This week, I’m delighted to have women’s fiction author Ashley Farley visit with us. If you don’t already know her, you are in for a treat.
Here’s what one reviewer (among many!) had to say: “Ms. Farley’s writing was a joy to read. Her voice as a writer is rich, warm and very easy to follow. I found myself completely immersed in the world she created for her characters and in the characters themselves.”
From Ashley’s bio: Ashley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you’ve read the last word, then she’s done her job.
After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save.
Ashley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.
And now let’s get to our Q & A:
PS ~ You became an author later in life, as did I. Was this a surprise to you or had you always planned one day you would write novels? Did you have a previous career that prepared you to become an author?
AF ~ Losing myself in the world of fiction is my favorite pastime. I’ve always been an avid reader since my early days with Nancy Drew. During my young adulthood, I often felt as if I had a novel somewhere deep inside of me, eager to come out. Don’t most people who love to read feel that way? In my life before children, I was a business major turned corporate travel agent. I never dreamed I would become an author.
I became a stay-at-home mom after my oldest was born. While I enjoyed nurturing them through their first years of life, I missed the challenge of the working world. As my children became less dependent on me, I began searching for something I could call my own, something that would keep me busy in my golden years. I have a lot of energy, and I need to put it to good use. Certain events happened in my life, as I’ll explain in the next question, that compelled me to write.
PS ~ Your first novel, Saving Ben, is the fictionalization of a very personal story in your family. Do you feel it was less painful to tell the story that way, rather than in a memoir?
AF ~ I wrote Saving Ben in honor of my older brother, Neal, the boy I worshipped, the man I could not save. Years after he died of a drug overdose, still unable to cope with my grief, I took pencil to paper with my feelings. Why not a memoir? Not only did it seem too personal to share the events surrounding my brother’s addiction, it also felt like I was betraying him. I wrote Saving Ben from the perspective of college students, a brother and a sister, because that is the time of my life when I was the closest to Neal. My goal was to reach out to others in similar situations, to let them know they are not alone.
PS ~ From the beginning of January 2014, you have published five novels and your sixth will soon be released. How do you organize your writing time and what do you do for diversion?
AF ~ Before my son went off to college two years ago, and my daughter two years prior to that, my life revolved around their activities. I had little time to focus on my writing, which was simply a hobby for me at the time. Being an empty nester has afforded me many free hours to write. Writing fills the void of not having my children at home.
In my spare time, I like to swim laps and play tennis. I love traveling, gardening, photography, and cooking, although not so much for my picky-eater husband. 😉 No matter how many free hours I have, there never seems to be enough time to do all the things I want to do. I try to make the most of every day. Losing someone close to you suddenly and tragically, at such a young age, makes a profound impact on your life. My brother’s death taught me a valuable lesson about not taking my time on earth for granted.
PS ~ How do you choose the settings for your novels and is there one book in particular that you enjoyed writing more than others?
Three of my novels are set in Richmond, Virginia, my home for the past twenty years, while the others take place in a fictional town called Prospect in the South Carolina Lowcountry where I grew up.
If I had to choose one setting over the other, I would probably pick the Lowcountry. The three Sweeney sisters, stars of Her Sister’s Shoes and Lowcountry Stranger, are currently holding me captive. Prospect has become a very real place in my mind. I can see the shops on Main Street. Smell the salt air. Hear the rumble of the fishing boats’ diesel engines at the Inlet View Marina.
I am finishing up the first draft of my Christmas novella and already plotting the fourth sequel. While I love my life in Richmond, and Virginia is a lovely state with much to offer, I miss the lazy days and laid-back ways of South Carolina. The food’s not bad either.
PS ~ Your next release, Lowcountry Stranger, Sweeney Sisters Series Book Two, will be launched on July 1, of this year. Congratulations! Having a new release is always an exciting time. Can you give us a sneak peek into the story?
AF ~ Lowcountry Stranger picks up a year after Her Sister’s Shoes ends with more drama from the Sweeney clan. The Sweeney family owns and operates a seafood market in the fictional inlet town in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Readers will relate to at least one of the three Sweeney sisters—Samantha, Jackie, and Faith—who struggle to balance the demands of career and family while remaining true to themselves.
There’s a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay.
The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year-old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity.
Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.
Lowcountry Stranger is available to family and friends for a special pre-sale price of $1.99 prior to release date, July 1.
Also, I am offering the unpublished giveaway to Lowcountry Stranger, Annie Dawn, to those who sign up for my newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bn_FMz
Thank you Patricia for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m excited to share my work with your readers.
It’s a pleasure to have you visit.
As I do, I know you love to hear from your readers.
Feel free to visit Ashley on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ashleywfarley or twitter.com/ashleywfarley
I’ve only driven through this beautiful area that Ashley describes, but reading about it makes me intrigued and eager to spend some time there. Are any of you, dear blog visitors, familiar with the South Carolina Lowcountry?