1 – have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always had a big imagination and loved writing but never thought I’d make it my profession. I worked in corporate America for years before I decided to finally leave that profession and become a full time author.
2 – When you start a series of books – do you know in advance who the couples that will appear in the following books will be? Do you know what the plot will be?
When I begin a series, I always know who the characters will be in Books 1 and 2. This is because I write connected series where we meet the characters who will fall in love in later books along the way. But sometimes, the characters appear and I realize I need to write their story down the road, and that’s really fun! The characters seem real to me and have real conversations in my head!
3 – In the Ardor Creek series you addressed very important issues (grief, addiction, fertility treatments, bullying) – why did you choose to touch on such difficult issues?
I love romance because it always has an element of fantasy but I also really enjoy writing about true life experiences. I think there’s something so beautiful in seeing characters who experience the tough things we do in real life and still find their happy ever after.
4 – Have you faced, or do you know anyone who has dealt with these issues you have written about?
Yes! Peter from Illusions Unveiled was inspired by two friends of mine who are both now sober after years of addiction and subsequent rehab. Both of them chose to be sober in order to build a better life and both married their wives after rehab. They have now been sober for many years and have built something so amazing with their own happy ever after. I just felt it was the perfect inspiration for a book!
5 – Where did you get the inspiration for the stories?
A part of me gets a bit frustrated when the characters are “perfect.” I mean, we all love to have mind-blowing sexy times and six pack abs but that just isn’t real life. So, my inspiration comes from wanting to write real stories about real people who aren’t sex gods or perfect in every way. My upcoming book, Passions Fulfilled, deals with male infertility. Not a super-pleasant subject but many couples experience this and it’s very rarely spoken about in romance novels. I thought it would be so sweet to see a couple work through these issues together and choose to accept and love each other.
6 – In the Manhattan Holiday Loves series – you decided that the male character would be the virgin and not the female (which is more common) – how did you think of that? Why did you decide to do something so different from other books in the genre?
Oh, I love a male virgin. I also write fantasy romance under the name Rebecca Hefner and I have a few male virgins in those books. I think I just got tired of seeing the woman as the virgin all the time, especially in our modern world. There’s something so vulnerable about a man who isn’t quite sure he can please his lady and I adore writing those characters!
7 – Who is your favorite couple you have written about?
Oh, man, that’s really hard. My characters are all like my friends. I will say that Carrie and Peter’s story from Illusions Unveiled was so heart-wrenching and I do adore that story (but I love them all!).
8 – How long does it take you to write one book?
This depends on what sub-genre of romance I’m writing. The Ardor Creek books only take me a few weeks because it’s just people interacting in my head and I write it down! I wrote a time travel romance series under Rebecca Hefner and that took much longer because they traveled through time and I had to use age calculators, research the science, etc. I usually like to work on one book at a time so I can finish it and move on. It helps me focus better.
9 – What is your favorite genre to read?
I love any genre of romance and I also enjoy science fiction. I’m also a big non-fiction fan and a huge science geek so I enjoy books by Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
10 – Who are your favorite writers?
Nora Roberts, JR Ward, Kit Rocha, Carl Sagan, Lisa Kleypas
11 – If you could turn one of your books into a movie – which one would you choose?
Definitely my Prevent the Past series under my Rebecca Hefner name. It’s got action, sci-fi, time travel and romance so I think it would be so exciting! And I’d LOVE to have my Ardor Creek series turned into a Netflix show like Virgin River was.
Ayla Asher is my contemporary romance pen name and Rebecca Hefner is my fantasy romance name. I have two author names to keep the sub-genres separate on Amazon and other retailers. I grew up in Western North Carolina but have lived in the New York City area for many years and really love it. I’m in my mid-forties and this is why I love writing about characters in their forties falling in love! I left my corporate medical sales job in 2018 and became a full-time author. I now have almost 20 books published under both author names combined and love meeting new readers.