“I’m very excited,” the 48-year-old Ashby said.
“On a scale of one to 10, (my excitement) is a 12. I tell you, holding the book in my hands for the first time was absolutely one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It felt even more real than the times I was proofing the pages.”
Ashby, a staff writer for the Norwalk Reflector the last 14 years, said the book literally was a labor of love as he hand-wrote the story, which took up two notebooks, or 178 handwritten pages.
Typed, “Colt Maverick” is a 218-page mystery novel that follows a private investigator — Maverick — who was hired by a high-profile businessman to dig through a missing person’s case. The story follows as Maverick unearths the truth of the missing wife and finds there’s more than might initially meet the eye with this case.
Ashby’s editor, Rob Smith, who owns and operates the publishing company Drinian Press, described the book as an “action-detective genre book with a few twists that follows (Maverick), a former sniper, football player trying to find his way through the mid-life crisis of life with this private investigating.” Smith said the book provides a good read and moves along quickly with plenty of action.
Ashby called his story “a happy accident.”
“I woke up and I had that name Colt Maverick in my head,” he said. “For me it all started with a name. Once I started writing the scene (which originally was going to be a short story), I saw there was more to it. And then when I brought it to my writer’s group, which my editor and typist are a part of, they were instrumental in making it into the story that it is now because (the group) would ask questions.
“When I first started writing it I didn’t know where it was going to go, but the questions they had and the suggestions … really helped me put it together. So even if it didn’t get published, I was proud that I had finished a story especially with as long as it was.”
Ashby said aside from the length, one thing that sets this novel apart from anything else he’s written is that the characters aren’t based on anyone else’s work.
“So this is my character,” he said. “I didn’t want to do something like somebody else had done. I wanted it to be as uniquely mine as much as I could.”
Ashby said he wrote the main character in such a way that he hopes it makes readers stop and say “Wow, this guy is kind of interesting.” He added many facets to Maverick’s life — Marines, college, playing in the NFL and finally, where the story picks up, with his time as a private investigator.
“I think there are a lot of fun characters in there,” Ashby said.
“I think one of the things was as I discovered the characters the more (and) I wrote them, the more they became more fleshed-out characters. I hope that’s one of the things people will find they like about my book — that they find not just Colt Maverick a fascinating character, but all of the other characters interesting as well.”
Ashby, who’s worked as a reporter for more than 15 years, including 14 with the Reflector, said writing the novel posed some unique challenges.
“It’s different from being a reporter with the fact that all of this comes out of my head,” he said, adding it can be “hard to get going.”
“It’s not the situation where I go and talk to people, or (cover) an event has happened, or there’s an event that’s going to happen and we write a preview. Then I’m doing an interview and talking to someone for information. All this comes from my imagination.
“One of the interesting things was as I started to write some of those scenes out something would happen or develop that I wasn’t expecting,” Ashby added. “So it is true when the writers say the characters do have a mind of their own. We’re all working toward the same goal and same end, but sometimes it just took a different turn and a different twist than I expected.”
“I’d recommend it,” Smith said. “It’s a good story. This is the debut novel and you’re just getting to know the character. It’s a good thing when you think it’d be interesting to see what (Maverick) does next.”
And Ashby said he already has a ideas of what that next adventure might include.
The writer will hold his book launch/debut at 7 p.m. Monday at the Norwalk Public Library. This will be the first stop in what Ashby’s calling his “Colt Maverick Library Tour.” This includes author events at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Monroeville Public Library, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Milan Public Library, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Huron Public Library and 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Willard Memorial Library, with possibly more dates to come.
“Colt Maverick” can be purchased online at Amazon.com and on Barnes & Noble, or at the events for a special, reduced price.