As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.
This week we hear from crime writer Marguerite Ashton, author of Burned Bridges, who tells us about her passion for law enforcement and how she turned it into a writing career.
Name: Marguerite Ashton
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in Wisconsin and I love the country scenery.
Author of: Burned Bridges
Book available: Smashwords and Amazon, as well as my website and blog Website: www.margueriteashton.com (website) www.msashtonwriter.com (Blog)
Tell us a bit about yourself: Thank you for having me, Sarah. I write crime fiction and float between three blogs. I’m a co-host for the Financial Breeze Radio Show and I love to cook.
Tell us about your book: Burned Bridges is about a woman, named Traci, who after learning of her new friend’s past conceals evidence from the police in order to protect her.
What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? When I was in high school, I was the one that no one wanted to hang around because I was always at the library reading or doing research.
I always felt like I was in a different world when reading a history or mystery book and enjoyed the temporary escape.
Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? The Life of Elizabeth 1 by Alison Weir. She was an independent woman who defied conventional wisdom that said a woman could not lead a nation without a man. She proved them wrong.
What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book? For a while, I worked at the State Public Defender’s office and did intake at the police department. When it came time to make a decision about joining the police academy, I learned I was pregnant. It was during that time, my husband encouraged me to continue my writing and for me to write what drives me the most. So I transferred my passion for law onto paper and used it as a basis for my novels.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? The message that I want readers to grasp is that learning to forgive is the best you can do to be at peace. Otherwise it will consume you and it may be hard to move on with your life if that particular dilemma is not put to rest.
What challenges have you faced in your writing career? I’ve been scammed twice. Once by a POD company eight years ago and another time by a person who I trusted. I was young and didn’t have the knowledge that I do now. There was a valuable lesson learned with both.
What has been your best moment as a writer? My best moment is when I hear from my readers. I appreciate the connection.
Who is your author idol? David Baldacci. When I read his first book, Absolute Power, I fell in love with his writing.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Yes. I would have to say Traci. She’s the type that doesn’t like conflict and will do everything to avoid it. I’m the same way. I cringe at any sign of drama.
Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? A little bit of both. I’m working with a writing coach who has taught me a lot and I’m grateful for her patience and support. As a writer, I’m always learning and it’s something that I want to do.
What is your personal cure for procrastination? For me, procrastination was more like a security blanket. Then I realized the longer I delay, the longer it will take to get done. I finally got to the point where I was tired of being behind on my writing and not getting anything done. So, I made a decision to start treating my writing more like a business. Now I work seven days a week with a set writing schedule.
What does your workspace look like? My work space is cluttered-neat. I have stacks of research and how-to books on my floor, desk and table in neat piles. I also stock-up on spiral notebooks. I carry two with me everywhere I go. You never know when you’ll hear or see something that will inspire an idea for your book or a character.
Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? I would have to say carpal tunnel. It can be very excruciating, but I love what I do.
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? You betcha! I cry and laugh hysterically when my career choice becomes overwhelming. I keep telling my husband I should’ve stayed in law enforcement.
What do you do when you’re not writing? I love to spend time with my family, watch movies, cook and read.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? I’d have to say attending at least one writer’s retreat a year. It helps me to spend alone time with my thoughts without interruptions.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school? In eighth grade, my history teacher conducted a mock trial regarding a person wrongly accused of embezzlement. I was the lawyer and my client was someone that I didn’t get along with. The exercise lasted for four days and we won. A couple of days later, the other student came up to me and said, “I’m sorry for all the times I was mean to you.” I accepted her apology and we eventually became friends.
I learned later that she was hiding a lot of pain and was really a nice person. A couple of weeks after we started high school she was killed in an automobile accident. I was crushed. That tragedy helped me to understand that life is short and it’s important to be appreciative of your blessings.
Not long after that, I ran into my history teacher and she confessed to knowing that she was aware that we didn’t get along, but forced us to work together. I thanked her for teaching me that lesson.
Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? Back in 2002 I hand wrote one of my stories on wide ruled paper. 310 pages later I realized that I was not satisfied with it just being a hobby. I wanted more. I wanted to be able to share my creativity with others.
So, I copied it onto Microsoft Word and I’ve been learning the ups and downs of a writer ever since.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Stay focused, hone your craft and remain positive.