A while ago I was interviewed for my local radio station. There’s nothing quite so effective at shutting me up as a microphone shoved under my nose, but this was extra daunting because it was live. Still, I had a new book out, I was proud of it, and promotion is an essential part of being an author.
Have you ever made a decision, one that made sense on paper, seemed to be the right thing to do, for all the best reasons, yet you never stop regretting it? What would have happened if…? Maybe I could have… I wonder…
I think reality TV brings out the worst in me, in particular my latent sadist who rarely gets an airing. My favorites are:
• I'm a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here. This is required viewing in our house, we just love the intensity of the squabbling, the prima donna posing, and the absolute griminess of the bushtucker trials. Awesome!
This book focusses on the importance of family, is this something you like to explore in your books?
Not consciously, but it does seem to crop up a lot, so perhaps there is something there I want to express. Not all the family relationships in my books are especially positive though, and often the strongest bonds are not between people who are blood relatives.
Chameleon was a lot of fun to write, and something of a journey for me too. I started out with a fairly clear notion of what my heroine, Fleur would be like. A traditional Moroccan woman, true to her culture and the values that go with it. I quickly came to realise though that she is much more than that. This is the essence of the story, the layers or cloaks that people wear at different times, in different places, in order to fit in.
My current release, Chameleon, is set in Morocco, in the beautiful city of Marrakesh. It opens with a chance meeting in the foothills of the Atlas mountains when a sophisticated mining engineer encounters a lovely Berber peasant – or so he thinks. He soon realises that Fleur Mansouri is not what she seems. Far from it. His little human chameleon is constantly changing, adapting to her environment so fast she makes his head spin.
As a white author, it was something of a challenge to write an interracial erotic romance where the heroine is both a submissive, and the black partner. The power relationship in a Dominant/submissive romance is already a delicate balance and is right there at the forefront of the story and, of course, the politics of multicultural societies can so easily become entangled in that. Ultimately, though, this story is about two people who love each other, and their ethnicity is of no relevance to them.
There is a contrast here of Moroccan and Western lifestyles. How much has seeing the world influenced your stories?
A lot. I’m fascinated by people, by cultures, and by language. I learnt French and Italian at school, and as an adult I’ve picked up Urdu, Punjabi and Turkish. I wouldn’t say I’m fluent, but I can get by. The thing that strikes me most is the close link between a language and the culture it evolved from. That’s especially true of the vocabulary – we develop the words for the things we feel a need to talk about.
The Hardest Word is a series featuring Freya, a mute submissive who seeks out a powerful , experienced Dom, Nick Hardisty, to train her. It’s fair to say she has no idea what she is letting herself in for. Freya is a strong, resilient and assertive heroine, a woman who knows what she wants, who she wants, and is not afraid to ask for it. She has had some bad luck in her life, and some incredible good fortune too when she wins over forty million pounds in the Euro lottery. But even this can’t buy her the Dom of her dreams.
Rich Promise is about memories. It’s a story of the past coming back to haunt Summer Jones, a tale of ghosts that just refuse to lie down. This is a theme which I think is especially relevant this year as the world casts its collective mind back a hundred years, to events that left no one untouched.
used to think I hated writing, and perhaps I did. At least, I hated the sort of writing I usually got asked to do. Reports, business letters, the occasional press release. Despite this, and like a lot of people I suspect, especially avid readers like I am, I harboured the fond belief that I might have a book in me. Just the one, nothing to get too excited about. But I was busy back then. I worked full-time as a senior manager and books take time to write. A lot of time. And did I mention I didn’t like writing?
Black Combe is the West Yorkshire moorland setting for most of my trilogies. Some of my stories feature parts of the Lake District too, which is another favourite haunt of mine and the setting for the opening scene in Rich Tapestry.
Summer was perhaps the most complex of my female characters to date, a product of a disastrous childhood, victim of the desires and failings of others, in particular those she should have been able to rely on. Despite all this she has somehow managed to survive, but she has not emerged undamaged.
Summer Jones obsesses over every detail, every aspect of her life is carefully orchestrated and under perfect control. That is, until she meets Daniel Riche, a powerful, charismatic Dom who makes it his business to show Summer the delights of relinquishing control occasionally. Summer doesn’t know what has hit her as her usually well-ordered existence is thrown into turmoil, and Dan doesn’t seem inclined to let her go any time soon, despite Summer’s best efforts to shake him loose.
• Basil and Sybil (Fawlty Towers). Never, surely, in TV history, were ever a pair so ill-matched. Incompetent, arrogant, rude and at times violent, Basil walks in fear of his efficient, waspish wife. She can quell him with a word, or a lift of her eyebrow, but still he enjoys goading her. If he thinks he can get away with it. He doesn't usually. The chemistry between these two is hilarious.
Bed of Roses (Bon Jovi). I'm a BIG Bon Jovi fan, absolutely love their stuff, especially the older classics. I've been to more Bon Jovi gigs than I can remember, spent many happy hours jigging and screaming in draughty arenas. Bed of Roses has always stood out for me, dripping with cynicism and heartbreak, and a perfect showcase for the gravelly quality of Jon BJ's voice.
Ashe Barker has been interviewed by her local paper, Telegraph and Argus about being and erotic romance author and her new release The Three Rs.
“I’d never thought about writing, but reading that got me thinking ‘I wonder’,” says Ashe. “I started writing in September 2011 and had no idea if I’d finish it. I set a deadline for Christmas and I finished it at 9.15pm on Christmas Eve! Over the festive break, I tidied up my manuscript then sent it to Totally Bound Publishing.
“I didn’t have an agent, they just accepted it and suggested writing a trilogy. I went on to write mostly trilogies.”
To what extent do you form a relationship or attachment with your characters as a writer?
This is huge for me. I more or less designed Nathan Darke as my ‘perfect’ alpha male. He ticks all my boxes and some I never even thought of before. Then I surprised myself by crafting Tom Shore as his opposite, certainly physically, and found I loved him too. Fickle author that I am.
How much does it aid your writing living in rural West Yorkshire?
For The Dark Side, a great deal. The moorland location is a key feature of the books, and this is carried through into the tie in trilogy, Sure Mastery, which is to be released later this year. I actually live on the edge of the moors and I go walking up there frequently and in all weathers so this landscape is one I’m very familiar with. It’s dramatic, exciting and sometimes downright scary…
Ashe Barker - Interview about the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon
Ashe Barker - Interview about Chameleon
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