Sunday, 21 August 2016

Author Interview: Ashlyn Macanamara talks about "Destined For a King" released in paperback today.

Hello Ashlyn , what a pleasure it is to speak to you about “Destined For A King”

Thank you so much for asking me. I’m honored to be here!

1)You say in your acknowledgements that you had the basic premise of the book mapped very quickly, was this just the plot for “Destined” or do you have a definitive Destination in mind for the saga as a whole?

The note in my acknowledgments referred to just Destined, but I do have a destination in mind, yes. Without setting a toe too far over the spoiler line, I will say that readers will no doubt notice some threads were left dangling. Some threads might hint at future pairings, but there will be an overarching story to this series, which involves Torch and his ongoing quest. So I do know where we’re headed, just not exactly how we’re going to get there.
This is partly due to the way I write. In writers’ terms, I’m known as a “pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants. On the other end of the continuum lie the “plotters”, who can’t write a word until they’ve meticulously decided everything that’s going to happen beforehand. To me, that takes the fun out of the entire process. 

I start a book with two characters and a situation and tell them, “OK, how are you going to get out of this?” Then I let them deal with it.

2)Have you plotted every pairing in the series or does the story of each successive book determine how the next will evolve?

When I proposed this series, I sent in fifty pages of the first book, plus a three short blurbs for the remaining instalments. So I had to tell my editor who the future pairings were. Yes, I know who ends up with whom, and you don’t. *evil laugh* Though you’ll find out in time.

 3) Is this is your first foray into fantasy romance? How much have you enjoyed weaving this world?  I personally  particularly enjoyed the parts of the book centred on scrying stones, healing potions and sacred marks.

I’ll let you in on a badly kept secret. I have always wanted to write fantasy, but the thought of building an entire world from scratch held me back. However, I had a series of possible storylines stashed in the back of my mind. Over the years, I got them out and poked at them, but they weren’t ready yet, I suppose.

Ironically, the plot of Destined did not belong to this original collection of ideas, but I mined the lode for some of the other instalments in the series.

However, then I read the series of which Game of Thrones is the first book. Something happened in those books that didn’t set well with me. To be honest, a LOT of things happened that didn’t set well with me, but I couldn’t let this particular thing go. (And if you’ve read George R. R. Martin, you can probably guess what that event is.) I had to fix it. Suddenly I had a plotline coalesce, and off I went. At the same time, I picked out elements from that fantasy bank I’ve been building in my head.
So yes, first foray. My other published books are all Regency historical.

4) You have cited The Fire and Ice series and Lord Of the Rings as inspirations, is it tempting to go off piste a bit and start writing a gargantuan tome with myriad characters, huge battle sequences and other languages?

See, my mind works in this very odd way—it’s a scary place in there. I remember really obscure historical facts—which means you generally want me on your trivia team, unless I’ve remembered wrong—but I can’t recall the important stuff like whether we’re out of milk. Scary, scary, scary.

5)On that note, How much wiggle room do you get with length, is the editing process something you like or is it like killing one of you babies to cut out sections you have lovingly crafted or have you got it down to a fine art,  condensing the story down to it’s purest form like a triple distilled vodka?

Did someone say Vodka, oh wait...Before I sold my first book, I thought I would hate the editing process. Despise it. It turns out, I like it better than writing the first draft. I am only rarely asked to cut something. (Watch, now I’ve jinxed 
myself.) I tend to write lean and mean, and I actually add material on my developmental edits.
That said, I do have a word count specified in my contract.  I can go over or under somewhat, but my editor has never asked me to pad a story out just to meet that number. On the other hand, if I suddenly send her a 150,000-word opus, I do expect she’ll tell me to break out the machete.

6) Once you had decided to write a Romance in this Genre, Did you plan the parameters of your fantasy world  prior to placing  your heroes within it or did it develop with their narrative?

As I mentioned above, I picked up a few previously developed ideas to use in the series, but as a general rule, it grew as I went. I knew in general terms, I wanted a world that ran on a medieval level of technology with magical elements thrown in here and there. In a way, using a medieval setting helped, because my very first attempt at writing romance (a really bad book that shall forever remain under the bed to be terrorized by dust bunnies) was a medieval-set historical.

7) Calista and Torch are a  really likeable pairing. Do you have other  favourite characters?  When I write, I often find that someone who starts out as a small minor character  becomes so precious that their part in the story suddenly increases, did this happen with anyone in your novel?

Thank you. I’m happy to hear that because I like my characters flawed.
I totally did not expect Brother Tancrid to do what he did to Calista. I knew some things about the role he would play, but not that bit until it happened. (See? This is why I write by the seat of my pants. I probably wouldn’t have planned that ahead of time.)

Hawk is another character who surprised me. He’s someone I had to add to the cast, when I realized Kestrel would need to go off on his own. Hawk’s backstory unfolded as I went on, and then it hit me that he might end up figuring mightily in a future book—either him or someone close to him. I’m 
being intentionally vague here to avoid potential spoilers for future books, but yeah.

I think your original question may be hinting at Owl, though. I can tell you that the way his storyline played out was pretty much set at the beginning (broadly).

8) Can I presume that each book will centre on a new pairing from characters we have already met  or have been alluded to here, Or are we going to meet new maidens and erstwhile heroes, I already have my favourites  couples, only time will tell if you agree with my mind's eye!

The next book will involve Kestrel and his quest to rescue Jerrah—if, indeed, she requires rescuing. I’ve heard from another reviewer that the teaser chapter of the next book was not included in the advance copy of Destined, but it will be in the final copy, which is out today, so you’ll get to see a little of what happens there. Spoiler alert: Jerrah can get herself out of trouble, but that doesn’t mean she won’t land in even bigger trouble by the time Kestrel catches up to her.

I have four books planned in total. The third is going to involve a heroine you haven’t met yet, which may possibly dash a few hopes, but I’m hoping you’ll be on board by the time I’ve set things up. As for the final book, well… I won’t say any more here.

If the series does well, I think there will be the potential for even more books. I’m already thinking about something for Owl once he gets old enough for romance hero material.

9)What fantasy elements do you wish you could have included that just beyond all your best efforts just do not fit into your story?

Given the way I write, I haven’t ruled anything out yet. In fact, I can already say there’s an element coming in the second book that I didn’t conceive of originally.

10) The cover for “Destined for a King” certainly drew me in, it is a beautifully eye catching image and was one of the reasons I sought this particular book as an Advance Reader copy.  How much do you gets involve yourself in how the cover will look? Do you choose the cover artist yourself for

The art department at Loveswept does my covers for me. Though I have no say in who does my cover art, cover time is one of my favorite parts of the publishing process. I have loved everything  they’ve done for me. If you take a look at my website, you might get a glimpse into why.

What happens is my editor sends me a questionnaire to fill out where I tell the art department something about the main characters, the story setting, the mood I’d like, etc. Plus if I’ve seen some cover concepts I like, I can attach them, as well. Then a few weeks later, they’ll generally send me a choice of images. After that, they’ll pass along a few cover ideas based on the image I’ve chosen.
With Destined in particular, I had originally imagined a beefcake cover with a bare-chested warrior holding a really big, really phallic sword. This, to remain in keeping with my Regency covers, which mainly feature the heroes. However, at that point we hadn’t settled on a final title for the book. Once we did that, my editor decided it would work better with the heroine on the cover. I can’t tell you how 
pleased I was when the artist found actual stock photos of a woman holding a crossbow. The moment I saw that image, it jumped out at me, waving its arms and yelling, “Pick me, pick ME!”
How could I not pick that one? It was practically perfect in every way.

11) Is the second book complete or are you still perfecting it?  Is there anything you can share, a title perhaps  to keep the reader salivating for more?

The second book is not yet complete, although it’s due next week,which means I need to get writing. As I said above, it’s the story of Kestrel and Jerrah and most of it will take place in the capital city of Highspring Moor. You will definitely learn a bit more about Magnus and the people surrounding him.

Well Ashlyn, Thank you for taking time out of your promotion of “Destined for a King” to talk to me,  it has been a privilege and a pleasure to get to see where you are taking the series and to step inside your “writing room” even for a short while.

Thank you so much for asking me. It’s been fun!


  1. Congratulations on the new series, Ashlyn. It sounds amazing, and the cover is wonderful.

  2. Thanks Emma & Ashlyn, best wishes for your latest book!