Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Monthly Member Spotlight: Ashlyn Macnamara

by | May 6, 2016 | 7 comments

AshlynHHRWspotlightPlease help me welcome multi-published member, Ashlyn Macnamara, into the spotlight this month!

Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

I write Regency romance with a dash of wit and a hint of wicked. Starting next September, though, my publisher will release the first in a series that’s a departure for me—fantasy romance. But it’s fantasy that has a historical feel to it—only with a little magic thrown into the mix.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Ashlyn Macnamara

Only about fifteen years ago. Though I’ve always made up stories in my head, I never thought to write them down until I discovered fanfiction. I wrote that for a while for fun, before I realized I should possibly try writing my own characters. I have often said I consider writing my mid-life crisis, but it’s safer than hang-gliding.

What drew you to write in the historical romance genre?

I started reading romance in the 80s, so historical was where it was at. Since historical has always been my top reading choice in romance, I think it’s natural that I leaned toward writing in that genre. I also love the escape element. I want to lose myself in another world.

Are there specific books or authors who have influenced you as a writer?

Stephen King’s On Writing is probably the most inspiring book I’ve ever read. I also have to say I like his attitude. He starts out saying that most writing books are BS. As someone who, shall we say, tends to chafe under the idea of rules governing a creative process, that opening immediately got me on board.

Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a panster, or somewhere in the middle?

*points to Stephen King* I think one of the reasons On Writing resonated with me so much was because I discovered that he and I share a process. We both start out with characters, toss them into a situation, and say, “OK, now work yourselves out of it.” That would pretty much make me a pantser, but I’ve discovered that one of the reasons I keep writing is to find out what happens next. If I work it all out beforehand, I lose interest in writing the book.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?

As I mentioned, I started out writing fanfiction. While I enjoyed playing in someone else’s sandbox, after a while, I found myself writing about more and more minor characters, so I could do what I wanted with them. At that point, I realized that I might as well make up stories using my own characters. So I wrote a medieval romance. It was awful, but I didn’t know any better, so I queried it. And got rejected. A lot. I’m thankful self-publishing wasn’t such a thing in 2009 or so because I might have put that story out there and been embarrassed by it once I learned better.

Then I thought I probably should join the RWA®, where began taking workshops and looking for critique. Four more full manuscripts, and several abandoned stories later, I entered the Golden Heart®, finaled on my first try, and signed with an agent who sold that story. It became my debut A Most Scandalous Proposal in 2013.

Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you. 

To Lure a Proper Lady came out March 29. It’s the first in a new Regency series called Duke-Defying Daughters about the progeny of a hypochondriac duke who wants to make certain his daughters make proper society matches before he turns up his toes. Naturally, being duke’s daughters, the women have ideas of their own.

In the first story, the oldest daughter suspects there may be something more than simple dramatics to her father’s bouts of illness, so she hires a Bow Street Runner to investigate. Will she marry her father’s choice—her annoying second cousin and heir presumptive to the dukedom or the rogue who presses all her buttons? Hmmm, decisions, decisions…

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Back when I was writing fanfiction, a good friend would beta read for me. She used to tell me, “This is good. Now make it worse.” I think that is an excellent reminder that we’re not going to tell a good story by being too nice to our characters. We have to put them through hell.

Thanks for stepping into the spotlight this month, Ashlyn! To find out more about Ashlyn, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Unpublished or published members, would you like to be featured in the member spotlight? Just drop me a line at christy@christycarlyle.com!


  1. Barbara Bettis

    Great interview, ladies! Ashlyn I really enjoyed learning your writing process. I love your books! I haven’t read this latest one (sorry), but once classes are over and I can relax, it’s first on my list. Looking forward to your next one!

    • Ashlyn Macnamara

      Thanks, Barb! I hope you enjoy it. I had fun writing it.

  2. Jennifer Bray-Weber

    Wonderful interview, ladies!
    Ashlyn, based on this spotlight, you and I share a lot in common—from chafing under rules to pantsing and more. Congrats on your latest release! It sounds awesome!

  3. Ashley York

    “A dash of wit and hint of wicked” that’s a great description of your writing, Ashlyn. Keep ’em coming 🙂

  4. Becky Lower

    Hi Ashlyn, I too loved Stephen King’s book On Writing. I devoured it and the next time I sat down at the computer I could hear him in my head saying “That’s a passive sentence, Becky. You can do better.” It was kind of eerie, since it was 4 AM, but hey, it was Stephen King, after all. Nice interview.

  5. Cynthia Young

    Congratulations on your latest release, Ashlyn. The writing advice you received is invaluable.



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