Ashley Quigley was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In high-school, she developed a love for writing and English and excelled in both aspects. She studied at Rhodes University and holds degrees in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. She lives in Umhlanga with her husband, son, and three dogs.
Geosi Gyasi: How did you step a foot into the world of writing?
Ashley Quigley: In high-school, I developed a love for writing and English and excelled in both aspects. For college, I headed to Rhodes University where I was to study English and Journalism, but as fate would have it I registered for a science degree and received my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Microbiology. After a five-year stint working in commercial laboratories I discovered that my love of English and writing was too great to ignore. So I came a full circle and reverted back to my first love, writing, which I have found more fulfilling than anything else I have done in my career.
Geosi Gyasi: Your most recent book, Breeders was recently published. Is there any special reason why you chose a female as the main central character?
Ashley Quigley: Yes. The story revolves around women who are selected for a breeding project where they have to produce offspring, so the character has to be female. The second book centers more on the male leads.
Geosi Reads: What inspired the story in the Breeders?
Ashley Quigley: Having studied the ethical issues and controversies surrounding genetic breeding and designer babies, I started to wonder what would happen if your genetic prowess was the new currency and determined your place in this world. Would our interference of natural selection by genetic breeding create super humans? This book inspired me to investigate further the human reaction to a situation which could threaten our entire existence.
Geosi Reads: Did your background in Biochemistry and Microbiology influence the story in any way?
Ashley Quigley: Although the book centre’s around science fiction, the scientific terms and genetic references are factual and make reference to studies performed worldwide, where researchers are trying to select for genetically favorable characteristics and disease free humans.
Geosi Reads: What writers among your contemporaries do you most admire?
Ashley Quigley: I really admire Suzanne Collins, not only for her success, but for her dedication and perseverance in getting her work out there and gaining readership.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you ever encounter challenges ending a story?
Ashley Quigley: Not really. I usually jot down ideas in a sketch book as they come to me. More often than not, I will draw a mind map of the plot. This may change some as I write the book and the characters develop, but helps me keep the story on track as far as possible, so the ending is always developed and worked towards.
Geosi Gyasi: In writing fiction, do you consider entertainment a priority?
Ashley Quigley: As far as the storyline is concerned, yes. A book needs to be gripping, to pull you into its world and engage you so that you will keep turning the pages. I find that long drawn out books with low entertainment value, often has reviews where readers have either not or battled to finish the book.
Geosi Gyasi: What about humor?
Ashley Quigley: For me, yes. A drama or thriller can always have one or two lines where the character or situation may be humorous. However, it always depends on the tone of the book.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you have any secret flaw as a writer?
Ashley Quigley: I’m such a neat freak and perfectionist, that my husband often teases me by saying “We don’t live in a lab.” This definitely flows into my writing and my critiquing of it.
Geosi Gyasi: How much are you conscious of the reader when you write?
Ashley Quigley: I always try to maintain a reader’s outlook when reviewing my book. I ask myself if this is something I would buy or recommend to a friend, so I try to be as reader conscientious as possible.
Geosi Gyasi: Does environment matter to you as a writer? Where do you write?
Ashley Quigley: I write in my study where I’m surrounded by my favorite books and is a brightly lit and happy place, its also private. You can often find me listening to music when I write. I like soft, soulful musicians, such as Jack Johnson and John Meyer and then Florence and the Machines.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you think the public taste for Science fiction, thrillers and suspense have declined?
Ashley Quigley: Not at all. I think the recent success of novels transitioning into film such as The Twilight Saga, Hunger Games and the series by Stieg Larsson have highlighted that this genre is becoming increasingly popular.
Geosi Gyasi: Is your South African citizenship important to you and your writing?
Ashley Quigley: Yes. I am proudly South African and hope that I portray this aspect into my writing where relevant.