Where do we begin? The brilliant, eye-catching book cover (it's her own German Shepard, Argo. Need we say more?). The fantastic writing? The story that makes your heart melt over and over again? Since discovering Allie Larkin and devouring her DEBUT novel, STAY (in stores NOW), we're in love (yes, we've fallen hard- again!). STAY is the story of how heartbroken Savannah"Van" Leone, in love with her best friend's husband (ouch!), finds comfort in a dog "Joe" that she adopts from, um, Slovakia. Best part? She buys the dog over the internet while in a drunken vodka and Kool Aid haze after watching a Rin, Tin, Tin marathon. Hey, it could happen to anyone... Er, like the time Lisa picked up her home phone and called everyone in her address book (remember those?!) after drinking too many shots of Captain Morgan's that she chased with chocolate chips?! This was in college, before cell phones, before internet. Before common sense & good taste in liquor. But we digress...
When Van discovers the pint-size dog she thought she ordered isn't so pint-sized (try 100 pounds!) she rolls with it. (At least Joe's vet is HOT!) She's someone you root for and someone you feel for. She's someone you can relate to- especially when you think of how lonely it can be to nurse a broken heart. And when her best friend and her husband return from their honeymoon (yup, to make matters worse they recently tied the knot), Van must decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice to have the life she's always wanted.
After reading STAY, we had a million questions for this break out author. Because we're deep in the trenches trying to find an agent for our our next project and we know many of you are aspiring writers, we wanted to know everything about how Allie got her book from the computer to the bookstores. And because we're, well, US, we threw in some "hard hitting" Q's like her "GNO drink of choice".
And we have FIVE copies of her book to give away! You guys know the drill.... leave a comment to be entered and we'll randomly select the winners this Friday!
1. How long did it take to write your book?
STAY started as a writing exercise in a class in 2002. I turned the exercise into a short story, and then filed it away for several years. I revisited it for a writing group, and realized it needed to be a novel. I wrote the first few drafts at a rate of eight pages a week for my writing group. So, it took many years, but I wasn’t working on it full time until the very end.
2. How long did it take you to get your book published? What were your rock bottom moments along the way?
I had my share of rejection and mopey moments while I was trying to find an agent, but I really believed in the story and the characters, and that kept me going.
Two years ago, our dog, Argo, who is the inspiration for the dog in STAY, had a growth that turned out to be cancer. I was a wreck. I had shelved STAY to work on something new. But while we were waiting for his surgery date and through his recovery, there was so little we could do. I felt like I needed to finish STAY. I know Argo will never know one way or another that he inspired a book, but it was important to me to finish it. STAY is fiction, but it’s also a celebration of the way Argo has changed my life and made me a better person. I’m thrilled that Argo recovered fully and has been a part of this whole process with me.
3. How did you get teamed up with your publisher? Why did you feel your publisher was a good match for you?
Rebecca Strauss, my agent, met with Erika Imranyi at Dutton, and gave her the manuscript. Dutton is the perfect match for STAY. They have an amazing reputation for strong commercial fiction, and give so much attention to every book they publish. Everyone I’ve worked with at Dutton cares passionately about what they do, and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work with them.
4. Knowing what you know now about publishing your first novel, what would you have done differently?
I feel really lucky, because my agent has been an amazing guide through this process and it’s really helped me to make decisions I feel good about along the way. I don’t think there’s much I would change if I could.
5. What did you do to celebrate your book deal?
My husband took me out to dinner at our favorite restaurant, and I called a bunch of friends and cried at them.
6. Who is your writer crush?
When I read NAKED in college, I was positive David Sedaris was my soul mate and we were meant for each other. Then I got to the chapter entitled “I Like Guys.” I guess I’m not his type, and I’m married now anyway, but I’d be open to being just friends.
7. What's your biggest distraction or vice while writing?
Twitter and Facebook are big distractions. Although, also useful. When I’m feeling like I want to take a break, it keeps me home and in my office to spend a few minutes on Twitter. Otherwise, I’d get the itch to run errands or go grab coffee, and might not make it back to my desk that day.
8. GNO drink of choice?
I love Campari & soda. I get teased about it being an old lady drink all the time, but it’s my drink of choice anyway. I also enjoy driving slow and going to bed early.
9. Favorite trashy TV show?
There was a BBC show called Hotel Babylon. Most of the seasons are on Netflix. I watched as many as I could get my hands on in an embarrassingly short amount of time. And I plan to do it again when I can. So fun!
10. What celeb would you love to have a Twitter war with?
If @NathanFillion ever tweeted at me – war or otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’d pass out.
Thanks so much, Allie!
xoxo, Liz & Lisa