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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Ashlyn Chase

How Readers Impact my Writing.

Part of what I, as an author, love most is interaction with my readers. When someone takes the time to write to me, it’s extremely special. Of course I love compliments but occasionally an email will turn into a whole conversation—including a suggestion. Today’s discerning reader demands authenticity. If something strikes readers as “off” they’ll tell the author about it. I once had a New Orleans resident tell me I got ripped off on trolley fare! My hero in Oh My God (my Eppie nominated novella) overpaid by fifty cents to get from Canal Street in the French Quarter to the Garden District!

Occasionally we get the chance to rewrite and republish old book so I keep track of these suggestions, “just in case.” In that case, I DID have a chance to rewrite and republish my book and the new version (with the corrected trolley fare) was released in a British Anthology titled Nectar of the Gods. My short story in that anthology is about Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, women and party. During Mardi Gras, he falls off a balcony and lands on his head, causing a bad case of amnesia! Imagine an ancient god with amnesia wandering around modern day New Orleans not knowing who he is or how he got there! Our story opens with our hero—the god of wine—being taken to an AA meeting! Okay. I know what you’re thinking. Well, I write comedy, so I love irony and I’m allowed to pull funny stunts like that.

There are other contributions readers have made. At times I’ll put out a call on the yahoo loops for suggestions when I need a hero’s name or description, an embarrassing moment, or something fun. Some of these readers have sparked ideas and become part of a book—with their permission, of course.

In Demolishing Mr. Perfect one of those situations came from reader, Susan W. when she shared a cute ‘imperfect’ gift her husband gave her. I asked her permission to use it, and my hero, Shane (named by Billie Jo C.) made the same mistake with his love, Natalie.

But that’s not the end of reader contributions in Demolishing Mr. Perfect! Emma from London had been regaling me with true stories of her elderly neighbor, “Miss Wow” for a couple of years. Many of us feel like we know this gutsy broad who cheats at cards and runs around with a younger man she calls “Mr. Lucky.” This horrifies her daughter. With the permission of both Emma and Miss Wow herself, a bit of her true story wound up in my Demolishing Mr. Perfect novella too! Oh, no. I can’t tell you. It’s too priceless. You’ll have to read the book to know what she did!

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