Heather Ashby’s Never Forget: A Suzanne Brockmann Recommendation

I am so excited to welcome back one of my favorite Golden Heart sisters Heather Ashby. Today we’re talking about her newest release  Never Forget and the most amazing author endorsement ever!!!

“A must-read for fans of military romantic suspense. This book is part of a series, but it stands very much alone. If you enjoy my Troubleshooters, Heather’s definitely an author to check out! Amazing book, amazing author, amazing series.”

                                                                                             – Suzanne Brockmann

NeverForget

HA: Thanks for inviting me today, Sharon. It’s always exciting to visit “Kiss and Thrill.” I’m thrilled to share Book #3 in my “Love in the Fleet” series with your readers.

 Never Forget

 With 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel melted into her bow, what if there are more souls aboard the USS New York than the sailors and Marines stationed there? And what if those souls can help the troops defeat al-Qaeda this time?

When Royal Navy officer Gwyn Pritchard reports for exchange duty aboard USS New York, she’s the only one who sees 9/11 spirits roaming the decks. The daughter of a famous Welsh psychic, Gwyn learns the spirits must complete a mission in order to pass to the other side.

The sole survivor of an IED blast in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor has his own issues. But when he discovers that the British officer sees ghosts aboard their ship, he becomes her confidant—and lover.

Passions rise to fever pitch when New York rushes to liberate British and American hostages in North Africa before al-Qaeda’s deadline. Can the spirits gather the right intelligence to help the Marines save the prisoners? Can Gwyn help the ghosts move on to the light? And can Adam and Gwyn find the love they’ve searched the world over for?

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SW: For my first question I just have to ask, “How did you get Suzanne Brockmann to give you a cover quote?”

HA: I asked Suzanne in person when she presented at our chapter meeting, so I had the opportunity to see her jaw drop when I told her about the USS New York and the 9/11 spirits on board. (Yes, there really IS 7.5 tons of WTC steel in the New York’s bow.) However, since Suzanne is well-known for supporting the troops, I’m sure the deciding factor was that I donate half my royalties to Fisher House Foundation in thanksgiving for my son’s safe return from war. BTW, getting her quote and endorsement on Facebook was a dream come true. It was her Troubleshooters books that got me through my son’s deployments (along with vast amounts of prayer and chardonnay!) And while reading her books, I was inspired to try my hand at military romance.

SW: You are so brave. I don’t know if I would have the courage to ask. When you first came up with the idea of the ghosts aboard USS New York, did you have any concerns or worries?

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HA: I sat on the idea for several weeks, questioning if it was okay to write about them. My concern was for the 9/11 families. Then it came to me that if I didn’t write this story, somebody else would, and I wanted to ensure it was written with the respect it deserved. I am a Navy veteran, Marine Corps daughter, Navy wife, and mother of an Iraq and Afghanistan combat Army vet. I felt I was qualified—and with the victims’ families always foremost in my mind—I jumped in with both feet and wrote straight from the heart.

I realized that if I could give the spirits a voice and empower them with some control over the ship, the crisis, and their destiny, it would allow them to move from victim to victor. Just so you know, I worked on this book for two years and I still get goose bumps. Thus far my favorite reader review is this one on Facebook: “As a member of a 9/11 family, this book is truly inspiring. I’m filled with gratitude for this very special remembrance of my son.”

SW: What a wonderful review! How many people did you share your premise with while you were writing this? Or did you keep it to yourself?

HA: I shared with very few, highly-trusted individuals. For me to keep a secret like this for two years was a big deal, but I felt the story was too special to allow it to be stolen and sensationalized.

SW: How did you come up with your heroine? Why Welsh and the Royal Navy? She’s fascinating and so different from other heroines.

HA: Several years ago my husband and I entertained Royal Navy officers from the HMS Ocean. One delightful Sub-Left-tenant, suggested I write a romance about a Naval officer exchange program between the U.S. and the U.K., which meant two love story threads. In Never Forget, the love story on the British ship, HMS Atlantic, is the link to the first two books in “Love in the Fleet.” The other thread is detailed above in the blurb. Then I needed a reason why only Gwyn could see the spirits, and thought of a country that might have “faeries,” so I made her Welsh. She grew up with a mum who dabbled in “all kinds of woo-woo stuff,” so Gwyn rebelled by becoming a Royal Naval engineer, a profession which uses science and logic. She is therefore mortified when she reports for duty aboard New York and sees ghosts—meaning she has inherited the family “gift.”

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SW: Why were the prisoners in North Africa? Was there any significance in that choice? (It seems so eerily appropriate now)

HA: I chose North Africa because I needed both the American and British ships (with both sets of lovers) to be close enough to rush to the crisis. The USS New York would be on a routine Med cruise and the HMS Atlantic could race from Plymouth, England to join her in trying to free British and American hostages. My USMC advisor and I decided Tangiers was the perfect spot for the crisis because it was the espionage crossroads of the world in the 1940s and 1950s which plays into the story.

SW: Did you have any surprises while writing this book?

HA: The spirits were a total surprise. My stories are “homeported” at Naval Station Mayport, FL. In 2012 I learned that Mayport would be receiving three amphibious assault ships in 2014, so I decided to write about an amphib. While researching the new ships, I read about the World Trade Center steel melted into the bow of USS New York. I literally flew out of my chair, hands to open mouth with “OMG!OMG!OMG!” screaming in my brain!

Next I surprised myself by making one of the two heroes a Marine. I knew nothing about Marines and could just as easily have made him a Naval officer. But something spoke to me. My late father was a WWII Marine. He had some sad issues from his childhood and I decided to work them out through Adam Connor, my Marine hero. Then I was led to a fabulous newly-retired Marine, Christopher Bergeron, who was interested in helping. He said, “I spent my career writing amphibious assault training scenarios and never got to use half of them. I know exactly how to go into your fictional consulate and free those hostages!” Like I could turn THAT down! The fact that Chris doubled as the cover art photographer was beyond awesome!

There are several surprises in the crisis – which is a series of black moments. One scared the living daylights out of me! My brain kept saying, “Play it safe. This is too risky. You can’t do this.” But my ADHD gut said, “Go for it! This is the kind of thing that makes for blockbuster books and movies.” I figured if it was too risky, my editor would slap me on the wrist and make me revise. But she loved it! (It scared her too J)

Although Chris is new to writing fiction, he added in a few surprises that literally had me screaming out “OMG! I didn’t know that!” At first he just gave me Marine Corps “sand,” general information that I could turn into “sand castles.” But his confidence has gone through the roof as he realizes what a brilliant and creative writer he is (my words, not his J) We are exploring the very real possibility of co-authoring book four, Unforgettable.

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SW: Speaking of your covers, Heather, I see they’ve changed. Can you shed a little light on that.

HA: I changed publishers over the summer and am now working with the amazing Teresa Medeiros at Amber House Books. Since it was imperative that this book have a respectful cover, we decided to go with military uniforms for the entire series. My hero son agreed to pose for the covers and Chris shot the photos. My retired Navy husband meticulously researched the ribbons and devices (A.K.A. “fruit salad”) to ensure that the uniforms reflected the age and experience of the hero in each book. It was a true family affair; even my daughter helped out. She suggested a key spy character – “The Lynx” – right before Never Forget went to press.

I feel like I’ve come full circle, Sharon. At 9:04 on 9/11, I knew my son would be going to war. It was one of the most frightening realizations I’ve ever had. I’ve been blessed to have him return safe and whole from combat. Now he helps out as we publish “Love in the Fleet” and donate to causes that support families who have not fared as well as ours in the War on Terror.

Now I’d like to leave a question with your readers: What were you doing when you learned of 9/11 and what was your initial reaction?

 

SW: One lucky commenter will win a copy of Never Forget by Heather Ashby!

HA: Thanks for inviting me today, Sharon. It’s always a pleasure to interact with your readers.

SW: You’re so welcome, Heather. It’s always a pleasure to have you here.

USSNYHeather Ashby is a Navy veteran who taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. She now writes military romance novels in the series, “Love in the Fleet.” Her debut novel, Forgive & Forget was voted “Best of 2013” by Suspense Magazine. Forget Me Not is currently a finalist in the Military Writers Society of America’s annual contest. She publishes with Amber House Books, who released Never Forget on September 9th. Heather lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her husband and two rescue cats.

You can find Heather at: www.heatherashby.comwww.heatherashby.com/Books.htmlhttp://amzn.to/1lFC9Ua, Twitter: @HAshbyAuthor, and www.facebook.com/HeatherAshbyAuthor?ref=

All photos courtesy of Heather Ashby.

Winner Announcement: And the winner of ALL GOOD DEEDS by Stacy Greena as well as ALL GOOD DEEDS swag  is JB Schroeder. Congratulations JB! Please use our contact page to claim your prize and let us know if you prefer an e-book or print on release day. Please include your email and snail mail addy.

 

 

About Sharon Wray

Sharon is a three-time Daphne du Maurier winner and an eight-time RWA Golden Heart Romantic Suspense author repped by Deidre Knight and Kristy Hunter of The Knight Agency. She writes the Deadly Force romantic suspense series for Sourcebooks Casablanca and her first book come out next year.

Posted on September 23, 2014, in Author Interview, book recommendations, Sharon Wray, Winners and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 77 Comments.

  1. Thanks again for inviting me to Kiss and Thrill, Sharon. I love this blog and always enjoy chatting with your readers – and all of you!

  2. Catherine Villalobos

    Great interview! Having read this book, I can say that Ms Ashby dealt with the subject matter respectfully.

    Can’t wait for Book 4!

    • I agree, Catherine. It was a beautiful book and I can’t wait for number 4 either!

      • Thanks for all your help with this book, Catherine! You are an awesome CP and beta reader. YOU added one of the BIGGEST surprises in this book!!!! Definitely makes you a Book Godmother! Sheesh, sorry, I should have mentioned that in the post. That part that scared the pants of me, readers? Catherine planted the seed for that!!!

  3. It was a blast writing this with you Heather. It was definitely a once in a life time offer to come on board for this. Looking forward to digging into book 4.

  4. WELCOME BACK!!
    As always, Heather, I am jealous of your exciting, exotic life and how you bring all that to your stories! Can hardly wait to read this one and…Suzanne Brockman…OMG, girl! You’re destined for greatness.

    • I know Heather is destined for greatness, Sarah. But at least we can say we knew her when. LOL!

      • LOL, Sharon. I’m not going anywhere…and YOU are the one we’re all going to be reading and reading ABOUT very soon! I can’t WAIT to read your books!

    • Sarah, you are so sweet – and I’m laughing about my “exotic life” as I sit here in the writing cave in my yoga pants! And as to the Suzanne Brockmann thing, it is beyond my wildest dreams.Thanks so much for letting me share with your fabulous readers today.

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Heather! I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your books yet, but I definitely will after this! Like you I LOVED the Troubleshooter books. Would you suggest I start at the beginning of your Love in the Fleet books?

    • Ellen, if you loved the Troubleshooters, you’ll adore Heather’s books. I am a series girl and a rule follower so I always read them in order, but as an avid reader I personally don’t think it’s necessary. Heather is great at balancing both series info and single story info so you don’t need to start at the beginning.
      Thank you for commenting!

    • Hi, Ellen. I hope you’ll start with Book 1, FORGIVE & FORGET, although the books do stand alone. The first time I read Suzanne’s Troubleshooters I read them all out of order – and it didn’t matter; I still loved them. The second time I read them in order and WHAT A TREAT THAT WAS! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. What a fabulous interview Sharon and Heather. Truly one of K&T’s best. The Brockman quote is well-deserved. You’re a fantastic writer Heather. Your first two were amazing. I’m so proud of my GH sister! Cannot wait to start reading this book.

    Congratulations.

  7. I really enjoyed the interview. I loved Never Forget and the way Heather approached the story.

  8. Welcome back to Kiss and Thrill, Heather! I’m so excited for your new book!!

  9. Hi, Heather! I absolutely loved this interview, ladies. It’s always fun and interesting to learn how a book came about. And I had to laugh because I had a Marine character hero who came to me out of the blue, and I have no idea why–I usually write Air Force–but I can’t change him. Just have to suck it up and dig into the research.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s jealous of your Suz quote, but I know it was deserved. I’m not too upset because I did get to meet her and her husband over the weekend and chat. 😉

    On 9/11 we were living on base in Dayton, OH and I was putting a letter out for the mail when my neighbor told me to turn on the TV. I had no idea how far-reaching and long-lasting the ramifications of that day would be. I’m so glad your son came home safe from his tours. Thanks to you and your family for serving, and for all you do for Fisher House.

    • Sounds like you had a great weekend, Gwen! I’m just glad I’ve never had characters who weren’t in the army. I have my DH for that research. I have no idea what I’d do if someone from another service wandered into my head. LOL!

    • Hi, Gwen! Thank YOU and YOUR family for your service! So glad you understand about a character that just refuses to join the service you want them to join! (My heroine in FORGET ME NOT is my only civilian heroine. She’s a veterinarian and you would THINK she could have at least been an ARMY veterinarian, BUT SHE WOULDN’T JOIN!!!) Glad you got to meet Suz and her husband. They are WONDERFUL people!!! Write on, Gwen! Hugs!

    • Hey, Gwen! Nice to see you here!!!

  10. Heather, welcome! Thanks so much for being here today, and Sharon, great interview! Congrats on everything, Heather. It must be very exciting to have a vote of confidence from Suzanne Brockmann. I’m certain it’s well deserved.

  11. Discovering Heather and having the chance to publish her via my new publishing company Amber House Books has been an absolute joy for me! It’s even more thrilling to watch as more and more readers discover her. We were both shrieking with joy when Suzanne Brockmann loved her book enough to give it a quote 🙂

    • And I am SO blessed that you discovered me and signed me to Amber House Books, Teresa!!! Thank you so much for believing in me and in my stories – ESPECIALLY Never Forget!!! Thanks so much for letting it find a home with you at Amber House!

      • As a reader and huge fan of Heather’s, I am also so happy for both of you. I have no doubt more and more readers will fall in love with Heather’s words just as I have. 🙂

        • Sharon, thanks for your good wishes. You KNOW who the mastermind in setting me up with Teresa was! She and I are both SO thankful!

  12. Wow! And for the first time, my avatar looks just like me! 😉

  13. I am inpressed with all the reasoning and research you put into this novel.
    And I am very happy to hear your son returned home safely.

  14. Hi, gang at Kiss & Thrill, and Heather!

    I can answer that first question! I gave Heather a cover quote because I loved the book, period. And I know my readers are going to enjoy the entire series. WIN! I can’t write fast enough to placate my hungry readers, and Heather will now help me by providing them with good books to read! 🙂

    I get approached for cover quotes a lot, and often can’t find time to read the many, many arcs that I’m sent. But you know what? Meeting Heather in person impressed me. She was, well, I’m just gonna say it: lacking in bullshit. (Very much like many of the other former military people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting!)

    She’s the real deal, and I suspected (correctly) that she’d bring a gritty and wonderful authenticity to her U.S. Navy-set books. (I guessed right! She does!)

    So I’ll say it again (and again and again!): If you like military romantic suspense, check out Heather Ashby. NEVER FORGOT. (Or start at the beginning…) 🙂

    • Um…Okay…I am completely speechless, Suz. (People who know me well know that rarely happens.) If you only knew how much this all means to me after your books got me through my son’s deployments and then inspired me to try writing military suspense. And how every time I read your work I’m awed at just how ding-dang GOOD it is!!!! – and as I always tell you, how…no matter how serious the situation, I’m always laughing at your awesome VOICE!!! Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by today. (I’m off to print out the above comment and glue it into my journal, cuz I’m such a pathetic fan-girl!!!) Hugs! P.S. LOVE the “no bullshit” comment!!!

    • I have to add my speechlessness to Heather’s. Thank you so much commenting and even more thanks for Heather’s quote. It makes my heart happy to see her well-deserved success, especially when she’s so generous with the Fisher House. To be able to call Heather a friend and a Golden Heart sister is even more special.

      But I have to add my own pathetic fangirl moment – Years ago, during my dad’s cancer, I found a copy of Letters to Kelly in a used bookstore. I must have read it twenty times in six months. After his death, I went to one of your book signings and told you I wanted to write a romance novel and you wrote the loveliest thing in the book.

      “Sharon, Wow! What a story! Keep on writing and Dream BIG! Some day you’ll sign one of your books for me!”

      On the hard days I read this and remember how kind you were to a girl who’d never written anything other than a check. And while I’m not published yet, I am moving forward with six golden hearts, a dream agent, wonderful writing friends, and a signed copy of one of the best books I’ve ever read on my desk that reminds me why I should never give up. For that I will always be truly and sincerely grateful. Thank you.

      • Oh, Sharon, you just brought me to tears. What a beautiful story and kudos to Suzanne for such a kindness. Sharon, you are so close to hitting it big and it is all going to be worth it. You have so much going for you and things will move at warp speed very SOOOON. I am so proud to call you my Soul Sister and my Golden Heart Sister! Your faith is unwavering and you take such good care of everyone. Thank you so much for your time and kindness today, inviting me, hosting me…and what a special and beautiful afternoon this turned out to be. Big cyber hugs coming your way, Sharon Wray!

    • Sharon! I remember that!

      Huge congrats on all those Golden Hearts — that’s major!

      LTK is something of a weird little book, and it’s one of my personal “special” books. Shhh, I know, you’re not supposed to have favorite books or children, but… I wrote that book waaaaay early in my career, and it took me years (YEARS!!!!) to finally sell it.

      Nobody could figure out what to do with it, how to market it, etc. It went on to be one of the very bestselling category romances the year it was finally published — in the very hot market of Japan! Go figure!

      So I tend to remember signing well-loved copies of LETTERS TO KELLY — especially for a fellow writer. (It’s like my own personal secret handshake! LOL!)

      Hang in there — just as I hung in there for LTK!

      And it’s Brockmann with two Ns (for when you sign your book for me, which you’ll do very soon, I’m sure!),
      Suz

      • I can’t believe that you remember. That is amazing.
        Even though I’ve read ALL of your books, LTK is still one of my favorites. I think because it’s the most perfect romance novel I’ve ever read. Every word, every scene made me ache for them to be together. I cried at the black moment, then cried again at the end. I hope to be able to write like that one day.

        And I promise to remember how to spell your name. 🙂
        (How could I ever forget? LOL!)

  15. Hey, Heather, what a surprise after visiting with you over at Helena Fairfax’s blog to see you also at Kiss & Thrill. (I also noticed when I FBed about that blog that we’re FB friends. Probably why I recognized the cover. Sometimes we just juggle too many things to keep up with it all.
    Suzanne Brockman is one of my all time favorites. You must be over the moon to have her quote on you cover and for her to stop by here, too. Wow! You are on a roll.
    Thanks for your service and your husband’s. I’m an Air Force brat and all the moves were hard on me as an only child. Military families also serve! Thanks too for honoring them with your donations. Best wishes for lots of sales. After FBing and Tweeting, I’m heading off to make my purchase. 🙂

    • I know, Marsha. I feel like you’re my new BFF! Thanks so much for stopping by and being so supportive. And YES, thank you for your service. I have ALWAYS said that when one family member serves, the entire family serves. Right, Gwen? I’ll be seeing you on Facebook – or on British blogs 🙂 Cheers! And YES, I Am over the moon having Suzanne’s endorsement!

    • Hi, Marsha! Thanks for coming by today to support Heather. I am so happy for her and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her series and her writing in general.
      I hope you enjoy Never Forget, although I have no doubt you will. 🙂

  16. Heather, you asked what we were doing on 9/11… I was on duty at my hospital as a Nurse Manager and my first reaction was horror! Rather than cancel an important meeting that day with all us stunned. I held the meeting which secured the donation of a preemie incubator transporter to our level III NICU allowing us to transport a preemie from any outlying hospital in any incubator. Like U am sure many other Americans I just wanted to do somethinggood that day.Never Forget.And you already know that of love this series. Can’t wait for #4. Great interview!

    • Wow, Nancy! What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing! And I can’t wait for #4 as well.
      And thanks for answering the question — I think you’re the first one! LOL.

      • What a beautiful story, Nancy! I LOVE the idea of going the extra mile to care for a special preemie that day – making the day about LIFE and not about death. I was a 5th grade teacher on that day and focused on getting the kids through the day so they could go home and find out from their parents. BUT the next day we discussed all, then moved on with our lessons, so the kids understood we were moving forward and sticking with our routines. Bless you for all you do in the NICU!

  17. Heather Ashby would be a new author for me. her new story sounds like it would be a great read.

  18. If this blog caught your interest in reading Never Forget, do yourself a favor and start with book 1 in the series. You won’t be sorry. I love all three!

  19. Fabulous interview, Heather and Sharon! I loved reading the backstory for Never Forget. And how super amazing to see that Suzanne Brockmann and Teresa Mederios stopped by K&T too! Can’t wait to read your newest Love In The Fleet book.

    Heather, Sharon, and Gwen, thank you and your families for your service!

  20. Sounds like a great read! I’ll be looking for it.

  21. I will never forget it… I just sat down to rest and the news broke in on the television. At first I thought I was seeing a newsreel from a movie. Then I realized it was really happening. I cried so hard I couldn’t breath. I didn’t get anything else done that day. I just sat and prayed and prayed and prayed.

  22. Heather, just updating you. I ordered the latest book on your recommendation and read the prologue. OMG You blew me away. I’ve go chill bumps writing this just as I did reading your words. Beautiful! Whoever told us we couldn’t begin with a Prologue? Can’t wait to get to the rest. 🙂

    • So happy you are enjoying it, Marsha! Good luck putting it down to make dinner. LOL!

    • My editor agreed that “even though we don’t need prologues these days, THIS ONE needs to be there.” Because it truly did happen before the story begins. I wrote that prologue after reading accounts of the day the steel was poured in that foundry in Louisiana. I did NOT however, remember that it was done on September 9, 2003 when I chose September 9, 2014 as the launch date for NEVER FORGET. I had not read the prologue in ages since it didn’t need editing or revisions. When I saw it the other day, I GASPED! The book’s birthday is the anniversary of the day the sacred steel was poured for the bow stem of USS New York! And it was not done intentionally! Purely by Kismet!!! Thanks so much for your comments, Marsha. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this book. Write on!

  23. Reblogged this on DIANA BELCHASE and commented:

    Heather Ashby is donating proceeds from her book to a great charity. Keep reading to hear about it and her wonderful novel, Never Forget.

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