The Birth of a Novelist
Ashlynne Laynne is our guest today – poet, songwriter, and now novelist, with her first release: The Progeny. You’ll love the story of how this magical book came to be!
I was eight years old when I placed third in an Optimist Oratorical Contest on Freedom in America. I accepted my shiny gold pin, read my award winning speech and marveled at how everyone hung on my every word. It was the first time I realized the power of my words.
A writer was born.
My rebellious teenage years were spent writing poetry as a sort of therapy. I dabbled in the occasional Danielle Steel novel, never realizing that I wasn’t exactly the target audience for that particular genre. This early exposure to such salacious material was the marked beginning of my love of romance novels.
I fell in and out of love, had a kid and went through many emotional changes in my twenties. The one constant was always my love of poetry and the written word. And although I lost my faith in true love, that didn’t stop me from writing about it. Some of my best love poetry actually occurred when my heart was at its most broken and fragile.
The promise and possibility of finding that one person that completes your heart spurred a fire, in me, to write about what I was almost certain didn’t exist. I took my love of writing a step further and appeared in several anthologies and poetic compilations. I loved that so much that I took to publishing a book of my original work under another pen name. While stretching my creative muscles, I ventured into songwriting. It was much like poetry set to music. Minding the rhythm and meter of music, and writing words to fit, presented an awesome challenge.
With the benefit of hindsight, I attribute my songwriting to grooming me for the task of taking an idea and characters and immersing them in a world that takes a shape of its own. Writers use their words, the varying of sentence structure and pacing to illicit emotions from readers.
So what—you might ask—possessed a poet/songwriter to consider writing a novel?
The Progeny wasn’t the first novel I ever wrote, even though it is my first release. My first novel had a good concept and characters but it was lacking in technique. I wrote two books of the series before I abandoned it for something else.
I’ve always loved vampires, witches and the horror genre. My next endeavor would encompass my two horror loves. With Stephen King as my favorite author, this shouldn’t be a shock.
Fast forward six years from my songwriting. Now I’m in a better place. I’ve somehow pinned the elusive cupid down and convinced him to give me another shot at corralling love. He obliged and sent me my hubby, Mark. Now I’ve got the love thing down and honestly believe that it exists.
October, 6 2010 started like any other day. I woke up, went to work and came home. I was tired so I took a nap that day. This is where it gets interesting. I dreamed about a gorgeous guy. He had dark hair, the weirdest blue eyes and a strange necklace around his neck. When I woke up, I immediately began sketching that necklace. I’m no artist but I had to admit that what I came up with was interesting.
The pieces of my story line slowly gelled. I researched witches, witchcraft and the Salem witch trials the next day. When I slept the next night, I dreamed about him again but this time I dreamed his name—Ascher. Now that my guy had a name, he needed a love. I’ve always loved the name Shawnette. So I shortened it and made it Shauna.
October 8, 2010 was the day that literally changed my life. Surrounded by a stack of witch research, the vision of Ascher, Shauna’s name and sketches of a unique amulet, I decided to write a home for these two characters. I never considered myself patient enough to write a novel but the characters wouldn’t leave me alone.
I dreamed about them, thought about them and imagined different scenarios for them until my idea was 115,000 words. Shauna did the most changing during the process because I didn’t dream her in the beginning. Her physical appearance and origins evolved until she was exactly who Ascher needed.
I was ecstatic when I finally dreamed them together because I knew that it was finally right.
I fell in love with their story and felt their pain. I laughed when they laughed and cried when Shauna cried. They became my babies. My husband and I often joke that we talk about them so much that they should occupy rooms in our home. Almost a year—to the date—that I started writing these characters, J.E. Taylor at Novel Concept Publishing accepted my manuscript and confirmed what I already knew. Like love, the right publisher is out there that will believe in your work and push you to be better.
There was something there in the pages of that Word document. She now believed as much as I did.
That was only the start of my journey. The first manuscript that she saw and what the reader actually reads is very different. I eventually added three chapters to my manuscript to explain Ascher’s existence and to deepen Ursula’s character.
In the end, I think The Progeny offers the reader a different view of vampires. Though I love vampires, I’ve been disappointed at how common their portrayals have become. I think it’s time the world experiences a new breed of vampire.
In closing, and in lieu of an excerpt, I’d like to leave you with my original poem from The Progeny. Books one and two both feature my poetry as the epilogue. I wrote this poem back in 2007—before I ever thought about writing a novel. My bestie tells me that this poem’s existence is proof that The Progeny was my destiny.
I tend to agree.
Envelop me in the sweet darkness of your burning light
Spin me into a web of your eternal delight
Make me yours for all to see
Cover me in kisses sweet with sinful pleasure
Transform me so that I may be yours forever
Make me yours for all to see
I am not longed for the duties of this world
Nor do I wish to be just an ordinary girl
Make me yours for all to see
One day with you is worth a thousand forevers
If this is the only way for us to be together
My soul is a mere formality
Meet me when the shadows replace the light
In the sweet darkness of the eternal night
Give me blessed eternity
“No fate other than the one I choose.” The timeless creed, and tattoo, bore by the Rousseau’s— a vampire clan with the purest bloodline of any vampire family. Out of this clandestine group came one who was different, yet the same: Ascher – a half-bloodling— half- human, half vampire.
Ascher questions the purpose for his existence and which world he truly belongs to: the human world or the vampire world. Two months from sealing to Ursula— a prearranged union to a woman he abhors — he’s at his wit’s end. He knows if he calls off the sealing, the Romanian clan will strike with deadly force, but he cannot see eternity with a cold empty shell of a woman like Ursula.
Just when he thought life was complicated enough, he meets Shauna— a beautiful, bi-racial human Wiccan — and immediately develops an unshakable attraction to her. She makes him feel alive and vital despite his origins and Ascher makes a decision that turns his immortal world upside down.
Ashlynne Laynne has always had a soft spot in her heart for vampires but grew tired of the garlic fearing, sun loathing creatures of old. An avid horror movie fan, she tends to enjoy media and music that is of a younger, more eclectic nature. This was the catalyst for her writing The Progeny. The vampire/witch pairing is unique and different when most books pair vampires with werewolves.
The infinite possibilities, for such a wickedly unique couple, intrigued her. There is no shortage of romance, steam and surprises in The Progeny. These books are for adults and contain adult sensuality and themes, but minimal profanity. She loves writing on the edge and teetering between the erotica and romance genres. She thinks of Ascher and Shauna as the damned version of Romeo and Juliet.
She’s currently working on book two of the series entitled Blood Bonds. In her spare time, Ashlynne enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family. Ashlynne juggles the hats of wife, mother, full time employee and part-time writer, hoping to write full time one day soon.
Ashlynne lives in North Carolina with her husband and teenage son.
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