Good morning Rob and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Firstly Jo, I would like to say a big thank you for inviting me onto your blog today. I have been a follower of yours for some time so to be featured in your Tuesday Talk is a real buzz.
My name is Rob Ashman, I’m 56 years of age, live in North Lincolnshire with my wife Karen and have two daughters.
I am originally form South Wales and like all good welsh valley boys I left school at sixteen to join the Coal Board and spent six years working as an electrician. Then the pit closure programme began to bite and I left to go to university at the tender age of twenty-three. Since then I’ve worked and lived all over the UK and abroad, and we finally settled in a small village called Barrow Upon Humber twenty-two years ago.
We have a wide circle of friends and like nothing better than hosting a house full of people for the six nations rugby, having a curry and draining the contents of my beer fridge.
How did your writing journey begin?
Those That Remain took me twenty-four years to write – yes you heard that correctly. I had the story lodged in my head for years and only got serious about writing it when my dad got cancer. It was an aggressive illness and I gave up work for three months to look after him and my mum. Writing the book was my coping mechanism.
After my dad passed away my family read it and said ‘This is good, you need to do something with it and besides the story isn’t finished’. So, not one for half measures, I got myself made redundant, became self-employed so I could write more and four years later the Mechanic Trilogy was written. I didn’t set out to write a trilogy it just happened that way – my wife says it’s because of a total lack of planning on my part. She is, as usual, correct.
I finally plucked up the courage to push the button and self-published in October last year. It has been a whirlwind three months. I still can’t quite believe my book is out there, let alone that people are buying it and leaving 5* reviews. I have to pinch myself from time to time. It’s been quite a journey.
What attracted you to writing crime?
I know it’s a bit of a clichéd response but it chose me. It is never a good thing to admit in public but my inspiration to write crime comes from the voices in my head. And in my case those voices are always from psychotic killers and the people whose job it is to catch them.
When I’m writing, my characters talk to me incessantly. They compete for my attention – they row, they laugh, they fight, and of course try to murder each other. When I woke the morning after I had finished writing the final book in the Mechanic series the voices were gone. It was as though the story had been told and they were silent. It’s was a very strange sensation not having them there anymore.
I find all of my characters are damaged in some way, there is a dark thread running through the books which comes from them. They are all deeply flawed, each one capable of doing bad things and making the wrong choices. But sometimes they surprise me by having flashes of doing the right things as well.
We met a woman on holiday who was interested in the books and asked Karen what they were about. After Karen finished describing them the woman screwed her face up and Karen said ‘I know, it’s worrying to think that goes on in his head.’
Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your writing?
I have an awful admission to make … I seldom read. I know that to other authors and readers alike I am committing a cardinal sin, but it’s true. I first realised this was frowned upon when I went to London Book Fair in 2014, when I told people I was a writer it was always one of their opening questions. At first they thought I was joking, then their faces changed when it dawned on them I was serious.
I have read one book while on holiday which had me hooked – I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. I loved the way he wove the strands of the story together, very clever plotting.
How do you carry out research for your writing?
As far as setting is concerned my first book takes place in Florida, the second is set in Vegas and the third is set between San Diego and Vegas, which are all holiday destinations we love. My wife has suggested the next one should be set in Lanzarote because we holiday there as well, though I’m afraid it is not a place renowned for its serial killers.
Also, one of my BetaReaders has a medical background and she advises me on the gorier aspects of my storylines. She is a fantastic source of knowledge, though our coffee shop conversations do cause some raised eyebrows from those within earshot.
Other than that, like many authors I’m sure, I use the internet for the rest. If my laptop was ever seized my search history would get me into a whole heap of trouble. With topics like how to strip down a Glock 17 to the effects on the human body of drop hanging, it does not make good reading.
What are you working on at the moment?
As I mentioned before my inspiration to write comes from the voices in my head and they were quiet after I completed the Mechanic Trilogy. They remained silent for four months. Then I was working on a project in Blackpool and out of the blue a different voice started telling me about himself, where he lived and what he had done. This guy is a complete psycho and is now the focus on my fourth book. The story is set in Blackpool, which is a change for me, and is much darker than my previous work. My wife loves it so far but my daughter says it’s too scary.
The other thing on my to-do list is publishing my second book titled In Your Name. It is currently with my BetaReaders and I plan to publish in the next couple of months. The third book Pay The Penance will shortly go through the formal editing process.
And lastly, you’re getting away from it all for a year on a secluded desert island. What four ‘must haves’ would you take with you and why?
In answering your question Jo I am making the assumption that I can’t take family or friends and the secluded desert island miraculously has electricity.
I would take one of my guitars. I have four altogether and the problem would be deciding which one to take. My family would be delighted if I did because I’m not very good.
The second item would be my knives, I am a bit of a foodie and a frustrated chef. I love to cook and my chef knives are my pride and joy in the kitchen. I once went on a cooking course and took them with me – the tutor was very envious.
I am also a bit of a chilli-head and love spicy food, so my third item would have to be the contents of my spice cupboard. When I cook curries and chillies for other people my wife won’t let me add the spices because she says I make it too hot, despite the fact there is no such thing.
And the last item would be my laptop, so I could continue writing and giving a voice to the characters that live inside my head.
ABOUT THOSE THAT REMAIN
A thrilling read to grip you from the first page to the last sentence.
Nothing is as it seems …
The heat of the Florida sun is relentless. Lucas is coasting to retirement in a mundane Florida police precinct. His world falls apart when a brutal serial killer lands on his patch.
Three years ago they thought Mechanic was dead. But Mechanic is very much alive and the savage ritual murders continue. No family is safe from the threat of slaughter at this sadistic killer’s hands.
Mechanic is always one step ahead and Lucas is forced to operate outside the law. Who can he trust?
The shocking truth is more terrifying than Lucas could ever imagine … and he has to put his life on the line to get it.
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Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Ashman-Author-1428800800468097/