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 amberhousebooks.com, under the direction of New York Times bestseller, Teresa Medeiros.
Thank 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.
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
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.
Facebook: Heather Ashby Author
Never Forget UK http://amzn.to/1stljJ4
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!