|The young Ash Gray|
Ash Gray is a dragon with minuscule spectacles perched on her nose, living in a wonderfully dank, musty cave far away in an alternate universe. She types her stories with gigantic claws on a ridiculously small typewriter before sending them through a membrane and into your dimension for your enjoyment.
1. Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a dragon. To be honest, we’re really not all that interesting. A couple burned villages here, a few virgin sacrifices there. And there was that time with the leprechaun.
2. Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals?
A lot of the time I just fly by the seat of my pants.
As I got older, the college dork in me found it easier to make an outline for every novel. I might sit and brainstorm and fill out an outline with all my ideas for the book from beginning to end. Then I would know how the story was going to end and all I had to do was fill in the blanks. That’s when I’m feeling patient.
A lot of the time I’m just chaotic. I have a general idea of what I want to say and I write a chapter, maybe three, everyday until it’s said.
At my first college, I learned this neat trick from my (very mean) Creative Writing teacher. She challenged us to write our stories backwards. Write the ending first or write a chapter that will happen much later, then go back and tell what happened six chapters before. She called it “paperchunking.” I would use the paperchunk method for maybe five years before I wandered between outlining and flying by my – figurative – pants (dragons don’t wear pants).
3. Do you think people have misconceptions about the speculative fiction? Why do you think it is a worthwhile genre?
I think a lot of people view speculative fiction as childish, like we speculative writers are just children playing at fantasies. When I was growing up, nerd culture hadn’t yet been turned into some widely accepted fad. I had to hide my books about dragons and robots for fear of being ridiculed to tears. Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit only became cool because of Peter Jackson.
Those who view us as childish conveniently forget that people like us are the reason why they have great entertainment. We create the children’s programs, the theatre productions, the video games, the art, the music, the television shows, the happy memories that people crave each time they engage their favorite characters.
Yes, it’s possible to be creative without dungeons and dragons, but it’s also boring. At least for me.
4. Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?
I dunno. Are there children present?
The most recent book I published is titled Tales of Talithia. It’s a collection of erotic stories in a fantasy setting. So basically it’s elves, mermaids, unicorns, shapeshifters, magi, the works. Each story is about a couple of a different sexual identity – so straight, gay, bisexual, etc. I made it free for Valentine’s Day, but it’s so cheap (at the moment) it doesn’t really matter.
Each story is about the origins of a great hero, how their parents met, and how they were born. So each couple in the book gives birth to a child (the gay couples adopt or have mystical pregnancies), and that child goes on to become a great hero in Talithia.
I plan to write one novel about each of the five heroes in a Tales of Talithia series. I might change my mind, but that’s the plan right now.
5. What gives you inspiration for your book?
I love art. Growing up, I always wanted to be a painter because I just love art so very much. When I look at paintings, I always think of a story. A lot of my stories were inspired by paintings I saw. “Farther Shores” in Tales of Talithia is a short story about a woman who falls in love with a male siren and they have a half-siren child. It was inspired by the painting The Land Baby by John Collier.
If art doesn’t inspire me, my dreams do. I’m currently working on a novel called Dreamweaver which is based on a daydream I had (saying it’s a vision kind of makes me look crazy, but that’s pretty much what it was).
6. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
I have created a lot of crappy characters, so that’s a hard question to answer. It is my personal opinion that I am still to have created a really memorable character.
If I had to answer, I would say Zorya from my yet unfinished novel Dreamweaver is kind of fun to write. She is a snarky transgender woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. She has godlike powers, which has isolated her from other people, to the point that she’s sort of cold and can do terrible things as a result of her detachment. She basically has a god complex where she “smites” people with her powers, truly believing she has the right to judge others.
Zorya is very fun to write, and I feel nervous every time I sit down to write her because I want to get it right.
7. Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Do you have any other books in the works?
I have a folder on my computer labeled “Writing.” Inside that folder, I have two subfolders. One is a folder of published works. The second is a folder of unpublished works. There are eight novels in the second folder.
Yes. I have more stories to tell you.
Where can we find you online?
Fiverr gigs (I write for scraps!): https://www.fiverr.com/ashbleu
The Thieves of Nottica
In a world where humans are evil, invading aliens and robots are slaves, Rigg is the youngest member of the Keymasters, a band of professional thieves who use their skills to defy an overbearing government known as the Hand. It is a world full of pollution, intrusive surveillance cameras, and injustice, where any who “give the finger to the Hand” are punished with death. The Keymasters are hired to steal a highly sought after treasure, but when one of their number is lost during the job, they find themselves the tools in a power play for said treasure -- a mysterious lockbox that no one can open. To ultimately survive in the end, the Keymasters must battle their way through mechanical monsters, airships, and politics, literally going through shit (they travel through a sewage pipe) to make it out alive.
“Scanning,” Lisa repeated. “Scanning Complete.” Her eyes clicked, turning golden again as the red mesh of light dissipated. Beams of yellow light reached from her eyes instead, creating a circular spotlight that glared over the trees directly in front of them. The creature came faster, Lisa’s glowing eyes having pinpointed their location for it.
“Well?” Morganith demanded of Lisa.
A tree somewhere fell with a groan in the darkness. The four of them leapt as it slammed down, shaking the world in a riot of dust.
“What is it?!” Hari begged.
“It is . . .” began Lisa, but she needn’t have finished. A giant mechanical frog rolled out of the darkness and into Lisa’s light; round, blank eyes gleaming like yellow headlights as it came to a smooth, rattling stop. Rigg glanced beyond it and could see it had trampled its eager way to them, leaving a path of destruction its wake. In place of legs, it had been fitted with the rolling tracks of a tank. Its rusty metal body was peeling with green paint, and its great, wide, toothless mouth was open to reveal a red synthetic tongue. Its yellow throat, made of withered cloth, ballooned out when it croaked, regarding them with the greedy, hungry expression of a predator.
Hari took a stumbling step back, pushing her welding goggles back from her eyes to regard the creature in disbelief. “You gotta be kiddin’ me,” she said. “Who would waste their scrap makin’ somethin’ like this?”
“You?” Morganith suggested.
“Proto-Frog Unit 365,” said Lisa factually. “Prototype Age: One Hundred and Nine. Designated Perimeter:
. Function: To Cull
The Population Of Wild Spiders --” Purva
“Hmm. That makes sense, actually,” said Hari, shrugging contently.
The proto-frog gave a croaking, creaking scream and opened its mouth, raising the hairs on Rigg’s neck.
“Great, things make sense,” said Morganith sarcastically. “Now that Hari’s comfortable, can we fight for our lives?”
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