Jennifer: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?
Elizabeth: My latest book is a Victorian romance, Maiden's Mistake, from Musa Publishing, www.musapublishing.com. It is available as a Kindle book from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/7gbguz8 I have a web page at www.elizabethashtree.com, a blog called Telling Tales at Elizabethashtree.blogspot.com, and I'm on Twitter @eashtreebooks.
Jennifer: Tell us about your book.
Elizabeth: Knowing he can never have children of his own, Jonathan Everleigh, Earl of Mercia, marries scandal-plagued Juliette Markham, saving her from disgrace. But when he finds his ruined bride is still a virgin on their wedding night, Jonathan vows to annul their marriage. Then Juliette discovers that she actually is with child, this time from her wedding night, and she is as determined to stay married as he is to leave her. When Jonathan’s past catches up with them, the Earl and Lady Mercia must navigate their marital problems, countless dangers, and a final confrontation with the madness plaguing them. If they can make it out alive, love might be there waiting for them on the other side.
Jennifer: Where did you get the idea for the story?
Elizabeth: I've spent some of my writing exploring the idea of children who are not our own, but whom we come to love as if they were our own flesh. I have some contemporary romances with Harlequin Superromance that also explore this idea in different ways. But I longed to write a historical novel, too. So I wrote a story about a tormented hero and the uncommon woman who drags him back to happiness through sheer determination. I like twists, so I worked in that he would marry this disgraced young woman, who'd been taken advantage of by a cad, partly to gain an heir, given youthful injuries that left him infertile--a secret he keeps from everyone. When she shows up a virgin on their wedding night, he feels betrayed when other men would be delighted. Then, when she becomes pregnant from that marital union, he feels doubly betrayed and wants to know who she'd gotten herself pregnant with. It's a great twist on the more usual period stories. The heroine is strong and capable, but a victim of all that young women were not taught about their own bodies at that time.
Jennifer: Do you write full time? If so, tell us how you manage it. If not, what is your day job?
Elizabeth: I use a pen names because my day job is as an attorney with the National Security Agency, part of the Department of Defense. My day job doesn't mix well with writing romance (although when co-workers find out about my writing, they are very supportive). Because of that fun, but demanding day job, I don't yet have time to write full-time, but hope to start once I retire from Federal service in a few years. I write in the evenings and on weekends, but since my husband and I moved to a log home with a small orchard on six acres, I find myself working and playing outside, too. So it's a struggle to find writing time. Nevertheless, I can't imagine not putting stories into the computer and sharing them through publication. I love to write.
Jennifer: What is your writing process like--do you outline first or just start writing, etc.?
Elizabeth: I write from a lengthy synopsis. I figured out that I need to write a synopsis to submit a manuscript to a publisher, so I might as well write one first and use it to guide the story. However, I do deviate sometimes from what I originally planned. Characters develop identities and "speak" for themselves sometimes.
Jennifer: Do you work with a writing group or mentor? Why or why not? If you do, what do you get out of it?
Elizabeth: I am a member of an excellent critique group run by Ruth Glick who writes as Rebecca York. We are dedicated to producing published stories and have been wonderfully successful at that for all members. One things I get out of the group, besides the great company of smart authors, is the pressure to keep writing so I'll have something to read when we meet. It's wonderful to get immediate feedback on things just written from professional writers who know what they're talking about.
Jennifer: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?
Elizabeth: I find marketing to be the most difficult. It can be very time consuming and there are only so many hours in a day. And I'd always rather be writing.
Jennifer: Tell us a little about your non-writing life. Family? Pets? Hobbies?
Elizabeth: as I mentioned, I've got the interesting day job. Then I have two grown sons (one who, along with his wife, has given me my beloved grandson; the other who is studying writing in a Masters of Fine Arts program). My husband and I recently moved to rural Pennsylvania and have been trying to reinvigorate the orchard that came with the six acres. And we have two tiny chihuahuas. One is all black and played with my agency badge when we first met her, so we named her Spy. The other one had three different names before her antics informed us her name needed to be Ping (yes, she's rather lively!).
Jennifer: What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
Elizabeth: I love to read fantasy and speculative fiction. The obvious ones, such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, the Dresden Files. Also recently discovered Patricia Briggs. Also longing for conclusion to the Name of the Wind. Humor also attracts me, such as First World Problems: 101 reasons the terrorists hate us. Sometimes I go for suspense, such as anything by Harlan Coben (who is also a hilariously funny in-person speaker, too) or Dean Koontz. I have a long commute to work each day so I read a lot of audio books!
Jennifer: Who is your favorite author of all time, and why?
Elizabeth: Terry Pratchett. I've read every book of his in print, including children's books and manga. I have a quote from one of his books, Jingo, at work: "If we succeed, no one will remember. And if we fail, no one will forget." And The Truth is my all time favorite book.