I am so glad to welcome author Allison Winn Scotch to Book Club Exchange! Just yesterday, I reviewed her latest novel THE ONE THAT I WANT, and I absolutely loved it. I highly recommend getting a copy -- and the author has definitely sweetened the pot with her new contest! If you purchase a copy of THE ONE THAT I WANT within the next three days, you can win some great prizes including Oakley sunglasses, a bag of books for summer reading, and a Blackberry.
I am just thrilled that Allison Winn Scotch took the time to write a guest post for Booking Mama. I hope you'll find this little insight into her novels as interesting as I did.
When I talk to readers and when I call into book clubs, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Just how much of this book is based on your real life,” and the question always gives me pause (and makes me giggle just a little bit too!). There’s no easy way to answer this, but my initial inclination is always to say that they’re not based on my real life at all. And then I always hedge and clarify: I think that if you’re really going to get to the emotional core of a character, and thus, hopefully write an honest book, somewhere, some part of you must relate to the journey that your characters take. But...that doesn’t mean that their story is mine.
This was especially true with my last book, Time of My Life. The book chronicles the journey of Jillian, a discontent mom, who travels back in time to see if she’d have had a better shot at happiness if she’d done things differently, if her “what ifs” had actually transpired. Am I Jillian? No way, no how. But was even my husband a little nervous to read it? :) You betcha. Because while I don’t share a lot of her surface unhappiness – her endless days without adult stimulation with her toddler, her nostalgia for her old career, her struggle with forgiveness for her mother who abandoned her – I did understand the listlessness that was her undercurrent, that tugged her back toward the past. I experienced that listlessness in my 20s, and I was able to tap into it to write Jillian’s story. So while our circumstances are pretty starkly different, our emotional circumstances weren’t so far off. Am I making sense?
Which leads me to my new book, The One That I Want. I’ll be so curious to go out there and chat with readers and book clubs because Tilly, my heroine, is SO UNLIKE me that I very much struggled to find her voice and find that connection where I could say, “Oooh yes, that’s what we have in common. Now I can write you authentically.” This book went through many, many drafts. What came to me so easily with Jillian eluded me for ages with Tilly. Until finally, on, I think, my fifth or sixth draft, I made her a little more angry, a little sharper, a little edgier, and then boom – we connected. I plowed through that draft, again, shaping a life that was very, very different than mine but understanding how she’d react to her circumstances and hopefully, creating a fully fleshed-out, emotive character.
That’s always my goal in writing. To write honestly. To tap into a difficult, vulnerable place and let that show on the page. To expose a sliver of myself without writing about my real life. Readers won’t always love the characters and might not even love what you put down on the page, but as long as their criticism isn’t about the emotional honesty or my attempts to create open characters who resonate, then I’m satisfied.
Which brings me back to my original paragraph: how much of these women are me? I guess it would be fair to say that there are fragments of me filtered throughout my books, like bread crumbs of my personality. Patch them all together, and you might see slices of my life, but mostly, my characters are their own people, and I wouldn’t be happy with my books if it were any other way.
Allison Winn Scotch is the author of the novels TIME OF MY LIFE and THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND. She is also a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in dozens of national magazines. She lives in New York with her husband, son, and daughter, and their dog.
A huge thanks to Allison Winn Scotch for writing this fantastic guest post. If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.
Giveaway: I have one copy of THE ONE THAT I WANT to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just leave a comment with a valid email address telling me why you want to win this book. This contest will be open until Thursday, June 17th at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you in the U.S. and Canada only. Good luck!