Forget Me Not with Heather Ashby

Today I am so pleased to welcome Heather Ashby, a 2012 Golden Heart sister as well as an award-winning romantic suspense author!Heather Ashby 2013 03 07 - 0125-Edit-7

After the successful debut of her first book Forgive & Forget, Heather has just released the second book in her “Love in the Fleet” series, Forget Me Not, to even more acclaim. And I heard a rumor that she’s also brought along Forget Me Not’s sexy hero Sky Crawford. I can already tell he’s a flirt!

SW: Welcome, Heather! I loved this book and am not surprised to hear all sorts of wonderful buzz about this story, the hero, and especially the villain. Can you share the blurb without giving away too much?

HA: Thanks, Sharon, for inviting me back to Kiss and Thrill! Here’s the blurb for Forget Me Not:

Suffering from survivor guilt, playboy Navy Seahawk pilot Sky Crawford swears he’ll never marry, unsure he deserves happinessbesides there are too many hot chicks to choose from.

War widow and veterinarian Daisy Schneider swears to love only animals after her Marine pilot husband is killed in Afghanistan—but work fails to ease her loneliness or the guilt that she might have saved him. The last thing she needs is a sweet-talking, fast-playing military pilot in her life.

Between a fiery battle with drug runners at sea and one stray, matchmaking Siamese cat, the fur flies in Forget Me Not as Sky and Daisy learn about life, love, and second chances. 

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SW: I know this is your second book but can you tell me about this amazing Romantic Suspense list Forgive and Forget is on?

HA: I was stunned when Suspense Magazine voted my debut novel, Forgive & Forget, to their “Best of 2013” list for Romantic Suspense with Linda Howard, Allison Brennan/Laura Griffin, and Sandra Brown. This was beyond my wildest dreams.

SW: I am so happy for you, and the award is much deserved. In researching the cocaine trade, how difficult was to come by the information? Were you afraid of ending up on someone’s list?

 HA: I did wonder if the FBI was going to come for me after reading my Google search history or seeing what I checked out of the library. While packing for a wedding in St. Petersburg, Florida, my normally sweet husband pulled my current reading material from the suitcase, got in my face, and exclaimed, “No, you are not going to sit around the pool at the Don Cesar Hotel reading How to Smuggle Cocaine for Profit and Fun.

 SW: I don’t blame him! Did the reality of the drug world scare you?

HA: Yes, the above book was written by a drug lord to show just how easy it is to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. In addition to reading about the “selling of souls for profit,” I was shocked at what growing and processing cocaine does to the environment. Besides the slashing and burning for more farm land to grow coca, millions of liters of caustic chemicals, including pure gasoline, are dumped into rivers and jungles.

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 SW: How did you get a Navy helicopter pilot to help you with the writing/authentication? Can you tell me a bit more about him/her?

 HA: Oh, it was definitely a him, and didn’t he look hot in that flight suit! Oops, did I type that out loud? Seriously, he is the dad of a former student of mine. And I was thrilled to learn that he’d always wanted to write a thriller, but didn’t know where to start. So he enjoyed adding his two cents worth, along with authenticating scenes, especially cockpit dialogue and actions, and the drug interdiction/firefight. We even added in a character based on his best friend, a naval aircrewman who perished in a flight accident. Petty Officer Billy Quinn is honored in the story and on our dedication page.

 SW: Your books are known for their realism. What extra lengths did you go to do research?

HA: The Navy invited me to go through their Seahawk helicopter flight simulator. They said: “We are so thrilled that someone is going to write about what our pilots and crews do to make the world a safer place, we will help you in any way we can.” Although it was all simulated, it was 100% realistic – including movement. I sat in the pilot’s seat and my “co-pilot” (another cute pilot in a flight suit) guided me to land our helo on the flight decks of various sized ships, including a frigate which has a postage stamp-sized deck. Then they had me do it “at night” and “during a thunderstorm.” Next they set up the drug runner scenario I would be writing about. I got to fire warning shots on a “go-fast” – a speed boat – while it evaded interdiction by zigzagging. Since the mules did not cease and desist, I next got to pick off their “$100,000 engines” with lasers, one by one until they were DIW, dead in the water. After that, my co-pilot let me fire three Hellfire missiles! (No, not at the drug runners.) And finally, they had me experience a tail rotor failure, which throws a helicopter into a violent spin – and might, just maybe, happen in the book . This was one of the most exciting days of my life!

 SW: Tell me about your “Villain”.

 HA: The villain in Forget Me Not is cocaine. Through interwoven chapters, the reader follows the journey of the cocaine from harvest to processing to the mules who transport it in go-fasts to the distributer. Various characters are introduced, such as a drug lord, his son who has a conscience, the manager at a processing plant, and a go-fast captain, but they are only there as a means of guiding the villain – the cocaine – on to the next step in its journey.

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 SW: Was writing this book harder than the first? Was it a revision of an older book?
This book was way easier than Book 1, because I knew what I was doing. I had no idea about writing a novel when I wrote Book 1, which means it was re-written five times over before being published. I actually wrote Book 2 with the Golden Heart in mind, ensuring lots of voice in the beginning as opposed to the backstory that had been in Book 1. I also wrote it around a hook at page fifty. I was very excited when Book 2 was named a Golden Heart finalist. (Original title: Cat On A Hot Steel Flight Deck.)

 SW: As we’re talking, an incredibly handsome man has walked in. And since Heather has prepared me, I’m pretty sure that killer smile and sexy wink belongs to Sky Crawford, the luscious hero of Forget Me Not. “So, Sky, what was the first thing you thought when you met Daisy? (be honest!)”

Sky: If you want me to be honest, how about go right to the source? Here’s my reaction when I first saw Dr. Daisy at her vet clinic.

Attention on deck. All hands man your battle stations. Hot. Chick. Alert.

Sky’s brain flipped over to autopilot. Left eye did the ring finger check. No rings. Good sign. Right eye—hey, something was wrong here. His right eye knew it was assigned breast patrol, but it couldn’t seem to move past her blond hair swept up into some kind of barrette thingy. Hair that screamed for him to pull out the clip so he could watch the flaxen mass come tumbling down, like the walls of Jericho. Then both eyes got too lost in her pale blue ones to even consider glancing lower.

Mayday. Mayday. Losing focus fast. Send reinforcements.

Peripheral vision was called in as backup and the situation report said any woman that looked this good in a pair of scrubs must be some mighty fine booty.

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 SW: I’m surprised she even talked to you. What was it about Daisy that changed things for you? 

 Sky: She didn’t put up with my BS. But since I love it when desirable women play the hard-to-get card, I wasn’t about to give up the chase.

 SW: Was there ever a moment when you had to choose between Daisy and the final showdown with the drug runners?

 Sky: Yeah, but that would be a spoiler, sweetheart.

 SW: Your story involves your ongoing recovery from PTSD. Can you tell us how Daisy helped you in your recovery?

Sky: She made me acknowledge that I might have some…you know…issues…and I might have to…um…get some help. Okay, so she threw my a** out until I actually got help.

SW: What help did you give Heather in her ongoing research into your world of Navy pilots?

Sky: I suggested she work out at the base gym on the Navy base. See, if she goes around 11 AM and uses a certain treadmill, she can watch all the hot guys in uniforms walk by on their way to the locker room before their lunch-hour workout. That also affords her a good view of the chin up bars, since she has a thing for upper-body musculature. And I reminded her that nobody would suspect her of “doing research,” since she’s old enough to be their mother. And as to the hot love scenes, I just whispered them all into her ear.

 SW: Are Navy pilots really this sexy? Or is it all for show?

Sky: Oh, sweetheart, we are really that sexy. (Heather says it’s the flight suits, but don’t listen to her. Come on, this is the Skylark you’re talking to—king of the skies and the bedroom. The King of Hearts.)

SW: Okay. As cute as he is, it’s time to shut him down and ask the weekly question: 

Do you like unusual villains? Or do you prefer the standard scary drug-kingpin type villain?

And if villains aren’t your thing at all, what do you think about cocky heroes who get taken down by sexy, smart heroines?

And for one lucky commenter, Heather will be giving away one e-copy of Forget Met Not!

Heather Ashby 2013 03 07 - 0042-2-5

Heather Ashby is a Navy veteran, whose mother was one of the original Navy WAVES in WWII. After leaving the service, Heather taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. 

In gratitude for her Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to support wounded warriors and their families. 

An award-winning author of romantic fiction, Heather is a member of  Romance Writers of America, and also belongs to regional/specialty chapters, including The Golden Network and First Coast Romance Writers. Additionally, she holds memberships in RomVets and the Military Writers Society of America. Heather lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida, with her retired Naval Engineer husband and three rescue cats.

All photographs courtesy of Heather Ashby and Sharon Wray.

About Sharon Wray

Sharon is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes novels of adventure, suspense and love for Sourcebooks. She's a wife, mother of twins, caretaker of Donut the One-Eyed Family Dog, and addicted to snapping photos and eating Oreos.

Posted on February 27, 2014, in Author Interview, book recommendations, Sharon Wray and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 59 Comments.

  1. First thanks to you and your family for serving our country. I’m so impressed you continue to serve by donating half of your income to the military. Way to go!

    Your books look great, and I’m so glad I stopped by and discovered you!

    Have a great day!

  2. Thanks, Jackie. I hope you’ll enjoy the series. The more I talk with wounded warriors, their families, and those who work with them, the more I touched with their love, strength, and commitment. I also am reminded of how very blessed I am to have my healthy son. He and I have been given a second chance at life, and I’m loving the opportunity to use it to write my books and help others. (including through the healing that goes on in Books 2-4) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Hey, Heather! Great to see you and Sky here!

    I’ve read both these books, enjoyed them thoroughly, recommend them highly, and look forward to the next installment.

    • Hi Kay! I’m so glad you stopped by today! I can’t wait for the next book as well. 🙂

    • This reply is for Kay. (I swear I clicked on Reply to Kay, Kay.) Thanks so much for being such an awesome cheerleader to me AND to all our Firebird sisters, Kay. Can’t wait to see you in San Antonio. Hope your writing is going well. Write ON!

  4. Readers will fall in love instantly with Sky…and the wonderful story of Sky and Daisy. Pages are filled with great characters, drama, romance and humor. Can’t wait for book 3!!

    • I loved Sky and Daisy’s story as well. And I loved the cat!

      • Good morning, Sharon! Thanks so much for inviting me to KISS AND THRILL TODAY. *Sky tugs on my arm* Sorry, thanks for inviting US to your awesome blog today. Sky has promised to behave but then you never know with those types. Sheeesh. I look forward to a fun day of chatting with your readers. Thanks again for the invite.

    • Hi, Suzanne! Thanks for being such an awesome supporter (and the President of the Sky Crawford Fan Club 🙂 Hope your writing is going well. Write on…sweetheart 🙂

  5. Welcome to Kiss and Thrill Heather!

    • Hi, Lena! I’m so glad you made it today especially since I know you’re on deadline. :0

    • Hi, Lena! Thanks for the welcome to your awesome blog. I always love visiting KISS AND THRILL, both as a poster and a reader. Sharon and Gwen, I did take Dramamine before my flight simulator visit (didn’t think it would be too romantic to puke on the cute pilot’s boots 🙂 And he told me in advance that if I ever felt sick – especially during the “tail rotor failure” to just shut my eyes. (Which I ended up doing.) I hope you can experience the authenticity (without the real thing) of all of your crime fighters. And speaking of FLYING, have you come down from CLOUD NINE YET, Gwen? What a fabulous, exciting week for you with the release of your first Romantic Suspense!!!! Write On, ladies!

  6. Oh, man, Heather, I can’t wait to read this one! I’m jealous of your flight simulator experience. I’d love to do that.

    My dad was in the Navy and my husband is USAF. No wonder I have a thing for guys in uniform. 😉 Thanks so much for all you do to support Fisher House!

    I like the idea of an unusual villain. Especially the cocaine in your book. Some of my early-will-never-see-the-light-of-day manuscripts were about DEA agents, and I’d love to get back to that some day. Keep writing these fabulous books!

    • I would love to do the flight simulator as well except I get car sick in the front seat. So I have no idea how well I’d hold up.
      And I’d love to see those DEA agent books, Gwen. Maybe one day? 🙂

      • Oops, sorry, Gwen and Sharon, I replied above in the response to Lena. Pssst, Gwen, I bet those DEA books will be fabulous now that you can add all you’ve learned in these intervening years.

      • Oh, Sharon, I’m the same way with car sickness. My husband can read in the car, but I can’t look down for more than 30 seconds. Annoying. I might pull those DEA books–or at least the heroes–out again some day. 😉

  7. Hmm, I’m more of the unusual villain type of gal. And what’s a romance w/o a cocky alpha male and the woman who brings him to heel?

    Fun interview ladies!

    XO

  8. Wow! That’s so cool, Heather. Love to hear about all the research you did. A flight simulator! You’re awesome and the book sounds great.

  9. Heather welcome to Kiss and Thrill! Great interview Sharon and Heather. Since I have a heroine named Sky in First Do No Evil, I’m thinking Heather might be a writer after my own heart. Congrats on the Suspense magazine accolades. These stories sound fascinating and I’m adding them to the TBR pile now. PS I’m definitely an unusual villain kind of girl .

    • Thanks, Carey. I love visiting your awesome blog! Looks like I’ll have to add FIRST DO NO EVIL to MY TBR with a heroine named Sky. (BTW, my Sky got his pilot call sign, Skylark, for being ADHD and always “skylarking,” which in the Navy means to not focus, not pay attention, and pretty much have his head up his you know what at the wrong time.) I look forward to reading your book! Write on!

      • I know you both will love each others’ books. And I think you’ll be shocked at some of the other similarities.
        And I know your villains as well–truly scary.
        I am such a wimp.

  10. Cocky heroes who are taken down by smart females is a wonderful lesson in reality. I love that Sky comes to grip with his humanness. Fly high but remember a “lark” can be devoured by a female falcon.

    Love your novels, Heather!!!

    P.S.
    May I come to the gym with you?

    • Thanks, Susan, and always good to “see” you! LOVE the comparison about a female falcon taking down a “lark.” And yes, come to the gym any time. I’ll even let you have the first treadmill. Why don’t you come by around 0730 on a Friday morning when the crew of the USS Stud Muffin comes in for physical training? 🙂 Write On, Girl!!!

    • I love that comparison too!
      I didn’t know there were invites to that gym. Can we all come with you, Heather?

  11. Heather, huge congratulations on making Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2013 list! The new book sounds awesome and I’m adding it to my TBR list. I like villains who think they are the hero of the story. That tiny sliver of relatability adds to the complexity of the character and makes their actions all the more villainous.

    • I love delusional villains as well, Krista. Especially the ends where they’re honestly confused by their epic failures. 🙂

    • First of all, it’s great to be on your awesome blog today, Krista. Thanks for good wishes. I LOVE what you have to say here: “I like villains who think they are the hero of the story. That tiny sliver of relatability adds to the complexity of the character and makes their actions all the more villainous.” SOOO True!!! Write On!

  12. HA!
    “Mayday, mayday. Losing focus fast. Send reinforcements.” I love your voice and your wit, Heather, and I’m already half in love with Sky. Congratulations on ALL your success, especially the Suspense Magazine award. HUGE company!

    Q of the Day: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…cocky playboy hero that gets taken down by the heroine. The cockier he is, the more I enjoy the fall. (Am I a bad person to enjoy that so much?) 😉

    And thanks again for coming on Tuesday to cheer Gwen on. It meant a lot to us.

    • It’s always great to be on your awesome blog, Sarah! Glad you like Sky. Readers either love him or hate him. (Had several contest judges who mentioned he might benefit from professional help 🙂 – for being a jerk, not for his other issues. But deep down, he IS honorable. Readers who met him as the zany sidekick FORGIVE & FORGET have already seen his gentlemanly side, so they know there’s hope for him. And no, you’re not bad for enjoying the fall of the “mighty.” When they come across that way, they SHOULD get their comeuppance. Sky, of course, is full of surprises 🙂 P.S. SOOO excited for Gwen! She SOOO deserves this glorious time! Can’t wait to read her book! Write on, Sarah!

    • I totally agree, Sarah. I love to see a real bad boy fall hard. Especially if he falls on his too-sexy buns. 🙂

  13. Welcome back to Kiss and Thrill, Heather! (And Welcome Sky 😉 )

    I love all types of villains as long as they have motivation for their actions and aren’t a melodramatic caricature. And I loved the way you made cocaine the villain of Forget Me Not!

    Also, I’m game for that gym field trip. 😉

    • I agree about the melodrama, Rachel. But I do love hardcore villains who actually have a slightly good quality. It makes it hard to really hate them when you want to redeem them.

      What are you wearing on the field trip? Is spandex and a belly shirt too much? It’s either that or heavy winter sweats. I can’t decide. 🙂

      • The rules are YOU WEAR WHATEVER MAKES YOU LOOK GOOD. For example, I wouldn’t dream of going without my legs covered in some fashion – and ALWAYS with make-up. (Make up has too look like you NOT wearing make up because you’re AT THE GYM FOR GOODNESS SAKE. But if I went out without ANY make-up, I’d get arrested.

      • I read somewhere that your villain HAS to have a tad of redeeming quality. Nobody is ALL bad. So I went into Book 1 and showed a few places where my villain, Rashid, actually stood up for a new shipmate that others were picking on. And later, I had him worry that his Muslim driver might have missed dinner after fasting all day during Ramadan – because he was driving Rashid. Little touches like that DO make them human and more believable.

  14. Thank you for your service along with your husband and sons! I just wanted to say that as an Army wife and prior reservist, I think it is wonderful that you donate to the WWP! Amazing! I will definitely check out your books, I love military romance!

    • Thanks, Sasha! And bless your husband AND YOU for YOUR service. SO glad you enjoy military romances. I hope you’ll enjoy the “Love in the Fleet” series (even though it’s the “wrong” service. My son was in combat with the 101st Airborne Division, but I didn’t know enough Army lingo to pay back by writing Army romances.) If you enjoy the books, I’d so appreciate you passing the word as my Navy and USMC advisors and I do donate 50% to Fisher House Foundation. You will notice an underlying theme of “healing” in FORGET ME NOT, that will continue into Books 3 and 4 – although we write about Marines in the final two books in the series. (But the heroes from Books 1 and 2: Sky, Philip, and Mikey will all be there too.) Blessings to you and your family – who all serve.

    • I have no doubt you will love Heather’s books. They’re not just suspenseful, they’re romantic with a touch of wonderfully placed humor. 🙂

  15. depends how they’re unusual

  16. Thanks, Rachel. Always good to be on KISS AND THRILL! Since I’m a pantser and don’t technically write Romantic Suspense, I kind of found out that cocaine was the villain when I finished the book 🙂 See, I always write my love story all the way through. Then I write any bad guy story all the way through. Then I weave them together as needed. And suddenly, EUREKA! There wasn’t a single PERSON who was the bad guy. I got chills when I realized the journey was of the cocaine, not one person.

    Field trip will be on for whenever y’all get here 🙂

    And YAY on your new book about to release. *bites fingernails in anticipation and upcoming suspense!* Write On, Rachel!

    • Thanks so much, Heather! Love those moments when you realize you had what you needed built into the story all along!

      LOL on wearing makeup to the gym. I wear makeup to weddings and conferences, so that comes to about 2x a year. Usually when I pull out the makeup bag I have to remember how to do it – needless to say, I wouldn’t be good at subtle gym makeup. My poor daughter needs a better teacher.

      • LOVE the term “subtle gym make-up!” You don’t have to worry about make-up. You’re naturally beautiful!!! And no, you can’t say the same about me cuz you’ve never seen me without make-up 🙂 LOL!

        • You two make me laugh!
          I don’t go anywhere without lipstick and mascara. Does that count as fully made up?

          • THAT’S subtle gym make-up, Sharon. NOW you’ve got it. I used to laugh. When we lived in Saudi Arabia, if a western woman went to the market alone wearing make-up, she could be arrested (for street-walking – we always traveled in twos or with a child.) I said, “Wait. You mean I could get arrested for wearing make-up here??? In the U.S. I’d arrested if I went out WITHOUT make-up!”

  17. Love the comment box title- “Thrill us with your wit…” haha.. Started off my morning with a smile.
    Great post, Heather! I love that you had some mighty fine research assistants and they let you near the simulator!! What a fun part of the journey for this book. Love it!

    Good luck!

    • Thanks, Jean. You’ve had some enviable research opportunities too. Guess it all just makes us love our jobs even more. Thanks for stopping by. It’s always good to see you, Jean!

  18. Thanks, Sharon, and everyone at KISS AND THRILL. It’s always a THRILL visiting your blog. There is such an energy among all of you that reaches through the cyber waves to welcome readers, writers, and each other. You have an awesome, precious Sisterhood within the group! WRITE ON!

  19. I think you’re mighty brave to do the flight simulator and still have a stomach left at the end of the day. Using the foundation of research leads you to having stories that have a more realistic setting. It’s the immediacy of the first person POV that gets my heart thrumping and thumping ever faster. Thanks for writing as if by the seat of your pants, but I know how much you love research and incorporate it into your writings.

    • Heather Ashby

      You are so right, Sunnymay. And I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be first person POV. Well-written deep third POV will get your heart rate up too. My helo pilot embellished bits of FORGET ME NOT where I literally find myself sitting on the edge of my seat, holding my breath each time I read them. And the answer to the flight simulator is a Dramamine in advance, PLUS following the pilot’s advice. If you feel sick at any point, just shut your eyes. Thanks for stopping by.

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