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Hello, readers.  Welcome to Heather Ashby’s interview about Never Forget, the third installment in her “Love in the Fleet” series. Here’s a photo of the USS New York and a little something about Never Forget:                                                      With 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel melted into her bow, what if there are more souls aboard […]

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Welcome to Heather Ashby’s Book Launch for NEVER FORGET

Posted by on Sep 5 2014, 12:35 am

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Hello, readers.  Welcome to Heather Ashby’s interview about Never Forget, the third installment in her “Love in the Fleet” series. Here’s a photo of the USS New York and a little something about Never Forget:

                                                     USS New York

With 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel melted into her bow, what if there are more souls aboard the USS New York than the sailors and Marines stationed there? And what if those souls can help the troops defeat al-Qaeda this time?

When Royal Navy officer Gwyn Pritchard reports for exchange duty aboard New York, she’s the only person who sees 9/11 spirits roaming the decks. The daughter of a famous Welsh psychic, she learns the ghosts must complete a mission in order to pass to the other side. The sole survivor of an IED blast in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor is wrestling with his own issues, but when he learns Gwyn is seeing ghosts aboard their ship, he becomes her confidant…and her lover.

Passions rise to fever pitch when the New York rushes to liberate hostages in North Africa. Can the spirits provide the right intelligence for the Marines to save the prisoners? Can Gwyn help the ghosts move on to the light? And can Adam and Gwyn find the love they’ve searched the world over for?

Hi, Heather.  Thanks for joining us today.  How excited are you about the release of your third book?

I’m beyond excited to release Never Forget—which happens to be the motto of the USS New York. This is a 9/11-related story, so I’m thrilled that Amber House Books was able to launch the book on September 9. Never Forget is about healing—both for troops who’ve fought in the War on Terror and for victims of 9/11. I figured that by empowering the spirit characters with some control over the ship, the crisis, and their destiny, it would allow them to move from victim to victor. Just so you know, I’ve worked on this book for two years and I still get goose bumps.

                                                New York-crest

Tell me, is that a firebird I see rising on the New York‘s crest?

 It certainly is, Catherine. It’s a Phoenix rising from the ashes, just as New York “rose from the ashes” of the World Trade Center. There is an amazing amount of symbolism in the crest, which includes the Twin Towers, the three departments that lost first responders, the state of New York, and Navy and Marine Corps swords, since amphibious assault ships transport Marines. The ship’s full motto is “Strength Forged Through Sacrifice. Never Forget.” By the way, there are two other 9/11 tribute ships. The USS Arlington was built from salvaged material from the Pentagon crash site in Arlington County, Virginia. The same goes for the USS Somerset, named for Somerset County, Pennsylvania, the crash site of Flight 93. This banner that hangs in the hangar bay aboard New York contains all the names of those lost that day.


                                     Never Forget-banner


This must feel like you’ve come full circle.

It really does, Catherine. On the morning of September 11, 2001 I had just dropped my 5th graders off at Music class when I was pulled into the front office and told about Flight 11 hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Although shocked, it was not clear this was an act of terrorism until Flight 175 hit the South Tower at 9:03.

At 9:05 it hit me that my son would be going to war.

He had recently joined the Army because college hadn’t worked out for him. Did he know there was an impending war? No. Did he know he’d be sent to Afghanistan to search caves for Taliban? No. Did he know he’d help take Baghdad a year later? No. Did the five scariest years of my life begin on 9/11? Yes. So, yes, I have come full circle to not only write books in thanksgiving for his safe return, but to write one with a positive and healing 9/11 story line. The icing on the cake is the cover art for this series.


I love your cover.  Your first two books are also available with new covers now.  Can you tell us something about that?

When I changed publishers this past June, I was able to take everything for the first two books except for the cover art. It was imperative that Never Forget have an ultra-respectful cover due to the story, so my editor and I agreed on military uniforms. I asked her, if I could get all the players to cooperate, could I shoot the cover photos for the series? Here’s how it went down: My Marine Corps advisor, Christopher Bergeron, just happens to be a semi-professional photographer with studio equipment. My son – the one I’m thankful for his return from combat – just happens to be extremely fit – and okay, handsome…and he agreed to pose for the covers.

This left Chris and me scrambling around Jacksonville, Florida collecting all the correct uniform pieces for the photo shoot. Chris and I giggled our way through the Navy base uniform shop and thrift shop, grabbing the various items we would need, and lo and behold, all the puzzle pieces came together. The photos were shot in my dining room, and with my editor’s brilliant touch at Photoshop, the new covers emerged. What is very special is that the uniforms—including ribbons (a.k.a. “fruit salad”) and other accruements are accurate for the service, age, experience, and expertise of the hero in each book.

Well, you guys did an amazing job!  So, what three words best describe Never Forget?

Hot, Harrowing, and Healing. Funny, I said the same thing about Forget Me Not. Am I sensing a theme here?

It’s a great theme 🙂 Do we see any of the characters from the first two books?

Absolutely. Although Never Forget is a stand-alone novel, it’s fun to have read the first two books in the series so you know the other players. Philip and Sky’s third buddy from the Naval Academy, “Nick” Nikolopoulus makes his debut in Never Forget. Needing to leave town before his ex-fiancée arrives for duty, he applies for an officer exchange program with the Royal Navy. Leaving his position aboard the USS New York, Nick heads to the HMS Atlantic in Plymouth, England where he falls in love with his assistant engineer – a no-no.

Meanwhile, Royal Navy Lieutenant Gwyn Pritchard takes Nick’s place aboard the New York. (Poor thing has no idea that spirits await her.) Philip has been cleared for sea duty after his brush with the bad guys in Forgive and Forget and lo and behold – he’s the new Chief Engineer aboard New York. So what could be more perfect than to have Sky and Mikey fly their Seahawk helicopter on board to deploy with him! An interesting fact is that Nick and his brother, Mikey, decided to join the Navy after their favorite uncle – a New York City firefighter – was killed on 9/11. What are the odds that “Uncle Frank” might be one of the spirits aboard New York?

So, between two hot love stories, a spirit-filled subplot, a consulate take-over by terrorists in Tangiers—which will draw both the USS New York and the HMS Atlantic—along with Philip’s calm reassurance, Sky’s brand of humor, and Mikey setting up his own love story for Book #4, I think there’s plenty in Never Forget to keep the reader occupied.

Thanks for a great interview, Heather! 

Thank you for letting me share my story, Catherine. I’ll be spending 9/11 with a box of tissues and a notepad as I watch footage of that dreadful day. This helps me understand my characters better. It helps me celebrate the heroes of that day. And it helps me to remember the families left behind.

 I’d like to ask the readers if there is some special way they honor 9/11 or perhaps they’d like to share where they were and how they reacted on September 11, 2001.

Just remember, never forget.



Heather Ashby is a Navy veteran who taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for her Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to benefit wounded warriors and their families. Heather lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her husband and two rescue cats. Never Forget is Heather’s third novel in the “Love in the Fleet” series. See for more information.

29 responses to “Welcome to Heather Ashby’s Book Launch for NEVER FORGET”

  1. Hi Catherine and Heather

    I love these books and was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Never Forget. I am in awe of you, Heather, for tackling subjects that would be beyond most of us, and making them into such emotionally-charged stories, without losing gritty accuracy. And yes, your son is handsome!

    My memories of 9/11 were that I was working in my office in Reigate, England. I had a habit, while doing the accounts, of popping over to my AOL email screen every half hour or so to check emails. As we’re 6 (?) hours ahead of NYC, it was early afternoon when I read a little box on AOL saying a plane had gone into one of the twin towers. I assumed a light aircraft had lost control, as had happened a few years earlier in Holland. It was only as I drove away from the office to pick my son up from school, at about 3.30 pm and my car radio had an unscheduled news bulletin, that the full horror dawned on me. On 9-11 (or 11th of the 9th, because we do dates the other way round) I will quietly remember the day the world changed.

    • Hi, Natalie. I love waking up to see that the European Firebird contingency has already commented in the middle of my night 🙂 Thank you SO MUCH for reading NEVER FORGET earlier this year and offering advice on my Royal Navy characters and the language they would use. I like how you wrote above, “I will quietly remember the day the world changed.”

      P.S. I’m loving DRESS THIEF and it is once again at the top of the TBR pile…not it is BEING READ and should be finished soon. LOVING IT!! It’s “Brilliant!” Write on, mate 🙂

  2. Great question, Heather. It was definitely a day that changed the world. I was living in Japan at the time and turned on the TV before work. The images of the towers being hit by planes were so surreal, I thought it was a movie at first!

    3 months later, I went on holidays in Australia – it was weird being on a plane again.

    Four years later, I was living in London when the bombings happened. It was great to see the resilience of the people there. Life went on, people were back at work the next day, me included.

    • It would be interesting to have been in Japan, watching as things unfolded. And thank God you stayed safe in London when those bombings occurred. Thank you SO MUCH for all of your help with NEVER FORGET – from beta reading to critiquing to offering the suggestion of adding you-know-who to the story! 🙂 And thanks for setting up this blog today! You’re the best CP in the world!

      • Aww 🙂 Right back at you, lovely lady 🙂

        You know, part of my confusion in Japan was that the news was in Japanese, so I had no idea what was happening till I got to work.

        And as for London, I had to walk home 8 miles that day – buses and trains were stopped. I even walked past one of the tube stations that got bombed. Scary times in London, but also so much solidarity and strength from the Londoners 🙂

  3. Pintip says:

    Great interview, Catherine! Heather, this premise is so intriguing. I’m really looking forward to reading, and I’m sure you will make your fans very happy plus gain some new ones. I love the story of your covers. From your photographer friend to your son posing as model to getting just the right combination of ribbons and medals, these are truly the covers of your dreams. Best of luck, Firebird sister!

    • Thanks, Pintip! Hope everything is going well with you and your little one! Yes, I love the idea of having a Marine Corps advisor/photographer all wrapped up into one. He’s actually going to be CO-AUTHOR of Book 4, so I’m thrilled to have Chris on my team. My awesome engineer husband is the brains behind ensuring all uniforms were as correct as possible. I’ve heard nightmares from military writers about covers with uniforms from a different SERVICE or even CENTURY on the covers of their books. Throw in my awesome son and my amazing editor and yes, I could say these are the covers of my dreams.

  4. Kay Hudson says:

    Heather, I loved the first two books and have them on my shelf (a collector’s item first edition of the first one, with the original “South Pacific” cover). Will there be a paper edition of Never Forget? I can’t find one on Amazon

    My late husband was nearing the end of the road with dementia on 9/11, and I was pretty numb. Every time he saw the film on the news it was brand new to him. I don’t think he ever did understand.

  5. Heather, you had me at “souls.” I had heard tell this story had some “spiritual” twists, but I had no idea how intriguing they were. In other words, I adore the premise and can’t wait to read it!

    Heather and Catherine, thank you for a wonderful way to start my Friday.

    • Thanks, Colette. Always good chat with you! I’m glad you’re excited about the premise. We anticipate some controversy, yet feel that anyone who reads NEVER FORGET will see the healing aspect in this story. And, as you might expect from me, there is even a bit of humor to look forward to. Thanks for all your support. Hope your writing is going well and you are behaving yourself 🙂 Hugs.

  6. So sorry to hear about your husband, Kay. That would make 9/11 an ESPECIALLY difficult time for you. (But I’m sending a hug, because I sooo understand what double whammy means. I lost my sister unexpectedly a month before 9/11.)

    Thank you for loving the original “South Pacific” cover, as I do. And thanks for being such a staunch supporter that you keep buying and reading, even though I keep changing covers! I think the new ones are here to stay. And YES, NEVER FORGET is being sent off to the printers TODAY! So they should be ready soon. Thanks again for all your support. I hope your writing is going well.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Prisakiss says:

    Heather, I love your story idea and can’t wait to “meet” your characters. Never Forget is definitely making its way to my TBR pile!!!

    Thanks so much for all you do to bring awareness to our troops! I’m so proud of you and feel blessed to call you my friend! 🙂

  8. Awww, Pris, thank you for your kind words. And thanks for all YOU do for our chapter, the other Firebirds, and all the students you nurture and promote in your day job. I’m proud to call you my Soul Sister. I do hope you’ll enjoy NEVER FORGET and hope your writing is going well. Hugs to you. Write ON!

  9. Love this story idea, especially the part about including 9/11 metal and souls.

    • I actually sat on it for quite a while, Pamela. A lot of prayer actually went into the decision to include them. And then when I realized I COULD take them from victim to victor, I was “All In.” Thanks for stopping by. Hope your writing is going well.

  10. Catherine and Heather, what a great post! And Heather, this premise is so captivating. I can see this on film. Your first two book are awesome and I’m sure this one is as well. Can’t wait. And those new covers along with this one…sigh.

  11. Thanks, Kathleen. Glad you’re enjoying the series – and the covers. I love my first two books, but this one is just somehow extra special. Hope you enjoy it – as much as I enjoyed The Duke’s Wicked Kiss! Write on!

  12. Heather, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love the premise of NEVER FORGET. I can feel in my bones how special this book is going to be!

    And your comment regarding the “fruit salad” being accurate for your hero, Adam! Wow, wow, wow … because your cover guy has a whole chest full of it!

    Congratulations on this newest release!

  13. Sheri, it is always so good to hear from you. Thanks for loving the premise. I, too, feel it’s a special book because it gives the fictional victims A VOICE. Thanks also for appreciating the correct “fruit salad.” That would be my husband, “Lieutenant Integrity’s” role here. He meticulously researched the right ribbons in the right order for 27-30 year old Naval officers and this Marine gunnery sergeant. I hope you enjoy NEVER FORGET, and I SO appreciate your support. Big hugs!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Heather! I know this book will be as fab as your last.

  15. I’m Mrs. Anonymous up top, Heather. Lol.forgot to enter my name. Congrats again.

  16. Hi, Diana! You are SOOO not anonymous 🙂 ALWAYS good to hear from you. I hope your writing is going well. Missed you in San Antonio. Hope to see you in NYC or possibly in your neck of the woods before then. Write On, Diana!

  17. Sharon Wray says:

    What a great interview, Heather. I cannot wait to read this book!!!!
    This sounds like an incredible book with such a marvelous premise. And I love the story of your covers. They’re amazing. And I have to admit I like them better than the earlier ones (although I really enjoyed those books too.) but there is something really special about this cover.
    Divine intervention, maybe? 🙂

  18. Hi, Sharon. Yes, LOTS of Diving Intervention in this whole writing journey! It’s unreal. I ask. I receive. To have found Chris Bergeron to help me write the USMC details in the book was awesome, but to have him double as a photographer was unbelievable! And then there’s the part about the amazing Teresa Medeiros taking me under her wing – THANKS TO an introduction by my Firebird and Soul Sister, Jean Willett – when i needed a new publisher. I wasn’t really sure if NF was going to be ready to launch for 9/11 week, but I just kept saying, “Thank you for guiding me to publish NEVER FORGET on the right day in the right way.” And…wow…it’s done. Keep the faith, Sharon! You are SOOOO CLOSE! And I can’t WAIT to read your exciting books! Write On!!! Hugs.

  19. Heather, I just have to comment again, as I’m now partway through NEVER FORGET. I’m loving it.

    And now I realize “Never Forget” is part of the USS New York’s motto and it’s referencing 9/11. I also saw your Facebook post and discovered the USS Somerset has the rally “Let’s Roll!”

    After thinking Never Forget was just a title linked to the other two books in the series (Forgive and Forget, Forget Me Not) it was so special to discover the title of NEVER FORGET links not only to the series, but to the motto of the US ship in the story and to 9/11, which features so prominently in the plot. It all adds to the book’s allure and showcases how unique and special it is. The cover perfectly depicts the heart of the book. I’ll continue reading NEVER FORGET tomorrow, which is the 9/11 anniversary. How perfect.

    • Thanks for getting it, Sheri, and for getting USS Somerset’s “Let’s Roll.” When she was visiting Mayport on her way to commissioning in Philadelphia (closest port to Somerset County PA where flight 92 went down.) I burst into tears when I saw “Let’s Roll – 93” on her hangar door.

      As to “Never Forget,” yes it is the USS New York’s motto. When my former publisher told me we needed to have all four books with a catchy word linking them, I told her could do whatever she wanted with the titles of 1,2,and 4, as long as #3 could be NEVER FORGET. So all the titles were built around this one – because it is SO IMPORTANT.

      Thanks so much for letting me know you are enjoying NF. And yes, pretty poignant to be reading it during this sacred, solemn week of 9/11. Thanks also for all your support, Sheri. Sending you a big hug and cyber prayers for all the right things happening in your career SOON. Can’t wait to read your books!

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