Kelly Hashway grew up reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Hashway went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn’t writing, Hashway works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as for her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling, and volunteering with the PTO. Hashway currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two pets. For more info, visit her website.
Would you mind sharing an embarrassing moment?
When I was in middle school I went to the dentist with my mother and sister. My mom was getting her teeth cleaned and I had to use the bathroom, so I told my sister I was going down the hall to the restroom. After a few minutes my sister came looking for me. I heard her call my name and yelled back to her. Then she yelled, “That’s the men’s room!” and ran back into the dentist’s office, leaving me there by myself. I’m very careful to read the signs on the restroom doors before entering now.
What great idea did you come up with, but never followed through on?
I’ve always wanted to invent the rear horn for people who ride on your bumper. Instead of just a horn sound it would be obnoxious so people wanted to back away from you.
What odd habit or quirk do you have?
Oh, let’s see… I have talented feet that can pick up things and even hitchhike. (Don’t ask.) I can recite the alphabet faster backwards than forwards. I have an aversion to the number three but can’t for the life of me figure out why. I love walking through cemeteries.
Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
St. Thomas. I love the U.S. Virgin Islands. I’ve been to St. Thomas twice, and while I love Aruba more, St. Thomas is the prettiest place I’ve ever been. The mountains and Caribbean Sea are just breathtaking.
What celebrity—past or present—would you trust the least with a spare key to your house?
Adam Sandler. You know he’s going to do some weird things to your stuff.
Would you ever consider living with a tribe deep in the Amazon?
Not even for a second. I’m terrified of snakes, and the Amazon has way too many!
What do you get most enthusiastic about?
Seeing my daughter reading. She’s only seven, but she loves novels. She stays up late, reading in bed and I could just stare at her reading. I love to see kids appreciate books for the amazing adventures they are.
If you went to a psychiatrist, what would he/she say you suffer from?
I’m laughing so hard at this question because I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with me. Talking about all the voices in my head (my characters’) would be enough to have me committed BEFORE I even got to mention I’m a writer.
What makes you uncomfortable?
Driving to places I’ve never been before. I hate driving and the thought of getting lost somewhere unfamiliar always makes me uncomfortable.
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
If I get stuck in a particular place in my manuscript, I jump ahead. I find writing the ending will give me a clear point to get to so I can go back to where I was stuck and work my way to that ending. That or I’ll jump ahead to the climax, because the excitement of that part of the book usually gets my creativity going again.
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin a book?
Yes, sometimes too well, and that drives me to fast draft at insane paces because I can’t wait to get everything written down.
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
I really think I was born to be a writer. I can remember writing in elementary school. It’s just part of who I am.
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
Unfortunately, I get my best ideas in the worst places: the shower, the car (while driving), and even while I’m running. I had to buy a digital voice recorder so I don’t forget the ideas that come to me when I can’t write them down.
What has been your greatest sacrifice that has enabled you to become the author you are today?
At first, giving up a steady paycheck was hard. I’m a full-time writer and that’s tough sometimes. But being home means I get to attend my daughter’s school functions, help out with the PTO, and be class mom, and that’s really important to me. So I have to say my sacrifice turned out to be a really good thing in the end.
What words of inspiration were given to you that you would like to pass along to others?
Don’t be married to your words and be open to constructive criticism. Even the best writers can improve their craft.
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
I have a designated time each day to write, and that’s when my husband is at work and my daughter is at school. That gives me five and a half hours of uninterrupted writing time, so that I can be with my family when they’re home. Now, I do have to sometimes steal extra time in the evenings to meet deadlines, but I try to stick to a balanced schedule.
What is your typical day like?
I’m a morning person, so I wake up at six every day. Depending on the day, I’ll either shower immediately or go for a run first. Then it’s breakfast with my family, take my daughter to school, come home and write, pick my daughter up at 3:15, play with her until I have to cook dinner, spend time with my family until the evening, and then depending on deadlines, I’ll either watch TV until bed or write.
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
I use the emotions from my personal experiences all the time, but I try not to replicate actual events from my life. I do have one character who is a lot like me. We share a birthday and we are both very accident-prone.
Do you have family members who like to write too?
There are a lot of avid readers in my family, but aside from me, my daughter is the only other writer. She’s seven and she likes to write and illustrate her own stories.
What was your childhood like? Did your upbringing influence the way you write today?
I consider myself very fortunate because I had a great childhood. My parents were and still are extremely supportive and loving. I remember going to the bookstore numerous times a month and getting to pick out a new book to read. My parents definitely nurtured my love of books, and I’m sure that had a lot to do with my love of writing as well. I don’t try to replicate my upbringing in my own writing, but that’s mostly because I like to put my characters in environments that are more open to conflict both externally and internally.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If so, in what ways?
I think it definitely has. I started out writing middle grade and was probably more plot-driven. Over the years, I’ve branched out to picture books, young adult, and new adult, and I’d say my books are more character-based now. I think I’ve tapped into my emotions more and really let those take the lead in my books.
When do you feel the most energized?
I’m definitely a morning person. I come home from dropping my daughter off at school and I’m ready to get work done. It might have something to do with the coffee I drink when I wake up.
Does your writing reflect your personality?
I think it does. I’ve been told I look very quiet and sweet since I’m tiny, but once you get to know me, you find out I’m very quirky and little bit dark. That quirky/dark side seems to really show in my characters and plots.