What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Hi! I’m Ashley Torbeck, born in Richmond, KY, on August 1, 1983, and currently living in Louisville, KY.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Well, I always wanted to write as a hobby, but didn’t consider it to be anything more until a few years ago. My passion from high school onward was to become a clinical psychiatrist for the criminally insane. (This alone should indicate that there may be something wrong with my brain.)
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
August 28, 2012. That’s the date my first book became available for print. I’d already held the physical copy of my book in my hands, and I thought that would have been the defining moment, but at the time it just felt surreal. Like I was watching it happen to someone else. But when I saw my book available on Amazon, that’s when it was real. That was the moment I considered myself a writer.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Not at all. Once I finished the manuscript and was ready to being the process, it took less than 24 hours to make it available. Granted, I did stay up until the sun came up that night trying to get it ready, but it was available the following evening for purchase. The most difficult part was getting the manuscript formatting properly and getting the cover art just right. I’m so much more comfortable with the process after two books, though, so I’m pretty confident my third book will be an even smoother process.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Not anymore, unfortunately, unless you count cleaning up after and caring for a husband, two cats, and a puppy as a job. I do, however, run two blogs, manage a group on Goodreads, and keep all my social media updated regularly, not to mention I offer many promotional services to other authors on my blog, so I stay pretty busy most days.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Daughters of Night: Possession is the title of my latest book. And if I get less than 20 words, I’d have to say: The continuation of a vampire-witch’s journey to find herself and protect her family, while battling demonic possession. (Whew, that’s tough!)
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I self-publish my work, and while I love the independent community, I wouldn’t object to representation simply for the benefit of having others who are experienced in the field be there to help me out along the way. It’s a lot of work when you self-publish, though it’s incredibly rewarding.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It depends on the idea, how much time I allow myself, how much time I can actually focus on writing it, and how enthusiastic I am about it. The first book in the series, Daughters of Night: Sanctuary, took a couple of years to write, while the second, Daughters of Night: Possession, took only a few months. There’s just no simple one-size-fits-all time frame right now.
What can we expect from you in the future? I.e. more books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Currently, I’m working on the third (and anticipated final) book in the Daughters of Night series, called Daughters of Night: Tribulation, and I expect it to be published by the end of spring. Up next is a book I’ve been working on for a little while that I used to give my brain a break from the series while still writing. It’s called Devil’s Playground, tentatively, and is for a slightly older audience. I want to test my writing skills in different genres, so in the coming years, I’d say you can expect several books of varying genres.
What genre would you place your books into?
The Daughters of Night series is Young Adult, but fits into Paranormal or even a touch of Fantasy as well, though that might be a bit of a stretch.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
The best way to write is to write what you know. I have read so many young adult books, and I still read that genre all the time. I love vampires, I’ve studied witchcraft, I’ve seen and read more books about vampires and witches than I can count, and I felt that of all the ideas out there, this was where my heart was. And obviously, my brain.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? And why are they your favourite?
My main character, Carmen, is one of my favorite characters, mostly because she embodies many of my own traits and characteristics in her human life. I’m essentially living my fantasy of how my own life would be had I been a vampire.
My very favorite character, though, is Damien. Damien doesn’t have a very big role in the series until the third book, but his mystery has had readers so far intrigued. He had to make a great sacrifice in the first book, and in the second book, he was taken. In the third book, we really get inside his head, get to know him, and find out what has had us all intrigued since the first book. Even I get excited thinking of how this is going to happen.
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? And why?
I’d still have to say Carmen. Even though I wouldn’t really want to go through all the nightmarish situations she has to face, I’d still rather be her. I just love her look, her personality, her strength-actually, I envy her strength. Plus she’s very protective of her family. Even though I joke and whine and complain about them, I love my brothers and sisters to pieces, and if anyone hurts them, it takes great restraint not to go complete psychopath crazy on them. Same goes to my parents, my cousins, my nieces and nephew, my aunts, my uncles, grandparents, everyone. Carmen goes through so much for her family. It’s an admirable trait.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
A lot of my ideas for my writing come from dreams. I know that’s completely cliché, but it’s the truth. I have some of the most vivid and intense dreams that I will often wake up in the middle of the night crying, and I have to get up and write it out just to put the demons back to rest. The periods of time when I go days or weeks without horrifying or intense dreams are like heaven to me. As for inspiration, my husband keeps me encouraged and helps me remember how much I enjoy writing, even when I lose faith in myself. I love Stephen King, though, and if I had to pick an author that inspired me, it would be the great Mr. King. Possibly because his mind is as twisted and demented as my own.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? I.e. you listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I have to listen to music. I have several playlists on Spotify that I use, one called Writing Songs, one called Sad Songs, Feel Good Music, and a brand new playlist just for my next book. Otherwise, and this might sound a bit strange, but I have to have the TV on to cartoons and muted. I need the visual stimulus, but I can only listen to the music.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? I.e. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I get feedback from a fellow author/blogger friend of mine, Michala, from www.bitemybook.blogspot.com. She lets me know if my work is just okay, needs revision, or need to be scrapped. (Okay, so we haven’t reached that last point yet.) She has been a bit of a lifesaver!
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I don’t really solicit reviews from readers, although I’m not opposed to offering free copies in exchange for reviews. I have that gnawing worry that if I start asking readers to give reviews, I’ll get that bad reputation as someone who only cares about reviews, and that’s simply not the case. I would rather someone review my book because they want to, not because I begged for it. The only exception to that is blog reviews, but that’s only blogs who open themselves up to such solicitation, and even then it’s just to get feedback that I can use for myself to make my work better.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Of course! How can a writer ever please the readers if he or she doesn’t care enough to read what they have to say? I love feedback-the good, the bad, and the ugly. And if a reader is truly dissatisfied with my book, I want to know why so I can make it right.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Never. Everyone has an opinion, and I wouldn’t even dream of denying someone their true opinion of my book. And again, if I receive negative feedback, that just helps me to improve. Now, are there people out there that just give negative reviews because they’re in a bad mood, had a bad, day, or whatever their situation may be? Sure. But they’re not the majority of people giving reviews.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
With Daughters of Night: Sanctuary, I wrote first and went through several tentative titles before settling on my final choice. With the following books in the series, I had to know what direction the story would go-in general-before I could write them, so I’d come up with the basic plot and find a name for the story from that. With Devil’s Playground (work in progress), I didn’t pick the name until I was 15-20 pages into it. Even now, though, it could change.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
The only organization to my writing is the character development. Before I start writing, I list out a few characters, give them names, backgrounds, personalities, outward appearances, and relationships to one another. Creating them, however, takes a great deal of insanity. I never really claim to create my characters, I consider them pieces of me, voices and personalities that have stories that need to be told, and if I don’t tell them, then my brain can’t rest. Yes, I do realize how crazy that sounds, and no, there’s no need to call the people with the straightjackets. More than anything, I think it’s just an overactive imagination creating this fantasy world, pulling pieces of myself out, turning them into character that I’m exploiting in my stories.
Once my characters are developed, I think about where these people might be (or if it’s a dream, I’ll use the place from my dream). Sometimes the city is real, while the landmarks and other places are fictional, while other times, I’ll create a city or location that doesn’t exist, depending on what the characters seem to want.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
The basic idea and the very beginning will usually be thought out, but I let my characters tell me the story. I was just as surprised as the readers were when Damien came back. I had no idea that was going to happen, until it was on the screen in print. I only let myself get the story started, but ultimately it just flows on its own.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I do have a hobby, actually. Last summer, when I was laid up on the couch and in bed for two weeks after surgery (I’m incredibly clumsy and tore a major ligament in my knee falling off my porch while doing yard work), my friend came over and taught me how to crochet. I fell in love, and am currently working on a baby blanket for my niece. It’s pink/purple/lavender, and has a camouflage look to it. I also took up making decorative soaps, and next on my list is learning to craft candles. I also love watching adult-type cartoons, like Family Guy, South Park, Futurama, and American Dad, or listening to music and reading.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Inadvertently, yes. Aliena is Carmen’s best friend, the one who bails her out, comes over to cheer her up, and is there whenever she needs her. I didn’t realize until recently that I seem to have modeled her after my own best friend, Aly. I even managed to make their names similar, and it was all pure coincidence. I did intentionally have Carmen living in a small town in Eastern Kentucky because I grew up in Eastern Kentucky-not the same town, but close by. I didn’t want to be too obvious.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
Stephen King is like an idol to me. I love his work, and while my early books aren’t quite in the same category as his work, I have a dark horror story on the back burner that I’m hoping would make him proud. Other than that, I’ve read and absorbed so many different writing styles and different genres, I would have to say everyone. I’ve read what I don’t want to be, what I do want to be, and I take pieces of everything I read to put together my own voice.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
Well, I have a Nook and I have Kindle applications on my phone and my computer, because the invention of digital books has made it cost efficient and much easier to obtain books than actually going to a bookstore and buying a book. Still, the feel of a good book in my hands, physically turning the pages, real handwritten autographs, and just the smell of a book are things that are simply irreplaceable.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
A book called Invitation to the Game (or in some versions, just known as The Game) by Monica Hughes, is a book I read when I was younger, and I loved it. I read it so many times the cover fell completely off. At one point I could probably have recited every word of the book by memory. I’d love to have it again; I haven’t read or even seen it in years.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
I struggle with this one. I always anticipate the movie version of a book I’ve read, provided I enjoyed the book. But the movie is just never as good as the book, because there’s simply no way to include everything from the book into the movie. Take The Twilight Saga, for example. I absolutely loved these books; read them all in one weekend, foregoing sleep and food for the sake of reading. When the movie came out, yes, it was good. But they completely left out parts that made the story. The part about how Edward “dazzles” Bella is nonexistent in the movie. In Breaking Dawn, the tension between Rosalie and Jacob was completely underwhelming in the movie. Even some of the cast was a letdown. Did I still stand in line and get my ticket for the midnight premier (or sit in a theater for thirteen hours watching the marathon before the premier)? Yes, of course. And I enjoyed the movies. But my critical side was left unsatisfied. The same goes for The Hunger Games. I loved the books, but the movie left parts out that leave holes in the plot for the sequels, and I don’t know how they’re going to fix those mistakes. The casting was better for this movie, in my own opinion, but still, it just doesn’t compare. In fact, the only book-to-movie adaptation that I strongly feel was true to the books as well as entertaining was The Lord of the Rings series. They were spot on, and completely riveting. Major kudos to the folks that made that masterpiece happen.
Do you think eBooks will ever totally replace printed books?
The bibliophile in me wants to say no, nothing can replace the wonders of the printed book. The realist in me says it’s only a matter of time. I’m sure there will still be libraries, and eventually museums, that carry books, but the printed book will eventually become an arcane item used by what the people of the future will one day call barbarians who actually used paper for the written word. I suppose I should begin hoarding them now before they all disappear.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? And/or do Imaginative writing?
Oh, heavens no! Do you have any idea how horrible spelling, grammar, and punctuation are nowadays, especially when written by teenagers and young adults? By no means have I perfected the art of writing, but it’s actually painful to read even Facebook status updates. And as for imaginative writing, the most imagination coming out of the high schools right now is the ability to come up with the worst possible shorthand for text messages and chats. I have to constantly rely on urbandictionary.com to find out what half of these acronyms mean. What’s really sad is that this is possibly the least of the worries by most school districts because the system just isn’t working anymore. I feel so sorry for kids today and the kids of the future.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
My favorite and best subjects in school were always English, Language Arts, Spelling, and Creative Writing. I read everything I could get my hands on from as early as 4 years old; including reading Harlequin romance novels when I was 8-10. I’ve always loved writing, and I was strong in this department.
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
It’s always been Stephen King. Always. Well, there was that period of my childhood where I read nothing but the Goosebumps books, but even then I still loved Stephen King.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I tried so hard to read Fifty Shades of Grey, simply because of the controversy and the hype. I hate to bash a book, but it just was NOT for me. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Everything from the plot, the dialogue, the character development, the simple spelling and grammar mistakes-all of it was lacking for me. I could go into detail on all those reasons, but I want to keep the post on a positive note, so I’ll just end by saying it was not for me.
What do you think about book trailers?
I love them. When you see the cover of a book, you instantly form an opinion about it, and watching a trailer for that book can absolutely change that opinion. It gives you more insight and (hopefully) a clearer picture of what to expect of the book. I have one for Sanctuary and I’m working on a trailer for Possession.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I don’t currently use a pen name, however if I decide to ever write Erotica, I’d definitely use a pen name, simply because the last thing I need is a 14-year-old girl looking for my young adult books and coming across something completely inappropriate for a teenager to see. But, it’s not so likely that I’ll be writing Erotica anytime soon, so we’re pretty safe.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Stephen King (as if that wasn’t blatantly obvious by now!), H. P. Lovecraft, and Richelle Mead. Stephen King is the master of horror, and his books are frequently based on his dreams, just like my own. I think I could learn so much from him on how to turn my dreams into better stories. H. P. Lovecraft is the master of macabre, and I would love the opportunity to pick apart at his twisted and demented mind! Then apply that to my own writing. His macabre writing style can help me improve my imagery and possibly help me understand my own level of insanity. Richelle Mead is a Young Adult writer, author of the Vampire Academy series. She masterfully created this world of vampires that I completely lost myself within. I loved the series, and I feel I could learn to master the Young Adult genre from chatting it up with her.
Your Blog Details?
My blog is https://www.drunkenspacepenguin.blogspot.com and there you’ll find not only my own writing and randomness, but I also feature other indie authors on my blog. I offer some paid services, including proofreading/editing and book trailer creation, but also services for free, like reviews and interviews. It’s really a lot of fun!
Your Web Site?
https://www.ashleytorbeck.webs.com This site is primarily about me, what’s new for me, more information than anyone probably cares to know about me, as well as promotes my books.
Your Facebook Page?
https://www.facebook.com/ash.torbeck (This page is for me as an author; however there will be a couple of character pages coming soon!)
Your Goodreads Author Page?
Your Twitter Details?