Tell me a bit about who you are.
I was born the last part of the 1950s, moved around the country, and wound up in Cambridge in the wake of leaving with a fair degree in way of thinking. I played bass in groups, ran a record name, got played on John Strip, and “in real life” worked in NHS administrator and afterward in cutting edge new companies. I moved to Japan in 1988 on a 2-year contract as a technical writer (sound and instruments), and returned 28 years after the fact with my better half, Yoshiko. In those 28 years, I’d kept on writing client manuals, advertorials for a worldwide business magazine, and meetings/articles for carrier in-flight magazines and English-language diaries in Japan as well as a few books and a heap of generally well received Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Since getting back to Britain I’ve been focusing more on my fiction, and accomplishing a few work for a security consultancy. In addition, I serve as a Lichfield City (parish) Councillor.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Most likely in my mid-teens. I wrote one that wasn’t terrible, yet it definitely wasn’t publishable (not that I at any point attempted).
When did you take a step to start writing?
I’d constantly written fiction having had an incredibly supportive teacher at school who supported my writing, yet nothing was published. Usually short stories, but I managed to complete a cozy mystery with a technical component that was never published and a half-finished thriller set in Japan that went through about four iterations before being published.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
More than a year – maybe eighteen months. My first book to be distributed was Beneath Gray Skies (2009). It’s an alternative history set during the 1920s in which the American civil war was never fought, and the independent Confederacy forms a coalition with a recentlyNational Socialist Germany. An English specialist (portrayed in one survey as a “1920s James Bond”) is on a mission to stop this unholy collusion. I had a specialist/manager attempting to sell this commercially, however in the end I independently published it.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Just over a year.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write On The Other Side Of The Sky?
An interest in the life and times of these individuals. It was when odd notion and what I call “protoscience” was being supplanted by what we currently call science. There was a faith in the otherworldly, yet additionally parents in law of nature. One of my chief characters, Doctor Erasmus Darwin (granddad of Charles) is a local legend – his home is ten minutes’ leave where I reside in Lichfield – and he was an astonishing polymath. He should be a legend in a book. So I wrote it.
What were your biggest challenges with writing On The Other Side Of The Sky?
Ensuring that the subtleties were right beyond what many would consider possible. I had to do a lot of research into topics I had never heard of before and read up on some pretty obscure topics. When it came to looking at the Kabbalah and Jewish traditions, both of which are mentioned in the book, I received assistance from a very unexpected source.
Another test was getting into the skin of the hero (see underneath). I had a great deal of help from my female editor in making sure that I had a really female voice there.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Jane Machin might have been John Machin, I assume, however I needed a female hero – I felt she would be more grounded as a woman. As she grew into a strong, mature young woman, it was fun to watch her develop. Inspiration? Ladies I have known and cherished. Yet, all things being equal, I’m not female and I really wanted a direction to accomplish a dependable and practical picture.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
Nightmares. the dread of the enigmatic Other. What occurs on the opposite side of the mirror has been a minor fixation of mine for quite a while (and not just mine), so I took that one phase further to what lives on the opposite side of the sky. He had to be glamorous in a dark and unnerving manner, and irreverent, if not unethical. However, he is in fact a nightmare from our collective unconscious (Jung is referenced extensively in a number of my writings).
What is the inciting incident of On The Other Side Of The Sky?
Probably the scene in which I illustrate the event with Joseph Wright of Derby’s An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, a minor character in the book. Jane Machin unknowingly causes turmoil at this “philosophical exhibition”. The painting is here, and due to its significance, it even has its own entry on Wikipedia.
What is the main conflict of On The Other Side Of The Sky?
Between the human and non-human aspects of the protagonist.
Did you plot On The Other Side Of The Sky in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I was unsure of the specifics, but I had a general idea of what was going to happen. A portion of the plot presented itself to me because of my perusing regarding the matters. In any case, overall, I watched (in my mind) my characters acting and speaking, and recorded what I saw and heard.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did On The Other Side Of The Sky need?
I got a lot of help from my companion and individual creator Vicky Yardley. It is a society of mutual support. I assist her with a portion of her plot and character issues, and she assists me with mine.
I usually write work that can be printed out the first time, but with 360 pages, you’ll make mistakes in plot and continuity as well as typos. She was a colossal assistance in her altering and in her ideas. Her role makes the book much better.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Just do it.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’m exploring and checking out at a spin-off of this. However, it will be fascinating to check whether I can make it happen. I likewise have a couple other Mapp and Lucia pastiches in a hurry (I’ve been asked back to be a visitor speaker at the Yearly Assembling of the Plowing Society) and I make standard commitments to Sherlock Holmes collections put out by MX Distributing.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
It’s the best book I’ve written to date. I’m very pleased with it.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Here’s the book:
Amazon – https://amzn.to/3tpG0eZ
Waterstones – https://bit.ly/3wo6OhD
W H Smith – https://bit.ly/3iuxqW1
eBook – https://bit.ly/3INowxQ
Kobo UK – https://bit.ly/3ilZyur
Apple Books UK – https://apple.co/36fHtMm
My site is at https://HughAshtonBooks.com most of my books are there, along with an occasional blog entry
And if you want to see me:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hugh-Ashton/e/B004E8ZIX8 (change to your local Amazon outside the UK)
I’m @hughashton on Twitter, but you will find it’s mostly politics
My book persona on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HughAshton.Author
My everyday Facebook (politics, silliness and some books): https://www.facebook.com/HughAshton31
No Instagram worth talking about and certainly no TikTok (if you’ve ever seen me dance, you’d know why).