It was just dumb luck that I stumbled across my first Alison Gaylin book, “and she was,” and loved it so much when I was finished I didn’t want to put it down. I pored through the acknowledgments and came across several familiar names, including that of Jeff Shelby, a friend of mine who is responsible for many moments of choking-on-my-coffee laugh-out-loud moments and who is one-half of an awesome writing couple. So, of course, I loved Alison even more at that point and am pretty sure I began to cyber stalk her on Facebook and somehow got her to agree to do a writer interview here on my page. Yay for me and for my readers. Alison’s first book HIDE YOUR EYES was nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best First Novel Category. Now that I’ve found her work, I’m looking forward to reading everything Alison has ever written starting with her latest, a YA, REALITY ENDS HERE. Here’s Alison in her own words:
1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
I have a day job and a family so I write when I can. I do try to do it from 9 to 6 or so, but life very often gets in the way and I’ll wind up doing a late night instead. Lately, getting up early (around 6 am) has been working for me. My brain seems to work better in the morning these days. Go figure…
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
For me, a change of scenery and a little exercise helps. I live in a beautiful area, so if the weather’s decent, I’ll go for a run or a hike to get the brain cells working. If not, the gym. Or, you know… 150 cups of coffee, pacing around nervously and telling myself I’m doomed.
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?
The best book I’ve ever read that’s about the craft of writing (and all the stuff that gets in its way) is Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. I read it a very long time ago and still quote lines from it.
4. Who do you read for fun?
That question depresses me because I’m on deadline right now and so I can’t 1) read any other fiction and 2) can’t have any fun. Rest assured, I have a huge TBR pile that I can’t wait to get to. (In terms of books that are fun, nobody beats our mutual friend Jeff Shelby (aka Jeffrey Allen).)
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
I’ve always loved to make up stories. and certain short stories and books I read as a kid made me think, “Wow, I wish I could do something like that.” (Joyce Carol Oates’ SMOOTH TALK immediately comes to mind.) but I don’t know that there was one specific moment when I knew I wanted to write professionally. I just started writing, and the more I did it, the more confident I felt that I might be able to eventually write for a living.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Don’t give up. But don’t look at your writing and think there’s no room for improvement. That’s great if you sell your book right out of the gate and it becomes a huge hit. But if not, join the club, and see what you can do to make it better. If you’re getting constructive criticism, view it as a gift and use it. The great thing about writing is the ability to rewrite, to improve. Honestly, I can’t tell you how much my books would suck if I never had the chance to revise them.
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
Perseverance (see above.) Wait. Is perseverance a skill?
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
Do I have to pick just one? Bagel, lox and cream cheese, sushi, Cesar salad, dark chocolate — but not all that the same time. Okay, maybe at the same time. Magic Hat #9 is my favorite beer.
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie? Too many to name!
USA Today and International best-selling author Alison Gaylin received an Edgar nomination for her first book HIDE YOUR EYES, and has since been nominated for the RT award, the Thriller, the Anthony and the Shamus. In addition to her six published crime fiction novels, she’s published the Young Adult mystery REALITY ENDS HERE (Simon and Schuster/PocketStar). The graphic novel she wrote with Megan Abbott, NORMANDY GOLD, is in development as a TV series for New Regency Productions, with Alison and Megan scripting the pilot. Alison is currently at work on the third book in the Brenna Spector series for Harper Collins, which will be out next year.