DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, February 3, 2012

UK Author Ash Penn

The United Kingdom’s Ash Penn views her life with conservative discernment and few words. An extremely quiet and reserved woman, Ash continues to pursue a degree at the university while living a tranquil life in a Victorian cottage replete with garden she hopes to one day learn how to tend beyond her seasonal trial and error methodology. She is quick to say there is nothing extraordinary or exciting about her life, nothing beyond the norm the majority of us live within.

This is where I disagree.

Ash is a woman with an uncanny ability to identify people’s strife, our need for acceptance, and transfer the emotions she absorbs into the stories more and more readers are discovering every day. Ash has a heart as large and gentle as any, and uses her skillful prose to provide the lost, the lonely, with love and hope.

In her debut novel “Stray,” she introduced three characters on the edge of nowhere, trying to find their way in a world unaccepting of their homosexuality, and at times, of each other. While a promise of hope exists, the story revolves and evolves around the men’s conflicts with society, their families, and themselves. “Stray” is an emotional rollercoaster complete with unexpected twists and turns.

Likewise, her next novel “Passing Time” centers on a man who has lost his way. His life partner has died, and his mother, a conflict in life, is dying. Their relationship is broken, maybe beyond repair, but his devotion to her remains intact while his grip on reality slips. Then a man our protagonist does not want in his life arrives with containers of Indian takeout and a mustard seed of hope.

Ash says little in conversation. She speaks volumes in her stories of how she views the world, love, life, and her belief that everyone deserves happiness.
Ash's Web Site

Q) Given your proclivity for privacy, what made you decide to become a published author?

A) I have always written stories and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be published. For a lot of years I didn’t imagine that anyone would want to read about the kind of stories and characters I write about. Back then, no market existed for m/m fiction in my little piece of the world. As far as I knew, I was the only woman in the world writing about gay men. That was never the reality, of course, but just the way I felt at the time.

Now I know there is a huge market and has been for quite some time, and I’m pleased to be a part of that. I just value my privacy and prefer to write and talk about my stories than about myself. Simple as that : )

Q) To what or whom do you credit your innate ability to connect with people’s emotions?

A) I have no idea. I’m a fairly quiet and reserve sort so I do find myself listening in on other people’s conversations and generally observing which may in some way help out when it comes to my fiction writing. I like to think I have a vivid imagination so I also put myself in my characters’ psyches and imagine how they would react to any given situation. I think the official term for this ability is guesswork.

Q) How’s the degree coming along?

A) I’m in my final year of an English degree, which is just as well because our government (I’m not a political person so I shall keep my thoughts of the British government to myself) has seen fit to raise the tuition fees a considerable (around 500%) amount per year. Overall I have enjoyed the learning process, although I’m almost ashamed to say I dropped out of the Shakespeare course, mostly because I had to analyse the plays in such close details I was beginning to loathe the plays I thought I loved. And that would never do.

Q) You graciously allowed me to read “Angell in Chains” which contains some very unique and original characters. Thank you by the way. What are your current plans for this story?

A) That story went on the back-burner when I realised that although I like the beginning and the end, I could do so much more with the middle. Since I adore the protagonists, Steve and Beau, I know that they, and any potential readers, deserve the best story I can possibly give. So, I AIM to get back to work on the story within the next month or so, just as soon I’m done with the edits to my current WiP. I have a huge backlog of unfinished manuscripts going right back to 2007, and 2012 is the year I get cracking on those.

Q) Where would you like to see your writing take you?

A) I’d like to earn enough to write full-time. I’d like to produce four books a year. I’d like more motivation. Motivation for me comes along with a book contract. The problem is I have to work for that contract and by nature I’m a very lazy writer. And I’d like to be less of a perfectionist, because I’m never 100% satisfied with any work I produce. The more I fiddle with it the more I lose touch with what I’m writing. That’s got to stop. I need to spend less time on rewrites and more time on that next yet-to-be-written chapter.

Q) Any parting thoughts for readers who have yet to discover your work?

A) I’ve learned to recognise that my stories tend to focus on what’s wrong with a relationship rather than what’s right with it. No relationship is perfect, but my characters find a way to work around the bad parts to find the good. Because of this I know my books aren’t to everyone’s taste. I often write characters some readers have difficulty connecting with. This was the case with ‘Stray’, where the narrator is a love or hate character. I chose not to compromise his personality in order to make him more amenable because he is what he is. Characters come to me fully-formed with their personality traits. I might not know what they look like but I always know what they’d do in a certain situation. If I started to mess around with those traits in order to mould them with more ‘marketable’ personalities, they rail against me and often stall the story completely. And I hate it when that happens. I’m a slow enough writer as it is without more complications. So, I may change a story’s ending half a dozen times before I’m satisfied but I’ve learned not to try and force a character to go where they don’t want to. They always make me suffer for that in the end.

DA Kentner is an author and journalist. http://www.kevad.net/

14 comments:

  1. I know too well about rewriting, Ash. I do it too much as well and I think you lose something in the writing by doing it. Best of luck finding that motivation!

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  2. I love your description of characters, and how they dictate your story.

    I hope you can make it as a full time writer. Your voice is so unique.

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  3. Ash, you are one of my favorite examples for the still waters that run deep.

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  4. Hello, Ellie and Amber,

    I truly appreciate you dropping by and commenting.

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  5. Good luck with your writing, Ash. I know you are one of the best writers out there. Keep plugging away and stay true to your heart :)

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  6. Thanks very much for taking the time to stop by, Cari.

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  7. I know what you mean, Ash. The edit-as-I-write approach is bogging down the writing process. I need to do the same as you and set aside the rewrites--or at least the major ones--until the rest of the chapters are finished.

    Good luck with everything.

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  8. Ash, you are a wonderful writer. I wish you much success xoxo

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  9. Wonderfully put, David. Ash is one heck of a fine lady and an author who reaches deep to deliver a story the reader wants to cherish!

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  10. Lorraine - thank you very much for your comments.

    Hi, Ren! I appreciate you stopping by.

    Jadette -- always a joy when you visit.

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  11. Ash, I hear you on the perfectionist issue. How many hours can a writer spend on one sentence? ;-) David, thanks for giving us the run-down on Ash's stories. They sound so ...evocative. I've just added "Passing Time" to my LooseID cart!

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  12. Thanks, David, for the opportunity of an interview, and thanks to everyone for the great comments :)

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  13. My pleasure, Ash.
    I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

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