If you haven’t yet read Time of My Life from Allison Winn Scotch, now’s your opportunity. Today marks the release of the paperback edition and, thus, we have a special author Q&A outside of our regularly scheduled programming. Allison has a great story about her start as a writer and she’s super fun to chat with, so please join me in welcoming today’s featured author…
Hi Allison. Can you tell us about Time of My Life?
Sure. Time of My Life is the story of Jillian Westfield, a contented but not truly fulfilled, stay-at-home mom who has lingering “what ifs” about her past and her happiness. She wakes up one day seven years in her past and has the opportunity, should she so choose it, to rewrite her future.
Okay, but what’s it really about?
I think it’s really about our capability to make our own happiness and our sometimes inability to accept that like it or not, this is the life we have chosen for ourselves. And if you DON’T like it, what can you do to get back on the path that you once envisioned. To me, this isn’t a book about a woman who wonders about an ex-boyfriend and what might have been (though, certainly, there’s that element), rather it’s a book about how small choices in life can accumulate such that sometimes you wake up and say, “How did I get here? Where did my life go off the rails?” And once you ask yourself that, how you find the strength, courage and insight to regain control of the life you once hoped for.
What are some of the “what-ifs” you have encountered in your own life?
Oh gosh, well, I’m mean, of course I’ve entertained those “what ifs” about past loves, like I think nearly every woman has. But I’m the first to say that I think that’s an entirely normal, human emotion...that sometimes, when things get difficult or murky, it’s a lot easier to want to jump off the train and pretend that another path would have been easier. (I should also say that I’m happily married!) I’ve also had the “what if,” of if I hadn’t been in the right place, right time of meeting my husband (we met at the gym! What if one of us hadn’t joined or I hadn’t introduced myself to him!), and what if I hadn’t left Los Angeles, where I was at one point, to move back to NYC, where my whole life changed, including me opting to pursue writing and meeting my husband. I don’t know, I suppose the “what ifs” could be endless, but that said, I have a wonderful and happy and content life, and I really do fall into the mindset that nearly everything works itself out in life as it should.
Tell us a bit about your journey as an author.
Well, as I alluded to above, I wasn’t always determined to be a writer. I was always good at it, and people always told me I should pursue it, but to be honest, when I graduated from college, it simply didn’t seem viable. I mean, how does someone make money as a writer? It seemed ludicrous. I tried on a few different career hats, and one – doing an internet start-up – led to a bunch of freelance writing gigs (I was doing the web copy for the site, as well as the press releases, which led to being hired by a bunch of the site’s partners). From there, I was retained by a leading PR company to ghost-write for celebrities, and from there, on a total fluke, I was hired to ghost-write a wedding book for The Knot. With that under my belt, I landed some national magazine articles, and one thing led to another. (Though I don’t mean to make this sound easy. It was feast or famine for a while, and I worked MY BUTT off to establish myself.) Eventually, I wanted to try my hand at something other than service pieces for mags, so I wrote a novel that landed me an agent but didn’t sell. So then I wrote another novel, which I loved, but said agent did not. We parted ways, I found my current (and fabulous) agent, who sold that book – my debut, The Department of Lost and Found - in a four-way auction. As I said before, sometimes, life works out as it should.
What advice do you have for writers starting out?
Be open to criticism. I say this all the time, but it’s just so imperative. I think one of the biggest mistakes that aspiring (and established) writers can make is assuming that they’re as good as they think they are. I should know: I thought that initial manuscript that never sold was GENIUS. When I went back and reread it several years later, it was HORRID. Just horrid. Thank goodness it never sold! I’ve been fortunate enough along the way in my career to glean some truly constructive criticism, and if I’d never listened to it, I’d never have grown as a writer. Take your ego OUT of the equation, and try to improve yourself with every opportunity.
How does social media and technology play a role in how you connect with readers?
You know, I’m the first to admit that I was a HUGE Twitter skeptic, but I’ve become a total convert. I think what Twitter does is humanizes you to your readers and humanizes your readers to you. You find shared interests (of late, The Bachelorette!), common ground, funny almost insider-y jokes, and for me, personally, it’s been so much fun to put names and faces to people who read my books. Or don’t read them. Plenty of people don’t, and I like them anyway. I don’t know, it’s weird, this concept of connecting with strangers, but I enjoy the hell out of it. I also run a blog for writers, and again, it’s just been a supercool way to connect with people I otherwise wouldn’t have. Truly, some of my good internet friends are people I’ve never actually “met” in real life.
Tell us about The Happiest Days of My Life.
Well, for one, it’s getting a title change! :) Not sure what that will be yet, but no one was quite in love with that title, so, out she goes. But this book sort of turns the concepts of TOML on their heads: it’s about a small-town guidance counselor who thinks that she has everything in her life that she could ever want. But when she’s granted the unwelcome ability to see into the future, she uncovers a mess of secrets that prove that not everything is as it seems, or perhaps, more accurately, not everything is as she’s CHOSEN to see it. I think it gets to the fact that sometimes, we delude ourselves about what’s truly happening, and of course, it also deals with the theme that I get to with all of my books: that of steering yourself toward your own happiness. I’m a big believer in being responsible for yourself and your future and where your life takes you.
What else can readers expect from you in the near future?
Well, I guess just some promotion of my book. :) No, I’m also still doing celebrity interviews and profiles, so if you fly on American Airlines, flip open the mag, and you’ll often still see my byline. And other than that...? The next book in 2010.
What’s the one question you want me to ask, that I didn’t, and what’s your response?
Hmm, how about whom I’d like to see cast in the movie?
I have a lot of different thoughts as to who could and should play Jillian, and the good news is that the producers agree with my thoughts. On the short list? Keri Russell, Reese Witherspoon, Jen Garner, Anne Hathaway, among others. For Henry? Probably Michael Vartan, though I’d be open to plenty of others – Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Affleck, the list goes on. And for Jackson? Any hot late 20s/early 30s guy: Chris Pine, Scott Speedman, John Krasinski, Bradley Cooper...I could do this forever.
How can readers learn more about you and your books?
Drop by my site: http://allisonwinn.com/
Thanks, Allison. I appreciate you taking the time to talk about your latest news and Time of My Life.
Remember to visit amazon.com to pick up Allison’s book, or check with your local indie shop to grab a copy of the paperback.
Stay tuned for Wednesday’s regularly scheduled author Q&A since you won’t want to miss Kyra Davis.
If you haven’t noticed, I also added a special post today related to my own news, so read on for more info below about my current newsletter and… the release of stains: early poems!
Until tomorrow… happy reading!