Today’s Guest: Asta Idonea

Asta joins PQ today to talk about research, character naming and the first book which made her cry. Asta is the author of Wish You Were Here, published February 2017 by Dreamspinner Press.

What is the first book to make you cry? Mine was probably Black Beauty, but it could have been Where the Red Fern Grows. Sniffle.

Thank you for joining us today, please feel free to share this around!

Without further ado: Asta Idonea!




What is the first book that made you cry?

The first I can actually remember would be Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, which I read when I was about 13-14, after seeing the musical in London for the first time. (I’ve seen it live on stage around 25 times now!) Some of the character death scenes are so sad! It’s still one of my favourite books of all time.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Social Media! The hardest thing when I’m writing is hearing my phone ping and resisting the urge to keep checking my messages and notifications. Before this year, it was never a problem as I didn’t have a smart phone, but now that I do….

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym (or do you already)?

Asta Idonea is a pseudonym. I actually have two author pen names—Asta Idonea and Nicki J. Markus—and that is because I write both MF and MM/LGBT fiction. I have no problem with people knowing that I write either, but I wanted a clear way for readers to tell what sort of story they are getting when they pick up one of my books, since not everyone reads across both categories as I do.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I like to think that I take a middle ground. Of course I want to bring something original and fresh to my stories, but if I don’t also write something that meets readers’ desires and expectations, no one will read it. My current WIP is a case in point. I realised that my original ending would result either in a broken romance or a morally dubious conclusion, and I was concerned that that would alienate readers whichever way I played it, but then an idea occurred to me for an alternate outcome at the midpoint of the plot that will allow me the HEA finale which many MM readers crave. Now that the first draft is nearly done, I am happy with the changes and think it has made for a better tale. Hopefully readers will agree when it finally releases.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Oh, I am friends with many fellow authors from around the world. Some I’ve met because I’ve edited for them. Others I got to know because we share a publisher. Having other authors as friends is great since it means you have someone with whom to discuss the highs and lows, someone who understands the problems and frustrations you face. They help you become a better writer through their support, advice, and opinions. In addition, you can cross-promote with them, which is beneficial to all parties.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have around ten or twelve finished stories sitting on my flashdrive. Some were orphaned before publication due to publisher closures, and for which I’ve yet to seek new homes. Others are ready—once I decide where to submit them. One or two I may still do a final round of edits on before they go out into the world. In terms of half-finished works. I am close to completing the first draft on a new MM novel, and I have also started the first chapter on another novella/novel. Finally, I have a novel (historical) that I wrote about twelve years ago. The prose is dreadful! However, I still like the story and the idea, so I’ve long been toying with the idea of rewriting it. We’ll see….

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

That really depends on the book. Some works require no major research; others need a lot. Naturally historical fiction requires the most. Generally I write about periods I already know well, so I just double-check smaller details as I go. With my current WIP I am in a modern setting; however, I have spent time research sigils and symbol meanings, since those are important to the tale. Most of the time I am not doing hours of research ahead of writing. I am a pantster, so I don’t always know what I’ll need in advance. As I come across something that warrants research/checking, I’ll either pause and do so or leave a note to remind me to confirm the information as I work on the second draft.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Names are important to me. I don’t worry quite so much for modern-setting shorts, but for longer works I like to give my principal characters names that mean something. Either they relate to their personality or they say something about the role they play in the tale. I do this by searching for suitable keywords on name meaning websites and seeing what comes up. Normally one will jump out at me straightaway.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes and no. I am not someone who religiously checks reviews every week. However, if I am on Goodreads and notice a new one, I may have a read. I do also take a look at any I receive as part of a blog tour for a new release. In general, I don’t reply, whether it’s good or bad. We all know that replying to bad ones is a slippery slope, and I also think that responding to good ones isn’t much better as it can look like you are in cahoots with the reviewer. The exceptions are if a reader has made a comment and I feel I can add to the discussion by elaborating on why I included the plot point they liked etc. Or, if someone I know reads and reviews, I’ll send a private message/thanks. Regarding bad reviews, of course they sting. Luckily I’ve not had too many, and none really nasty, but whatever the comments, I simply try to remind myself that we don’t all like the same things. One reader may hate your book, but that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t love it. It’s all a matter of balance and keepings things in perspective.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

In a way. I am very fond of including cultural, historical, and literary references. Pop culture ones stand out, but some of the more obscure ones may not, and only certain people will pick up on them. Occasionally editors who don’t get them wish me to remove them, but as long as they don’t obscure the action or the meaning, I prefer to keep them as they are my little in-jokes.



Author Bio & Links

Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.









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Wish You Were Here : Details

Asta Idonea

Dreamspinner Press

8 February 2017

MM Novella/Contemporary/Paranormal

Heat Rating: 1

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