I was born and bred in Scotland. I grew up in a town on the west coast, living in a cottage on the edge of a field. I moved around for university and work, living in St Andrews, Edinburgh and Elgin. Now I’ve settled in Dundee, which is a city just big enough to have lots to do while still being close to the countryside.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
Up north in Moray there’s a golden beach next to a village called Findhorn, where you can walk along the sand, looking out for dolphins and seals while the waves roll in.
In Glencoe, you can climb the hills and survey a beautiful green valley, where members of the MacDonald clan were killed for failing to swear allegiance to the monarch of the time.
On the banks of the Tay in Dundee, you’ll find the RSS Discovery, a wooden three masted sailing ship used by Scott and Shackleton on their expedition to the Antarctic.
In Edinburgh, you can visit Princes Street and look up at the castle, standing proud above the city, one of the oldest fortified buildings in Europe.
Scotland is home to so many hills and glens, lochs, beaches and cities where our history echoes through the landscape. We even have nice weather from time to time to explore it all!
What turns you on creatively?
I’ve always been fascinated by the wild hills of Scotland and the fairy stories of creatures that live on the edge of human society. I love to add a hint of magic to my writing, no matter what the main genre is.
I would love to say that I write in a peaceful, quiet setting or that I have a process that helps me to get the creative juices flowing. In reality, I write on my phone, stealing snatches of time when my two young children are either preoccupied or asleep!
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
I’ve always been partial to the word “crabbit“, which is a Scottish word meaning “bad-tempered”. As a teenager, my family often used the word to describe me, though I do feel that I’ve mellowed now that I’m well into my adulthood.
The crabbit lass broke into a smile as the sun stretched o’er the horizon…
What is your pet peeve?
Grammatical errors like “could of” that really demonstrate the limited nature of our education around the structure of the English language. I remember thinking in school how helpful it was to study French because you learned about things like sentence structure and verb conjugation to a level that English just presumed you knew. It might sound pernickity but communication is a gateway – it helps us build social relationships, seek support, express ourselves, and the more help we get in childhood to support that ability, the easier it is in adulthood.
What defines Caroline Ashley?
I think that depends who you speak to!
I’m an introvert and I like my space but I also love to go out dancing. I’m impatient and like to get things done as soon as I can, to the extent that I can rush tasks and need to ask my husband for help finishing what I started. I love being creative but I like things to be organised and tidy or I just can’t relax at all (a never-ending chore when you’ve got young children running rampant in your house!)
Most of all, I think I’m someone who loves to see the magic in the world. My favourite animals are dragons, my favourite books are the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I work with children because I like spending time with people who can believe that anything is possible.
OCTOBER 2023 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Caroline Ashley is a clinical psychologist who works for the NHS in Scotland. She was a finalist for Globe Soup's Science Fiction Short Story contest and two of their 7 Day Story Writing Challenges. Caroline is currently posting a serialised young adult fantasy novel on her website and also writes a monthly blog about the psychology within fiction.