Author Interview: Ashley Coulter

1. Please tell us a little about yourself. 

My given name is Ashley, and I’ve been writing since I was about 10 or so. I go by Watercolor or Heart now online. I grew up on MS DOS, and my first word processing software was Professional Write where I would make art (like dinosaurs) using ASCII characters and little rhyming poems. I now own four cats. It started out with just one stray cat we homed and I just don’t know what happened… My family has soft hearts, I think, when it comes to animals.

2. What do you write (genre, length)? 

I write fantasy mainly. During Preptober, most of my short stories are around 1-2k word count on average, but I prefer to write longer works closer to novella length. I’ve found a secret love of writing poetry since it’s almost painterly in its execution, but I haven’t had very much interest or reception with what I’ve posted, so that’s a little discouraging.

3. What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details. 

My NaNoWriMo novel called Pierce the Ground (working title) involves a dwarf planetoid hurtling through space with its own weird native ecology and a bubble-contained atmosphere and a gigantic alien tree that birthed a society of intelligent mutated plant-cats called planthers. It’s about a single planther with a genetic disease and what happens to them when a giant quake begins shaking the tree and world apart.

I’m also working on screenplays and my pitch bible and world building for Sparse, a series I’m hoping to animate one day. In that one, a young cat is following her dreams to open a magic shop, makes some new friends and then finds her new life threatened by a curse spreading throughout the region.

4. Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write? 

Currently, I’m in love with all of Wildbow’s work and I’m addicted to Ward. Worm inspired me to write again after quitting a lot of creative activities during a long hiatus.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Never give up, never surrender. A good writer is just a shitty writer that never gave up or stopped trying. Also, a good solid outline will save your soul one day.

6. What do you do for a living? 

Nothing. I just exist, day to day, like a flower or a cat, taking up space in my living area and expecting food and a place to sleep. I don’t own a car, I have a long resume of minimum wage jobs. They always tell me I’m overqualified with my college degree, which I assume is a nice way of saying I’m too smart to do dumb stuff, apparently?

Someday, I want to say that I am doing something creative for a living and able to make income by that.

7. Who is/are your favorite author(s)? 

Haruki Murakami and Mark Z. Danielewski for the creativity they bring to the medium. They broke barriers and made a real impact on modern magical realism and horror. I also read almost everything by Nabokov. Pale Fire and Ada, or Ardor are seriously underrated. 

8. What is/are your favorite book(s)? 

I think it’s still Golden Compass by Philip Pullman followed up by Hyperion by Dan Simmons. I have a lot of books I love, but those two made me deeply reexamine my place in the world and my reason being in it.

9. What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author? 

“When’s the next one/part/chapter coming out?”

10. What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story? 

Finding out that snails have love darts that penetrate their mates in order to induce the other snail to be female in the sexual transaction that occurs (they’re hermaphroditic on most species) has kind of scarred me… I just wanted some neat details to add to my planther race since they have shell cases they can wear on the back of their head.

Let’s just say that didn’t really make it in.

11. What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why? 

Coming up with cool ideas and the reasons for why things work the way they do is the toughest part for me, followed by marketing. All too often, it just feels like I’m yelling into the void, reaching nobody.

12. What is your favorite genre to read? Why? 

I really enjoy reading process and methods, especially creative things and in-depth articles and dives on science and technology things. In fiction, I mostly stick to scifi.

13. What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything? 

I’m a polymath/polyvalent/child prodigy kind of person that later struggled when things weren’t so easy anymore. I can draw, animate, write and I specialized really heavily into the first two, especially digitally. I have the supplies to do art traditionally as well… my preferred medium is watercolor, pen, ink and then copic markers after that.

14. Do you like physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks better? Why? 

I like physical books best, followed by audiobooks, but I will read an ebook if it’s all I have. I do have a reader and the iPad can display them decently.

Honestly, I just can focus better and read better if I’m comfortable and less distracted… which means listening to the audiobook on my phone in bed or resting on a chair with my book.

Find Ashley at the links below!


Twitter: @heartwatercolor

Instagram: @heartwatercolor

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