Monday, April 27, 2009

Jennifer Ashley Does it Again!

I have a real treat for you today. Jennifer Ashley is here with us. Jenn is a USA Today Best Seller, a RITA winner and the author of over 40 books in several different sub-genres: historical romance, paranormal, straight historical, erotica, mysteries and I think I even saw a chicklit on her backlist! This talented author writes as Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James and Ashley Gardner, and is the driving force behind the fabulous IMMORTALS series with Joy Nash and Robin Popp.

But today, we'll focus on her historical romances and she has new one coming for us called THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE. Here's the blurb:

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

I'm already hooked. I sat down with Jennifer for a cyber-chat recently. As always when I have a guest, my words will be in bold. Jennifer will speak in italics.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie features a hero with Asperger's Syndrome. Can you tell us about this condition and what prompted you to tackle it in your story?

Asperger's Syndrome is a form of "high functioning" autism. Symptoms can vary widely from person to person, but typical characteristics are: inability to make eye contact, obsession with details while ignoring overall concepts, obsession with routine, inability to read non-verbal cues, and not understanding subtext (e.g., sarcasm, jokes, or teasing). Not all people with AS have all symptoms, and they might have other difficulties than I list here.

What prompted me to tackle it in my story? Many people these days either have AS or know someone who does (family member, child, friend, child of friend). I write historicals, so I'm always looking for good historical ideas. I wondered, what did people with autism face in past times? AS wasn't identified until the mid-twentieth century, and even now it's not well understood. How did an autistic person function in Victorian society, when psychiatry was in its infancy? And the story was born.

It was a difficult story to write. It went through many drafts before it reached its final state.

Sounds fascinating, Jenn. What does your heroine love most about your hero?

What Beth loves most about Ian is... well, everything. Ian is such a complicated character that no one characteristic stands out. He's honest (painfully so), charming, sexy, stubborn, single-minded, and vulnerable. She feel protective of that vulnerability, but she doesn't pity him.

One question I've had already from readers is: Is Ian a virgin?

No. Decidedly not! Ian has no trouble enjoying sex, and in fact, courtesans like him because he's charming, kind to them, and very, very generous.

Of course, once he meets Beth, Ian turns his single-mindedness to getting her into his life--permanently.

Ah, single-minded! Just the way we like our men! You and I are part of the same Christmas anthology coming out September 29th. Can you tease us a bit with a blurb of your story?

Yes, A Christmas Ball features three stories based around a ball in one of the most fashionable houses in London. In mine, "The Longest Night," Mary Cameron (sister of Egan Macdonald in Highlander Ever After) encounters Baron Valentin, an exotic Nvengarian she met (and was dazzled by) the year before.

Valentin has returned to England as aide to the new Nvengarian ambassador, and he and Mary run into each other at this Christmas ball. Valentin has a mysterious and dangerous mission to perform, but it doesn't keep him from testing out the legend of the Longest Night. Will the lady he spends the Longest Night with (i.e., Mary) be with him for the rest of his life? He's willing to find out.

It's a fun, romantic piece that rounds out the Nvengarian (historical/paranormal) series.

So The Longest Night in A CHRISTMAS BALL features a character your readers have met before. It's always fun to meet an old friend in a new story.

Back to the one that's out now. I understand Lord Ian is the first in a new historical series. What's coming next?

I will write books about all four brothers (Ian, Mac, Cam, Hart), in order from youngest to oldest. Book 2, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage features the second oldest Mackenzie brother, Mac, and his estranged wife, Isabella. You encounter this couple in Lord Ian, where they play a pivotal role in bringing Beth and Ian together.

Now Mac (based on advice from Ian) has decided to try to save the marriage he wrecked. Isabella, who caused scandal by eloping with Mac then leaving him, is not certain she wants him back. It will be an intense and sexy tale.

I'm also working on a new paranormal series based around shapeshifters, but with a twist. The first book, Pride Mates, is out in January 2010. The premise is that Shifters "came out" twenty years ago, were rounded up into internment camps (Shifter-towns), forced to wear collars that suppress their violent instincts, and made to obey a set of restrictive laws. Humans believe the dangerous Shifters have been suppressed and tamed. Or have they? Kim Fraser, a lawyer defending a Shifter on a murder charge, is about to find out.

While we're on the subject of paranormals, I have to ask: Will there be more Immortals books?

At this point, we've finished the Immortals stories. Immortals: The Reckoning, an anthology of three stories set in the Immortals world, came out this March, and pretty much wrapped up all the threads.

I never say never-who knows if Joy or Robin or I will come up with another tale from that world? But for now, there are no plans to continue the series. My contracts are for the Mackenzie series and for the Shifters series.

Thanks for being with us today, Jennifer.

See her website ( for information on upcoming books and other fun things, plus links to her other psuedonyms (award-winning authors Allyson James and Ashley Gardner).

Jennifer is giving away a book today someone who leaves a comment or question. Which book are you offering, Jenn?

Thanks for having me, Emily. I will allow the winner to choose which backlist book they want, from any pseudonym (anything besides Ian).

April 28th Update--Great news! I talked Jennifer into hanging around for another day so there's still time for you to comment for a chance to win one of her books! Good luck!


Teddyree said...

Jennifer, you are so right, most people know someone with AS or similar disorder from the Autistic Spectrum. How someone with a disorder such as this copes in Victorian society is a fascinating idea to base a story on. I have a son almost 18 who was diagnosed with ADHD & Tourettes when he was quite young & I can't imagine how that would have been dealt with so many years ago.

Thanks for a great interview Emily.

Sharon Angle-Boyer said...

Hello Jennifer,

First off, I am really excited about this new book. It looks great.

I do have a question though in general. You have written a lot of different types of novels but do you have a favorite series that you enjoy more than others?


Willa said...

Ooh - I wanted to congratulate you on Lord Ian's story. I had seen it on my travels around blogland and knew this was something I wanted to read. I gulped it down with unseemly haste!! A lovely book with great characters, romance, a mystery and it left me wanting to get my mitts on Mac's book!

As Teddyree said, seeing how Victorian society dealt with such illnesses is a compelling idea to have as the basis for a story. It is quite appalling to us in this day and age how they thought to 'manage' these illnesses then. I loved Megan Chance's book The Portrait - the hero was bi-polar. Another great read.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Morning all. :-) I just woke up on the West Coast. Thank you Emily for posting this early on a Monday after RT!!

Thanks Teddy and Willa! I hope I captured a hero struggling with this disorder in a time when most disorders were completely misunderstood. I'm glad you enjoyed the book, Willa! I appreciate it.

Sharon: I do write a lot of different types of books--hard to say which I love best! Historical is my first love, and likely to always be my love (be it romance or mystery). I grew up reading fantasy (not romance, actually), so paranormal is also my thing--marriage of romance and fantasy, yes!!

So historical and paranormal are my favorites, but I'm also partial to the futuristic, which I dabble in. I hope to write more mysteries soon as well.

Keira Gillett said...

The more I learn about Ian the more I like him! I can't wait to read this!

LuAnn said...

Ian sounds like a complex individual personality-wise. Is he modeled after anyone you know personally?

Mari said...

This sounds like a great book. I will definitely have to pick it up. Keep up the great books!

Jane said...

Hi Jennifer,
I had no idea you wrote under three names. I loved "The Mad, Bad Duke."

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Thanks Mari and Keira! LuAnn: I wasn't inspired by one specific person, just pondering about the disorder, and what it must be like to have to deal with it. I've been rather a shy, introverted social misfit for most of my life, so I have much empathy! (There's a reason I write books, LOL).

Jane: Thanks, re Mad, Bad Duke. Yes, me of the many names. My husband always says he loves being married to three women! :-)

The_Book_Queen said...

Hello Jennifer!

I love your books, and I can't wait to get my hands on my copy of Ian's story (Hopefully B&N delivers it soon).

Here's my question. Well, actually more than one! Lol. First, can you tell us what you have planned next? Just a hint, even? ;)

And would you ever think about writing a novel (either under one of your current names or under a new one) for teens? I've noticed that more authors who write for other genres have started trying there hands at the YA world, and I'm just curious to see what your thoughts are on it. I know I would pick it up, no matter what age group it's "suppose" to be targeted towards...

Thanks for the interview, Emily, it was great. And thanks for the contest, Jennifer. Keep up the great work-- both of you!


Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Hey TBQ: Pop over to these pages on my website: post blurbs, covers, and tell you what's coming up for me (and when if I know it).

Basically more historicals (including the sequel to Ian), and more paranormals.

I have thought about YA. I'd love to do a YA historical. I don't know if that's in the cards for me right now--I'm contracted out through 2011, so I'm already pretty busy, LOL.

Thanks for stopping by!

EmilyBryan said...

Oh boy! I messed up. I had this post set to go before I went to Orlando for RT, which is the only reason it went up. For some reason I was thinking Jenn would be with us tomorrow, so I didn't blast the info on my loops. I'm going to see if I can persuade Jenn to pop by for another day so more readers can get a chance to visit with her.

RT was a total blast! But the internet connection was pathetic. I'll be sharing more pics later in the week so be sure to stop back by!

housemouse88 said...

Hello Jennifer,

Loved the interview. I'm going to add your new book to my buy list. Ian sounds like a character I want to get to know better. Have a great day.

Edie Ramer said...

I've heard so much buzz about this book. In fact, a friend emailed me about it on Saturday, telling me that I'd love it. I told her she was right. Now I want it even more. The next time I go to the store, I'm buying this!

Nynke said...

Hi Jennifer and Emily,

Sir Ian sounds like a must-have! I'll go check out the backlist as well and I'll point my sister to your website, Jennifer, to persuade her to buy some of your books - since I'm kind of broke myself, at the moment :).

Emily, thanks for introducing us to another great author! And I'm really looking forward to more news from the conference.


Christie Craig said...

Great post.

Sounds as if this book is real winner.


Mariee said...

Great interview! Ian definitively sounds like an interesting and different hero. I'm intrigued :)

cheryl c said...

I am intrigued and hooked by the characters and plot of "The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie." As a teacher, I have worked with a child with Asperger's Syndrome, so I am curious to see how you have created a romantic hero with that disorder.

The Christmas anthology that you are doing with Emily sounds good, too!


Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Thanks, Em for letting me stay an extra day. I'll be pulling the winner later tonight.

It's Lord Ian's official release day, today, so it should be getting into the stores even as we speak.

Thanks again for all the comments!

Caffey said...

Hi Emily and Jennifer!! I started your books with the pirate heroes! So looking forward to Ian's book! Perfect title!

I think its important to have these stories with the disabled characters in them. I remember when I first read ANNIE'S SONG by Catherine Anderson and that character is deaf as I am and I so cried because they got it so right on so much with the emotions I went through. So having these different disabilities into the books too brings so much forward. And too its beautiful to find a romance with that!

EmilyBryan said...

I agree,Caffey. Stories on the edge have always fascinated me. That's why I had an epileptic heroine in SILK DREAMS (one of my Diana Groe books)