Q&A with Ashley Sands

The writing community is a truly amazing and wonderful group of supportive, encouraging people that bond over shared experiences and emotions. It is also a community that is often broken down into many smaller subsets such as genre, format, launch date and publisher. As a fellow Audible Original author, Ashley Sands is not only my publisher sibling but we also share the same kick-ass editor. For those reasons (and many more) I am very excited to feature her Q&A today.

A self-proclaimed “rehabbed art dealer and curator”, Ashley’s debut novel A TERRIBLY PRIVATE CLUB, is set in the decadent New York City art scene and promises to be a terribly intriguing and entertaining listen. A TERRIBLY PRIVATE CLUB released yesterday and I highly recommend you add it to your Audible library.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was five, I wrote my first novel by flashlight under my covers after bedtime (it was about a snowman).

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was getting published?

Jumped up and down and then called my partner!

How long did it take you to write your debut novel?

I wrote it as a screenplay when I could fit in writing time over the course 2015. In 2016, I rewrote the story in novel form. I signed with an agent and then spent the next two and half years revising it! By the time A TERRIBLY PRIVATE CLUB comes out, it will be over five years since I first outlined the story.

What does your writing schedule look like?

Highly erratic at the moment (thanks COVID!), but I try to write in the morning—ideally before I check the news and email, etc. The last bit is largely aspirational though!

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk or habit?

I’m always learning when it comes to writing, and I try to set aside time each day (results are variable!) to study the craft of writing. This can be through online lectures—I love Coursera’s creative writing course series in partnership with Wellesley—or through books. 

One book on craft that I love is John Truby’s Anatomy of Story, and I just started Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft. I made a full list of books on writing I find useful, as well as books recommended in my newsletter, at Bookshop.org

I’ve also just recently started reading more poetry to help inspire my writing. Please send poetry collection suggestions!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

That grammar is just a light suggestion. 🙂 

What is your biggest writing-related dream?

To have my writing made into a film or television series!


TPC revised cover high res copy

You might be wondering how I went from promising Dartmouth art-history graduate to nameless federal inmate in just a few short years. Which vice did me in? Well, greed and ambition are different sides of the same coin. But then again, it’s never that simple. 

Wide-eyed Kate Sullivan is thrilled when she scores a job as the assistant to the fabulous yet slightly unhinged Brazilian art dealer Rafaela de Souza. Struggling in her new position, fish-out-of-water Kate is on the verge of being fired when she catches the eye of both “it artist” Kodi Best and charming dealer Cole Beaumont. Suddenly her career takes off, and she’s swept into the murkier depths of the art market, where she must question how far she’s willing to go to make the illustrious career she imagined a reality. 

The heroine of A Terribly Private Club is an unforgettable narrator, detailing her journey from small-town Ohio to the glamorous world of multimillion-dollar paintings and New York high society, and then, finally, to her prison cell at the Danbury Federal Correctional Institute.

Sweetbitter meets Anna Delvey in this captivating debut novel about a young woman who’ll do whatever it takes to make it in the cutthroat, decadent, and sometimes criminal world of New York City’s art scene.



2020 Ashley Outdoor Headshot Lower Res

A rehabbed art dealer and curator, Ashley Sands is the author of the upcoming Audible Original production, A Terribly Private Club.

Prior to pursuing writing full-time, Sands had a career spanning over a decade in the art world. She worked at galleries in London and New York, co-founded a public art project in Delhi, founded and directed a contemporary art project space in London, and most recently, curated an exhibition in Frank Zappa’s infamous studio in Los Angeles.

Her projects have been featured in ViceGQVogue, the LA TimesArt ReviewArt Forum, and The Art Newspaper. Raised in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she now lives and writes in San Francisco. 

Twitter: @ashley__sands

Instagram: @ashleymsands

Publisher’s Website: Audible.com 


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