Interview: Ashley Lloyd Smith

Ashley Lloyd Smith’s background is in theatre; writing, directing and acting. He is a Drama graduate of Aberystwyth University and post graduate of the University of Surrey. His plays have been performed on three continents. His theatre has been banned in venues in his home town of Derby and his films on Facebook.

He has written over a hundred micro stories (seventy words or less) and performs these and his other writings around the Midlands. He has also written three children’s novels.

Ashley is also a keen walker and runner. He also blogs regularly on his transition from the luvvie world of theatre to the less extrovert world of writing.

Ashley is married with one son, and lectures at the University of Derby.

 

Below is a short interview with him, focusing on his thoughts about writing.

Check out his upcoming book: Pizza with Jimbob & Twoforks


 

Did you always want to be a writer?
I think I did but because of my dyslexia I rather gave up on the idea. I couldn’t read fast enough and back then there were no spell checks. By the time that arrived I had given up on it. I went into theatre instead and only came to writing for page, rather than stage, when I had the idea for this novel and decided in a happy romantic whirl (I was on a lovely Valentine’s Day stay in a real tepee) to keep going with it until it was long enough to be counted as a novel. Like the day I woke up early and decided to run a marathon before work. I just wanted to say I’d done it and not given up.

Who inspired you to start writing?
Loads of children’s authors I could blame for that, in particular Ivan Southall the Australian genius and his Hills End, but as an adult I’d have to say Sam Shepard, the recently deceased Hollywood actor and playwright. At university I read a lot of plays because of my degree in Drama. Strindberg and Ibsen were favourites, but Shepard showed what could be done with small moments of action that could have a ricochet impact on a reader. I think everything he did had a hint of Samuel Beckett in it, so you’ll find with my writing all has a hint of Shepard. I’d like to be able to write like Rushdie or Kundera but if I ever get compared to Shepard I’ll be happy!

What is your crucial advice for writers?
I don’t know tons but I can give two basic points. First write on something that doesn’t connect to the internet and don’t have a phone anywhere near that does. If your book is research heavy that might be a problem but basically I wouldn’t bother having anyway of distracting yourself like that. Secondly get someone to edit your work after you’ve done a couple of drafts. I know this could end up costing money but my novel went from unreadable to something I’m looking forward to people reading, all through advice of an editor. It’s still your work but it’s just honed. And anything they cut you can always use somewhere else.

What would you not do again as a writer?
Send anything off until I’d got it as good as I could. I gave a writer my novel. She was hardly the same kind of writer and not my target audience. It was in a terrible state and I am seriously embarrassed I did that. On the other hand getting people to read your work as much as possible for feedback is something I would encourage. And take what they say with seriously and without complaint. You have to take criticism and in the end it’s up to you what you do with it. Although I would take a few weeks to think it though before embracing or rejecting anything, to get an emotional distance from it.

Where do you like to write?
That’s an easy one. Anywhere! Whenever I have a good idea or spare hour I love to get writing and if that’s at my grand old writing bureau overlooking the street that’s great, but if it’s in a forest then that’s just as good. With the hot weather I decided to write outside with my top off and got a lovely tan to go with thousands more lovely words. I’ve never been one for sunbathing so the tan was a bonus!

How is writing novels and writing for the theatre similar?
When I came to write a novel I thought I was a beginner but I wasn’t really because I’d been writing plays for over fifteen years, so some of the things writers can find difficult, I didn’t. Dialogue is the most obvious advantage it gave me, having this background. I can think my way into a character to make it snappy, poetic but also real.
My biggest problem for me is I sometimes give only sketched descriptions which leaves the reader with a lot to fill in because I’m used to working with little scenery but with strong visual impact from the actors. This is the part of writing I’m working on most as children’s novels cry out for a bit more of it.

What else are you writing?
Too much! That sounds like a good thing and I am pleased to not be bereft of ideas but recently I had a writing break for a week that consisted of hours of going through a couple of dozen notebooks and lifting out every story, idea, poem that never made it on to my computer and making sure that there was this digital copy.
I’m at the point now where so many of my projects need an injection of work on them that I don’t know where to start. Two full novels, (plus two in only note stage) five children’s novels, two of which are part of a worked out series, lots of poems and short stories that could do with touching up before being sent to competitions, magazines and anthologies, plus my favourite quick writing past time the micro story (50 to 70 words. I text them to people). I have about a hundred of these that I’m considering self-publishing with guest editors, to keep the interest in my writing going once my novel has been published.


You can connect with Ashley on his blog and twitter. His upcoming book is on preorder here and on Amazon.

 

🙂 FTK

 

The Traitor’s Kiss: Review

29346870The amount of bad reviews this book honestly shocked me. I picked this book up based on the blurb “An obstinate girl who will not be married. A soldier desperate to prove himself. A kingdom on the brink of war” I was expecting a strong-willed heroine, amidst of some politics where the solider is in the thick of it.

What I got was more than what I expected, including spies, treason, and romance. In short, Traitor’s Kiss was quite good.

The characters were well developed, and all had their personal motives. The plot was character-driven and included layers with some foretelling that made all plot-twists a surprise. Overall it was well paced.

Sage was relatable, determined and at-times somewhat annoying, but she remained true to her character. Her agility in thinking joined with her fierce attitude was what kept the story going.  “Ash” on the other hand, was the quiet and composed character who would think more than act. Together they made a great team. I also feel that marriage by match matchers concept hold true to this day, since many eastern countries still follow this, and often young girls are left to their luck in this matter.

Some of my concerns from this book were the map, it can definitely be improved to include many of the locations that were mentioned in the story but weren’t in the map. The other thing that I felt was missing was more information on the military and backstory of Sage.

I’m looking forward to Book 2 which hopefully will address some gaps from this book.

 

Overall 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

 

My Top Series of All-Time

Hey guys!

Whenever someone asks me to recommend a book to them, I get so torn between which book to choose because it’s not necessary that what I’ve liked in a particular book work for all. While some books are good, some are great, but a few become memorable, and that last part is completely subjective on how and what you were feeling in real life while reading the story.

For me, the following series come to my mind whenever I’m discussing recommendations. All the series are fictional and are arranged by genres. They are in not in any particular rank and only the first book is linked.

ALSO PRIME DAY IS HERE, which means IT’S TIME FOR A BOOK HAUL!

 

AND let’s not forget that MY BOOK, Shards,  IS ON SALE (July 16-19th)!

 

(Note: This post contains affiliate links)


Genre: Children’s Books

The Famous Five Series

This was one of the very first books I’ve ever read and of course I hold it very dear.

 

Genre: Middle Grade

The Harry Potter Series

This one is obvious, need I explain it?

 

Genre: Young Adult

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series

This series has equal amounts of romance, action, and tragedy and you soon enough care and love all the characters.

 

Genre: New Adult

The Kingkiller Chronicles

This series is heavy. It has unparalleled world building, story telling and is character driven. It incorporates of aspects of a perfect fictional book that you never want to stop reading it.


Worthy Mentions

The Inheritance Cycle

This was the first book I read that made me fall in love with dragons.

 

The Ascendance Trilogy

This series was the first I read which included politics, threat of treason, and a witty-and-stupidly-brave main character. This was soon followed by The remnant The Remnant Chronicles Series and The Winner’s Trilogy.

 

The Loom Saga

It is steampunk. Of course I like it!

 


This list will be updated when (and if) I find books that I love more than these.

Meanwhile give them a read and let me know what you think!

Happy Reading!

🙂 FTK

 

An Ember in the Ashes: Review

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirI was super unsure if this book would be able to live up to the hype. So, I bought a kindle copy and was instantly hooked from the first page. Two chapters later, I knew I just had to buy the paperback, which I finished reading within two days.

The story has all the YA tropes, without being cliche (which I absolutely loved). It made it unique in it’s own way. The story alternates between POV’s of the main two characters, Elias the Soldier, and Laia the slave. It is a character driven story, with each chapter leaving you wanting more.

Laia, being a YA-lead was unlike other YA-leads. Laia would be unsure and lack confidence but she was determined and that is what gave her the fighting spirit she needed to survive.

Elias too, while being good-looking, caring, and what-not, was unlike other ‘brooding YA hunks who are just into girls. Elias wants to be free, but not at the cost of something he cares about.

The side characters are equally likable (Izzi, Keenan) and despicable (Marcus, Commandment). I definitely want to know more about Helene and Cook. I feel those characters were deliberately kept in shadows and can’t help but wonder their backstory.

The romance doesn’t feel forced. It has an awesome buildup that seems natural. The magical element came to me as a surprise but it also didn’t feel out of place. While several plot-points and explanations is saved for the sequel books, overall it was well-written and I can’t wait to start Book 2.

 

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Wilting Mind: Featured Review

Wilting MindWilting Mind is a collection of free-verse poetry that tells about loss, anxiety and healing through faith. It’s a beautiful collection, which reminded me of my friends, those lost to the world, and those lost to God’ and I also lost few tears. Islaih tells her journey of healing by Faith, Friends and Family. Their support and belief can give you strength even in the darkest of times. It reminded me to cherish my time with them and never take any blessings for granted. The writing style reminded me of how one would write in a diary to feel better at expressing their thoughts on paper. At times I felt the poems didn’t quite flow that well, but overall it carried the feel.

 

Overall: 4 out of 5

 

*I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*