***I feel as if I should stamp a warning on this interview - Ashton is notoriously funny and I promise we will not get a straight answer from him! Do enjoy!***
What is your name (or pen name) and where do you live now?
My name is Ashton Cartwright, and I live in sun-shiny Sydney, waaaayyyy Down Under, with my pet koala “Cuddles” and my pet kangaroo “Vicious Rending Behemoth.” They are both completely adorable.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Originally I wanted to be a Teletubbie, but the costume didn’t fit. Then I thought perhaps I could be one of the Wiggles, but there was some dispute about my choice of colour (apparently ‘puce’ is a bit too ambivalent to appeal to 6 year olds).
After that I thought quite seriously about being unemployed, but found that it wasn’t particularly impressive when I mentioned it as my career at parties.
Now, ridiculously, I play poker for a living, and have done for years. Barely more impressive than unemployment, but the remuneration is marginally higher.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it what would you say?
My latest, greatest, and only book, is called “Pretending to Love: How to Cheat Your Way to Relationship Success”
It’s a parody of every relationship advice book I have ever read. As a chronic bachelor I was (and am) somewhat unconvinced of the benefits of traditionally accepted relationship ideals such as “compromise,” “accepting your partner’s faults,” and “talking.” These things all seemed rather silly to me.
Instead, I though that I might perform a small service to the relationship community by creating a much more practical manual for amatory interaction, incorporating useful concepts such as “How to Get Your Own Way,” “Improving Your Partner Through the Power of Nagging,” and “Why Honesty is the Worst Policy.”
I’m sure you’ll agree that this is much more effective (and amusing) information to have.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
This one took about 3 months from start to finish, working on it part time, and being lazy the rest of the time.
Do you have plans for a new book?
Being single, I get the dubious benefit of never having to make plans for anything whatsoever. My next book is absolutely and unequivocally something for which I have no fixed plans. If I were forced to give a definitive answer, I would say, “I will possibly write another book at some point, and I will be either funny, scary, instructional, mysterious, or romantic.”
What genre would you place your books into?
Assuming that there are no intentions of introducing “Blatant Idiocy” as a genre, I suspect this book would fall into the Humor category . . . although it does pop up occasionally in Amazon’s bestseller list for “Relationship Advice.” Hah.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
I had just finished reading an excellent and much respected book called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, which was given to me by a friend (whom I can only presume was despairing of my hedonistic ways). It occurred to me partway through this illustrious tome that there were many books aimed at people who wanted to begin a relationship, or who needed to fix a relationship, but no books for people who were struggling to avoid a relationship.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I have what I presume is a pretty standard routine for any writer: I sit down at my computer, open up MS word, then mess around on Facebook for 9 hours, turn my computer off, go watch some TV, then head to bed. I repeat this process for several days, then get drunk and bang out a few typo-ridden chapters in a couple of hours.
I like to think that the traditional methods are still the best.
Is there a certain author that influenced you in writing?
There are three authors whose writing styles I think are brilliant, so funny, so well phrased, that I hope to spend a significant portion of my writing career trying to emulate them. They are Douglas Adams (of the exceptional Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy), Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) and Terry Pratchett (author of 7,500 Discworld novels). I love Douglas Adams for making the ridiculous seem legitimate, Scott Adams for making the legitimate seem ridiculous, and Terry Pratchett for making sure every sentence he writes is amusing, witty, or clever. This is my Holy Trinity of literary comic genius.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Honestly, truly, write what you want to write. It’s well and good to read about being an author, and to study how to put a story together properly, and even to try and decide who you want your books to appeal to. . . but for your first book, go ahead and just write whatever you feel needs to be written.
There will be time enough later in your career to edit out the parts that might cause your readers to lose interest, or to write only in genres that are highly marketable, or even to change the stories completely to make them easier a publisher to try and pick you up. . .
All that is fine, and perhaps when you are a rich and famous author you may need to make such sacrifices to keep your books in the eye of the public, but for your first book, write what you want to write. Even if it’s boring to every other person on the planet except you. Even if it makes people think you are a sociopath. Even if the jokes are so complicated that nobody can understand them without a PHD in neurology and a scientific calculator. Even if you use a fake name because you can’t spell, your grammar makes no sense, and your storyline is just a series of physiologically impractical pornographic occurrences. . . for you first book, just write what you want to write.
Ashton Cartwright is a part time author, full time poker player, and all the time hair model.
A dedicated Juggalo, as well as a master of mathematics; he happily lists his three favorite things as "Profit and money," which enlightens us all to the virtues of his pure and loving heart.
Ashton has been married concurrently a record 27 times, mostly through virtue of getting a celebrant drunk on home-brewed moonshine. His current collection of partners includes three geese, a doorknob, and a life-sized cardboard cut-out of himself.
Ashton is also currently working on the screenplay for his new movie: I Know What I Did Last Summer.