Updated: Feb 18, 2019
Dark Horse Publishing sits down with up-and-coming mystery writer Ashley Acker to talk about her new works and what it's like publishing for the first time.
It's a beautiful winter day in Southern California, with warming sunshine and the occasional pinch of cold to remind us that a jacket is necessary. Over the bustle of a Starbucks line in full swing, I see Ashley has found (by some miracle of the universe) a table in the back. She beckons me over the moment I arrive. Ashley is at first glance a California Girl. She's tanned and toned from years of surfing and clearly at ease within her designer duds. But upon deeper inspection there is a wisdom in her blue eyes and a dark mystery that draws you in.
Beneath Blue Mountain, the debut book by Ashley Acker, is out Spring of 2019
DHP: It makes sense you write mystery. There's something mysterious about you.
AA: You mean other than my nom de plume?
DHP: Yes, but let's talk about that. Why a nom de plume?
AA: I work for the government, so my day job requires that I have limited social media presence, but even more so, I can't commingle my personal life and my professional life for risk to my own safety. A nom de plume makes it possible for me to establish a social media presence and publish books without compromising myself.
DHP: Sounds dangerous.
AA: No, not really, I just go by the book most of the time. It makes it easier.
DHP: Speaking of books, you have a book titled 'Beneath Blue Mountain' coming out in the Spring. Can you tell us about it?
AA: Yeah, I'd love to. The book is about Claire, a woman in a small town, who gets caught up in the mystery of a missing girl and all the strange and terrible things happening in the sleepy town of Blue Mountain.
DHP: Was this something you worked on for a long time?
AA: It did take me a bit to write it. It's hard to juggle writing and working full time, but if you love something, you love it. You just find a way to get it done.
DHP: Completely. What draws you to writing mystery and suspense?
AA: Honestly, I don't know. [laughter] I think it's the same thing that drew me to government work. I'm constantly analyzing and thinking about why people do the things they do and what goes on in the minds of criminals.
DHP: That sounds...like you probably sleep with all the light on.
AA: Absolutely. And with the blankets over my head.
DHP: Okay, so, what is it like being a published writer?
Being published is crazy and amazing. I feel very blessed to be able to have this opportunity.
AA: Being published is crazy and amazing. I feel very blessed to be able to have this opportunity. You guys over at Dark Horse have been great to work with so far and made something really complex digestible.
DHP: Thank you. Can you talk a little about the process?
AA: I think it's changed a little since I joined. I believe I was the first author signed and that was before the business was even completely stood up, right?
DHP: Yes. We weren't even ready yet, but we needed to sign you before you got away!
AA: Nice! So my experience might be a little different, but I saw information locally about the publishing company and reached out. I provided a writing sample and some information about me, and then waited to hear back. We went back and forth a little and then the contract was drafted. All in all it took about 2 weeks to get under contract and it's been about a month getting the book ready for Spring release.
DHP: That is actually still the process, we've just streamlined it through the website instead of via email.
AA: Well, there you go then. It was really painless, which is nice, since writing is such a personal and intimate thing.
DHP: Do you have any wisdom for people thinking about publishing who haven't yet?
AA: Go with Dark Horse Publishing? [laugh] I don't know. Probably just be brave and do it. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. For me, I just had to say to myself, "Self, it's time. Just see what happens. What are you afraid of?"
DHP: What were you afraid of?
Ashley smiles at me over her coffee mug and takes a sip and I know I'm not getting the answer to that question.
DHP: Okay, final question. I see you wrote the short story 'Mourning' for the Dark Horse Season 1 Collection. Do you prefer short stories or long novels?
AA: You know, I'm sure yet. They both exercise different writing muscles, so they are hard in different ways. I feel like I could more easily do shorter stories, but time will tell.
DHP: It's good to know we haven't seen the last of you.
AA: Ha. Not by a long shot. I'm just getting started.