I was introduced to Ashley Fontainne after reading her title, Accountable to None, the first book in her trilogy titled, Eviscerating the Snake; please click here to read reviews for the titles in this trilogy.
The first thing I must state is this: in spite of being a woman, I have no problem working alongside men in the workforce. You won't hear me say, "Who needs men? Women can do it all." You'll never hear me putting someone down - or hear of me setting someone up - so that I can get further ahead. Just so we're clear: my definition of getting ahead is to be productive to the extent that I can go home feeling my load has been lightened for the following day.
Having said that, after reading the book titled, Accountable to None, I can honestly say that I've never known a woman to be as justified in plotting retribution towards the men she worked with...but this article isn't supposed to be about Ashley's book; it's supposed to be about Ashley but, when you get me going on the subject of people taking advantage of others, my blood starts to boil and words begin to flow - so, before I boil over, I'm going to switch focus. I'm going to share with you a little I've learned about Ashley Fontainne. I hope you enjoy getting to know her and will take a few moments later to check out her titles. Anyway, let's get on with the author interview, shall we?
Norma: What does being an author mean to you?
Ashley: I have been an avid reader ever since childhood, devouring every book I could get my hands on, starting with Black Beauty and the Nancy Drew series. In my teenage years, I discovered Stephen King, James Patterson, Robin Cook, Dean Koontz and numerous others authors that kept my heart pounding and nerves on edge. Since I grew up an only child, reading became my escape, my haven and my primary source of entertainment. I knew from a young age the power of the written word and found myself mentally writing my own books. However, the fear of sharing my thoughts with others kept me from transferring those stories onto paper until my early 40s. Once I made that giant first step, the thrill I experienced by sharing my words with the world has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.
Norma: When did you first realize that you wanted to write and publish a book? How old/young were you at the time?
Ashley: Actually, it happened quite by accident. When I turned 40, I decided to go back to college and pursue a degree in science, since my other passion in life was to become a nurse. During the last two semesters, I needed to take a few elective courses and opted for Creative Writing, thinking that it would give me a chance to finally release some of the stories that had been floating around in my head for years. When I turned in my portfolio at the end of that semester, my teacher contacted me, insisting that I take Creative Writing II the next semester. Her words of encouragement and belief in my abilities as a writer came as a shock to me, and for the first time in my life, the thought crossed my mind that others might enjoy my work as well. So, when the Spring Semester began in January of 2011, I signed up for Creative Writing II and was given the assignment by my teacher to write a novel. Thus, Accountable to None was born.
Norma: I'm really interested in hearing what the teacher thought of your book and I hope you let me know before this interview is over. It's the first time an author has responded to this question, leaving me with a cliffhanger, but from the time you started writing, how long did it take you to write the first draft of Accountable to None? Was the experience mostly rewarding or filled with varying levels of frustration?
Ashley: Since writing a novel was my class project, the process went fairly quick. I turned Accountable to None in early, around the end of March of 2011. My teacher fell in love with it and pushed me to seek a publisher. I was still unsure at the time that others would like the book, so after a bit of research on the publishing industry as a whole (which I knew nothing about) I opted to self-publish on Amazon as an ebook. My thought process behind this decision was that, as an unknown author, I would be able to gauge whether or not others would enjoy my work. So, in April of 2011, Accountable to None was up for sale on Amazon. Of course, I made quite a few rookie mistakes in the beginning - the first and most important one was that I did not expend the money to have Accountable to None professionally edited. The majority of the readers that downloaded the original book looked past the errors, but a few did not, and I found myself on the receiving end of some very nasty reviews. That was my first taste of how rough the world of writing could be, and I almost gave up. But, I licked my wounds, found an editor, re-released it February of 2012 and continued on. During that time frame, I was also working on the sequel, Zero Balance, which was much longer than the first book. It took me almost four months to complete the first draft. The difference with this book was that I had signed with World Castle Publishing and made sure the book was fully edited and properly formatted for e-readers as well as print.
Norma: Are you currently writing another book which you hope to publish at some point? If so, we'd love to hear more about it.
Ashley: Now that the creative writing bug bit me, the words just flow! Accountable to None and the sequel, Zero Balance, are part of a trilogy titled, Eviscerating the Snake and the third and final book, Adjusting Journal Entries, is scheduled for release for Fall of 2012. I also released a short story and poetry collection in March of 2012 titled, Ramblings of a Mad Southern Woman which has been a great success.
Norma: If you have published multiple titles, which book is your favourite and why? If you can't decide on one favourite, that's OK; break the rules and give us two or three.
Ashley: So far, Zero Balance has been my favorite. I switched writing styles from third person to first person in Zero Balance, and each character tells the story from their perspective, and you can see how all their actions intermingle with each other. Writing from first person allowed me to really explore the inner thoughts of each character. But the thing I think I enjoyed the most was writing the character of Piper Rancliff. Although many of the characters in the books are self-centered, money-hungry individuals that will stop at nothing to get what they want, Piper was a sick, twisted and demented soul driven by madness. Writing her was fun!
Norma: Oh, my! I guess I'll have to get this book sooner rather than later. Piper truly sounds intriguing - not the type of person I'd consider a best friend, of course - but I want to learn about her; my curiosity has been piqued. I've been trying to get the first books of so many authors on my list reviewed but, sometimes, I just have to break my own rule and read a second title. This will be one of those times - all because of Piper. I wonder what shenanigans she gets into? Definite food for thought but, before I get carried away with musings about Piper, let me ask: who has been a major source of inspiration for you as a writer/author?
Ashley: In terms of inspiring me to actually write, that would be my college professor, Melody Berning. If it weren’t for her urging me to continue on with writing and to see myself as a writer, I would never have had the courage to do so. In terms of other writers that have penned novels which inspired me, the one that started the whole idea of penning a novel about modern day revenge would be Alexander Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book, and one that I have read numerous times over the years.
Norma: What is your ultimate dream, in terms of being a writer/author?
Ashley: Oh my, there are so many! The first dream I have already experienced, which was holding my words bound in a book for the first time. When the first copy of Accountable to None arrived at my doorstep, I couldn’t open the box fast enough! Once I did, I was overcome with emotion and cried for ten minutes. The second one I have also been blessed to experience, which was to have all three of my books in the top 10 of their respective genres internationally on Amazon. My wonderful husband was so proud he printed the screenshot from Amazon each time that happened. He then made a collage that is now gracing the wall showcasing that achievement. Hearing from my fans, which is a concept that I still have difficulty wrapping my head around — how much they enjoyed one of my books, or inquiring when the next one will be out, has been a dream that I never thought I would have the privilege of actually living, but I did! What’s left to experience or dream, you ask? Seeing my books on the screen, and the characters that once only existed in my head brought to life by actors. Hey, dream big, right?
Norma: What is one of your favourite quotes? It can be from a book you wrote or something you heard throughout your life. If you did not write it, please cite the source, if possible.
Ashley: “Revenge, at first though sweet, bitter ere long back on itself recoils.” – John Milton, Paradise Lost
That quote I have in the beginning of Zero Balance and another that quotes from the Bible, it is my favourite. Human beings that have been hurt, whether physically or mentally, seem to instinctively seek retaliation for their wounds. Sometimes, the road to personal justice leads the seeker down a path into madness, since once the revenge cycle starts, it never ends.
Norma: Tell us a little about your life. What does an average day look like?
Ashley: My husband will tell you that I am the ‘Queen of Multi-Tasking’ which is true. I travel almost 100 miles round trip daily to my job as an office manager of a law firm. I try to market via social media on my way to/from work, thanks to the incredible piece of technology called a Motorola Razr. During my drive, I also work out the scenes for what I am writing in my head then I try to write them all down during lunch or late at night. So, my life at this point consists of marketing, marketing, marketing, a bit of work and time spent with my husband and children.
Norma: OK. This is the last question before I let you get back to your busy life: what are three of your favourite hobbies?
Ashley: Reading, playing tennis and working in my garden, although the last two I haven’t had much time to do lately, due to my hectic schedule and the unbelievable heat wave that has gripped Arkansas this summer.
Norma's closing thoughts:
Ashley Fontainne is an author to keep your eye on. The suspense present in the first book continued through to the second. The third title kept the momentum: a gripping ride! Keep it up!
Catch up with Ashley Fontainne at her website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Click here to find her books on Amazon. I also reviewed her title, Empty Shell in case you may be interested in reading my thoughts about it.