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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Q & A with Author Sylvia Ashby

Hi, Sylvia! Thanks for joining me! What are your ambitions for your writing career? What would your career look like in an ideal world?
In an ideal world my first drafts will be perfect: mistake-free, perfectly proofread, formatted and polished. And there would be no editing. I’ll be putting the last dot and people would start reading them straight away!
As for my writing career, I don’t see writing as a job. I’d keep on writing until the end of the world. There is too much pleasure in it for me to stop.

What’s your guilty pleasure TV show?
More than a decade ago, when my husband and I first started living together I broke his TV. It was precariously positioned on a wonky chair by the bed. I tripped over the wire and it fell, face down, to the floor. I’ve been meaning to replace it ever since. There was no Netflix back then, so we stopped watching telly altogether. We never regained the habit.

Wow, crazy story! I wish I could disconnect from the TV world. What is the most unique talent or hobby that you have?
I’m very good at staring at burning fires. I can go on for hours. It’s my meditation technique.
Seriously though, I have an elephant’s memory. I remember stuff that’s happened when I was 8 months old and crawling about the room. My mum had guests for coffee and I remember that the feet of one of the ladies smelled odd. My mum confirms it.
Good memory is blessing and curse in equal measures.

Very interesting! My earliest memory is from when I was about three years old. Do you believe in fate or love at first sight?
I do! That’s how I met my husband.

Too cute! Which writers inspire you?
To name but a few: Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Sophie Kinsella, Mo Hayder, Gillian Flynn, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zadie Smith…
Looking through the list I realise I favour female writers. I guess I’m a feminist as well as a voracious reader.

Gillian Flynn is one of my favorite writers too! Give us an insight into how you create your main characters. 
Keen observation of everything and everyone around. I take notes all the time. It’s like a filter I put to my eyes and ears that allows me to notice things that my character would do or say. Also, giving it time. You have to give them time to grow and develop in your thoughts. I live with some of my characters for years. Good job I like them.
Well, at least most of them.

What are you working on right now?
I’m plotting my next book. It involves lots of lying in bed and reading. Also tea-drinking and cake. Life is hard for writers at times, but we go through those sticky patches. Eventually.

I could go for some tea and cake right about now. What draws you to writing Chick Lit books?
The humour. I love a good chuckle. When a book is really funny it leaves me with a light sensation in my stomach that tells me it’s all going to be all right. I try to recreate that joy of reading for others with my books.

Is that also your favorite genre to read?
It’s part of my job to be an avid reader. I read everything: from shop brochures for broccoli and cheddar to “My Struggle” vol. 1, 2 and 3 by Karl Ove Knausgård (about 6,000 pages altogether).

Why do you write?
It’s a kind of an escapism that I adore. It’s the creating of alternative worlds and the beauty of telling people about it.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to publish their own book?
Don’t have illusions it’s going to be easy. Do your research of what it involves to be self-published and only do it if you’d love the job. Once you set the wheels in motion don’t stop. It gets bigger, and better and, eventually, it’s wonderful.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Editing. It’s what happens after you’ve written the book and before it’s ready to be seen by readers’ eyes. Editing takes months and often puts me off from publishing some books at all. I have several first drafts that would never see the light of day. Thank God!

What is the easiest thing about writing?
The first draft. I feel so clever, and fast, and wonderful. My fingers are surging through the keyboard and nothing can stop me.

What is your all-time favorite book?
I don’t have one. There are just too many good books out there.

I feel the same way. I have about twenty favorite books. What is your favorite quote?
“There is no fair wind for one who knows not whither he is bound.” Seneca, philosopher, 3–65 AD

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I’d like to tell you a bit more about my latest book “The Treachery of Trains”, if I may.
It’s about a girl that’s lost.
To begin with, she’s only lost metaphorically – Sky’s mum has died three years ago and her best friend has left London without as much as a backward glance. Sky feels abandoned by everyone dear to her heart. Then she gets lost for real. That’s when the fun starts.
I don’t want to spoil the plot, but I could tell you that on her first day in a new city Sky rings the doorbell of a complete stranger to ask for help. He gets the door dripping wet and clad only in a skimpy towel. Then both of them get locked out of their respective flats.

Oh, that sounds like a nice hello! How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I use Twitter excessively (according to my husband; I think I’m totally fine). Talk to me on @bysylvia_a
I also have a writer’s platform where I write book reviews, recipes, and other random stuff. Visit me at
My books are on Amazon.
Also on Smashwords

Thank you for joining me on Judging More Than Just the Cover. Best of luck with your book and future writing!