Friday, July 22, 2016

A Young Reader Turns to Writing Award Winning Romance

Author Heidi Ashworth

As the sixth girl born into a family of smart women, I had something to prove and I set out to do so at a rather young age.  I was only four when I wandered into my 17-year-old sister’s bedroom and spied the paperback novel she was reading.  The cover was just too swoony to ignore:  a man with a bandaged head propped against the pillows of a bed draped with a colorful patchwork quilt.  Beside him sat a lovely young lady, her hand tender on his arm. 

I should have been too young to pick up on the implied message, but having five older sisters is an education.  In fact, I was already in the throes of a dizzying crush on one of their boyfriends.  He had a California tan (we lived in the San Francisco Bay area), very white teeth (his father was a dentist) and his sun-streaked hair curled just right against his brow.  In my hand was an illustration that seemed to encapsulate all that my tiny heart felt.  As such, I had to have that book. 

Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind
I begged, I pleaded, and cried until my sister said she would give me the book if I could read it.  I opened the cover and read the first three words before, in her shock, she slipped the book from my hands and marched away.  I never saw that book again.  Some years later I learned that the stories she and my other sisters were reading so avidly were Regency romances, particularly those by Georgette Heyer.  I promptly attempted to write my own, but knowing nothing about the genre, or romance novels, or book-writing in particular, I ended up with a (very) short contemporary story that took place in Paris.  It was, of course, awful, including my use of the word “sashay” to describe the way the heroine made her way down the “gangplank” of an airplane.

O'er the River Liffey by Heidi Ashworth
This was when another sister introduced me to the fantasy genre to which I was faithful to the point of exclusivity until I was twenty-five.  Then I read my first Regency romance and I immediately abandoned the fantasy novel I was working on to write a “Regency”.  The result was eventually published in 2008 by Avalon Books as Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind.  It does not have a scene with a patchwork quilt or a wounded hero.  However, it does contain one with a fainting heroine who is carried to safety by a frantic “Regency dandy”.  I can’t express how much I love these two characters who knocked on the door of my brain and demanded I tell their story.  I have been writing Regency romance ever since. 

My most recent release, O’er the River Liffey, takes place in Ireland just after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.  It is part of the Power of the Matchmaker series and includes sights and characters inspired by my 2014 trip to one of the most magical places on earth.  I directed the photo shoot for the cover photo for O’er the River Liffey in England last year.  Tales of that day, my books, and my travels can be found on my blog at

Oh!  And the name of the book with the wounded hero?  The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer.  The copy I read had a much less interesting cover but I recognized the scene the moment I read it—over twenty years later.

Heidi can be reached on her Website and Facebook