To start, can you tell us when you started writing with the intention of getting published?
I think ever since the third grade when I started obsessively writing, the dream formed in my mind of becoming a professional author and getting published. I had all these stories in my head and wanted to get them out there.
Can you tell us a bit about the book?
ONE NIGHT IN HEATED SNAPSHOTS is about a young college-aged photographer named Beth. For the past year she's lived next door to Sterling, the most handsome and talented swimmer at her university. In fact, there are rumors Sterling might one day compete at the Olympics. He'd be quite the catch if Beth liked playboys or the king of every college party... which she didn’t. She can't stand Sterling and that's why he wants her. When he shows up on the plane for the biggest traveling photography contest of Beth's life, she senses right away that Sterling is up to something.
Besides the age of the hero and heroine, what is the difference between YA and NA?
NA is a wonderful, exciting new genre whose definition is not yet set in stone. Basically YA targets audiences twelve and older (from middle school all the way to high school, which has been really broad in the past as a twelve-year-old and a seventeen-year-old might want to read something totally different).
NA targets audiences that relate to the much older teens (seventeen and eighteen to early twenties: from young adults that are getting ready to enter college to twenty-somethings that are working). It’s targeted towards a group of people going through older and much different life situations than a young teen who is just coming into high school.
My characters are twenty-four, just at the very end of their college years, but I hope even older audiences can pick up the book and relate to it. I plan on doing this by taking Beth and Sterling through multiple situations in the first and second books of this series that really stretch adulthood and how a person has to change and grow in their twenties.
What do you think it is about New Adult that appeals to readers who generally shy away from young adult novels and instead prefer adult romance?
I believe some readers love what popular YA novels feature, paranormal stories and coming-of-age situations, but shy away from that section of their bookstore because they just feel too old or removed from the characters in those stories. That's why NA is so great because it's kind of the in between of these two genres. YA lovers will grow into NA, and adult romance lovers can read it guilt-free while accessing more mature content.
How graphic do you think you can get with New Adult writing? Is there a specific point where you have to draw the line in sex scenes?
For me personally, yes. There is a big specific point I draw the line with sex scenes in any genre.
A person’s maturity and what they’re exposed to changes a lot from high school to college and then the early twenties. So I think you get to play with that in NA. I do believe though, as a writer, you have a responsibility to draw the line when you know a somewhat younger audience is viewing your material. I hope I can stay within my own personal boundaries but at the same time write freely.
What do you love most about writing New Adult?
When I was a teen in high school I was told by my classmates and adults to have fun then because it’s over once high school is done. But thanks to my mom's influence and guidance I never believed that way of thinking. After high school my life experiences and dating adventures were just beginning and I didn't want to trap myself in a box. NA kind of proves that point. To be realistic, a lot of people aren't even getting married or meeting 'the one' until their late twenties and beyond. I love that with NA my characters can have fun without making us feel like the heroine is too old to be experiencing love for the first time.
How would you describe Beth, the main character, and is she based on anyone?
Honestly there are pieces of Beth in me, and I did pull from some of my own thoughts and daydreams in college. She's also a photographer, and my sister is a photographer, so I pulled from that too. My sister is actually a professional photographer & graphic designer. So I've watched her perfect her craft for years and I've seen the competitiveness of the craft through her experiences with other people. A piece of that inspired this novel actually. I also can relate to my main character Beth's love of photo editing with my own love of film editing, so I pulled from that when writing this book.
How did you successfully add depth to her character? What tips would you give to other writers on this?
Even in my shorter novels like this one, I always, in my mind and on paper, put together my character’s entire life story. Readers may not get their whole life story in the book and adventure I've put them on, but I can pull how they react in different scenes by what I've decided they've gone through and will go through in the future. For example, I decided Beth's father was a pastor who died on a missionary trip. So the way she reacts to different things in the book is pulled from that background info, even if I don't go fully into detail about her entire past. I also know where she'll end up in the future, so I can foreshadow her behavior to be the behavior of someone who will achieve that.
I'm a huge swim fan. Did any real-life swimmers inspire your male lead, Sterling?
Yes!!! In fact most of America's Olympic swim team of 2011 inspired some of his character ;-). I watched the Olympics for the swimming and drooled over all the hot male swimmers. So when I knew I wanted to make Sterling an athlete, I thought what would be more fun than having him be a future Olympic swimmer. With that in mind before writing this novel, I bought and devoured a few of the top Olympic swimmers’ bios. They inspired me, as well as my real life boyfriend who is training to be a professional athlete himself.
Where did the idea for ONE NIGHT IN HEATED SNAPSHOTS begin? Is the final version similar to your initial idea?
I wanted to write a story about a heated romance that takes place while traveling against the rush of a ticking time clock. The final version stayed with my main idea. However, my editor, Cameron Yeager, helped me dig deeper into the characters. She helped me figure out where I needed to add extra scenes to make sense of the shocking ending. Her help and expertise really is what made me decide I'm going to write a second book and make this a two-part series. The saying, “two heads is better than one,” is so true. Her support really made this novel even better than I was expecting.
Do you have a favorite scene from the book?
The model scene in the novel where Beth has to pose in a picture to help her friend out with a photography assignment. That was such a fun, steamy scene to write, and while in college, who wouldn't want to act out what unfolds in that scene with Sterling?! Sign me up ;-)
I also loved writing the Miami scene where Beth gets to try all the local food; that's one of the best things about traveling, getting to taste what the locals eat, and Beth gets to do it with Sterling in tow.
Your novels are self-published. What are the best bits about being a self-published author, and the worst?
So much of self-publishing, now more than ever, is absolutely amazing. In the past it was almost impossible as a self-published author to get your books out there. Now with e-books, more and more mega-authors are turning to self-publishing because you get to control the book’s release, cover, marketing plan, and editing. There is no more waiting. It's all in your hands and that's powerful for writers.
What can be the worst about self-publishing is you also have to discipline yourself to learn all the mechanics about the business. Like how to format different e-books and print-on-demand. You have to know how to get a copyright license and a whole lot of other behind the scenes technical stuff that readers don't even think about. You have to constantly learn and study the e-book market and its trends to build a career. If you’re business and technical-minded, it's quite amazing. I love it.
Everyone’s publishing journey is different. What is the number one thing you’ve learned so far on yours?
What I've learned the most is to never give up! If you can't work for the industry, figure out how to make the industry work for you. It's a lot of years and hard work but you can succeed in whatever you put your mind to. Also don't be afraid to look at your biggest weakness/struggle because you can use it as your biggest strength.
Can you give some tips for self-published authors on how to raise their profile and that of their book?
I believe it's very important to know the market and study the trends and the new ways books are becoming popular. A lot of it is online now and that can be at a click of a button for the next big author. It pays to team up with people who are talented in areas you haven't developed yet. That way, multiple people are bringing strategy and ideas to the table. I, for example, may not be a pro yet in the e-book industry but I can bring my filming background into book trailer development, and that gives me an edge over people that have no idea how to do that. Others may also know something in a different area that gives them a total edge over me, so imagine when we work together what could happen...
How do you organize your day so that you can write, blog, and still have time to be with your family and friends?
It's very hard, especially when you're doing all that and working other jobs as well. I stay organized by trying to remember what's most important. When that's in perspective you know what to absolutely make time for. Then I write down all my goals, and I re-write them often. I put my list where I can see them, and then, without thinking about it, that's where I end up spending my spare time: around my goals and what matters most. For example, God and my family are most important to me. I have to work so that's a given use of my time, and then besides that, I make all my fun activities evolve around my goals so I can achieve them one by one, and that's satisfying.
What are you working on at the moment?
I've been working on the second book in the Shock Me series, and I'm so excited for the adventures and romance I have coming in that book!!! It's really turning out greater than I could have imagined.
On top of that, I've been getting distribution ready for a film I wrote and directed that will be coming very soon. It's called 'The Yellow Diet' and it's a parody on women and dieting and all the crazy things that happen behind the scenes in the diet industry. I'm so excited for it.
About ONE NIGHT IN HEATED SNAPSHOTS:
On the eve of Beth's college graduation, she is given the opportunity of a lifetime; an overnight, all expenses paid photography trip that will take her from New Jersey to the hot sands of Miami Beach. This adventure could land her the top magazine job she's been dreaming about … that is if the most adorably handsome but most annoying guy on the planet doesn't get in the way.
Sterling Johnson, Beth's neighbor, is the hot, college swim champion whose music and loud partying keeps his entire dorm up half the night. Where he goes, crazy swim fans follow. He could get any girl he wants … except for the perfect and career focused Beth.
When Beth leaves for the photography competition, she's shocked to see Sterling on the plane. As the heat of Miami threatens to scorch the feelings these two have been hiding for each other, will Beth’s dreams of winning be realized, or will Sterling’s revengeful plans ruin everything?
Published: Dec. 16, 2013
Words: 30,380 (approximate)
Genre: New Adult
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Author and film director Ashley C. Harris resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. When she is not hard at work writing or dreaming up new indie films she spends her time working out, reading the bible, and going on breath taking adventures with her sister.
The seed for becoming an author started budding for Ashley in the third grade, when she wrote her first hundred page book during her class's quite time, her teacher couldn't believe it and voiced over her that surly she'd become an author someday. Those words never left Ashley and she has been writing ever since.
Ashley loves to create young adult, science fiction, fantasy novels, and is currently working on her first steamy romance... with more to come.
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