When people are asked to name their favorite romance authors most quickly site Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts, but there are tons of great within the Romance genre and Kelliea Ashley is one of them. The author of twelve books hopes that her next book Winters Gift will be the gem that captures the hearts of readers and further cement her skills as a potent force within the Romance genre. Kelliea Ashley took the time to speak with Cocktail Molly about her experiences in the publishing industry, her passions as a writer of whimsical romances and what the audience can expect from her in the future. CM: How about we start talking about where your passion for writing romance came from? KA: Okay. I’ve always read everything I could get my hands on, but when my God mother shared a Harlequin with me, I was hooked. I love reading a book that makes me cry, laugh, and have that aw…moment at the end. CM: How do u feel about people dismissing romance as not being real literature? Would u consider it literature? Why? KA: I absolutely consider romance an important genre of literature. Where would we be without books like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or Little Women? These are romances I grew up reading and studying in school. They are only a few examples of works by classic authors who are well-respected in literary circles. Romance, at the heart, is one of the most important aspects of being human. If you look close enough in almost every literary work, you’ll find some spark of romance incorporated in the plot. As the saying goes, love makes the world go round. I, for one, look for love in every book I read, and I hope my readers find it in every book I write. CM: I used to always here that romance lit was for girls, but it has been found that more men enjoy “chick flicks” than women, what’s your opinion about such irony? Have u found that to be the case with your audience? Are men some of your biggest supporters … secretly? KA: LOL! Actually, he’d kill me if I gave names, but my boss is my biggest fan. His wife recently fought a bout with cancer and they spent every third week going to Houston for treatment. He bought every book I published and would read them on the plane and in the hospital. He really surprised me. I love that he finds my writing worthy of his time. It took his mind off what was going on around him and for that I am truly honored. I think that, like women, men yearn for true love, a connection of the soul, you might say. Why wouldn’t they? Most just wouldn’t admit to it. CM: Your response to romance literature is great because many people fail to see it that way even though some of the greatest films, books are guided by the idea of love. Jane Austen to Nicholas Sparks, Star Wars to Harry Potter love does find itself in every aspect of human imagination. With that being said explain to the readers what your novel is about and why they should fall in love with the characters? KA: Winter Gifts is the story of a mismatched couple. Maxine Grant is a farm girl, born and bred. She loves her home, her animals, and her land. Life for her is a series of struggles from equipment that breaks down to a family that seems to take her for granted most of the time. On the flip side of the coin in Brice Vanzetti, who has lived in Paris and worked as a Chef in a five-star restaurant. He is content with his work and refuses to waste time or energy on a long-term relationship. Both of them find their paths joined when a winter storm traps them under one roof. Stranded by the snow, they have no escape from a chemistry that won’t be denied. It is the first story I published with my late publishing house, Breathless Press. Winter Gifts is the first story I published with my late publishing house, Breathless Press. Though my publisher is no more, I’m still very grateful for everything the people there did for me. I wouldn’t have had the courage to become an Indie Author without them. CM: Wow, sounds sexy and intriguing. So, how many books have u written? KA: I’ve written twelve books by Breathless Press. Eight full-length e-books and four shorts or Flirts. All of which were taken down when my publisher closed up shop. I am planning to re-release the full-length stories by myself. The Flirts I want to extend. The characters are begging me to go into their stories a little deeper and sometimes those characters must be appeased. Though BP closing tore me apart, I am a person who was taught to look at the glass not only half full, but to be grateful for there being anything in it all. So, the future is still looking pretty exciting where my writing is concerned. Next on the list is Spring’s Promise Book 2 of my Changing Seasons series. I can’t wait! CM: I always ask authors which authors inspire them to write? I would like to extend that same question to u. Also, which writers today inspires u to keep writing? KA: Authors like the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and Pearl S. Buck inspired me as I was learning to love reading. They still draw me in when I pick up their books. I have a few, as you can imagine. Today’s Authors who inspire me range from well-known authors like Stephen King, J.K Rowling, Edgar Allen Poe, and Anne Rice to the authors who strive to climb for excellence by their finger nails. Authors like Torie James, Raven McAllan, Ann B. Harrison, and Sally Max, to name just a few, all who write from their hearts and hope for the best. My inspiration comes from real people who get up every morning to face the daily grind, but somehow still manages to find a little space of time to devote to their dream of being a writer. They rule! CM: Which characters do you believe, or have been told by readers are most appealing. The ones that are wearing their hearts on their sleeves or the ones who has a cold exterior that must be warmed over time? KA: Both kinds have their appeal. Given the choice, I go for those with the cold exterior, for within could be a volcano of emotion just waiting for the right moment, or person, to burst free. I guess you could say I like my sweets with a bit of the sour first. CM: What’s next 4 Kelliea Ashley? And where can fans find u? KA: Next on my agenda is getting all eight of my e-books back up for the readers to peruse. I have a lot on my plate with four Flirts to extend, three fresh new stories to publish, and two series to finish. Good thing I love this habit. It isn’t a job to me, or a hobby. If anyone would like to chat or find out more about my books, you can find me at the following links: http://www.facebook.com/kellieaashley2 twitter.com/AshleyKelliea Kelliea’s Quips at http://kellieaashley.wordpress.com/ Winter Gifts is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Kindle store, and at the Apple store.