Mickie B. Ashling has stopped by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords today as part of her Forget Me Not Book Tour and happily stayed to answer a few, ok more than a few questions.
In addition, Mickie is giving away a digital copy of either Fire Horse or Ride-Off to one lucky commenter; winner gets to choose book and format. To enter to win leave a comment below with an email address where you can be reached if chosen. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Contest ends July 30th at midnight EDT.
Here is our interview!
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to appear on your blog to talk about the novels that make up my Polo Series: Fire Horse, and the sequel, Ride-Off.
STRW: Both Fire Horse and Ride-Off are centered in the world of Polo. Why this sport?
I grew up in the Philippines where the sport was, and continues to be, popular amongst a small segment of society. Brothers and cousins of classmates played the game, and I became involved through association. I wore the fancy outfits, attended the victory parties, and listened to the gossip accompanying each win. High goal players from all over the world flew in for the tournaments, and it was my good fortune to be in the vicinity for some memorable matches. A lot of the famous folk I mentioned in Fire Horse (i.e. Sultan of Brunei) were regular visitors. Like my character Flea (Preston), I became enthralled with the sport and the men who played it.
STRW: A love of horses is apparent in both stories. Where did that come from?
Horses have always fascinated me. Unfortunately, my mother had an irrational fear of horseback riding, and horses in general, and she was positively convinced I would have an accident and be crippled for life if I ever sat on one. Fortunately for me, my first husband didn’t share her opinion, and he encouraged me to take riding lessons early in our marriage. I soon realized that some of my mother’s anxieties had rubbed off, and I wasn’t confident on horseback, but my love for the animals never wavered.
STRW: There are intergenerational love stories here. How did that come about? Why was that important to the series?
Polo players start young, but the majority of high goal players, who travel the world to compete, are usually more mature. They’ve earned their rankings through years of sacrifice, and I wanted to write about such a man—someone who’d jumped through hoops to get to the top of his game. Like any sport, it takes perseverance, dedication, and practice, but, unlike other sports, maintaining a string of ponies, and the accompanying lifestyle, is impossible without a solid financial base. It wouldn’t have been realistic to have a penniless twenty-something year-old become the main character. That being said, I wanted my MCs to be weathered and carry the scars of their journey to the top; a love story spanning decades.
STRW: There are many locations abroad used in these stories. How much research went into your novels? Did you visit those places?
I’ve been to many of the cities I included in these two novels, but I didn’t grow up in Texas and have yet to visit Hungary. There was a lot of research involved in trying to make these novels as realistic as possible, but I consider that a part of my job as a writer. Weaving my own life experience with research is what makes the literary journey so exciting—I can go anywhere and be whoever I want—if I query the right people and dig through the proper archives.
STRW: How many novels are planned for this series or is it open ended?
I have one more novel planned, but in truth, I never say never. There are many story arcs to be explored. Sasha and Jeremy, Ned and Bandy, Paloma and God only knows at this point. Pres and Kon continue to be the favorites, and I’ve been asked why they didn’t have more on-page time in Ride-Off, but after their excruciating journey to happiness in Fire Horse, I wanted to show them in a reasonably happy place.
STRW: Do you have favorite characters in this series?
Preston is my favorite character, and Jeremy, from Ride-Off is a close second.
STRW: Hero or antihero? Which do you find more interesting?
Definitely antihero. I’ve always enjoyed writing broken characters. A hot mess is far preferable to a perfectly good boy, because the payoff at the end is much more rewarding and a heck of a lot more fun.
STRW: How long have you been writing M/M romance?
Like many other writers in this genre, I got my start in fan fiction. My first online stories appeared in 2007. Horizons was my first published novel and that released in 2009. Since then, I’m proud to say I have published fifteen full-length novels, and that doesn’t include the foreign translations of Taste and Daddio.
STRW: Why this contemporary fiction as opposed to other genres?
M/M inspires me like nothing else, and to paraphrase so many female authors who write in this genre, why not? As Anne Rice has proven over and over, you don’t have to be a vampire to write a memorable bloodsucker. I may wake up tomorrow and decide to write an M/F novel (highly unlikely) or YA (improbable). My sons keep on hoping I’ll be respectable one day and write a bestseller like Fifty Shades of Grey. The first time I heard that suggestion from son #3 I laughed till I cried. I told him to pick up my BDSM novel Impacted if he had a thing for whips and chains. After seeing the cover of that particular book you can understand the look of horror I received. It was priceless.
I’d like to thank my publicist, Joleen, from Parenthetical Author Services for making my beautiful banner and setting up my blog tour. Self-promotion is a necessary evil that is time consuming and a little daunting to those of us who rarely stick their noses out of the writing cave. Joleen makes my life a lot easier, and for anyone out there who suffers from my affliction, I’d recommend a publicist to spare you time and anxiety. It’s been a joy to have her in my corner. You can contact her here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Mickie, for that great interview. For your information, I have listed the blurbs and info from Fire Horse and Ride Off, the preceding novels in this series, after the author bio below.
Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.
By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
Contact/follow Mickie B. Ashling at:
Buy Links Dreamspinner Press Kobobooks Barnes and Noble All Romance Ebooks Amazon
Fire Horse Ride Off
Fire Horse (Polo #1):
Preston Fawkes is ten the first time he meets fifteen-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club. Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor. The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.
The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges―their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored. Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.
Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans. How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future—one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?
Ride Off (Polo #2):
Polo: Book Two – Sequel to Fire Horse
Finally reunited, Preston Fawkes and Konrad Schnell put family and obligations aside, preferring to remain in seclusion on Ned’s estate to get reacquainted. Unfortunately, reality can only be held off for so long, and they return to Texas to reclaim the life they put on pause. Trying to strike the right balance between business, family, and romance requires ongoing effort, and the challenges begin shortly after they arrive.
At the top of the list is Bandi, Konrad’s son, and his desire to play polo. A close second is Conrad “Sasha” Fawkes, Preston’s actor son who’s struggling to succeed on Broadway. And last, but certainly not least, is Paloma, the fiery Argentinean beauty Preston sired after a passionate tango.
Blending the interests and needs of three grown children is difficult at best and almost impossible when agendas collide and old secrets are unearthed. The situation comes to a head when the family gathers in San Antonio for Thanksgiving, throwing Preston and Konrad into a maelstrom they must weather as best they can, or they’ll face a major ride-off that could throw the game before it even starts.