Author Spotlight – Ashe Armstrong
Ashe Armstrong grew up watching and reading about adventures and having horrible nightmares. That last part may not seem relevant, but it is. He liked monsters and cryptids and the paranormal and scary things in general, but he also liked them while hiding under the covers.
As the author of the GRIMLUK series, Ashe spends his days in Tulsa, OK, writing about orcs who hunt demons. You can find him on Twitter @ashearmstrong, or visit his website ashearmstrong.com.
Thanks for joining us today, Ashe. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I read quite a few great books last year. The two most recent were the new Dresden Files anthology, Brief Cases, and a proofreading job I did for Jane Glatt’s next Intelligencers book, Traits and Traitors. Brief Cases was more Dresden, which I’m always down for, while Traits and Traitors was my first experience with Jane. It was a lot of fun. Pirates and special powers and cloak and dagger stuff.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Despite my love of playing Fighters and Barbarians, I know “realistically” I’d probably be a Bard with a shortsword. My body ain’t the best but my mind and my tongue are pretty sharp.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
I started off writing short stories by hand in a leather journal but when I decided to hunker down and write For Real, I went with typing. I can type faster than I can write.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Unless the Spirit takes me, I turn on music and get to work. Sometimes I turn on specific styles to put me in the right mood, sometimes specific albums. I wrote a lot of The Demons Within to the Bloodborne soundtrack. And listening to Judas Priest.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
I guess I’m somewhere in between the two. I build a story frame but then I let it build as it will while I’m writing. Sometimes I have specific beats I want to hit but they don’t quite come out as I originally envisioned but that’s not always a bad thing. I start with my cast, my setting, and then a slew of ideas I want to include. Once I have those started, I begin writing a loose story summary so I know roughly where I’m headed. It never adheres strictly to the summary by the time I’m finished and sometimes there are parts that shifted fairly dramatically. And yes, sometimes I do it all in my underwear. In bed on my tablet. Or in my underwear at my desk. Because I work from home and fuck pants.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
Cartoons, comics, movies, tv, video games, I just kind of absorb things from all over. Though since I started playing D&D, it’s been having a pretty big influence on me. There going to be a scene in the next Grimluk book that was inspired by a D&D session. It just fits what I’m going for. Hellboy is also a huge inspiration, indirectly at first, but then outright when I started work on Demon Haunted.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
I’m about to finish up the final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Also watching Blue Planet II with my partner for our date nights.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
Probably gaming. Ideally, extra D&D but probably video games. Maybe go to the Aquarium and see the turtles.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Hmm, I don’t know. The semicolon probably cause I still don’t know when to properly use it.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
Grimluk discovers a cult and ends up in the Upside Down as the one being hunted.
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
Oh gosh, I don’t even know. I’d probably want to work with a friend. Krista Ball, Christopher Ruz, maybe James Jakins. Something sword & sorcery or maybe space opera or cyberpunk.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
“You have to write EVERY DAY.” No you don’t. You have to do it consistently. Not everyone CAN write everyday, whether because of a day job or because of health reasons. I try to keep a Monday-Friday schedule so I can still get other life things done. I also deal with untreated sleep apnea and chronic pain, so some days are just a bust cause I didn’t get enough sleep and my brain is jelly.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I mean, I’d like to visit Scotland one day period, so I’ll go with modern Scotland. I don’t know how well I’d deal with historical points. Though I also wouldn’t mind visiting 1880s America if for no other reason than to take some good research photos of certain areas for Grimluk inspiration.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I try to remind myself that every word adds up and to do as many as I can that day. Sometimes I only manage to pull out a few hundred, other times I just need to get myself going. All progress is good progress.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Edward M. Erdelac’s Merkabah Rider series, which he’s working on re-releasing (book 2 is up for pre-order as of answering this), is supremely underappreciated in my mind. Especially considering that without it, there would be no Grimluk.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
Dear Mr. Shark, please do not eat me and instead enjoy my book series about an orc gunslinger who hunts demons. It includes things like inclusive representation, found family motifs, gnarly ass demons, and sexy, sexy orcs. You’ll have fun and I can keep writing.
Awesome! Thanks again for joining us today, Ashe!
Ashe Armstrong is the author of the GRIMLUK: DEMON HUNTER series.