>>> Welshman in North Lincolnshire
My name is Rob Ashman I’m 55 years of age, married to Karen with two grown up daughters. I am originally from South Wales and after moving around with work we settled in North Lincolnshire where we’ve spent the last twenty-one years.
Like all good welsh valley boys I worked for the National Coal Board when I left school at sixteen and went to University at the tender age of twenty-three when the pit closures began to bite. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of manufacturing and consulting roles, that was until I had the bonkers idea to publish a book.
I’ve always had Those That Remain stuck in my head. It took me twenty-four years to write – and yes, I know after all that time you’d expect it to be better! I played around with it for years and only got serious about writing when my dad got cancer. It was an aggressive illness and I gave up work for three months to look after him and my mum. Writing Those That Remain was my coping mechanism. After I wrote the book my family read it and said ‘You have to do something with this, and besides its not finished.’ So not being one for half measures I got myself made redundant, went self-employed so I could devote more time to writing and four years later the Mechanic Trilogy is the result. I never set out to write a trilogy it just happened that way – probably down to a complete lack of planning.
It’s probably not the best thing to admit but the inspiration to write comes from the voices in my head. I can just picture my friends exchanging knowing glances at this point. My characters talk to me incessantly. They compete for my attention – they row, they laugh, they fight, and of course try to murder each other. When I woke the morning after I finished writing the final book in the series the voices were gone. It was as though the story had been told and they were silent. It’s a very strange sensation not having them there anymore.
Whenever I write I find all of my characters are damaged in some way. There is a dark thread running through the books which comes from them. They are all deeply flawed, each one capable of doing bad things and making the wrong choices. But sometimes they surprise me by having flashes of doing the right things as well. We met a woman on holiday who was interested in the books and Karen what they were about. After Karen finished describing them the woman screwed her face up and Karen said ‘I know, it’s worrying to think that goes on in his head.’
My immediate plans are to publish the next two more books in the series which will keep me busy. I am fortunate to have a fantastically talented editor, Helen Fazal, and we recently finished editing the second book called In Your Name. The next step is to send it to my beta-readers, to get their opinions and feedback. They are very blunt, which is great, and I trust them implicitly, but it is a scary process.