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All About: The Heist by Ash Gray

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The Heist

by Ash Gray

Released: Dec 29, 2022

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Why this book and why now?

This is a long answer (and kind of ties into why I also wrote Knights of Passion). Basically, I lost my job during COVID, and with very little money to survive, I started eating instant ramen everyday . . . I love ramen, so it wasn’t a terrible thing (and, yes, I don’t drink the broth, so I don’t consume a huge amount of heart-destorying salt aaaand yes, I get protein and fiber elsewhere — boiled eggs, apples, milk, and peanut butter).

In fact, it’s actually because of my Knights of Passion book sales that I was able to buy the ramen and not starve to death when my EBT ran out last Christmas, so The Pussycat Chronicles is also a sort of nod to my fans. (Hi, fans!) Yes, I’m on welfare. That tells you how much COVID wrecked me.

Eating ramen at the beach all the time (yeah, that’s what I do on the weekend now) kind of made me daydream about two lovers whose fondest memory was eating ramen together . . . So ramen is a theme throughout the entire series. Or it will be. I am still currently writing the second book. But Koharu and Sakura bond over eating ramen together in the first book and it becomes their “thing.”

As for the neko catgirl thing, I have no idea where that came from. I just randomly decided it would be fun to write a cyberpunk story about a neko catgirl and her harem of butch cyborgs. And here we are.

It has been fun to write. Not nearly as fun as Knights of Passion, but fun.

What is a significant way your book has changed since either the first draft or the way you thought it would turn out when you first had the inspiration?

When I first started writing The Heist, there was no reincarnation story. Koharu and Sakura were not reincarnated lovers doomed to repeat themselves. They were just a couple who met during a heist and fell in love. It was the creation of Ren (Koharu’s best friend) that changed the story. Ren and Koharu were pissed at each other — that’s the way I imagined it — and I needed a reason for their fight beyond the heist falling apart years ago. I wanted the story to be more interesting than that (because if I’m not having fun writing it, you’re not having fun reading it).

Sakura was also a lot older and more mature in the first draft, and Koharu would try to get her to loosen up. But then Ren took the role of the uptight one, and it didn’t make sense (Ren changed everything, lmao) to have two wet blankets.

Also, I started thinking about catgirls in anime and how they are usually very young and silly and oblivious to their . . . sexual charms . . . and I started writing Sakura in that way, and it made more sense for the story. Especially since I had imagined Koharu to be older and more experienced anyway.

Finally, catgirls having harems of suitors or being part of a harem for some thirsty dude is a common theme in anime. I just borrowed that and made it gay.

Would you and your main character(s) get along?

No, I’d never get along with Koharu. Ko is short tempered, emotional, sensitive, impulsive, irresponsible (always borrowing money from Ren), in her late thirties but SO immature . . . She is an exhausting person (but entertaining, hopefully), and this becomes obvious in the second book. If it wasn’t for her friends, she would have been dead after Chapter 1 of Book 2 because she would have run after the bad guys without a plan or use of her cybernetic arm.

Now, I am a VERY laid back and patient person, but even I would pull a Kaida and tell Koharu to sit down and shut the heck up.
As for Sakura, she is ditzy and beautiful and often walks around obliviously in her underwear. I would find her equally annoying in real life. Thankfully, this is fiction.

Do your character names have special significance or meaning?

For Koharu and Sakura, no. I chose some Japanese names that I liked that didn’t sound too similar.

I regret Kaida’s name because it sounds similar to Koharu, but Kaida’s name actually has a meaning — “little dragon” — which is a nod to her tattoo and her dragon-ish personality (she is very protective).

Miyu just needed a small, cute name because Miyu is small and cute (but still very butch).

What TV show would your main character(s) most likely binge watch and why?

I think Koharu would love Futurama. When I think about it, she is like Fry (lazy, sensitive, irresponsible guy), except she’s in shape and not as stupid.

Sakura would binge something cutesy like My Little Pony or Steven Universe (I don’t watch either).

What 3 things would your main character want with them if they got stranded away from civilization, and why?

Koharu would want a pizza, a beer, and e-cigarettes so she could at least die with her vices.

Sakura would want a teddy bear (for company), magazines, and a computer to mess around with in her last days (she’s a hacker).

What song does your character put on to start your book launch party?

Hmm. Koharu and Sakura would play something they could dance to. Probably some old school pop like N’Sync or Britney Spears. Yes, that would be in character for both, lol.

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