“I’ve been long enamored with underserved women’s voices. My technique to hitch a heroine to history dovetails with a fact that (unfortunately) didn’t surprise me: women’s stories make up only a fraction of narratives set in the American West.”
Multi award-winning author Ashley E. Sweeney released her third novel, Hardland, in Fall ’22. Her first two novels, Eliza Waite and Answer Creek, have won a total of 11 awards, including the Nancy Pearl Book Award and New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Sweeney, a native New Yorker and graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, spends winters in Tucson and summers in the Pacific Northwest.
This desk, this view. As I’ve said countless times before, there is nowhere else that grounds me as much as being at my small desk overlooking Skagit Bay in Northwest Washington. Not that I don’t relish time at the ocean at Montauk, N.Y, cruising the Salish Sea, hiking the Sonoran Desert, traveling (remember traveling?), gardening, quilting, entertaining—all of it, and more—but at my desk, my shoulders relax, my breathing evens out, and I feel wholly and unequivocally at home.
You’d be right to assume that the writing life is solitary, but it’s not lonely. Long days at my desk are filled with other worlds and other lives—with characters that are as real as you or me (to me, at least!)
As I write characters’ stories, I ask universal questions:
- Are my characters good stewards of the earth and their time on it? Of their children? Their relationships? Of their talents and gifts?
- What can my characters do to bridge differences between diametrically opposed factions? Heal wounds? Foster unity?
- How can my characters affect change in the world they live in? What will it cost them?
Of course, I ask myself the same questions as I write.
My goal in all of this, the writing life? To harness universal themes that bind us all, more alike than different in the ways that matter most: a sense of belonging, justice, acceptance, redemption, peace, forgiveness, and love.
—Ashley E. Sweeney
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Represented by Krista Soukup of Blue Cottage Agency