Allison Ashley and Writing Romance - 405 Magazine

Allison Ashley and Writing Romance

Romance author Allison Ashley on how she balances life, career and her passion for writing stories about love

Author Allison Ashley poses in front of color coded bookcase

Author Allison Ashley | Photos by Charlie Neuenschwander

Allison Ashley, born and raised in Oklahoma, didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a writer. “I always said I wanted to be a neurosurgeon,” she laughed. But a few years after getting a doctorate degree in pharmacology from the University of Oklahoma, she began to read for pleasure again. Soon after, she began to write her own stories.

Ashley released her fourth book, The Romance Pact, in August of this year. She’s known for writing warm, witty characters who often work in the medical field, as she does — with no plans to quit her day job. “I love working as an oncology pharmacist so much. I can’t imagine not doing it,” she said.

Balancing her writing life with a career and family has caused Ashley to make some adjustments. “I write my novels under a pen name. I also write professionally in pharmacology literature, and I didn’t want my colleagues searching for my articles and stumbling upon my romance novels. But people at work know what I do now. It’s not such a big deal anymore,” she explained.

“I love my job and I love my kids, but when they were very young, I had the sense that I had lost myself. Writing was a thing I could do when they went to sleep. Of course, now they are not going to sleep as early,” she laughed. “I’ve had to be more creative about when I find time.”

Photos by Charlie Neuenschwander

After Ashley started writing and publishing books, she learned that her paternal grandmother had been a writer as well. Her dad brought her magazines published in the 1950s called Confidential Confessions containing steamy stories for women, many written by her grandmother under a pen name. That writing had been a well-kept family secret, which led Ashley to think about the stigma around romance writing. “The genre continues to evolve. Today, romance novels are often about characters learning how to love themselves. It is more about what it means to be genuine and how to exist in a relationship where two people can communicate in a healthy way. Authors are including things like therapy in romance novels now. People learning to love themselves so that they can learn how to be in a healthy relationship; we are seeing that more in romance novels. In the past, there was one type of person trying to find love. Now romance novels are open to every type of person — every body type, all sexualities, characters representing the whole spectrum.”

The author also spoke with conviction about one of the most criticized aspects of romance novels: “I know that when I turn the last page of a romance novel, I will feel hopeful. There is not a lot in today’s world that can offer that. That is why a lot of readers come back to romance time and again. The ride will be different with every book — the character will be different, the path they take will be new — but the book will always end with hope.

“A romance novel should have a happy-ever-after. That is a true element of the genre. For that reason, many will ask, ‘Why read a story when you know how it will end?’ I would answer them this way: There is so much happening right now, so many tragedies, so very little that we can control. My books and others in this genre remind us [that] inherently, love will win in the end.” 


*Allison Ashley’s books are available at as well as other online book sellers. She loves to promote and work with indie bookstores — ask your favorite local bookshop if they carry her titles.

Looking for more people of interest stories? Check out Shaped by Service- Dr Raúl Font and the Latino Community Development Agency