military romance

Good to meet you…author Heather Ashby

I’m delighted to welcome author Heather Ashby today. Heather is a US Navy veteran who taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for her Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to benefit wounded warriors and their families. Her debut novel, FORGIVE & FORGET was named a “Best of 2013” book by Suspense Magazine. FORGET ME NOT is a 2014 Military Writers’ Society of America finalist. NEVER FORGET was released by, under the direction of New York Times bestseller, Teresa Medeiros.

helena fairfaxThank you for inviting me to your blog today, Helena. I’m thrilled to share NEVER FORGET with British readers, because half of this book is about Royal Navy characters and an RN ship. The idea of an exchange officer program was suggested by a Royal Naval officer whose ship visited our base here at Mayport, Florida. She and I have become close friends and she was instrumental in helping me write about the fictional HMS Atlantic, along with helping me with the Brit-speak for my characters.

That’s great that your friend in the RN was able to proof-read your book, Heather. We both speak English, but we speak it very differently, don’t we? As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘Two nations divided by a common language.’ :)

Where do you live, Heather? I live in Atlantic Beach, Florida, just miles from Naval Station Mayport where my stories take place and where the USS New York is homeported.

Where is your favourite place in the world? The beach. I live a block from the Atlantic Ocean and love standing in the surf with the land at my back, gazing out to sea—and at y’all across the pond while I was writing NF! Actually, any body of water will do. I grew up near a rocky creek that was my secret world when I was a child. When we were was stationed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the compound pool with its lush landscaping became my oasis in the middle of the desert.

I flew over Florida once, and the magnificent sight of the Atlantic and the Florida Keys has stayed with me

Being a writer is a great job.  What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Teaching defensive driving—the classroom kind with videos and bored students who got caught speeding. I was waiting to be hired for an elementary school teaching position and knew if I took the defensive driving job, the right call would come in. It did. On my first as a defensive driving instructor.

Lucky escape!

What book do you wish you’d written? To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What’s your favourite song? Eric Clapton’s “Layla” (original version by Derek and the Dominos).

If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? Without a doubt, it would be my shero, Harriet Tubman. It is believed that she led upwards to 300 slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad in 19th Century America, without ever being caught. After a serious head injury that caused sleeping spells her entire life and years of walking in bone-chilling water (by walking in the rivers, the tracking dogs could not follow the escaping slaves’ scent) she lived into her nineties. Her tombstone states: “I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” If I had the privilege of meeting Harriet Tubman, I would say, “Thank you for all you did for human rights. Tell me what else I might do today to help.”

What a heroic act. That’s not a piece of history that’s well known in the UK. I’ve learned something new today!

What’s your happiest childhood memory? My big sister and I used to sneak out on balmy summer nights after our parents were asleep. We’d grab some snacks – and there might have been a few cigarettes stolen my our dad’s bedside table. We’d roam the neighborhood looking for possible middle-of-the-night adventures before settling on the bridge over our treasured creek. We would swing our feet over the rocks, sneak a smoke, and talk. I lost my sister in 2001 and am sad that I don’t remember what we talked about, but the bonding that took place was priceless.

I love To Kill A Mockingbird because it’s a coming of age story where children find their own adventures—and there’s sneaking out in the night parts too. Each time I read it, I feel that Scout and Jem are waiting at my sister’s and my bridge, ready to take me through their adventures all over again. They never change out of their Alabama 1930s overalls, they never grow old, and they never forget to remind me of my magical childhood.

I’m very sorry for your loss. It’s so great that you have these memories of your sister to look back on. What magical times!

If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. (Are you sensing a theme here?) Any man who is that good of a father, role model, and human being would be perfect husband material for me. Wait, I just described my husband, whose nickname is “Commander Integrity.” I find men who “do the right thing” exceptionally sexy. (Look for them in my books.)

That’s a fabulous nickname! :)

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? That we can’t always help those we’d like to help, but we can always help somebody. I practiced this for years in my classroom, nurturing children in the name of my orphaned dad who never knew a mother’s love. And the same is true today as a writer. I couldn’t help my father who was a WWII Marine, but I can mentor an Operation Iraqi Freedom Marine/author who healed his PTSD through writing fiction. I’d love for your readers to check out our poignant story. It’s entitled: “If You Can’t Help The One You Love, Help The One You’re With.”

That’s such practical advice, Heather. Thanks for sharing your story

And finally, please tell us about your latest book, and where we can find it

helena fairfaxHere is the blurb for Never Forget:

A Naval officer exchange program between the U.S. and the U.K. adds new meaning to the term “brothers-and-sisters-in arms.” When U.S. Navy’s “Nick” Nikolopoulos heads to HMS Atlantic for a year to avoid his ex-fiancée, he finds himself falling for his British assistant. Royal Navy officer Gwyn Pritchard, finds not only forbidden love when she replaces Nick aboard USS New York, but she also finds . . . ghosts?

With 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel melted into the New York’s bow, Gwyn is faced with spirits of 9/11 victims! As the daughter of a famous Welsh psychic—and the only person who can see them—she learns they must complete a mission before they can pass to the other side. Passions rise to fever pitch when both ships rush to liberate American and British hostages in North Africa. Can the spirits provide the right intelligence to help the Marines save the prisoners? Can Gwyn help the ghosts move on to the light? And can the two couples find the love they’ve searched the world over for?

Readers, please know that I worked on this book for two years and I still get goose bumps. Not sure in the beginning if it was okay to write this story, I figured out that empowering the spirits by giving them some control over the ship, the crisis, and their destiny, would allow them to move from victim to victor. So, as a Navy veteran, Marine Corps daughter, Navy wife, and mother of an Army son who has fought in the War on Terror, I jumped in and wrote.

Thanks again for inviting me, Helena. Since my Books #3 and #4 have Royal Navy characters, I’d love to have your readers join me on Facebook and Twitter so we could stay in touch.


Twitter: http://www.@HAshbyAuthor

Facebook: Heather Ashby Author

Never Forget UK

And now, I’d like to leave a question for your readers: Have you ever helped someone out “in honor of somebody else?” Please share your stories here. I thank you in advance for making the world a better place.


Thanks so much for coming today, Heather, and I hope your books raise a great deal of money for your very worthy cause.

If you have any questions for Heather, or a story to tell or in answer to her question, or any comments at all, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!



53 thoughts on “Good to meet you…author Heather Ashby

  1. Helena, thank you again for inviting me today. I had no idea I’d ever attempt to write about the Royal Navy and yet the book is done! I must AGAIN thank my Royal Navy colleague for the idea and for all of her help with NEVER FORGET! I hope this book takes off in the U.K., warranting me a trip abroad to do book signings :-) I would SO love to see my dear friend once again, along with the ships at Plymouth AND all of you!


  2. Great interview! I totally agree about “To kill a mockingbird” :-)

    As for helping others, having lived in several countries, I really identify with people who are new to a place. Helping them allows me to pay forward the help I received when I was the newbie! :-)


    1. Thanks for taking care of the newbies wherever you go. I totally agree. Having watched my children in a Navy family who moved often, I, too, go out of my way to make newcomers feel at home wherever I am.


  3. What a lovely interview, Helena! Heather sounds and looks so beautiful. I look forward to reading her books and meeting her when she comes on her Book Tour in the UK!

    I am so sad that Heather lost her much-beloved sister. Sisters can have such a special bond that never goes away, even though death might separate them. My sister was an alcoholic and died in 2011 and I still like to imagine she is away on a long journey for now!

    Thank you, both of you, for such an inspiring interview!

    Best wishes,

    Carrie King


    1. It is always good to visit with you, Carrie. We are DEFINITELY getting together when I come to the U.K. We have so much in common! I’m so glad to have met you via LinkedIn and Facebook and now through Helena. I am certain you are a Soul Sister of mine! God bless…and Write ON!


      1. I am quite sure we are Soul Sisters, Heather! I hope I can take you out to tea in a posh London hotel when you visit the UK! Perhaps with Helena, too! All the best to both of you, Carrie


    2. Lovely to meet you, Carrie. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. My sister died in 2007. I have very many happy memories of good times spent with her. You’re right, there is a special bond between sisters. Thanks for dropping in, and for your great comment!


      1. And sorry to hear that both of you have lost sisters. Blessings to both of you. (And you can both be Soul Sisters with me!) Big hugs across the Atlantic.


  4. Awesome book! Hope you don’t mind a fly-by from a USAF vet who was stationed at RAF Lakenheath. Loved working with the UK contingent & this honors our bond.


    1. LOVE having you “Fly By,” Beth. Thank you for your service and I KNOW you had a blast when you were stationed at Lackenheath! Write ON, Beth!!!


    1. Readers, Chris was the U.S. Marine Corps mastermind behind NEVER FORGET! No way could I have written about the ship, the amphibious assault, or the flashbacks to Helmand Province, Afghanistan with out him! Thank you for your service, Chris, and thanks for help with this book. (Rumor has it that Chris and I will be Co-Authors of “Love in the Fleet” Book #4 UNFORGETTABLE.)

      BTW, Chris, I was not much of a reader when I was younger (busier DOING STUFF than reading about it.) But TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was the first book that REALLY GRABBED ME! I can remember slowing down my reading so it wouldn’t end.


  5. Lot’s of nice things about this interview. But Layla, sung by Derek and the Dominos — what a blast from the past! Great choice.


  6. Nice to meet you here on the other side of the pond, so to speak. Like you, one of my favorite places to be is on the beach with my feet in the water gazing out at the seemingly limitless waves. It restores and inspires me, which, of course, is why I live right next to the ocean. Your love in the fleet series is a wonderfully refreshing series.


    1. Skye, imagine bumping into you on the other side of the pond! When we both live at the beach on the east coast of Florida! Thanks so much for all your support and I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series. Can’t wait to get my hands on LOVING MEG, your book about a woman Marine lieutenant returning from Afghanistan with issues. God bless all of our troops – and that includes our Allies!


    2. Hi Skye, lovely to meet you here on my side of the pond! I, too, have stood with my feet in the Atlantic gazing out to sea, but in my case I was in the west of Ireland. Heather’s series of books does sound unique! Thanks so much for coming by!


  7. LAYLA! They say to RELAX from a hyper state (ME, ALL THE TIME), don’t go for the slow music, but go for music that matches your current mood. THEN morph into the slow music. Therefore, you should start with WILD music and lapse into more calming music. LAYLA does this naturally. Clapton starts out with several minutes of his fabulous, brilliant, inspired, wild and ramped up guitar musci…..then….halfway through….the gentle piano takes over for the rest of LAYLA – even ending with a bird tweeting. They need to bottle this song and sell it for for ails you at the end of a long day.


  8. Hi HFBrainerd, I do hope you’ll check out NEVER FORGET. If you enjoy it, please pass the word to other British readers. I feel that not only is it a good story about healing, but it also raises money for wounded warriors. Thanks for stopping by!


      1. Oh, I am TOTALLY jealous! It is on my bucket list, though. I was excited to visit the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cambridge, Maryland when I was there for ONE DAY. CLOSED ON MONDAYS! ARGGGG! i will get back and I will get to the home in upstate New York. Hope you can visit there. God bless you for caring for this beautiful story on history!


      1. Now that is beyond COOL!!! I grew up near the Delawar/Pennsylvania border. SO many houses in the Wilmington, Delaware area that were on the circuit. Every time I crossed the line into PA, I would get goose bumps thinking of her when she first crossed over and said, “There was such a glory over me!” I have chills right now just writing this!


    1. SO glad you enjoyed the book, Kathleen. Your books keep me awake reading as well – especially A DUKE’S WICKED KISS! How fabulous to set a Victorian historical romance in India! Write ON!


  9. Heather, I’m writing this from a few miles south of you, also near the beach, which I love, too. Reading Never Forget was such an incredible experience for me, having lost my Naval Academy graduate son after 9/11. I have goosebumps as I write this, since I truly feel that it is a wonderful tribute to all who lost their lives as a result of that terrible day. Thank you SO much for telling this story in honor of our loved ones. And I thoroughly enjoyed touching base with my roots in England, across the sea! I love the way you precious Brits talk! (I think we should call what we speak “American,” as far from English as we have drifted. And I’m an English teacher!)


    1. Your words bring tears to my eyes, Jane. God bless you after losing your son to the events of that horrible day. You have been such a blessing to me, helping me understand that it truly was OKAY to write this book. I’m so glad that you saw it as the tribute I had intended. Sending a huge hug your way. God bless you and yours.


    2. Jane, I’m so deeply sorry for the loss of your son. There aren’t the words in any language that can describe the pain of losing a child. The memory of the people who lost their lives because of that day lives on around the world, and will do for many, many years to come.
      It’s a great pleasure to meet you through Heather’s novel. This is the power of books to bring people together. Hope you can make it in real life across the pond some day. We’ll have a great tea-party and what we Brits call a chin-wag :)
      Thanks for calling in, and for taking the time to comment


      1. Have dried my tears enough to respond again, Jane. God bless YOU, the mother…no mother should ever lose their child. Sending a huge hug your way and bless you for sharing with us today.


  10. It’s been such an honor to discover and publish an author like Heather at my new publishing company Amber House Books. For me, NEVER FORGET was truly an unforgettable reading experience and the exchange program between the U.S. and our dear friends “across the pond” made it even more meaningful because almost all of the fiction I read as a child was British fiction. I still can’t spell “grey” the American way! :)


    1. Good to meet you, Teresa. Congratulations and many thanks for publishing Heather’s work. Her novels are an asset to any publishing house, and I’m sure Heather must be a dream to work with!


    2. Greetings from across The Pond, Teresa!

      I know you have discovered a real diamond in Heather. I’m forbidden to read until I have arrived safely at a looming deadline but when I do, I know I will love and enjoy her acclaimed work. Even simply ‘talking’ to her across The Net (most apt, methinks, as we are standing on opposite sides of The Pond), she is so compassionate and empathetic in her words to me.

      Perhaps you will join her when she comes to the UK, promoting her books and that means another chair around my personal table, if you would like to join Helena, Heather and me for afternoon tea in London! Do you take lemon in your Earl ‘Grey’ or milk in your English Breakfast (yes even in the afternoon, I love that)!



    3. Thank you, my most awesome editor, THE Teresa Medeiros. I am so blessed to be working with you, Teresa. Thank you so much for believing in me and believing in this story. (Love spelling gray “grey”) Helena, I wanted to spell words the British way for my British characters’ point of view scenes, but figured it would be confusing to too many American readers. Besides, it would drive spellcheck nutty!


  11. My stars and garters, Helena. You’ve had awesome interviews with guests and wonderful comments from others, but this one is very special with all the connections from everyone and everywhere. I’ve seen this book cover, Heather. It’s very eye-catching. We must be on some loop together. :) Does it matter which order you read the books? Because, I want to jump on board, but not certain where to start.
    I’m in Texas, BTW. And I share your love of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus, and honorable men–my DH fills those shoes nicely.
    Lots of chill bumps in this post and tears too. I share your concern about whether it’s okay to write about the people who lost loved ones in 9/11. Almost any adult anywhere in the world will have memories connected to that tragedy. My daughter and SIL had only arrived in NYC the Sunday before. I was lucky, finally at 3 in the afternoon, we heard from them.
    In my WIP, the heroine’s husband died in one of the buildings. The other evening when I wrote the scene where she finally goes to the memorial and traces his name with her fingers, I sobbed. I think all we can do is honor their loss by showing the courage and bravery it takes to carry on. I plan to dedicate a portion of the proceeds to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. What a beautiful and moving place. It’s a fitting tribute to those lost.
    I’ll share, Helena. This post and comments are outstanding. Good luck with your books, Heather. :)


    1. Oh, my stars and garters back atcha’ Marsha! What a lovely comment. God bless that your daughter and SIL were unharmed on 9/11 (and so glad you have an honorable “Atticus Finch” too.) Bless you also for including 9/11 in your WIP and showing courage and bravery to carry on. Considering all that, I would recommend that you jump right in and read NEVER FORGET first. My books really are “stand alone,” although it will be fun to go back and read the other characters’ love stories later. You have my permission to jump to the head of the queue! Thanks so much of stopping by, Marsha! God bless and write on!


    2. Marsha, what a really lovely comment. I can only imagine what was going through your mind on 9/11 until you finally heard from your daughter. My heart goes out to all those who didn’t hear from loved ones ever again. What a terrible, terrible day.
      I wish you all the best with your WIP. Thanks very much for coming by, and thanks again for your super comment


  12. Oh, there is no edit button (at least I can’t find one)! I thought I had written ‘ Helena, you must be so proud of this most excellent interview and the meaningful and lovely follow-up comments’……. sorry, Helena!


    1. Hi Carrie, it’s been a great pleasure meeting you through Heather’s interview. Her warm personality has shone through in her answers and in the many lovely comments she’s received. I do hope to meet you both in real life one day. Thanks so much for your touching replies, and best wishes to you.


  13. Oh, I LOVE that Carrie and Helena have met thought this blog today! I DO hope you two can get together in London! And hey, I hope I get there soon too. Thanks so much for a LOVELY day, Helena! I loved the interaction with your readers! And some very beautiful and poignant sentiments were shared today. God bless.


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