Feb 6, 2017

Special Guest: Amanda Ashby

I'm so excited that my friend Amanda Ashby is visiting us today. Her YA books are some of my favourite YAs ever (seriously, if you haven't read Demonosity, do yourself a favour and grab a copy), and she also writes category romance and middle grade fiction. Interesting mix, right? Well, I've rolled up my sleeves and asked the hard questions for you. Plus, she has a giveaway for one commenter.

But first, a couple of winners!

The winner of Murder Most Unusual by Michelle Somers is Barbara Strickland! Barbara, drop me a quick email: rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com and I'll put you in touch with Michelle to claim your prize. Congrats!

And the winner of Melanie Milburne's The Temporary Mrs Marchetti is Sue Geraldht Griffiths. Sue, you can also drop me a quick email at the above address and I'll put you in touch with Melanie for your prize. 

Now, onto today's special guest!

1. First up, Amanda, the important stuff – cat or dog person?

Cat!! And here’s how I know – because when I’m out and about and see a cat, I’m compelled to say “cat” and point to it, as if I had a three-year old child with me. Now, the fact that my kids are teenagers and tend never to leave the room unless under duress, I can only assume that I have in fact turned into a crazy cat lady!!

Not to say that I don’t like dogs, because I do. I just don’t love all dogs, it’s more a case of me getting to know them and then they wriggle under my skin. I’m talking to you Oliver (and obviously the rest of the Bailey Pack, though Ava doesn’t count because she’s far above such tedious things, being a princess and all!!!)

2. Oliver sends you smooches. :) What was the first category book you read?

Hmmm, I actually didn’t start reading category until I was in my twenties (apart from Georgette Heyer, who is still one of my all time favourite authors!) But when I did start reading category romances, I found myself hooked on the older books by Betty Neels and Essie Summers - probably no surprise that I write sweet books!

3. What’s the last category book you read?

Hooked by Christina Phillips, which is scorching hot and very naughty!

4. Oooh, I've heard good things about that book. Now, tell me something we wouldn't know about you?

I work part time as a children’s librarian, which is kind of the coolest job ever because I literally spend my days talking about books. There is nothing better than seeing kids get excited about reading (or their parents being relieved that their children have found books they love!). I also have a house full of retro furniture and far too many vintage tablecloths to count. Thankfully they all look the same to my husband so he has no idea when I sneak an extra one into the house!

5. You write category romance, young adult and middle grade books. Is it hard switching between the three? Do you have a favourite?

I don’t really find it difficult, for two reasons. First up, I’m totally shallow so try not to overthink it! And second, at the heart of all books are characters who are going on emotional journeys, and whether they are transformed because of love or because they have had to fight a few killer fairies along the way, it still takes them to the same place! As for having a favourite, it’s normally the one that I’m NOT working on. However, I believe is because I get a romantic notion that if I was working on something else it would be SO MUCH EASIER THAN THE HOT MESS IN FRONT OF ME. Though, apart from that my heart has always been in YA and that’s still the genre I read the most in so it’s my secret favourite (but shhhh, don’t tell the others!).

6. My lips are sealed! Your latest book Falling for the Best Man is the first in a trilogy about three sisters who own a vintage wedding planner business. Can you tell us about it?

Sure, Falling for the Best Man is a sweet romance between a vintage wedding planner who doesn’t want to leave the family farm and a travel journalist who doesn’t want to stay still. Here’s the blurb:

He’s the best man and her secret fling—who said being a wedding planner was easy?
Emmy Watson loves her small-town life. Most of the time­­––except the one crazy night she threw caution to the wind and slept with a sexy stranger. Totally not like her, but so worth it. And hey, who’ll ever find out. It’ll be her little secret...
Globe-trotting travel writer Christopher Henderson can’t get one woman out of his head. He knows Emmy is all wrong for him–he’d have to pry her cold dead hands from this crazy town–but living without her is slowly not becoming an option.
Christopher has a game plan:
Dazzle her with his awesome cooking skills to throw her off guard.
Win the world’s weirdest golf trophy. 
Impress her with his ability to talk cranky French dove breeders into doing his bidding.
But Emmy isn’t playing by the rules, and Chris might have finally met his match...

7. What was your inspiration for Wishing Bridge Farm, where the three books are set?

I live in Napier, in New Zealand and along the waterfront are six old historic houses, which have the nickname, The Six Sisters. My original plan was to have each sister inherit a house and turn it into a store, but somehow it morphed into a vintage wedding planning business on a farm. I also liked the idea of somewhere that they could make wishes and even though I’ve never seen a proper American covered bridge, I thought it would be cute to put one on the farm and let each sister make a wish there when they were younger.

8. When will the other two sisters have their books out?

Bec is the youngest sister and her book will be out in April and Pepper’s book is out in July.

9. What are you reading?

Killer Heels by Rebecca Chance. I used to be a big fan of Lauren Henderson’s Sam Jones mystery books and only just discovered that she’s been writing new books under a different name. Anyway, so far it’s a cross of all the juicy Jackie Collins books I grew up with, combined with the Devil Wears Prada.

10. What are you watching?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine. My daughter actually got me into this show and I love it! It’s the perfect follow up for Parks and Recreation and I love it! Plus they regularly mention Star Wars and Die Hard, which are two of my favourite movies. I’m also hopelessly addicted to an English show called Ex on the Beach. My family are all appalled by it, which is ridiculous because they’ve known me long enough to understand my strange tastes in TV viewing!

11. What are you listening to?

My husband playing his classical guitar! I’m a lucky girl because I get serenaded most days by him.

12. What’s making you smile?

Looking out my kitchen window every morning. Something is always going on in the sky and I never get sick of seeing it. Oh, and coffee. Obviously.

13. What’s next on the horizon for you?

I have a middle grade series coming out later this year and a young adult romance called The Heartbreak Cure, which I’m crazy excited about.

Thanks so much for coming along to visit, Amanda!

Amanda is kindly giving away a copy of Falling for the Best Man to one commenter. Each of the three sisters in her Wishing Bridge Farm series made a wish when they were young, which got me to thinking. If you'd come across a wishing bridge when you were young, what would you have wished for? And is it something that you'd still wish for? Or did it come true?

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand where she writes romance, young adult and middle grade books. She also works in a library, owns far too many vintage tablecloths and likes to delight her family by constantly rearranging the furniture.
She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book was listed by the New York Public Libraryʼs Stuff for the Teen Age.  Because she’s mysterious she also writes middle grade books under the name, Catherine Holt and hopes that all this writing won’t interfere with her Netflix schedule.


  1. Hi Amanda and Rachel

    I is nice to meet you Amanda I have heard a lot of good things about this book :) and I have been to Napier and seen these house The Six Sisters they are fabulous, love this sound of this series :)

    When I was young I often wished for things and that was to be married with kids and yes here I am married nearly 40 years I have 4 kids and 8 Grandkids love making wishes of course I did wish to be rich as well not all wishes come true but I have a lot to be thankful for :)

    Have Fun

    1. Hi Helen - so nice to meet you! And how cool that you've seen The Six Sisters. They are so cute (and an organised person might've even taken a photo of them for this post, but yeah!) And I love that your marriage wish came true!! I always like to believe that there is a little magic in the world, making wishes come true!

    2. Aw, Helen, I love that your wish was all about love - your guy and your kids. And I especially love that it came true! <3

  2. Welcome, Amanda! I love the concept for your series, and gosh that cover is divine. So pretty!

    When I was a little girl I probably would have wished for more books. I seemed to read them as fast as I acquired them - no wonder I started writing my own ;)

    1. Hi Stefanie - thank you. And yes, the cover is adorable! I'm such a fan of Entangled covers!! Wishing for more books is literally the best wish ever! My dad used to take me to the bookstore every Saturday and buy me a new Trixie Belden book, which just seemed like the most amazing thing ever!

    2. Stefanie, I think that might have been my wish too. And books were so expensive and the choice seemed smaller when I was a kid. I'm a little jealous of all the options for kids now!

  3. Welcome Amanda. How is it that having spent time living in Hastings and still having a lot of family living in Napier, Hastings and other parts of Hawkes Bay that I went huh when you mentioned the houses? I love that you are also a part-time children's librarian - good way to get them hooked on reading young.

    Scratching my head on what I would have wished for had I come across a wishing bridge. I honestly can't figure that out right now - it will probably come to me later.

    1. Hi Lyn, I wish I'd taken a photo of them for this blog post (my unique talent is thinking about things after they have happened!). Here is a link though so you can see what they look like. http://napierdailyphoto.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/the-six-sisters.html They are along Marine Parade across from the carpark where Marineland use to be (that's now a skatepark!) And hehehe - I'm like that with wishes too (see my unique talent above!)

    2. Lyn, I love that she's a part-time children's librarian too - I get lots of great recommendations for presents for my nieces and nephews. :)

    3. Amanda - many thanks for sharing that... they definitely look familiar to me. That mention of where Marineland was proves how long it's been since I visited the city proper as I didn't realise they had pulled it done, though it makes sense given the animals had passed away.
      Hehe... hindsight is both a blessing and a curse.

      Rachel - I hadn't even thought of that benefit but it does make perfect sense now that I've seen it.

  4. So lovely to have your here, Amanda. I also love Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Recreation. Hilarious. Apparently my kids think I am the perfect combination of Santiago and Leslie Knope - hmmm, what does that say about me?

    I love the sound of Falling for the Best Man!!

    1. Hi Jennifer, wow, being Santiago and Leslie is a pretty winning combination. I now have visions of friendship quilts and arrest warrants!!! They are both such good shows because unlike some comedies that poke fun at things, there is an underlying level of kindness in them both!

    2. Jen, I haven't seen Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I got the DVDs of Parks and Rec for Christmas and am glomming them now. Very cool that your kids think you're a bit like Leslie Knope! Sometimes I think she's my favourite, then Ron speaks and I think he's my favourite, then Andy does something silly and I think he's my favourite, then Tom is vulnerable and I think he's my favourite... I think they might all be my fave! :)

    3. Rachel - it's the Friends game all over again! They are quite literally ALL the best (though I am team Leslie!!)

  5. HI Amanda. Love the idea of a vintage wedding planning business and a magical covered bridge.
    As for my childhod wish, I'm not sure, I've always been pretty pragmatic - even as a kid - so I'm sure I would have squandered it on something mundane. But as an adult? A perpetual size 12 figure please! :-)

    1. Hey Amy (my fellow AA buddy!) I do believe if you are going to have a covered bridge, always best to make it magical!!!! Am sending you wish over - though you alway look amazing so I'm not sure it's needed xoxo

    2. Amy, I'm right there with you on that. And actually, when I was a kid, I think I might have wanted that too - one of my earliest memories is being about 4 and wanting to be tall, then a bit older and wanting a bust line. So maybe it's a wish that lasts. :)

  6. Hi Amanda,
    Welcome to Love Cats. I love the premise of your novel. And I love covered bridges! I've been to Napier a long time ago so it must be time for a revisit.
    I'm impressed with how you switch sub-genres of romance. So versatile of you!

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Thank you! I'm so pleased to be here. And Napier is definitely worth revisiting, especially this time of year with the Art Deco Festival coming up! As for switching genres, not sure if it's clever or crazy but I tend to jump first and figure it out later (as my poor editors discover!!)

    2. Melanie, it's interesting but I've never given much thought to covered bridges before Amanda's books, but now I think they're adorable!

  7. Welcome, Amanda. You new Wishing Bridge farm series sounds very interesting. I love vintage wedding items. We didn't have a wishing bridge where I grew up in the States, but at one of our large county parks there was an old pump house where you could get spring water, and that was our wishing well. Looking back, the younger me would have wished for being rid of my glasses and frizzy curly hair, but the older me would have wished for being more confidence and assertivenss. I was always a shy wallfower, even throughout college. I was the girl with her face in a book all the time. School books, juvenille series or borrowed early Harlequins were my favorites. Happily, Once I graduated college and excelled in y career path, I found that self confidence which gave me a huge boost!

    1. Hi Laurie,

      Wow - you've been on quite a journey and isn't it funny because I bet it was those glasses and curls (I have frizz too, so I can totally relate!) are what you gave you all the amazing insight you have. It also proves that reading makes people awesome!

    2. Laurie, that old pump house sounds gorgeous. I grew up in the city, in relatively new suburbs, so I find little pieces of history like that fascinating!

  8. Hey Amanda!
    I knew we were kindred spirits the moment the Gilmore girls reunion was announced. But now Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Rec? We might actually be separated at birth! Tooootally tracking down Ex on the Beach, my friend.

    1. Ally - and don't forget Bullet Journals - though yours looks a lot prettier than mine! And I love that we have twin tastes when it comes to TV (btw, my boss recently made a Stars Hollow end shelf at the library so that each week I can fill it with Rory's books). As for Ex on the Beach, I was happily thinking that my UK reality tv obsession started and finished with Made in Chelsea but apparently this is not the case. I dread to think what I'll start watching next! Your partner in crime!

    2. Oh, yes, Ally's bullet journal! I really am going to try that this year.

  9. Sue Gerhardt GriffithsFebruary 6, 2017 at 3:16 PM

    Hi Amanda,

    I love the sound of Falling for the Best Man and the cover is stunning.

    I made three wishes when I was very young one: travel overseas and visit my birthplace, see Elvis in concert, visit Graceland. Two of my wishes came true but I never did get to see Elvis in concert as he died when I was 16.

    1. Sue, I was a little younger than you when Elvis died, but if he hadn't, seeing him in concert would definitely be on my wishlist now!

  10. Hi Sue,

    Thank you! And I agree, the cover is awesome! Wow, I love the you made such specific wishes and then acknowledged them when they came true (I think that's when the magic happens). How amazing it would've been if you could've seen Elvis in concert. We often go and watch some of his old shows on Youtube. My favourite one is when he's just sitting with his guitar wearing a leather jacket. His charisma was off the chart - and of course his gorgeous looks and ridiculous voice. What a guy xoxo

  11. Hey Amanda. So cool that you're visiting the LoveCats...almost as cool as the premise of your new series. Love the cover too!

    As for childhood wishes, I suspect that mine would have related to whatever book I was currently lost in. My reading made me wish for an adventure in a far-off land, or a spectacular group of friends, or boarding school, or the outback, or to live in England. I would have wished for any of those but, to be honest, I was comfortable in my own quiet corner of the world and not adventurous at all IRL.

    (PS: I've also been known to indulge in the odd UK reality show *coughMadeInChelseacough*)

    1. Bronwyn - I'm so obsessed with Made In Chelsea and thought I had no interest in expanding my viewing. How wrong I was (Ex on the Beach makes Spencer look like a boy scout. Kind of mind boggling and terrible and completely compulsive!) And I so agree with you about book worlds! I always want to think I want to live in my favourite worlds until I start thinking about all the drama (or the lack of sanitation) and then I'm happy to just read about someone else going through it!

    2. Oh, yes, Bronwyn! I hadn't thought of that, but I suspect my wishes would have been connected to books I was reading. Especially the ones populated by talking animals. :)