Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ashes by Steven Manchester

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for author Steven Manchester’s latest release, ASHES, through Partners in Crime Tours.

Steven has graciously answered a question about his writing during his stop here.

Genre: Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Number of Pages: 260

ASHES can be found at the following sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other’s company. It’s either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he’s left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.
At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

Please join me in welcoming Steven to Thoughts in Progress. Welcome, Steven.

Could you explain a bit about your writing process from the time the idea for this book came about until the time you actually received a printed copy of it? How long it took, some of the steps you followed, the difficulties of the process as well as the joys, etc.

I’d just finished The Changing Season, a coming-of-age novel, and enjoyed the write so much that I wanted to keep the momentum going.

I pitched the idea of Ashes to my publisher and mentor, Lou Aronica, and he loved the direction I was going in.

As I’m nearly fifty years old, the conversations I used to share with my two brothers—Billy and Randy—have significantly changed. When we were young, we discussed career choices and romantic pursuits. As the years unfolded, the talks focused on raising children and juggling hectic schedules. Now, these conversations are peppered with reports of doctors’ appointments and where we stand with our retirement plans. The evolution of our conversations is as bittersweet as it is comical to me—and was the basis for Ashes.   

Here’s the high-level timeline for Ashes:

* The first step in writing Ashes was to agree on the concept with my publisher.
* Once done, I went away to create a storyboard (which is essentially a story outline on steroids).
* Within that storyboard, I began to develop the characters (it’s all about characters for me).
* Lou and I tweaked the storyboard one last time before I went off on my own to write the book.
* Even with all the research (i.e., I actually mapped out the cross-country trip with AAA), the first draft took me six months.
* Lou gave it a read and made his suggestions.
* It took me another month to produce the second draft.
* Lou read it again and provided his final comments, which I made. This took two weeks.
* The book then went to the copy editor, who went through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb (two months to complete).
* From that point, the publisher approved the final draft and sent it to several proofreaders.
* The waiting time was spent gathering celebrity endorsements, agreeing upon the final book cover, polishing the text that goes on the cover, etc.
* Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) were printed and sent out to reviewers.
* The final hardcover book went to print and was received six months later.
* The entire process took nearly eighteen months.   

I loved writing Ashes. Two brothers—estranged for fifteen years—are brought together under circumstances that neither can avoid. By trapping them in a car for several long days, I was able to play out some deep, dark emotions that quickly rise to the surface. The outcome proves to be biting and comical exchange that the reader can experience as if they’re sitting right there in the backseat with the box of ashes. Although there are several twists and turns along the way, the goal was to keep the journey real and relatable—proving that every family has its fair share of dysfunction, as well as unbreakable bonds.

Steven, thanks for visiting with us today and sharing this look at your writing process. The idea of the brothers trapped in the car for that extended period would make for some interesting conversation.

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Steve, here’s some background on him.

Author Steven Manchester
Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season.

His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

For more on Steven and his writing, visit his website and connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for stopping by today. What do you think the conversation would be like between two brothers (or sisters) trapped in a car on an extended road trip?


  1. I firmly believe that families can be a minefield. Particularly when there is estrangement or grievances added to the mix. Trapped in a car? It could be incredibly healing - or destructive.
    This sounds wonderful, and right up my very broad reading alley. Good luck Steven - and thank you for the introduction.

  2. I've been on a long car trip with my brother. Fortunately, we're not at odds.
    Funny how those conversations change over the years, isn't it?

  3. I loved this book so reading about from start to finish of this novel was enlightening.

  4. A road trip is a really interesting context for looking at relationships! Thanks for sh aring, Mason.

  5. Love the book concept. This is one I'd love to see done in a movie. =)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.