Unveiling the Art of Romantic Suspense: Ashley Hawthorne

Meet Ashley Hawthorne, a passionate writer whose love for romance novels and fascination with true crime led her to the captivating genre of romantic suspense. Through her personal journey, Ashley has navigated challenges such as balancing writing with motherhood, overcoming self-doubt, and drawing from her own experiences to craft compelling narratives of resilience and forgiveness. In this interview, Ashley shares insights into her writing process, the themes that shape her stories, and the rewarding aspects of connecting with readers. Join us as we delve into her world of gripping suspense, intricate love stories, and the power of storytelling.

Can you share a bit about your personal journey and how it led you to become a writer of romantic suspense novels?

Romance has always been my favorite book genre, so it was the obvious choice for me when I was considering what kind of book I wanted to write. I don’t think there was ever a time I wanted to write in a different genre. 

It does have a lot of fun sub genres, though, and picking which area I wanted to write in was a little more difficult. True crime stories are very interesting to me and I found the romantic suspense genre specifically to be a great way to combine the two things into one story. 

I could have gone with paranormal romance, since I also really love a good ghost story, but I find that romantic suspense lets me explore characters with moral complexity in a way that I find really satisfying! 

What were some of the challenges or struggles you faced while pursuing your passion for writing, and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenges were finding time to write as a mom two kids, which I solved by sleeping a lot less than I really should have, and just overcoming my own self doubt, which was a lot more complicated. 

I was lucky enough to find a great group of supportive writer friends that helped me with all the technical and career aspects of writing, as well as providing emotional support when I struggle with feeling worthy. 

In your experience, what lessons have you learned about resilience and perseverance as a writer and an individual?

I have learned that you really need almost delusional levels of self confidence to keep putting yourself out there despite the constant rejections you face. You have to believe in yourself enough to keep going and some days that is the hardest part of being a writer. 

Finding people to cheer you on and support you also matters a lot because almost no one can keep up that level of self confidence without people to lean on during those really bad days. 

If I had to pick one characteristic of successful writers, it would be resilience. It’s the biggest thing you need! 

How has your background and experiences influenced the themes and characters in your books, particularly regarding overcoming difficult circumstances?

I had a difficult childhood at times growing up and my characters frequently reflect that in various ways. One of the themes that often shows up in my books is overcoming trauma and learning to forgive yourself or others for what was said and done in the past. 

I always want my characters to show resilience, but also know when it’s okay to lean on others, when to give grace, when to be okay with their own weaknesses. I want them to be messy and imperfect and heal in nonlinear ways…and still know they deserve to love and be loved in return. 

Can you describe a moment or a turning point in your life that significantly impacted your writing style or approach to storytelling?

That’s an excellent question and a hard one to answer. I pull from so many moments in my life that impact my stories, but I think the biggest one that impacted my approach to writing, my actual writing process, was when I sat down and outlined my entire first book in a few hours. 

I had been unsure if I could write a novel length story until that day and it came to me sort of all at once. I knew that was meant to be a book and it changed my life. It also changed the way I write since I am now a devoted outliner who needs structure to create story. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are also dealing with challenging backgrounds or personal struggles?

I have already mentioned the importance of support systems and writer friends (online is fine!) so for this I would say, flexibility! Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods. Try many different things to find what works for you and don’t be afraid to change tactics as you grow. Getting to the finish line is what matters, not the process by which you get there! 

How do you balance the elements of romance and suspense in your novels to create compelling narratives?

I find it easiest to balance these narratives when they are connected in some way. For example, if the love interests are working together to solve a crime or if the love interest is also a possible suspect. That way when you advance one aspect of the plot, it usually also helps advance the other. 

It’s like creating a braid. The elements are separate, but intertwined and overlapping! 

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being a writer, and how do you stay motivated during the creative process?

There’s a certain satisfaction in creating the story itself and seeing it all come together, but for me the best part is in sharing it and seeing others enjoy it. 

I stay motivated in all kinds of ways! It takes a long time to write a book (at least for me) so Inset deadlines for myself, talk with friends who help to keep me hyped about the project, or share snippets on social media so future readers can also get excited with me.

Could you share a glimpse into your upcoming projects or ideas for future books?

I have the Widow’s Point duology coming out in ‘25 and ‘26 that is set in a fictional small town in Oregon. Those are also romantic suspense like my first two books, and they follow a pair of sisters who move to town and find love, but unfortunately also face unexpectedly dangerous people and situations. Some that were already lurking in their new home and some that follow them there! 

On a different note, I’m also working on a historical horror romance set in an isolated lighthouse. That’s a new genre for me and I’m very excited to see where it goes! 

Finally, how do you engage with your readers and community through social media, and what role do your fans play in your writing journey?

I’m active on so many different social media platforms and they all allow me to connect in unique ways. I use them to promote my books that are currently available, give sneak peeks into upcoming books or things I’m currently working on. I also talk about writing, the process of it and my struggles. Writing can be tough and I want to be equally transparent about the highs and the lows. 

Readers are such a big part of the writing journey for me because they are the whole reason I write. Knowing they support me and that they are excited about my books keeps me going! I love sharing and engaging with them! I have social anxiety so I can get pretty nervous about it, but overall it’s a wonderful part of my job!

TikTok and Twitter (X)- @Ink_andashes

by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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