis. 🙂  I also enjoy Murder in Grosvenor Square, my most recent book, which takes Lacey into the next phase of his life and makes him look hard at his friendships.

I look forward to getting to those books in the series! The friendships are one of the things I enjoy most about the series.  But I also enjoy the characters, secrets, intrigue, love, scandal.  When you read for enjoyment, what types of books or authors do you like?

When I have a chance to read for enjoyment, I like mystery novels (currently very fond of Kerry Greenwood). I also like biographies and social histories, sci-fi / fantasy that has a lot of action / adventure, and have decided I really like steampunk too! It’s a fun genre where almost anything goes. I have the hankering to write some. 🙂

Steampunk is very fun! I’d enjoy to read your take on it. According to your website, you’ll be releasing book 10 in the series, The Thames River Murders, soon.  Can you share any insight into this installment and what might be in store for Gabriel Lacey in the future? Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to share with the readers at PaperBackSwap?

Yes, I plan to have The Thames River Murders out this summer. (check my website http://www.gardnermysteries.com  periodically for pre-order info). This one will be a cold case brought to Lacey by Thompson of the Thames River Police, but it will have ties to Lacey’s current life.

I also have many other series going! The Shifters Unbound series (paranormal romance) continues in April with Mate Bond, with more installments in June and July. The Mackenzies series then picks up in August, September, and October. I’m writing a new era of Mackenzies, going back to the 1745 uprising.

I’ve also begun a new contemporary romance series called Riding Hard, which is lighter and sweeter than most of my series–it’s a small-town family saga rather than heavy romance.

I’m also continuing my Stormwalker (urban fantasy series) this year. Would like to put out a book and perhaps a novella, but I’m still in planning stages.

That’s a lot of writing! You are one busy woman, Jennifer, so I won’t keep much longer! I’d like to end with some fun rapid fire questions….

Chocolate of Vanilla?

CHOCOLATE!

Ok, I love that you used all caps and an exclamation!  You’re my kind of woman!

Cake or Pie?

Cake (and tortes). Though I just made a kick-butt coconut cream pie that really turned out well!

Yum, I’d love that recipe!

Winter or Summer?

Summer–love the heat!

Cats or Dogs?

I love them both equally. Though I have cats. Devil cats.

Morning or Night?

Night. I live in the desert. I like darkness.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea!!! Unlike Captain Lacey, who loves his coffee, I can’t stand it! 🙂 Tea, I drink by the gallon.

I agree, tea is delicious!

And on that note, I’d like to thank Jennifer for being so generous with her time. It’s been a joy to get to know her better and learn about her writing process and upcoming works.  For more information on the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, check out Jennifer’s website:  http://www.gardnermysteries.com and for more on Jennifer’s other series and genres, check http://www.jenniferashley.com.