Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.
Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.
But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.
Cutlass will be FREE on the day of the blitz, and Flintlock (book 2) will be 0.99c
This is a hard question, only because the Cutlass Trilogy has been with me for so long. I began writing it as a Freshman in High School. I actually think I thought it would be a cool play for my drama class, but I just kept writing.
As I changed, the story took on various forms until I settled on the one you are reading now. I might be able to satisfy this question a little better by also saying that I approached the rewrite with a focus on the characters. I wanted to see how I could make readers empathize with Barren, and I wanted to ensure that Larkin was a strong female character. I knew approaching a pirate series, I couldn’t have a pirate who was really a ‘saint.’. To me, that wasn’t realistic. So Barren had to have baggage.
I suppose that’s where Larkin comes in—she was the saint, but even she learns that not everything is as it seems. And not everything is black and white. There are always two sides to every story, and people on both sides that believe they are fighting for what’s most right.
What made you want to write about Barren and Larkin?
I love the dynamic of Barren and Larkin. They are both really strong characters. Together they are passionate and proud. They have very strong belief systems, they don’t like to be wrong, and they are very loyal. They also surprise me.
Barren is my troubled soul. I think it was hard to know he was so young and that he had killed, but I also think that’s just the reality of the life he leads. But Barren isn’t happy about it, and he’s not happy with himself. He struggles with his decisions—they are irrational, though really, he does seem to be motivated by goodness (goodness from his perspective). I think he’s desperate to feel like he has an identity. While he wants to be like his father, he’s also seeking that thing he’s going to be best at.
Larkin is like me—she is very truthful and open, and she hates this idea that people would consider her an object. She wants to prove herself so badly, and she has to learn how to do that, just as I have. I wanted her to be a feminist, and someone you had to listen to because she doesn’t sit aside and let you speak over her, or share your ideas without hearing hers. She makes mistakes, but she’s learning and she is spectacular.
What is Cutlass about?
CUTLASS is about a pirate who wants revenge after his father is murdered by his brother, but he gets pushed into searching the Orient for a thing called the bloodstone and things just get crazy.
What is Flintlock about?
Flintlock is what I like to refer to as the past coming back to haunt everyone. No one is untouched at the end of this novel. We get more involved with everyone on a deeper and more emotional level.
How did you come up with character names?
My characters tell me their names. It can take a long time. Barren is the best example. He was a lot of names before he agreed that Barren was his name. I came by the name Barren from history class. I’d learned about the Red Baron, a German fighter pilot in WWI. I liked the name, changed the spelling, and there you have it. Reed was always going to be his last name. Larkin’s name I happened upon while searching for possible names. I wanted something that was pretty, but also strong. The website I found her name on said it was masculine, but I couldn’t let it go, and neither could she. Lee was always going to be her last name. Leaf got his name from Leif Erikson, the Norse explorer who is considered to have come to America before Christopher Columbus. His last name, Tinavin, was just words I randomly strung together on a piece of paper.
Do you keep a notebook by you at all times just in case an idea comes to mind?
I have several journals I keep with me. I used to write stuff on loose pieces of paper. This is a bad idea. Don’t do it.
What is your new series, Nacoma Knight, about?
Nacoma Knight is a series about souls. There are no angels or demons in this book because there just aren’t. Basically, there’s the good guys (Shadow Knights) and there’s the bad guys (Cercatore). The Shadow Knights fight to protect humans from having their souls taken. A girl named Anora Silby gets pulled into the middle after losing her mother. So, it’s a story of grief and a story of empowerment.
How would you describe your writing style?
It is haphazard. It’s a combination of outlining and just writing random dialogue. I feel I am best at dialogue, so once I have a set of words I want someone to say, I add scenes to it. Sometimes, however, I know exactly how I want a scene to go—I can see it like a movie in my head—and I write that. There are several large scenes in Flintlock I knew had to be in the book that I wrote months and month (some are years) ago.
What made you want to become a writer?
I think I’d always been inclined to write. When I was younger, I would pull out sheets of paper and practice my handwriting. I did this because I knew I wanted to write, but I just wasn’t sure where to start. After I read the Lord of the Rings, I knew I wanted to write fantasy. I loved the idea of creating a new world, and I loved that I had control over anything that happened there. I know that reading and writing changed my life, and I know that I want to change lives with my books.
Describe Barren in three words:
Loyal. Headstrong. Passionate.
Describe Larkin in three words:
Kickass. Headstrong. Brave.
Who are your favorite authors?
J.R.R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, and Jane Austen.
Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren't used as much as she'd like. When she's not writing, she's hard at work on her Master's degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she's Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she's loved everything Fantasy--resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the 'geek' tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.