Bethany reviews ‘The Truth’ and ‘The Fight’ by Ashley John. (‘The Truth’ self-published on June 26, 2014) & (‘The Fight’ self-published on July 20, 2014)
I want to welcome Ashley John to RGR today, he was gracious enough to answer a few questions that I had about George and Harvey. He also talks about his new works and his inspirations for his books. So a great big Thank You to Ashley for taking time out of his schedule to be here with us today.
1. What or who inspired Harvey and George?
The inspiration for George & Harvey came to me when I was on a train. I was in a long distance relationship at the time with a guy named Harvey, and the train journey home took around 5 hours, so it gave me plenty of time to think and write. It was the summer of 2012 and I was itching to write a book and publish it through Amazon, but I had no idea where to start. I was toying around with writing a YA supernatural book and all sorts of other books, but the idea for George & Harvey just wandered into my mind. First, it was the idea of a man struggling to choose between his wife and his male lover, and it developed from there. At the time, I had no idea about the huge m/m niche, so I wrote the first act and shelved it. Fast forward two years and I’m browsing through the Kindle store to find something to read and I stumble across the Gay Romance section, and I was surprised to see how it was thriving. I got to work straight away, and polished up the idea, changed a few things around, and wrote the first book in the series, The Secret, super fast! I spent two years living with the characters in my mind, so they fell out onto the page.
2. What was the hardest part about writing that series?
The hardest part of writing the series was the pressure for it to succeed. When I decided to pursue my dream of writing, I’d just quit my job working in McDonalds. I was so miserable working there, so my amazing finacé agreed to support me so I could find my way. Because of the way Amazon pays (you don’t see a penny of what you earn until 60 days later), I felt under pressure for the series to succeed early on so it would make me money in the future. Let me tell you, those 60 days felt like 60 years, and my first paycheck was terrible. It was VERY difficult having no money for nearly 3 months, but it was worth it in the end. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of arguments it caused, but thankfully, they stopped when I was earning enough money to live again. Luckily, the series took off and enabled me to write full time and make a living from it.
3. What inspired Surf Bay?
The Surf Bay Series happened by accident really. When I was finishing The Fight (the third and final book in the George & Harvey series) I came up with the idea for Lost & Found (which at the time was called ‘New In Town’). I had the idea to write a story about a boy who arrived in a small surfing town and falls in love with a local surfer. At the time, it was going to be a standalone, but when I finished writing it, I realized so many of the characters had stories to tell! I decided that each book in The Surf Bay Series would be standalone, with recurring characters and themes through each book. I’m now writing the third book in the series, and I’ve completely fallen in love with this strange town (everyone seems to be gay in Surf Bay. Must be something in the water).
4. Do your characters ever take over and take the story somewhere you didn’t plan?
All the time! Sometimes it surprises me completely. I plan out every detail of the story before I write anything, because I like to know where I’m going, but sometimes the characters just decide to add all new scenes without even asking me. There’s a scene in my first book, The Secret, where George & Harvey go to George’s log cabin and end up having sex in the woods and defending themselves against a local homophobic shop owner. That was one of my favorite scenes in the book, and it was totally unplanned.
5. How would you describe your books to someone who hasn’t read any of your works?
Dramatic? I don’t know why, but so far, all of my books have had high levels of drama and angst (which can be very draining to write)! I put my characters through a lot before I give them their happily ever after.
6. When you start a book do you have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
I usually start with a single idea. For Full Circle (my latest book and the second in the Surf Bay series), I had the idea to look at a couple who fell in love when they were 18, spent 17 years apart, and fell in love all over again when they were 35. I really wanted to explore how love could last over time, and how people’s lives change, but ultimately, they’re still the same people deep inside. I then usually plan a basic outline for each act, and from that I’ll create a very detailed 5-10 page document detailing every scene. I usually stick to them quite firmly, but sometimes I let myself change things as I’m going.
7. How do you celebrate a new book?
I stress and don’t sleep. That’s how! In most cases, I’ve been working up until the last second before I need to press ‘PUBLISH’, so I don’t really get much chance to unwind and celebrate. I guess you could say I celebrate by starting work on my next book!
8. Can you tell us what you are working on now?
I have a lot planned right now. I can tell I’m going to be very busy over the next few months. On November 23rd
, I’m releasing my first m/f book, Unlikely Love (available for pre-order on Amazon at mybook.to/unlikelylove
) which I’m excited and nervous about in equal measures. After that, I’m going straight into the third Surf Bay book, which is available for pre-order ahead of it’s December 21st
release date (mybook.to/surfbaysavingmichael). The third Surf Bay book, Saving Michael is the one I’m most excited about. Michael featured heavily in Full Circle and he wasn’t a very nice guy, so I’m looking forward to showing all sides of his personality and showing his back story. In the new year I think I’m going to take a month or two out of writing to enjoy reading for a while, but I have a lot planned in 2015. If all goes to plan, my first release for 2015 will be a m/m romantic comedy that I’ve had planned for a while. What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’m a joker and people say I’m quite funny and quick witted, so it will be nice to show that side of me in my work.
9. eBook or print?
eBooks all the way. If you asked my 5 years ago, I would have laughed at you and said print, but it’s clear to see where the market is heading. It’s almost identical to the rise of MP3s and the fall of CDs. I love how the market has changed to allow everyone and anyone to release books their own way. I never would have dreamed I’d be able to fulfill my dreams of being a published author, and eBooks have made that possible.
10. Favorite place to read and to write?
I can really read anywhere. Recently, I’ve been cramming in reading using the Kindle App on my phone whenever I get chance. A lot of the time I like to read in bed to unwind after a long day of writing in my office. I can’t seem to write anywhere other than my office. I guess I’m lucky that me and my fiancé have a house big enough so that I can have my own space to work in. It’s only small, but it has a gorgeous double ceiling with exposed beams and ceiling windows. I’m sure I spend more time in here (where I’m writing this right now) than any other place in my house! I remember writing my first book, The Secret, on my couch in the living room and it was so hard to concentrate, so I converted the spare bedroom into my own private lair.
11. If you could do it all over again is there anything you would change in your first book?
Please don’t ask me that! There are so many things I would change and do differently, but I know I can’t change what I’ve already done, so I won’t dwell on it. Early next year I’m planning to re-release the George & Harvey series re-edited with some new content and new covers. If there’s one thing I hate about the series, it’s those darn pastel covers (but thankfully, I have some gorgeous new ones redesigned ready for when I have time to sit down and go through the books again). If you ask any indie author this, they’ll probably tell you they’ll change decisions they made 3 days ago, and I’m the same. I’m constantly worrying that I’m not doing things the way I should be doing them, but as an indie author working to such tight deadlines, I have to make quick decisions and sometimes, they aren’t good ones. But hey, life is a journey and I’m here to learn from my own mistakes. I’m so close to selling my 10,000th book, so I must be doing something right!
Why I read these books: After I finished book 1, ‘The Secret’ I was really excited to read book 2 & 3. Unfortunately I was not able to start right away which made me sad. When I FINALLY had some down time I knew these were what I wanted to read.
THE TRUTH is the explosive second book in the sizzling ‘George & Harvey‘ series which follows George Lewis as he tries to decide between his wife and his lover. After Harvey’s heartbreaking confrontation with his brother, Leo, he tries to pick up the pieces of his life, but he can’t decide where Leo and George fit in. When George’s wife returns after spending months away looking after her sick mother, George must decide between his wife and his young male lover. Will Harvey finally get the man he loves? Will he find the family that he longs for? Will George be able to do the right thing and follow his heart? Find out what happened after the heart-breaking cliffhanger in THE SECRET, only in THE TRUTH.
When I finally got some downtime to start book 2 I was thrilled. After book 1 I couldn’t wait to see what would happen between these two . And I must say I was kinda irritated with George and how he handled the situation with Leo, Harvey’s brother. I was equally upset with his refusal to tell his wife about him and Harvey.
My heart was breaking for Harvey and while I was upset with George I made myself see things from his point of view. It can not be easy to live your life one way for so many years only to have it turned upside down in the course of a few weeks.
And yet when Paula does come home I was BEGGING for him to tell her. But excuse after excuse and I just knew that this one would not end well for Harvey.
The first book left me hanging, it felt like when you get to the end of your favorite tv show and the season finale is one hell of a cliffhanger. This book was the start of a new season, one you could not wait to see in what direction it would go. You are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
But like they say you gotta go through the bad to get to the good. And this one definitely left me needing the good, so as soon I finished it I started book 3 right away searching for the HEA.
Blurb: THE FIGHT is the much-anticipated third and final book in the sizzling ‘George & Harvey‘ series which follows the rocky relationship between married writer, George Lewis and his young intern, Harvey.
5 months have passed since Harvey let George behind and he is touring the country with his brother Leo, but things aren’t quite how he expected. After struggling to stay sober, Leo slips back into his old ways and Harvey’s world quickly becomes hell on earth. Terrible and heart-breaking things happen to Harvey, forcing him to go back and fight for the only person who truly loves, George Lewis.
Will George accept him with open arms once again? Will Paula step-aside and let Harvey take her husband? Will Leo ever let his brother go? Are Harvey’s actions going to have deadly consequences?
Will George & Harvey ever get their happy ending? Find out what happens after the heart-wrenching cliffhanger in THE TRUTH, only in THE FIGHT.
So like I said in my review for ‘The Truth’ I was dying for a HEA in this one. I needed it so much after everything Harvey and George have gone through. Let Me tell you Ashley delivers, oh he makes them work for it but when they finally get it you will be cheering so much.
I fell in love with these two in book one, and this one just solidified how much I adored them. While I was expecting this one to be smooth sailing, that was not the case at all. There were tough moments and sweet moment. There were also moments that left me yelling about how freaking unfair life can be.
But let me say the way Ashley writes is something special. He takes me on this adventure full of ups and downs and sometimes downright hatred for some characters. Yet he can turn them around so much that by the end I actually like them and would like to see them have a HEA as well like George and Harvey.
This series is beautiful and heartbreaking and I am amazed at how much it affected me. I would also love to go into more detail about these three books but if I did I would be giving too much away and I hate doing that.
What I can tell you is that if you get these books you will not regret it and you will be searching for more by Ashley John. This is a series I highly recommend. Yes it is angsty and you will find yourself sometimes mad as all get out at certain characters but by the end your heart will be thanking you for reading it.
Check out my review for ‘The Secret’ book 1 here.