I found Allison on Twitter and have since added her blog to my favorites. Allison’s novels often tackle serious subjects with humor, have strong female protagonists with strong voices, and inner journeys every bit as engaging as the characters’ external journeys. The beauty of reading her novels is watching these women grow, change, and reevaluate life’s priorities. Her books stay with you and leave you just a little sad at the end because it’s like saying goodbye to a friend.
Allison was kind enough to answer some questions for my blog. Her new book, The One That I Want comes out today!!
1. Your books are modern day fairy tales—women going back or forward in time to make better choices and live out second chances. What writers influenced you growing up? Have you always written in this style?
I was a voracious reader growing up and I think that love of books influenced my writing, though I’m not sure that specific authors did, to be honest. I read a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with out I write – Stephen King, for example, was my favorite author as a kid, and of course, I was addicted to the Flowers in the Attic series! I think, as an adult, what influences a lot of authors writing, or at least what influences mine, is my thinking and perspective on the world around me and what’s happening in my own life. That holds much greater power than the adored authors from my childhood.
2. Your protagonists have strong, honest voices. How much of yourself and your life do you put into your characters?
Great question. I would say that the emotional voice and threads throughout the books are mine but my characters’ circumstances are not. I get asked a lot if Jillian, from Time of My Life, is me, and she really, really isn’t. Like, so isn’t. But I tried to write her discontentedness as honestly as I knew possible, and sometimes, that means tapping into a latent emotion, in the way that an actor does on screen. Similarly with Tilly in The One That I Want, she has a lot of disappointment and suppressed anger at the people who fail her, and while I’m fortunate enough to never have experienced such crushing blows in my real life, I do try to put myself in her shoes and react as openly and honestly as I can. I think that’s the only way you can really pull readers in: they have a pretty high bs-detector. 🙂
3. In the excerpt from The One That I Want , Tilly has all the breathless enthusiasm of a high school student. I instantly loved her, knew things were about to get very sour for her, and wanted to protect her. When you start writing, do you know all of the struggles your characters will face? Do you outline or do you stick them in messy situations and see how it all plays out?
No to both questions, though I wish I did. Writing would be SO MUCH easier if I did. But I tend to let my characters lead the way, a statement I always cringe at because it sounds so cliched, but it’s true. I write them and they lead me where they want to go, and yes, I have to throw obstacles in their way – because that’s what makes books and character development interesting – but I truly don’t know what those will be – and how they’ll be overcome-until I write them. That’s actually what made this book quite difficult to write: because Tilly flash-forwards, I had to know what was going to happen on page 225 by page 70. And I didn’t, I couldn’t. So it wasn’t easy.
4. Your books would make great movies. Do you imagine them that way before or during the writing process, or does mental “casting” begin for you once you’ve completed the books?
Sometimes it doesn’t even begin then! 🙂 I sincerely have no idea who could be (or should be) cast in The One That I Want should it be developed into a movie. With Time of My Life, which is being adapted by The Weinstein Company, I had a general idea once I finished it. But I don’t really write with actors in mind. At all. I mean, sure, sometimes I’ll think of someone and consider their quirks/nuances and that might shade something ever-so-slightly, but mostly, I have a picture of my characters in my head that isn’t a reflection of a specific actor.
5. I was so sad to finish with your characters in Time of My Life, and based on what I’ve read so far in The One That I Want, I’ll feel the same way. Do you ever see a sequel in the works for any of your novels?
Aw, thank you! So sweet of you. Hmmm, I doubt it. What I really enjoy about writing these books is that they take my heroines on journeys that are fulfilling in and of themselves. Like, they get to their end point, even if I don’t reveal all of the details of that end point to the reader – that lets the reader form his or her own opinion. So in some ways, because they reach the end of their journeys, a sequel doesn’t feel necessary. Let’s just all envision them living (mostly) happily ever after, and then I don’t have to write 300 more pages! 🙂
Thanks so much for answering my questions! Best of luck with the book release!!