Ashley Poston grew up in Lexington, S.C., and earned her English degree from USC in 2012 before moving to New York City to start her career in publishing at Bloomsbury. When she decided to pursue writing full time she moved back to South Carolina – knowing it would be difficult to afford a New York lifestyle on a writer’s budget.
In the years since, she’s published nine books across multiple genres. Her young adult novels have been featured in Teen Vogue and Buzzfeed, while her first adult novel, The Dead Romantics, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2022, a Good Morning America Book Club selection and is a USA Today and New York Times bestseller. Her latest book, The Seven Year Slip, will be published June 27.
We caught up with Poston to learn about her career, writing habits and her thoughts on time travel.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always really loved to write. It was something that I have done since I was in middle school. I was a pretty quiet kid. I stuttered a lot. Like a lot. So, because of my bad speech impediment, I really didn't talk much. And I realized that I could control words pretty easily if I wrote them down on paper. So I just started to express my feelings through writing and short stories and fanfiction.
You say life as a writer has been fun, but that it has been harder than you expected. What makes it hard? Is it because you are your own boss? Is it coming up with ideas? Is it having to promote yourself? Or is it all those things?
It's a little bit of all of it. I find that when people think of authors, they think of them as these people who lounge on their couch and write whatever they want to, and it's nice and lovely all the time. And it's not. I love what I do and I'm very lucky to do what I do. But there's a difference between writing as a business and writing as an artform. You can't really be all that precious about your words and your writing when you are writing for the business of writing.
What would you tell today’s English major or college student who wants to write?
Find what you love to write and keep writing it. If you're writing to get published, that's the quickest way to burn out. So write the things you want to write. Don't worry about whether or not it's been done before, because only you can write the story that you want to tell. Because only you have your experiences. And don't try to chase the current trends or the current market because you will always, always arrive at it too late.
Tell me about the new book, The Seven Year Slip, that comes out June 27.
It is about a young woman who inherits her aunt's apartment on the Upper East Side of New York after her aunt passes away. She finds out that it's a little bit magical when she finds a man in the apartment seven years in the past.
What drew you to that topic?
I knew I wanted to write a book about time travel. My first book, The Dead Romantics, was a ghost story, so I knew I wanted to stay in that fabulism sort of genre. But when I decided to write a time-travel book, I did not realize how hard it would be. There are so many timelines and I wanted to also explore how time changes people. And how when you love someone through time you have to change together. Love isn't stagnant and people aren't stagnant. I wanted to also talk a little bit about how time affects grief, because when we meet the main character, Clementine, she has lost her favorite person in the world, her aunt, who took her on all these grand adventures. Her aunt instilled a love of wonder in her. And then her aunt dies by suicide, which is something that I am very familiar with. My grandfather also passed away last year from suicide.
How did that experience change the story?
I wrote the first draft before my grandfather died. And then I had to rewrite the book again because I realized that the way I had described the grief was not exactly how I personally felt it. I wanted it to be closer to how I experienced it. When I was writing this book, it was kind of a conversation with myself about all of the feelings I had about death. So, The Seven Year Slip is the vehicle for my therapy, basically. But it's also a love story. It's a romance with a lot of food. He is a chef who, when she meets him in the apartment, he's young and bright-eyed. He's going out into the world to change it. And then she meets him in her time seven years later and he is a professional chef who's gotten everything he wanted. And it turns out it wasn't exactly what he needed. Most time-travel books don't end happily. So I wanted to challenge myself to write a happy time-travel book.
So happy ending?
Absolutely. It is shelved in the romance section for a reason. It is 100% a happy ending.