Ashley Capes kicks off our first #spfbo interviews this week. Welcome, Ashley!
Ashley is a poet, novelist, and teacher living in Australia. He teaches English, Media and Music Production, has played in a metal band, worked in an art gallery and slaved away at music retail. Aside from reading and writing, Ashley loves volleyball and Studio Ghibli – and Magnum PI, easily one of the greatest television shows ever made.
Visit www.ashleycapes.com to learn more about his poetry and www.cityofmasks.com for more about his fiction.
What drew you to self-publishing?
Control was definitely a big selling point to self-publishing; it's hard work but ultimately really satisfying to take a hand in all the steps around publishing. My favourite part of the process is probably commissioning cover art. It's also wonderful to have a reliable supplementary income, something that I couldn't always have when I was traditionally published.
Why did you enter #spfbo?
I entered one of my novellas last year, and it was pretty exciting, and the exposure was tops too so I thought I'd try with a full-length novel this time. I think it's nice to be a part of something fairly new and big too - there's so many bloggers and books involved. It seems a fairly unique competition in the world of self-publishing, so that's another draw. So far, luckily, my book 'City of Masks' isn't in direct competition with any of my writer-friends which is great.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Tough question! I’m thinking the only way I can narrow it down would be to choose from a particular genre and so I’m going with thriller. So my under-appreciated thriller is First Blood by David Morrell. It’s a great action thriller/chase/survival-themed book – it’s really hard not to get swept up in the underdog aspects too. What I especially enjoyed was the increased depth of characterisation that was possible in the book compared to the film too, the way Rambo and the sheriff mirror each other is clearer in the novel.
Now to the under-appreciated aspect – and this is pretty hard for me to judge accurately but I’m going try – but I feel as though, in pop culture at least, the over the top violence of the films that followed the book (and the first film for that matter) have swiftly overtaken the subtler aspects of the novel and almost replaced the story of a troubled Vietnam vet with a caricature of 80s action films.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Maybe not a pilgrimage particularly, but a lot of the Romantic poets, when travelling Europe would stop in Italy. A few years ago my wife and I were incredibly fortunate that we were able to take a short trip to Italy and so I supposed we retraced a few steps of many great writers – I remember Rome vividly today, the smell of the almost-baking dust on the old stone. I still write about it today and dream often of returning.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Sometimes I think I do. There’s a stillness to writing for me, a really deep focus – to the exclusion of all else in the room or even the world at times. I think that’s really common across all the arts actually, and probably in other fields too. It’s almost meditative, the complete and utter escape writing can offer. You can really slip into a scene, it’s great.
But perhaps the best example for me is that sometimes when I look back on a scene, a character, a poem or even a whole novel I see things that I hadn’t realised I was weaving into the narrative. Obsessions and fears, joys, whatever, but I usually learn something about myself at the end, so that seems reasonably spiritual I guess.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Not really – when I’m struggling I don’t believe I’m blocked in a really final, insurmountable way. I tend to see it as either a problem with my motivation or if it’s early on in a project, confusion between whether I have a great idea or a great story. For me, an idea is potential but can lack conflict. Conversely, a story has both, and so while I can stall on an idea – when I find the conflict and story I’m usually good to go.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Definitely, the money spent on an ergonomic office chair – it makes a huge difference to how often I can write, I’m still very happy with that decision.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Sometimes! There’s a reference to The Goonies and Indiana Jones somewhere in my stories, but the one I can think of right now is a Ned Kelly (an Australian bushranger) reference in my latest book, Imperial Towers which I hope some readers find. (It’s probably a little obvious, but I’m not sure how obvious it would be to international readers.)
Thanks for joining us, Ashley! You can learn more about Ashley and his books by visiting his Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Ashley-Capes/e/B004H6WC4K