Welcome to my book site. This page contains a little about me and my writing, and a form to contact me. There is also a blog, accessible through the menu above, in which I post occasional thoughts on writing, reviews of books, sometimes some of my own writing, and possibly some author interviews in the future.
The menu also contains links to descriptions of my books, sorted by genre, and allows you to buy ebook editions directly from me, using PayPal for security.
Enjoy your visit!
Some info & press pack and a contact form
Hugh Ashton was born in Ramsgate, Kent, and after moving with his family to Norton-on-Tees, and then to Stafford, graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in philosophy (which would have been better than a lower second if he hadn’t spent so much time playing bass guitar). Following graduation, he spent some time supporting confused computer users in the NHS and other organisations before moving to Japan to write manuals for audio makers there.
He spent 28 years in that country, during which time he met and married his wife Yoshiko, lived through one of the most severe disasters to hit Japan (the March 11 2011 earthquake and tsunami with the ensuring Fukushima meltdowns), worked in international finance houses and as a business and technical journalist, contributed a number of articles to inflight magazines, and started his fiction writing career, eventually being published by Inknbeans Press of California.
In 2016, family reasons prompted a return to the UK, where he now lives with Yoshiko in the cathedral city of Lichfield. The death of the founder of Inknbeans Press in December 2017 forced him to re-publish his books, along with those of a few others, under his own imprint, j-views Publishing, where he also offers editorial and design services to other writers.
His first published novel, Beneath Gray Skies, tells of an alternative history in which the American Civil War never happened, with this world being expanded in Red Wheels Turning, with both books featuring Brian Finch-Malloy, described by one reviewer as being a “1920s James Bond”, and by another as being in the same mould as similar to Bulldog Drummond. In between these novels, At the Sharpe End was written and published, being a thriller set in Tokyo against the backdrop of the 2008 bank crash, in which Ashton drew on his experiences working in the IT side of the financial services sector in Japan.
While these were being published, Ashton had created a series of short vignettes about the older generation in Japan. Inknbeans Press of California expressed an interest in publishing these, and the novels that had already been published were eventually moved to the Inknbeans imprint. However, before Tales of Old Japanese was published, the game of Sherlock Holmes was afoot.
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The impetus for the Sherlock Holmes stories for which Ashton is best known as a writer came from a game of Cluedo (US Clue) played with a friend and his daughters. During the game, someone mentioned that “we all know about Sherlock Holmes’ smarter older brother, but what about his smarter younger sister?”
Accordingly, Ashton wrote “The Odessa Business” (in a couple of days) and self-published it on Smashwords, where it received excellent reviews. This was quickly followed by “The Missing Matchbox”, which tells the story of Isadora Persano and the remarkable worm, said to be unknown to science. Noticing these, the editors at Inknbeans Press offered to publish these stories if another was added. With the “Adventure of the Cormorant”, these stories became Tales from the Deed Box of John H. Watson M.D. , which met with immediate success.
The next few years saw a flood of original Sherlock Holmes stories, written and produced very much in the style of the originals, even down to mimicking 19th century typographic practices. These have been received very favourably by the Sherlockian community, and they have described as being very close to the originals by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Many of these stories have been based on the “Untold” stories – those mentioned briefly by Doctor Watson in his accounts of Sherlock Holmes’ cases – and while retaining the authentic flavour of Doyle’s adventures, add to the characterisation of the protagonists. One of the world’s leading experts on the Untold tales (the late Philip K. Jones) wrote:
These stories are deceptive. They look like familiar Canonical tales and yet they are more personal and, in some ways, more satisfying. The reader is taken more into the lives of Holmes and Watson than in the published tales. Both men seem more real and more interesting as people than they do in the Canonical tales. Holmes and Watson bicker and argue and are alive and human. The surrounding world also seems more `up close and personal’ than that presented in the Canon. Events are also not so clean-cut and distinct in these mysteries. This is a human world and the detectives are also people.
Ashton has also contributed to the MX Collections of Sherlock Holmes adventures, the proceeds of which help support the school at Stepping Stones, housed in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former home at Undershaw.
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Following the titles listed above, Ashton has also ventured into other fields: thrillers (one with a hint of the paranormal, and a Father Brown pastiche with M. Lowe); a genre which may best be described as “historical science fiction”; and even some children’s books – the Sherlock Ferret series, with delightful illustrations by Andy Boerger, a ferret-loving American currently resident in Tokyo. Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though he has made his name through Sherlock Holmes, fresh fields and pastures new constantly beckon.
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Historical Science Fiction
- Hugh Ashton has several certificates in the Urasenke school of tea ceremony and in iaidō (sword drawing)
- He once played Khlestakov in a school production of The Government Inspector. His only dramatic appearance since then has been as an extra in a BBC production of a Dick Francis novel
- His maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Watson – giving him a strong connection to the Sherlock Holmes adventures
- He has met three Prime Ministers of Japan (though not all at the time that they held office as PM) and written letters for two more
- He is (used to be) a good shot with a .22″ rifle, and held a County Coach certification, allowing him to supervise a range and to teach others
- He used to own two NeXT computers, one of which had previously been owned by analysts at Fannie Mae
- He is listed as the producer of a few post-punk singles by Ersatz, the Dogma Cats and Wallpaper Wallpaper
- He has a weakness for playing instruments that can play “between the notes” such as slide and resonator guitars, fretless basses, and the theremin. He also plays with sound and synthesisers
- He worked to help bring the first commercial dial-up Internet service to Japan (TWICS). moving the servers and software from VMS to HP-UX
- Though he has walked on the Great Wall of China, seen the sun rise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and stood in the innermost chamber of the Great Pyramid, he has never been to Spain or Greece
- He is currently in the middle of a postgraduate (Master’s) course with the Open University, concentrating on forensic psychology
Please feel free to contact Hugh Ashton, ask questions, pass on praise and criticism, book him for interviews, book signings, events, etc.
Any of these pictures (click for a full-sized image) may be used without attribution, other than the “Victorian” photo, taken on board the Japanese battleship Mikasa, which should be credited to Irwin Wong.