Friday, September 8, 2023

Q&A with Allison Ashley




Allison Ashley is the author of the new novel The Roommate Pact. Her other novels include Would You Rather. She also works as a clinical oncology pharmacist.


Q: Your characters Claire and Graham in The Roommate Pact were secondary characters in your previous novel--why did you decide to give them their own story this time?


A: They wouldn’t have it any other way. I was invested in Mia and Noah, the main characters in Would You Rather, but I’d be lying if I said Claire and Graham didn’t also come to life in that book.


About halfway through, they were inserting themselves into more and more scenes and their chemistry was almost immediate. Well before I finished writing Would You Rather, I knew Claire and Graham would want the chance to tell their own story.


I was also excited to give Mia and Noah a chance to flip roles and be the supportive cast for their friends this time around.


Q: What inspired the plot of The Roommate Pact?


A: Claire and Graham’s career paths were pre-determined from the previous novel, and honestly, when I chose them I didn’t have any grand plan at that point. So I worked with what I’d already started with…which also included Claire and Graham becoming roommates. Since Claire’s a nurse, I was toying with a caretaking element.


Also, I remember talking to my agent about this book idea, and she’d just finished reading Beth O’Leary’s The Flat Share and mentioned how much she loved the little notes they left each other. That led me to the e-mails Graham writes to Claire, which turned out to be my favorite part of this book.


Q: The writer Erin La Rosa said of the book, “The banter is like watching a great Nora Ephron-style romcom unfold...” What do you think of that comparison?


A: Is there any higher compliment?? I’m not even sure how I pulled off the banter in this book because I don’t think of myself as that funny in real life! But Claire and Graham made sarcastic, sassy, and spark-filled conversation easy.


And now that I think about it, their dynamic is very When-Harry-Met-Sally-ish. Not that I’d ever put myself at Nora Ephron caliber – but it’s an honor to spark that feeling all the same! 


Q: How has your work in the oncology field affected what you write about?


A: I think it has affected my writing in a lot of ways. Sometimes it’s in the characters themselves—often one is in the medical field or has a medical condition, and I feel strongly about illustrating the strength and resilience of healthcare workers and people dealing with illnesses.


I’m also often asked how I balance heavy topics with humor in my books, and I think this stems directly from spending the last decade in a career field that can be so heavy and emotionally draining.


I’ve learned that for me, the best method of self-care and preventing burnout is to take breaks and seek something light and happy for a time (romance novels, anyone?). This is how I’m able to reset and make sure I’m able to take good care of patients. 


Q: What are you working on now? Will Claire and Graham reappear in your next book?


A: I have several different projects I’m working on, and I’m not sure which one will be the first available for readers. I doubt Claire and Graham will make an appearance, though. I think for now I’m moving on from that world, but I have learned to never say never!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just because several people have asked – while Would You Rather and The Roommate Pact are in the same world and have shared characters, they can be read as stand-alone books and don’t have to be read in a certain order. I hope you love these stories!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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