By Deena Adams
I met Carol Ashby in 2019 through the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook group when she so graciously offered me, a clueless new writer, some helpful advice. Her act of kindness showed me what kind of person she is and I’ll be forever grateful to her. I hope you enjoy her interview.
Be sure to comment on this post by Tuesday, June 29 for a chance to win a copy of her newest Christian Historical novel, More Than Honor.
Welcome to the blog, Carol. Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
My husband and I met in college. I claim God brought him from Texas to Idaho so I could marry him. After graduate school, we moved to New Mexico and have been here ever since. We have a grown son and daughter. Our degrees were in chemistry, and I worked in semiconductor research. That meant lots of technical writing, but I started writing fiction a few months before I retired. Now I write full-time, and I love my second career as much as my first.
How wonderful that you’ve enjoyed two careers that you love. What inspired you to write fiction set between AD 106 and 126?
In 2013, when ISIS was spreading rapidly and persecuting Christians wherever it went, I was thinking about how our brothers and sisters in the Middle East today were facing the same danger and dilemma faced by Christians in Roman times. The choice was often deny Christ or die. It’s a choice some of my characters face.
With that inspiration, I’m sure you incorporate Christ and hope into every story you write. How do you go about that?
Every novel is a story of abiding faith in Jesus, no matter what that might cost, and of the transformation of a nonbeliever after living among Christians who live their faith. God’s love and forgiveness and the power of us sharing that with others is at the core of every story. The fact that God can use anything for good for those who love Him is woven into every story.
I love that. Are any of your stories inspired by true events or personal history?
Not by specific events, but I’ve had many opportunities to talk with friends about why, as a scientist, I believe in God as creator and Jesus as my savior. That’s given me some insight into the kinds of questions, objections, and struggles that someone might face when considering for the first time who Jesus truly was.
It’s always cool to find a scientist who acknowledges God as creator. Let’s talk about how long you spend on research before you begin writing a book.
Before the first one I wrote (Blind Ambition in 2017) and the first one I published (Forgiven in 2016), I spent enough hours researching to be able to write several long articles on daily life in the Roman empire that are now at my Roman history website at carolashby.com. Crime and Punishment is the most popular article there…go figure!
Plus, I had to research specific details about the locations (Galilee and Roman Germany). For each new novel, I have to research the location, local history and culture, and sometimes some new aspect of Roman law or culture.
When journeys are involved, I work out the detailed route using a topographical map of the ancient world and look at online images for most story locations. Then I make a map for the front of the book to help readers keep track of where my people are.
At the back of each novel, I include a historical note that addresses some particularly important feature of the story, and those end up at the history website, too.
Wow, that’s pretty in depth. I bet your readers really appreciate all you provide for them. How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I write full-time. In addition to novels, I research and write the Roman history website that I keep PG-13 or cleaner so teachers and students can use it. Between writing and all the business aspects of being an independent publisher, I probably work 8 to 12 hours a day. But if something is as much fun as most of this “work” is, can we really call it work?
What a blessing to consider your work fun. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a grade-school and middle-school kid, I wanted to be a teacher, either math or science. When I took chemistry and physics in high school, I decided I wanted to be a chemistry teacher. In college, I switched from wanting to be a teacher to wanting to do research.
How and when did you start writing?
On the last Friday in September in 2013, the first storyline that became Blind Ambition came to me, and I started writing.
That’s a story of a woman in a province where the governor has decided to give Christians one chance to deny Jesus or be executed. When she finds a Roman officer left for dead after an ambush, she decides she has no choice but to be the Good Samaritan for him, even though she knows it’s his duty to arrest her for her faith.
How he responds to the unconditional love she and her family show their sworn enemy is the heart of the story.
Sounds like a wonderful story. How do you balance writing with your other life and family obligations?
Being retired so I can write full-time, it’s no different than balancing life and work in my old day job. My kids are grown, and I have a very understanding husband when I’m in the flow and work until 2 am.
Supportive spouses are critical in a writer’s busy life. What’s next from you?
I’ll keep writing as long as the stories keep coming. I ask at the back of each book for readers to let me know which secondary characters they’d like to see again. Two of the main characters in More Than Honor were among those whom readers requested.
I’m still praying about what the next two stories should be and who should be in them.
Besides posting comments on your website, how can your readers and fans support you?
Sharing how much they enjoy my books at Christian reader groups and in their social media so others who might enjoy them will check them out. Discoverability is the biggest challenge with which every independent author must struggle all the time.
Thanks so much for sharing about your life and writing, Carol. I pray God continues to bless you as you write stories that point people to Christ.
Join the conversation. Do you enjoy novels set in biblical times? What about books that help build your faith and inspire you to share the gospel? What questions do you have for Carol?
Be sure to comment by June 29 for a chance to win Carol’s latest release, More Than Honor.
More Than Honor by Carol Ashby
Released June 15, 2021
Click the book cover for purchase link
Duty and honor had anchored his life, but only truth could set him free.
Devotion to duty and dogged determination make Tribune Titianus the most feared investigator of the Urban Cohort. Honor drives him to hunt down anyone who breaks Roman law, but it becomes personal when Lenaeus, his old tutor, is murdered in his own classroom. Why kill a respected teacher of the noble sons of Rome, a man who has nothing worth stealing and no known enemies? Had he learned something too dangerous to let him live?
Pompeia was only a girl when Titianus studied with Father before her family became Christians. She and her brother Kaeso can’t move their school from the house where their father was killed. But what if the one who killed Father comes to kill again? Kaeso’s friend Septimus insists they spend nights at his father’s well-guarded home. But danger lurks there as well. As Titianus hunts for the murderer, will he discover their secret faith and arrest them as enemies of the Empire?
When Titianus gets too close to finding the killer, the hunter becomes the hunted. While he recovers at his cousin Septimus’s house, Pompeia becomes the first woman to touch his heart. But a tribune’s loyalty is sworn to Rome, no matter how he feels. When her faith is revealed, will truth and love mean more to him than honor? Does honor require more than devotion to Rome?
Carol Ashby has been a professional writer for most of her life, but her articles and books were about lasers and compound semiconductors (the electronics that make cell phones, laser pointers, and LED displays work). She still writes about light, but her Light in the Empire series tells stories of difficult friendships and life-changing decisions in dangerous times, where forgiveness and love open hearts to discover their own faith in Christ. Her fascination with the Roman Empire was born during her first middle-school Latin class. A research career in New Mexico inspires her to get every historical detail right so she can spin stories that make her readers feel like they’re living under the Caesars themselves.
Set during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian, her Light in the Empire series will take you around the Empire, from Germania and Britannia to Thracia, Dacia, and Judaea and, of course, to Rome itself.
Read her articles about many facets of Roman history at “Life in the Roman Empire: Historical Fact and Fiction” (carolashby.com) or join her at her blog, “The Beauty of Truth,” at carol-ashby.com.
Please share this interview on social media to help promote Carol and her books!
If you missed last week’s interview with Kelly Goshorn, find it here.