Ashlyn Kane on Characterization, Gary Stu, and her new release His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane (author guest blog)

His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Bree Archer

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ashlyn Kane here today talking about her latest contemporary romance, His Leading Man.  Welcome, Ashlyn.


Hi all! I’m Ashlyn Kane, and I’m here as stop one on the His Leading Man blog tour. Thanks so much to Stella and Melanie for hosting me! If you haven’t heard about the book, here’s the blurb:

He wrote a comedy. Fate directed a romance. 

Drew Beaumont is bored of the same old roles: action hero, supervillain, romantic lead. He’s not going to let a fresh gay buddy comedy languish just because they can’t find him the right costar. No, Drew bats his eyelashes and convinces everyone that the movie’s writer should play Drew’s not-so-straight man.

Aspiring writer Steve Sopol has never had a screenplay optioned. Now one of Hollywood’s hottest properties wants to be in a movie Steve hasn’t finished writing—and he wants Steve as his costar. Turns out the chemistry between them is undeniable—on and offscreen.

Drew swore off dating in the biz, but Steve is the whole package: sharp, funny, humble, and cute. For Steve, though, giving in to the movie magic means the end of the privacy he cherishes. Will the credits roll before their ride into the sunset? 

If that strikes your fancy, you can buy it on the Dreamspinner website or on

And now for more about me!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

If I’m doing my job right, just enough to get me into their mindset for writing, and not so much that they all start to sound alike. That was a bit tricky in my newest book because it features Steve, who’s a somewhat private writer, so of course we’ve got that in common: the desire to tell stories, particularly unique ones. But Steve’s leading man (or vice versa depending who you ask) is Drew, who’s a flashy movie star—very different on the surface, until you realize that is just another way to tell stories.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I grew up in fandom mumble-mumble years ago, which gives me a knee-jerk reaction to those names. To me Mary Sue or Gary Stu doesn’t mean just a self-insert but a character who’s “too perfect,” and when people use the term that way I want to go off on a tangent about how male power fantasies are allowed (Bruce Wayne, anyone?) but female ones get called out as two-dimensional. But to answer the question I think you mean: this isn’t something I personally struggle with. I’m a deeply boring person. No one would read a book about me, and I wouldn’t want to write it!

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Hmm, I think only in that I’ve always been eclectic. As a kid I read everything I could get my paws on, from the Bunnicula series and Nancy Drew to Harry Potter to The Green Mile. The first romance novel I ever read was about a woman with superpowers. I write a little bit of everything too (except historical, which is too much research!), the flashy Hollywood romance sort of books but also the quieter, almost pedestrian ones, and even paranormal. My next book after this is magical realism, which is a fun universe to write in and I’m debating revisiting it. The only thing I haven’t really done yet is sci-fi, which I read a ton of growing up but I think I’m too—lazy? intimidated? uninspired? all of the above?—to try writing. I mostly write for fun, so I prefer not to have to think too hard. Thinking is for editing!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA all the way. This is why sequels make me nervous! What if you take the happy ending away from them??? No, thank you!


What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

A sense of humor is so important. Life can be brutal and tragic and lonely and hard. I think that it’s important to share it with someone who can cheer you up. That could come in the form of kindness too, rather than humor, but it’s usually the humor people notice first. Kindness is quieter, but also important. I think, in this genre, a lot of what people are looking for boils down to levity and kindness, so I try to make sure each book has a good portion of each, however that works out character-wise.


Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Oh sure, only every time I’ve ever gotten stuck on a sex scene!


With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

Because I need to tell stories. I’ve been writing since I was six years old. My parents used to read me bedtime stories; once they turned off the lights and closed the door, I’d lie awake and make up more stories to tell myself. It’s a part of me that’s always been there—some kind of self-soothing behavior, maybe. It’s like watching TV, except backwards.


What’s next for you as a writer?

Well, I’ve got another book coming with Dreamspinner late this summer, and then we’ll see! I have a few ideas floating around, but none of them has taken quite firm enough root yet. Ask me again in two months—maybe I’ll have a better answer!

ASHLYN KANE is a Canadian former expat and current hockey fan. She is a writer, editor, handyperson, dog mom, and friend—sometimes all at once.

On any given day, she can usually be found walking her ninety-pound baby chocolate lapdog, Indy, or holed up in her office avoiding housework. She has a deep and abiding love of romance-novel tropes, a habit of dropping too many f-bombs, and—fortunately—a very forgiving family.

Twitter: @ashlynkane



By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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