Please will you tell us about your latest book
The Department of Lost and Found is a story about a 30-year old who faces a life crisis and is forced to reevaluate everything that she once deemed important, and in the process, is also forced to reinvent everything about both her concept of success and her concept of herself. Ultimately, it’s about finding your own way and prioritizing things that matter because, as my heroine, Natalie, realizes, life is fleeting and you have to take responsibilities for both your successes and failures.
How long have you been writing and what made you start?
Well, I recently found my childhood journals, so I guess I’ve been writing all of my life! But writing for pay? About eight years. I’ve been very fortunate to have found success in the magazine world, and then to see that translate over to fiction.
Many people spend a long time finding an agent, can you tell us about your agent hunt?
I’ve been on the hunt twice. I landed an agent with my first manuscript, which ultimately didn’t sell. After I wrote The Department of Lost and Found, she decided she didn’t think it was a strong enough book to go out with, and asked me to start working on another one. Clearly, I disagreed. So I took the leap and got back on the agent go-around again. I was terrified that maybe I had more faith in my work than I should have, but really, I DID have that faith: I truly knew it was an amazing book (um, you know, if I do say so myself!), and that just because this agent didn’t think so, it didn’t mean others would agree. Indeed, I got several agent offers within a few weeks, and instinctively knew that my current agent was the right one for me. I couldn’t wait to accept her offer and did so rather quickly, even pulling the manuscript from agents who were still reading because I wanted to go with my gut and sign with my agent.
Everyone loves a good call story, what was yours?
Well, mine is more of an email story! But, as I said, I knew right away that I wanted to accept my agent’s offer. I queried her via email and heard back from her within an hour, asking for me to email her the full. I did. By that afternoon, she sent me a note back saying that she couldn’t believe how wonderful it was, and to please not do anything before she finished it. Well, I received an offer from another agent the next day, so I let my current agent know. She called me immediately, said she’d stayed up until the wee hours reading the previous night, and even though she still had 50 pages to go, she wanted to rep it, saying she’d pretty much do anything to land me! Of course, I didn’t make her do anything special to sign me, though she did take me out for a celebratory lunch! 🙂
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write, write and write. I think that too many writers get attached to what they’ve written and refuse to believe that there’s room for improvement. The truth of the matter is that writing a book is hard, but not that hard. Writing a GOOD book is extremely difficult. And the only way that you learn to craft a good one, in most cases, is to keep writing – to set aside the manuscript or manuscripts that are dead in the water and start over. It’s so daunting, but each time out, you’ll learn from your mistakes and create a better story (and book) the next time.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on now and what books are coming out in the future?
I’m working on my next novel, but it’s slow going. I’ve found it much harder than The Department of Lost and Found, which I think is pretty standard for second books. But I’m trying to plug away at it. I’m also juggling my magazine assignments, and two small kids, so, well…life is full! But full is good. There’s never a quiet moment in my house!
Allison Winn Scotch is currently a frequent contributor to numerous consumer magazines including American Baby, American Way, Arthritis Today, Bride’s, Cooking Light, Fitness, Glamour, Hallmark, InStyle Weddings, Lifetime Television, Men’s Health, Parents, Prevention, Redbook, Self, Shape, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health, as well as American Airlines Custom Magazines and American Express Custom Magazines. Her debut novel, The Department of Lost and Found, will be published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, in May 2007.
Thanks for taking the time out to be interviewed, Allison. It’s been a pleasure.