A writer like you: Ashley I. Hansen

A writer like you: Ashley I. Hansen

Meet Ashley I. Hansen, an author, book nerd, and chocolate lover.

She is the author of the YA novel Thaw. She is currently working on a middle-grade novel that involves magic, tricky fairies, and gnomes with names that don’t fit their personalities. One of her favorite books is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. When she isn’t writing you can usually find her exploring the mountains, curled up with a good book, or eating chocolate.

You’ll love her view of writing as a battle over procrastination, her business-smart friendship with the librarians, and her 15-minutes-a-day writing trick.

So let’s dive into the interview, shall we?

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It’s silly but I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until about five years ago when the only book I wanted to read was the one I was imagining up in my head. I say that’s silly because I’ve always been a storyteller. When I was little, I would tell fantastic tall tales that I thought were totally believable. I’ve also written stories down for a long time. I have these hilarious stories I wrote when I was 11 about teachers living at school. I remember thinking that they were the best stories ever written and that’s why I decided to keep them. Haha!  I did want to be a writer back when I was 11 but the older I got the more I convinced myself it wasn’t plausible. I’m glad I unconvinced myself of that notion because writing and being an author is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Why are reading and writing so important to you?

Oh, my goodness where do I even begin. First, I have to admit that I didn’t always love reading…. mostly because I was bad at it when I was younger. I also have to admit that I started reading more because I wanted to be like my older sister who was CONSTANTLY reading. Little does she know she helped my reading skills a lot! Literacy is an amazing miracle and blessing that many people take for granted. If we were to travel back three hundred years many of us wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn to read or write.  Books have shaped the way I view the world. I feel like reading stories even if those stories are fiction has made me see the world through other people’s eyes.

Writing is important to me because it’s a huge stress reliever in my life. When I’ve had an awful day, writing brings me joy.  I feel like I’ve been given this incredible gift of imagination and I don’t want to waste it. It’s so rewarding when someone who has read my book will tell me how a certain part made them laugh or when they feel like they connected with a character.

What have you learned from your mistakes along the way?

One of the mistakes I made when I first started writing was, I put adverbs after nearly every sentence of dialogue I had. For example, my dialogue would read:

“Ew, you kissed a frog?” She asked hurriedly.

“It was a dare.” He replied frantically.

“Yeah if he didn’t, he would have been a chicken.” His friend added helpfully.

Let’s just say there was a LOT of editing that happened after that first draft.  I’ve also learned a lot about the self-publishing world and marketing. There are so many options for writers who want to self-publish it’s crazy! I think one mistake I made was I was afraid to promote my book. I didn’t want to come off as cocky, but when you are a self-published author you NEED to promote yourself. I’ve learned that librarians are your best friend. If you ask, they are usually more then willing to help you set up a book signing or give away signed copies of bookmarks to patrons of the library. If you want to self-publish be kind to the librarians and they will help you out!

What are your tips for staying motivated?

The best advice I can give on staying motivated is to set aside time each day to write. Crazy right? But it really works! This is how I and many others who do NANOWRIMO write 50,000 words in a month. You may have a million things to do but if you want to finish writing a book you have to make the time for it. Make a contingency plan…like you’re going to battle against your own procrastination. For me I made a goal that seemed so easy but, in the end, it helped me stay motivated. I told myself I had to write at least fifteen minutes a day, five days a week. That’s it. Only fifteen minutes. I found that once I started to get into the writing that fifteen minutes would turn into an hour and BAM by the time, I was done writing for the night I had another chapter or two added to my book.

What are you currently working on, and what makes you excited about it?

I’m currently working on a middle-grade fantasy novel set in the modern day. I love this story. It was inspired by one of my best friends growing up. It’s been really fun to imagine up all sorts of magical creatures. There are hilarious gnomes in the story. Any scene I get to write with them in it usually makes me laugh. It’s been a refreshing novel to write.

What is your ultimate writer dream? 

My ultimate writer dream is to one day have writing be my only job. I love writing and I would love to be able to put more time into it. I feel like it is what I am supposed to do with my life and when you find something you truly love you should hold onto it.

Where can we connect with you?

You can find me on my website, Instagram (@ashleyihansen), or Facebook.

Thanks, Ashley.

To free the writer this week, let’s try Ashley’s 15-minutes-a-day rule. Let me know how it goes in the comments below.

And keep freeing that writer,

Rachel

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