In honor of our Blog-o-versary, please join us in welcoming one of our favorite authors, Allison Winn Scotch! Allison is the author of The Department of Lost and Found (HarperCollins, 2007), Time of My Life (Random House, October 2008) and the forthcoming The One That I Want (fall/summer 2010). If you haven't picked up one of her books, RUN to the bookstore! She's an amazing writer and wonderful storyteller.
To celebrate the August paperback release of Time of My Life (Seriously one of my favorite books ever), Allison kindly agreed to do an interview with The Novel Girls:
1. What is your writing schedule like?
It all depends on where I am in the writing process, but generally, I do the bulk of my writing in the morning, after I’ve dropped my son off at school and surfed my requisite websites. When I working on fiction, I have the tendency to procrastinate to the 1000th power, so I’ve long learned that the only definitely way to ensure that I get it done for the day is to get it done right away. That way, after a few hours, I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and if I want to write more – great, and if not, I’ve done what I needed to do.
2. How do you choose your names for your characters?
I think I choose them much like a parent does a child – I take a hard look at who these characters are, their circumstances, who I hope they’ll be, and sort of roll a few names around in my brain. Eventually, one sticks. For example, in Time of My Life, I needed a classic but could-still-be-slightly-uptight, but still also cute guy’s name, and Henry seemed perfect. For The One that I Want, I wanted my protagonist’s name to be a little quirky, a little small-townish, a little girlish who didn’t quite grow up-ish, and Tilly just came to me.
3. If you're in procrastination mode, what are three things sure to steal your attention from writing?
Well, obviously, the internet – I could surf gossip sites for hours. Ditto Facebook and Twitter. But I’ll count that as one. Running/working out is another...you know that I REALLY don’t want to write when I head out for a run instead. :) Hmmm, the other? Maybe my DVR, though I actually very, very rarely watch TV during the day. But I’m a big pop-culture junkie, so sure, I’m probably not above watching last night’s Project Runway instead of writing!
4. What book is next in your To Be Read pile?
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Too many people have told me to read it for me not to.
5. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Teleportation. I hate to fly but love to travel, so think it would be SO cool just to be able to wake up in Paris.
6. Where is one place anywhere in the world you haven't yet visited but would like to?
South Africa. I’d love, love, love to take a safari and experience the animals/wild life, but with two young kids, it’s not in the cards right now. Probably when they’re older.
7. What has been the most surprising thing about your publishing success?
How so little changes! I recently ran into an old college friend who was like, “Whoa, Allison Winn! You’re a famous author!” Which just made me giggle. Because a) I’m not famous but b) my life is exactly the same, more or less, other than the security of having a job that I love and the checks that this job brings in. I’m still wearing my sweatpants, still chasing after my kids, still doing every single thing that I did before my “publishing success.” Actually, I’m not even sure this is that surprising – to me, at least, but I think other people would find it surprising. As if being published or being a bestseller really could (or should) change that much about you or your life.
8. What's one thing you wish you knew as a debut author?
That you need to manage your expectations. Which sounds pessimistic, I know, but it’s not. Just honest. I think that you should revel in EVERY LAST SECOND of being a debut, published author, but if that’s the most that happens from your book, let that be okay. Dream of movie rights and bestseller lists and People magazine reviews, and then, if none of that happens (because for 99% of books, it doesn’t), still be just as proud of yourself and just as excited as you were before none of this happened. There is inevitably a post-publication let-down (I’ve never spoken with an author who hasn’t experienced it), and I think you can manage it better than others if you’re content with whatever success comes your way.
9. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Gossip magazines and TV. I read A LOT, but I also love television – the two don’t have to be separate entities! In fact, I also do celebrity profiles/interviews, which indulges my love of both guilty pleasures. And I don’t apologize for one second for loving ‘em. :)
10. What’s your favorite thing about the writing process? Your least?
My favorite thing is being done. :) I’m not even kidding. Okay, to be more specific, I truly love having finished the first draft of the manuscript because it’s like climbing a mountain – you’ve scaled it, even when you thought that you couldn’t. I also love the weeks post-publication, when you start to hear from readers with whom your book resonated. My least favorite? Starting a new book. Until I reach about 20k words, I just feel like it’s so unsubstantial, so impossible that I’m going to manage 85k words, and I dread, dread, dread it. Again, it’s standing at the base of the mountain looking upward – you know that you can do it, but you also know that there’s going to be a little blood, sweat and tears on the way up.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Allison! Fabulous answers and definitely spot-on! (Not that I'm hovering just below 20K in my new book or anything...er...no...)
OK, so same rules apply for today's post. Leave a comment and be entered to win a signed copy of A Bump in the Road and a $100 Amazon gift card! For more chances to win, check out the sidebar to the left. Lesley graciously agreed to move her blog posting to tomorrow, so be sure to stop back and check out her take on reality television!