This article was originally written for Talk Nerdy With Us.
Ashlyn Hope is a sports romance author, whose debut novel was published in November 2017. Going Pro: Touchdown tells the story of Pro, a massage therapist who, at first, seems unlucky in work and in love. Soon after she gets her new business up and running, she–quite literally–runs into David, a massively sized, massively hot professional football player.
Ashlyn took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me about what her life was like before her book was published, her writing routine, Going Pro: Touchdown‘s sequel and a lot more. Keep reading to see our entire conversation.
What was your life like, pre-book?
Pre-book life was pretty much like post-book life, at least so far. Except then, my boyfriend didn’t tell everyone that I’m a writer. I guess I seemed far more boring in my pre-book life, judging by how interested our friends and family are in what I’m doing now.
What do you typically do to get yourself into writing mode? Do you need silence or do you need background sounds? Do you have a specific place you write or does it vary?
I have my dedicated seat at the dining room table set up as my writing station. I hunker down there first thing in the morning when I’m off of work, and on weekdays, I try to do at least one chapter before I go to bed. When I get down to business, I’m for silence or white noise. Otherwise, I get too distracted. But I don’t really need to do anything to get into the zone — when I have ideas, I have to do things to get myself to stop writing so that I don’t stay up too late or get nothing else done.
Tell me the story behind the story. How did Going Pro: Touchdown come to be? What was the inspiration behind writing it?
I’ve had a journal of ideas going for some time now. And then I read a sports romance. It got me thinking that one of my ideas would be a good fit for a sports romance, and then I read another and knew it was! Of course, through the writing and revision process, Pro’s story ended up being almost nothing like my original notes, but I’m happy I found a home for a character I liked as much as I liked her. Also, so many of the sports romance books I ended up reading were “bad boy” romances. I found myself thinking that I’d love to see a nice guy for once, so when I started writing, I was determined to include one.
How much research did you end up doing before you started writing?
Not enough! I found that I kept having to keep stopping what I was doing to look something up or remind myself of a detail from earlier in the book. For book two, I learned my lesson and did a more detailed outline and a few hours of homework before getting down to business.
Was sports romance always your genre preference? Did you ever see yourself writing any other genre/would you consider something else in the future?
I never pictured myself writing a sports romance. I’ve written many short stories and pictured myself as a literary fiction kind of girl — and then I read a sports romance! It was so much fun to read, I had to read another. And then I decided to give it a whirl myself and loved it! I’ve never had the ideas flow so freely before. I definitely see myself trying other genres, especially science fiction. I’ve banked a lot of ideas over the years, and I think now is the time to start working those out.
Is there anything you would do differently with Going Pro, whether it’s something in the writing process, with the publishing, how it’s been advertised, etc.?
Oh yes! More notes, research, and outlining up front. Having to drop everything to start Googling really messes with my flow. I will for sure get more eyes on it before it goes live — typos and accidentally running with an old version is super embarrassing! As for publishing and marketing, the book is published / mainly marketed by my friend’s publishing company, and this is his first foray too. He’s been learning a lot. Book two is going to be a whole different ball game!
You’re working on a sequel! What can readers expect from the second part of Pro and David’s story?
I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say readers will get to learn more about David’s past, learn more about who Pro is, and be treated to some more steamy scenes. As for the story itself, Pro is wrestling with some major drama in her professional life, and it’s getting close to the start of David’s final season. Pro is stressed out with work, and she feels like she’s getting mixed signals: one day David is giving her gifts and sending sweet texts, and the next he’s canceling on her and telling her he’s “too busy.” Are insecurities creeping in or is he trying to let her down easy? Is everything good in her life going to fall apart or will Pro (and her relationship with David) come out stronger than ever?
How has publishing your first book changed your process of writing the second one, if it has at all?
It didn’t really change my process, but it gave me one. I’ve gotten discipline and a routine now. And I’m moving through my writing so much more quickly because of it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
One: write. That book isn’t going to get published if you never write it. Two: routine. The idea of a daily writing practice that’s routine helps you stick with it, and really lets you have a clear mind for letting the ideas flow.
Last question: we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us so what is something that you nerd out over?
Despite writing football romance, I’m actually obsessed with baseball stadiums and baseball history. I’ve watched games in over 30 major league ballparks — most of which aren’t around anymore. My favorite is Fenway Park, hands down! I love the few remaining older parks with history, but I also enjoy the newer parks, like Detroit, with lots of amenities and fun things to do because it’s easier to make a whole day of it!