Sunday, July 7, 2013

Author Spotlight: Ash Krafton, author Stranger at the Hell Gate

 Callie Lynn here. Hello, everyone! Please welcome Ash Krafton to our Author Spotlight segment today. Ash is our first paranormal author signed when we opened our submission guidelines to mainstream.  Her story is unique and an awesome read. So, without further adieu, let's find out what makes Ash tick.

Hello, Ash and welcome to the Black Rose Blog. Tell me about yourself. What makes you angry, happy, sad, snoopy dance?

I’m a full-time pharmacist, Qigong novice, and lifetime leather bootreally makes me happy—altering reality, one word at a time.
aficionado who, several years ago, decided to get back to what

As for what makes me tick emotionally? Doctor Who does it all. Honestly, every reader and every writer needs to sit down and get addicted to the Doctor. I don’t remember any other series that had this ability to invoke such wide range of emotions—in every single episode. The scripts are stellar, the Doctor is brilliant, and Hell just might have a special place for the writers, I’m sure, because they kept killing Rory Williams.

Yes, I hear you. Amazing man, that Dr. Who. Tel us, what is your favorite holiday? And why?

Definitely Halloween. I have a very macabre sense of humor sometimes, despite a strict Catholic upbringing, and an obsession with      Edgar A. Poe. Halloween is a time for dark things, not bad things—dark, luscious shadows that hold all kind of surprises. The holiday was especially fun back when I volunteered at my children’s Catholic elementary school. Man, did I mess with those kids...good times!

In fact, I keep Halloween decorations up all year—a string of solar-powered LED ghosts that float in my yard. (Last Christmas, I gave them scarves and dubbed them the Ghosts of Christmas Whenever.)

LOL I know what you mean, Ash, Halloween is my favorite as well next to Christmas so you will always find something I left out:) When was the first moment you felt comfortable saying, “I am a writer?”

I put the cart before the horse on this one because I identified myself as a writer long before I set out to prove it. Although I wrote as a kid, I didn’t really embark on my journey to author until I was in my thirties. By then, I had an established career in pharmacy as well as a boisterous family. Writing was a hobby that became a job.

Even in the years between my first poem about trees and my first book about vampires, I was a dormant writer, who was imagining and churning the stories up in my head without laying a single word down on paper. (Oddly enough, the head work, I’ve discovered, is 85% of the writing process.)

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I’m a speculative fiction writer—meaning, I love the WHAT IF? factor. The nice thing about spec fic is that it doesn’t tie me to any one single genre—I love urban fantasy with romantic elements, I love horror with philosophical consequences. Often I’ll start out writing something contemporary and that WHAT IF? piece of my brain starts up  and suddenly the story turns off onto a shadowy unmarked road.

Who would you say modeled your career? Who would readers compare your work to?

A literary agent once called my first book “Stephen King meets Sophie Kinsella.” I remember how that knocked my socks off—and then I realized who Kinsella was, and it was MIND BLOWN from there. The comparison was a major compliment on both sides because I wasn’t hard core in either genre—my writing is definitely a blend of elements.

When do you write (daytime, nighttime, on your lunch hour, before the kids get up, after everyone is asleep?  In large chunks of time or stolen snippets?)

When I first began serious writing, I was a morning writer, a waiting-in-the-car writer, a five-minutes before day job writer. I couldn’t go anywhere without a notebook!

Once my first novel was published, though, it became WORK, and the responsibility alone altered the creative process enough to change my writing habits. Deadlines made it necessary to “clock in” and get writing and edits done on a schedule, and gradually it turned into hours-long stretches of marathon writing. I missed the passionate spurts of creative sparks, so I was very glad to participate in a Fast Draft activity (I talk about it at the Query Tracker Blog in this article).

Doing Fast Draft last month took me back to writing in sprints, and I accomplished two things—I met my deadlines AND had the rosy glow of creative passion while doing it.

Wow! Sounds like you have your game down pat. Good for you, Ash. You sound very disciplined. Do you put pieces of yourself or your life in your stories?

I can’t help but do it. My sister told me that she had a hard time reading my first book (Bleeding Hearts, Demimonde #1) because it had so much “me” in it…and she was busy trying to figure out all the real-life connections that inspired the story I guess she distracted herself. I had to work very hard to convince her I never actually met a vampire.
(Right now, she’s beta-reading Demimonde #3 and having a good time trying to figure out all the people and places in the book. Poor girl, I haven’t the heart to tell her: it’s fiction. J )

You have an upcoming release here at TWRP, please do tell us all about itJ
Stranger at the Hell Gate is my first Wild Rose Press release, and will be released July 10, 2013.  When a charming Seraph knocks on half-demon Jagger’s door, he doesn’t expect her to be anything more than a vulnerable woman in need of shelter. Sonya, however, isn’t just another pretty angel. She’s an unexpected ally in his war against Hell, his brother…and himself.

Where did you get the inspiration for Stranger at the Hell Gate? It was born during a moment of mental break—I’d been working on the Demimonde series and, faced with a deadline, I was constantly in that storyline, running into all sorts of walls. It was always my habit to work through writer’s block by writing something else—poetry, flash fiction, a blog post. Hell Gate was written in spurts during that time. Kind of like pickled ginger for the writer’s brain—a mental palate cleanser. Once my main project was complete, I couldn’t get those snippets of Hell Gate out of my head. I had to go back and make it a complete story.

Well, Ash, I for one, am so glad the muse forced Hell Gate to be finished! It is just such an awesome read. What TV shows do you watch? 

Mainly, detective, medical, fantasy, and news—and I’m happiest when my shows are as cross-genre’d as my stories. I’m a faithful watcher of several HBO shows: True Blood, Game of Thrones, Newsroom. On the Beeb I like Doctor Who, Copper, Sherlock, and Kitchen Nightmares (because Gordon Ramsey makes me feel a lot better about my relatively occasional potty mouth). I adored Body of Proof and House (medical + detective), still have Castle (detective show + fantasy legend Captain Mal). Of course, news for me is GMA in the morning and Comedy Central at night.

What type of music do you favor?  Oh, I’m a rockin’ kind of girl…mainly I listen to prog rock and metal. I usually have Rush, Lacuna Coil, and Blind Guardian on my phone. However, I noticed I have Shakira in my car and a Garth Brooks CD in my pickup. I can’t tell you why, but I’m not taking them out, either. I like them too much.

Do you use music as a motivational source when writing? Absolutely I do—and I have a different play list for every piece I’ve written. Hell Gate’s soundtrack has a lot of heavy guitar tunes, including “Dorian” by Demons & Wizards, “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera, and “Follow” by Breaking Ben; that’s because I imagine Jagger’s brain would sound like metal guitars when he was out shredding demons. There’s “Don’t Talk To Strangers” by Dio, which just fits—the music, the duality of Ronnie’s voice, the fantasy, the theme. “All That I’m Living For” by Evanescence has a haunting quality that reminds me of where Sonya is in the beginning of the story. Finally there’s the oldie but goodie “Demolition Lovers” by My Chemical Romance, because it’s got that desperate rage that Jagger endured when he woke up to find her gone.

 Well, I will say we have several shows and music in common, Ash.  I am thrilled to have had you here to day. It has been a pleasure to pick your brain today. I feel like such carrion but honestly, it has been such fun.

Thanks for having me, Callie. I am thrilled to have a place in this dark and seductive corner of the Garden amongst the Black Roses…
A place you have earned well, Ash. I wish you all the best and do be sure to come back again. 

Thank you, Callie! To celebrate the release of Stranger at the Hell Gate, I’m holding a special giveaway for TWRP fans. I’m giving away a ten Dollar gift certificate from The Wild Rose Press to a lucky commenter so let’s hear your thoughts!

While I was writing this story, I often wondered: if I could be a character in this story, which would I be? So hard to choose…I identified with both of the creatures for completely different reasons. Tell us—if you could be either half-demon or half-angel, which would you choose, and why?

Thanks for stopping by to read about my new book and good luck, everyone! I can’t wait to see who will win: Team Angel or Team Demon…and be sure to stop by my blog on Release Day, July 10, for another raffle. 


Stranger at the Hell Gate
Ash Krafton

Genre: urban fantasy
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Date of Publication: July 2013

Word Count: 20,000

Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor

Find it at The Wild Rose Press

Book Description: 

Jagger Sintallon, a half-demon warrior, has dedicated his existence to fighting demons who enter the world through Hell gates. A loner of conflicting ideals, he offers shelter to a troubled woman but knows he is too rough, too dangerous, and too cocky for her delicate nature.

Dedicated to Divine Will, Sonya Camael, a Seraph, is determined to discover why she is drawn to Jagger's doorstep and the reason behind her mission. She needs the demon's help but fears he may get himself killed before she can figure it out and the world slips into Hell's dominion.

Sonya faces grave danger with evil stalking her every move, and Jagger shouldn't care but realizes he cares more than he'd likely admit. Sonya knows Jagger cannot win this war alone, but will her divine intervention mean his imminent end? Or will just the right combination of Heaven and Hell set the world right once again?

 Short Excerpt:

Jagger hung his head, looking very much out of patience. With an exasperated huff, he turned in place, his boots clomping. Cocky stance, head back, and eyes daring her to say something. But these things she only partially registered because when he turned to face her, his entire upper body—chest, face, arms—glowed with the marks of past insult and injury. And that sickle shape burned into the skin over his heart—

She whimpered, heart-sick to see him in this way. Her mother's blood cried out at the thought of what agony he must have endured to stand here now, so marred and wounded. Covering her eyes, she dispelled the Seraph sight and fought the tears.

"Hey." He was in front of her within moments, pulling her hands down and leaning to peer at her downturned face. "Hey, what's wrong?"

"You. You've been through so much. Just look at you."

"I'd rather not. I'm not a pretty guy."

"Jagger. These scars. You have countless hurts. I can't see a part of you that isn't injured." She raised her eyes, tears brimming on her lower lashes. "Let me help you."

"What, you're a plastic surgeon?"

She swallowed and regained part of her composure. "Better."

He looked alarmed and rocked back on his heels. "You don't mean—"

"Yes, I do." She held onto his hands and kept him from backing away. This felt right, this decision.

His eyes shifted. "Ah, I don't think it's a good idea, doll. Our kinds don't mix well."

About the Author:

Ash Krafton writes from the heart…of the Pennsylvania coal region, that is.
She is the author of Stranger at the Hell Gate (Wild Rose Press), the Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press), and several works of short fiction and poetry.
BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1) is a six-time RWA finalist and was voted "Reviewer Top Pick" by Ash continues the story of Sophie and her Demivampires in her latest release BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2). She's hard at work (when she isn't watching Doctor Who) writing the third book, WOLF'S BANE.
Ash Krafton's poetry and short fiction has appeared in several journals, including Niteblade, Bete Noire, Abandoned Towers, and Silver Blade. She's a member of Pennwriters, RWA, and Maryland Writers Association. She lurks near her blog and contributes to the QueryTracker blog.
Ash lives with her family and their German Shepherd dog deep in the Pennsylvania wilds, awaiting the day the TARDIS appears in the driveway (the dog most likely keeps the Doctor away. What a beast.)

Until then, she writes.
 Find Ash at:
The Demimonde blog


  1. good question! I think I'd rather be half-demon. Your bad choices would have an excellent excuse (you ARE half-demon after all) and you'd really have nowhere to go but up. Being bad is who you are and being good would get you extra brownie points lol Being half-angel, people would expect more out of you I think, and there would be bigger disappointment (and guilt I'm sure) if you failed in your choices.

    1. You know, Michelle, that's kind of the way I feel...half-demon leaves room for a little wicked fun and the potential for redemption later on. :)

      I don't think the heroine of Hell Gate, Sonya, feels too much pressure to walk the straight and narrow, though. She knows she's only half-angel--that's the good half, and her human half balances it out. (What a relief!)

  2. This story sounds so good. Half-demon or half-angel? Hmmm...Can't I be half-demon AND half-angel? LOL If I have to choose one, I guess I'd go with half-demon because then I would have a good excuse to be a bad girl *wicked grin*

    1. I think that would be cool to be a little of both--but my luck would be that the opposing divinities would cancel each other out, leaving me no unique qualities and two hard-to-please bosses. Gah!

  3. Kimberly SponsellerJuly 9, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    This may not win me a gift certificate...but I love your books and stories almost as much as I love you. I am incredibly proud to call you my friend. Thanks for being you. Omg I just got teary...I know, what a sap right? Oh well <3

    1. I think that's a firm vote for Team Angel...what a good heart you have, Kimmie! <3 back!

  4. Hi Ash & Callie!

    Great interview! I love all your books, Ash, as you know! I can't wait to see what you've got next! As to your question, I think I'd have to choose Team Angel. I've been told I see everything through rose colored glasses. And my husband says (affectionately) that I'm a little goody two shoes, so I think the angel team might work for me. Lol

  5. Hi, Tricia, I'm so glad you stopped by!

    And while I approve of your vote for Team Angel, I want to go on record as saying I've seen a devilish glint in your eye on more than one occasion...must be your muse peeking out!

  6. And the winner of the gift certificate is...

    *drum roll as we perform a complex algorithm*


    Wild, just shoot me an email to ashkrafton at Hotmail dot com with your preferred addy and I'll whoosh you a prize!

    Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and happy reading...

    Cheers, Ash