This month I’m happy to welcome Ash Litton, sci-fi and fantasy author of Appalachian Dream Tales.
JR: Can we jump right into your process? Where do the your ideas come from?
Ash: My best work comes from dreams, where I don’t have conscious bias about how I want a character to behave or react. Dreams do what they will, which is how I end up with terrifying horror stories and inspirational love tales.
JR: I do this, too, but I’d never considered why dream stories feel so much more organic. When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
Ash: It’s a little of both. I’ll have the framework, a glimpse or two to start with, but then when I put fingers to keyboard, I start to get a much more complex personality than when I began. And that’s a good thing, in my opinion, because the characters reveal little by little who they are, much like how people in real life do.
If I started with a full character each time, I think I’d be a little afraid, to be honest. I’d probably work myself into a tizzy because I’d be thinking, “No, there’s something else that needs to be here!” the entire time. I do it now with sequels, so I know I’d constantly be searching for something to throw at my character just to undo them.
JR: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Ash: Yes, if by “wrote” you mean “narrated on the fly”. I “wrote” a lot of stories with my toys when I was little, and it was just amazing how I could keep a story going from one day to the next—at that age, it was a wonder I could even remember what I had for breakfast!
JR: Do you think that giving books away free works?
Ash: I’m probably in the minority for it, but I think setting works up to be perma-free is a terrible idea. It sets the precedent in people’s minds that anyone can have unfettered access to someone’s labourous work if they just wait long enough or ask often enough. I dabble in the art world as much as I do the writing world, and honestly I’ve been doing art for far longer and have seen the expectation in buyers’ minds that they can haggle your price down or convince you to give them something for free “just because”.
Now, running a contest/sign-up promotion with a chance at a free giveaway is a different story. Chances are, the ones who don’t win will come back to purchase a copy because they were interested enough from the get-go to participate.
JR: Right? Making art is hard work! What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Ash: “Patience and due diligence.” Don’t rush to put out a story because you’re anxious/desperate/excited to start making money – a poorly developed product is not going to sell, and if it does sell a few times, then the reviews are going to warn future buyers away. So do your due diligence and make sure you edit and have critical peers look over your work so you can make appropriate revisions. The more patience you have for the upfront work, the happier you’ll be with the end result.
JR: Thank you, Ash! I’ll let you get back to it, but first, this bears repeating:
The more patience you have for the upfront work, the happier you’ll be with the end result.
Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of No Signal, Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, Comeuppance, and Cabover Cabaret, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects.
When she’s not writing, she’s drawing, and when she’s not doing either of those, she’s dreaming up new projects to work on. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Ash has always wondered what things lay hidden in the hills around her. She attended West Virginia University, where she studied the English language before returning home to her family in rural West Virginia.
You can follow her on her website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.