Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Mickie B. Ashling – Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks..
Mickie is giving away a $10 NineStar Press gift certificate with this post – comment below for a chance to win!
Thanks so much, Mickie, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
Mickie B. Ashling: Horizonswas published by Dreamspinner Press in 2009. It’s the story of a closeted college football player who meets and falls in love with an out and proud emergency room doctor. Since then, the novel has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, and German, It’s also generated several spinoffs. Taste, Daddio, Chyna Doll,Being With Him, and Through My Own Lens. I have a soft spot for this novel because it was my first m/m romance, and the characters are now a part of my writing family.
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
MBA: Yes, I do. When I first published I was working as an office manager in a surgical practice. My employers were super conservative and would have flipped out if they learned I was writing m/m romance. At the time (2009) it was a relatively new genre, and I didn’t want to jeopardize my day job when I had no idea if my writing career would flourish. Mickie is my real life nickname. I decided to use it along with Ashling because it was comfortable and I wouldn’t hesitate to respond, whereas a completely random first name would have made me pause.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in A Tangled Legacy, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
MBA: I wanted to go beyond the happily ever after I’d created for the main characters in Once Upon A Mattress. Exploring the complex relationship between parents and children, regardless of their circumstances, was my intention, and I believe I accomplished my goal. My royal MCs struggle with a headstrong prince who would rather follow his heart than listen to all the reasons why he shouldn’t. Even the high priestess of the Simon Coven has to cope with an errant son who wants nothing to do with witchcraft or her carefully laid plans for his future. Learning how to go with the flow is one of the hardest things about being a parent. Our expectations don’t always fall in sync with those of our children, and life gets easier as soon as that realization sinks in.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing A Tangled Legacy?
MBA: Knowing when to stop. There was so much more I wanted to say, but I had to end it at some point. The sequel picks up right as A Tangled Legacyends, so it will be necessary to read the first book for it to make any sense.
JSC: Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
MBA: Natasha Snow created my gorgeous cover. I wanted something with a dual image because of the ghost twin, and I was able to find the perfect stock shot. She added her usual flair and chose the right colors. I actually squealed when I saw the finished product.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
MBA: NineStar Press had a submission call for fairy tales with an LGBTQIA+ twist, and my story Once Upon A Mattresswas accepted and included in the Once Upon A Rainbow Anthology, Volume I. I had so much fun writing the fantasy—a new genre for me—I decided a spin-off would be the perfect way to continue delving into the SciFi/fantasy/paranormal.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
MBA: A Tangled Legacy has several female characters and one of them, Princess Charlotte, Prince Colin’s ex-fiancé, ends up as collateral damage. Her story continues in the next book.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
MBA: I took ballet lessons for years and dreamed of being a prima ballerina. When that didn’t pan out, I thought working as a flight attendant would be a fun way to see the world and learn new cultures. I’ve always been a gypsy at heart.
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose, and why?
MBA: The year I turned eighteen. I was studying in Madrid and met this great guy who looked like Al Pacino, but much taller and less broody. We dated for a year and he proposed before I was scheduled to go back to my country. My mother advised against it for reasons that only made sense to her at the time. If I had to do it over again, I would have been more like my headstrong characters in this novel and gone against her wishes.
JSC: What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing your books?
MBA: My job didn’t end when I signed the contract. Promotion is something most authors dread, but some are better at it than others. When I was first published, I was “closeted” at work and kept my social media presence to a bare minimum. This hurt me because I was viewed as a loner or standoffish, but that really wasn’t the case. It was self-preservation more than anything. After I became a full-time writer, I expanded my online presence, but I’m nowhere close to where I should be in terms of promoting.
And now for Mickie’s new book: A Tangled Legacy:
Prince Colin of Sendorra would have been the spare instead of the heir if fate hadn’t intervened. Like his father and forefathers, Colin is expected to marry and father a child or his principality reverts to Spain at the time of his death. Filling the royal nursery with healthy babies seems easy enough until Princess Charlotte—his childhood friend and intended bride—breaks off their engagement.
Nobel Prize winner—and powerful gray witch—Alain de Gris isn’t looking for love. Science and research have taken center stage for years until he walks into a club and lays eyes on Colin, thirteen years his junior.
Bisexual by nature, Colin seeks to avoid another engagement repeat by shying away from a same-sex relationship. There are no acceptable alternatives to provide legitimate offspring if he follows his heart.
But Colin can’t stay away from Alain and the witch finds him irresistible. Ignoring the absolutes isn’t easy when a legacy is in jeopardy. And while magic may offer a solution, it could also create more problems.
DOWAGER PRINCESS ALEXANDRA
With a heavy heart and impending sense of doom, I was back on the train with Fiona, my lady-in-waiting and loyal companion of thirty years. Colin’s so-called friendship with de Gris went beyond my worst nightmare. My grandson appeared bewitched, and I had to call in reinforcements if there was any hope of averting a crisis. My two remaining sisters, Maura and Brigid, agreed to meet in a neutral location, and the City of Lights was far enough from prying eyes and ears to satisfy their request.
Most people who lived past their sixties had a few regrets, and I was no different. Despite my long and happy marriage to Emile, I’d given up a part of myself to make it work. My family felt betrayed after I turned my back on witchcraft, and, by extension, the entire coven. I’d been a newlywed then, and working to fulfill my duties as wife and mother had influenced my decision. Ours was a good marriage, and I would have done anything to make Emile happy, but his prejudice against magic had created an insurmountable rift between me and the coven that I’d never tried to repair.
Having lived under different circumstances, my sisters, only a few years older than me, looked their age. I felt a pang of guilt at seeing their unfashionable clothes, gnarled hands, and wrinkled faces. Fiona was shocked to learn that Maura and I were only eleven months apart, and Brigid, who was seventy-two, looked like a woman in her eighties. We studied each other warily, and I tried not to judge, but I was clearly unable to keep the surprise off my face. My shallow reaction to their appearance must have been obvious because Brigid lashed out.
“We can’t all be Coco Chanel, sister.”
“I wasn’t expecting that,” I said lamely.
“Then stop gawking.”
I averted my eyes and nodded.
“What can we do for you that money can’t buy?” Maura coldly inquired
Rattled by the hostility, I reverted to good manners instead of engaging in a sisterly battle, inappropriate given our age and the long list of transgressions I’d accumulated through years of neglect. Unable to participate in family functions, I’d become one of those people who sent monetary gifts during the holidays but rarely asked about their daily hardships. I knew next to nothing about the family dynamics and swore to do better going forward.
Ignoring Maura’s question, I suggested, “Why don’t we have some refreshments first?”
I signaled for Fiona, and she rang room service, asking them to deliver the high tea I’d preordered. The mood improved exponentially as we enjoyed the lavish array of French pastries and delicate cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches. I ordered a pot of coffee for myself, and one of black tea in case my sisters preferred the latter. After the food was consumed and the tray wheeled away, I dove into the heart of the matter.
“My grandson, the heir apparent, is in trouble.”
Brigid’s expression softened after she realized this meeting was about Colin and not me. As far as I knew, she had no children, but I could have been wrong. Nonetheless, I was encouraged by her body language.
“Go on,” she prompted.
“I should have said something the minute I realized Colin had magic in his blood, but I was too intimidated by Emile and his irrational distrust of witchcraft.”
Maura grimaced. “I never liked that man.”
“I’m sorry I let things get so out of hand,” I said softly. “Can we try to move on?”
“Does the current prince share his late father’s views?”
“The last time Sebastian was subjected to magic of any kind, and it was two decades ago, things worked out rather well.”
“How so?” Maura asked curiously.
I reminded them of the time Sebastian was in need of a consort and my sisters had given me pointers on using magic to guarantee the right choice. Errol’s reaction after it was revealed he’d been selected through witchcraft elicited genuine laughter for the first time since we’d sat down to converse.
“After their marriage, I was ordered to put away the grimoire.”
Brigid scoffed. “You were a fool to listen to your idiotic husband.”
I shrugged. A spinster would never understand the concessions one made to sustain a good marriage.
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and fulfilled in April 2009.
Mickie discovered gay romance in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from the LGBTQA community and their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her characters work damn hard for their happy endings
Email: mickie.ashling @gmail.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004QSCN3E
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_76
Queer Romance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/mickie-b-ashling/