Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcome Debut Author Allie Larkin

This week we’re thrilled to have debut author Allie Larkin stopping by for a drink and a chat.

Allie’s debut novel STAY, was just released by Dutton and looks fabulous. I just got my copy and it’s moving to the very top of my TBR pile.

Thanks for stopping by, Allie. We might as well get down to the hard-hitting questions first. What’s your favorite drink?

I will tell you that it is not grape Kool-Aid and vodka. After writing the scenes with Van getting drunk on her Kool-Aid cocktails and thinking about what it would feel like to get sick on fake grape flavoring, I am done with all purple beverages for a good long while.

Campari and soda is my standby, although, I think I might be one of the only people under the age of 95 who actually likes Campari. I get teased about it frequently.

I love Campari. Kindred spirits already (pun intended). Although I like it best in a martini (approx. three parts gin, one part campari). You've triggered university dorm party flashbacks with the vodka and Kool-Aid thing. Scary flashbacks…

**Maureen passes Allie a Campari and soda.** Did you always want to be a writer?

No, as a kid, I wanted to be a pig farmer. Then, I found out that pig farmers don’t get to just hang out with pigs all day. It was traumatic. Short version of the story – I haven’t eaten a mammal since I was nine years old.

That’s hilarious. (Not to belittle your trauma.) Tell us a little about STAY.

STAY is the story of Van, a woman whose best friend marries the man she’s been in love with for years. After the wedding, Van gets drunk on grape Kool-Aid and vodka, watches a Rin Tin Tin marathon and accidentally orders a 100 lb. German Shepherd off the internet from Slovakia.

A whole new (scary) angle on drunk dialing! I’ve made some accidental internet purchases, myself. But never a live animal.

As writers, we love to hear first sale stories. Can you tell us about yours?

I was in Target when Rebecca Strauss, my agent, called me. She told me to sit down. I told her I was in Target. She told me I should find a low shelf or something to sit on. I lied and said I was sitting, and she told me that Dutton wanted to buy STAY. My knees started to give out on me and I had to find a low shelf to sit on.

When I got back to my car, I called my husband. I was crying so hard that he thought something was wrong and it took a few minutes before I could explain that it was good news.

What a fabulous story!

Salsa or guacamole?


**Maureen passes the dip.**

Was STAY your first completed manuscript, or do you have others stashed under the bed?

STAY was my first completed full-length manuscript. I’d written a horribly depressing novella about a woman in a mental institution. Before that, I’d made it about halfway through a horrible depressing story about a woman plotting to kill her boyfriend. Finally, it occurred to me that I tend to find a certain degree of humor in every situation, and writing suffocating, dark, depressing stories was not true to my voice.

What did you do to celebrate when you found out your book sold?

My husband took me out to dinner. I called friends and cried a lot of happy tears.

Hiking in Yosemite or partying in Vegas?

Hiking in Yosemite. I’m DYING to go.

Yosemite is awesome. Go at a time of year when you can hike up Half Dome. You won’t regret it.

Do you write full time? What’s a normal writing day like?

I do write full time. I don’t know that there’s any such thing as a normal writing day for me. Sometimes I write a little bit here and there, and sometimes I dive in and don’t do anything else for hours and hours on end. It depends on where I am in the story. But, I’m almost always thinking about my story, at least in the back of my mind. When I work on rewrites, I like to completely focus on the book – clear a weekend, have supplies at my ready, go into my office and just work.

What are your favorite books, movies, TV shows?

I absolutely love women’s fiction and read as much as I can get my hands on. Growing up, I was completely enamored with a book called THE ORDINARY PRINCESS by M.M. Kaye. I loved that the main character, Amy, wasn’t your typical princess, and she was happy being that way. When I sold STAY, I tracked down an old hardcover copy of the book, and that was my publication present to myself. I also absolutely love Willa Cather and love to revisit her books from time to time.

STATE AND MAIN is one of my all time favorite movies. And I’m also a huge fan of 80’s Brat Pack movies. There was a time in my life where I could pretty much recite THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

I’m also a bit of a TV junkie. I am completely obsessed with FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, even though I am about as far from being a football fan as a person can be. I love NORTHERN EXPOSURE and watch old episodes on DVD all the time. I adore GILMORE GIRLS, and started watching PARENTHOOD because I could watch Lauren Graham read the phone book. I have yet to make it through an episode of PARENTHOOD without bawling. It’s really well done.

Oh, you have some fellow FNL fan friends here. Some of us are obsessed with that show, too. I think you and I have similar TV taste. I love/loved all the shows you mentioned. PARENTHOOD has the same affect on me. Not sure if any of my fellow bloggers watch that one, though. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Moving on to another hard-hitting question… Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate. The darker the better. Oh, and my husband brought home a bar of super dark chocolate with crystallized ginger in it recently – incredible. We could probably do an entire interview just about chocolate and it would be hours before I’d run out of things to talk about.

LOL. I’m kind of a vanilla girl. Or lemon. That said, I once had this dark chocolate that had ginger and cinnamon and I think cardamom in it. Awesome. Molly was there. She might remember the ingredients. Heaven in a bite.

What’s next for you?

I could really use a shower and maybe a hot meal. It’s been hectic around here!

Oh, bookwise? I’m working on a project about a group of friends, but I’m not ready to get into specifics about it yet. I’d also love to revisit the characters from STAY someday.

What’s your favorite thing about being an author? Your least favorite?

The occasional chance to read advanced copies of books by authors I’ve admired for ages. I got to read SEVEN YEAR SWITCH by Claire Cook before it came out, and I was in absolute heaven.
As much as I love writing, I still have those days where getting my butt in that chair to write is really hard. I wish those days never happened. It would be nice if the days I needed to write were always grey and rainy, there was nothing good on TV, no one called, and my neighbors didn’t mow the lawn. All that stuff should happen on non-writing days.

I agree! It should be a law or something.
Did you dedicate your first book to anyone? Who?

Yes, I dedicated the book to Jeremy, my husband, Joan, the most amazing writing group partner in the entire world, and Argo, my dog (and cover model for STAY). I couldn’t have done this without them.

How fun that your dog was the cover model! He’s adorable.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Allie! It was great to meet you and to hear about your book. I see in your bio that you live in upstate NY. Three of us here at DWT are in Toronto. **waves across the lake**

Stop by for a drink and writerly chats anytime!

Allie will be dropping by throughout the week to answer questions, so if anyone has something to ask, fire away!

And... **drum roll** her publisher is generously offering a copy of STAY to one lucky commenter!


Kwana said...

What a wonderful interview. Stay sounds great and I love Allie's Target call story.

Karen W said...

Love your first sale story! I remember that I cried too when I got the call. I was at my day job and had to go into the restroom.

Fantastic cover, BTW!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Allie! Welcome - that's your dog on the cover? Did I read that right? How did you manage to swing that?

Chevy Stevens said...

Oh! I love your cover, even more now that I know it's your dog. I'm a dog FREAK, so I have to buy your book!!!

Eileen said...

Ooh, I love the idea of Campari and soda. It sounds so fun and retro.

I can't wait to read STAY. I love dark humor as much as I love dark chocolate and that's a lot!

Stephanie Doyle said...

As someone who has drunk-internet-ordered... usually crazy ass exersise equipment... I love the concept of your story!

Congrats. Great cover.

Marcy said...

Ah, I love a good call story. Brings tears to my eyes.Good luck with STAY. It sounds like a faboulous concept for a book. Can't wait to read it!

larramiefg said...

STAY is GLORIOUS and, better yet, breaks that usual chicklit mode!

Barrie said...

I really enjoyed this interview. And now must try campari!

Anonymous said...

Drunk internet shopping... I feel so left out. Why haven't I tried this before?

The book sonds wonderful. I can't wait to read it.

Wendy S Marcus said...

Great interview. All the best to you, Allie!

Ken Woychesko said...

Great interview, Maureen! I love reading an interview of an author *by* an author: great questions and the ability to empathize.

I'd be curious to know how closely the final version of "Stay" resembles Allie's original idea/vision?

Again--great job!

Marilyn Brant said...

Great interview, Maureen and Allie!! ;)

Congrats on your debut release, Allie--it sounds like such a terrific story--and I'm a HUGE fan of M.M. Kaye's The Ordinary Princess, too! (I have a copy in hardcover and used to read it to my classes when I taught elementary school. :)

Molly O'Keefe said...

Ken - that's a great question about the inital vision. I'm in the rough draft of a mms, and it's already so different from the way I imagined it.

Maureen - about that chocolate. I remember ginger. I remember wine. I remember throwing up. That's all. But that box of chocolates was like the suitcase in Pulp Fiction, every time we opened it, it bathed us in golden light.

Sidenote - Steph - your boyfriend looked VERY VERY good the other night. Holy cats - I want me a little skaarsgard.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I am not ashamed to admitt.... I rewound. Several times.

I don't know what impressed me more his bottom or when he was in the pajama pants that hung in just that certain way....whooo.

I love you, Eric the Vampire.

Sorry if this is offensive to any of our male readers!!!!

Maria Geraci said...

Great interview, Maureen;) Allie, your book sounds terrific. Congratulations!

Word Actress said...

Congrats Allie. Since I raise Golden Retrievers and my dog Flynn was on the cover of my first book, I selfishly hope I win a copy of Stay. I know I will LOVE it. I'm from the East Coast - New England and New York City - but now live in San Jose, so if u ever need an excuse to do a few readings out here come stay with Sabrina, JoJo, Flynn, Oliver and tired dog mom Mary!...

jeff7salter said...

Enjoyed the interview.
I'm jealous of your sale and now I want to shop at Target. Ha.
I'm also a chocoholic and we have 3 'critters'. [None in the 100 pound range, however. Well, my daughter lives about 600 ft away and she has 3 Labs.]
Anyway, congrats on a super first sale. From 'hearing' your voice in this interview, I'll bet the book is terrific.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Gotta get the book. My husband is the drunk buyer - we have the bowflex to prove it.


Annette Gallant said...

Congratulations on your debut novel, Allie! I just read the excerpt, and now I can't wait to read the whole thing. I also liked your first sale story, plus your description of what a normal writing day is for you. It sounds a lot like what my writing day is often like.

Anyway, great interview, Allie and DWT!

DMac said...

Congratulations Allie! what a terrific premise, and how great that your own dog got to be cover model. Has it gone to his head yet? :-)

Excited to read the book!

DMac :-D

Joy N. Hensley said...

This book looks great! Can't wait to read it!

Jenny Gardiner said...

Oh I just saw this book at B&N this morning and have been pondering it. Looks great!

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