Monday, October 27, 2008

TIME OF MY LIFE - by Allison Winn Scotch

My guest today on the Girlfriends' Cyber Cirtcuit Lit Blog tour is Allison Winn Scotch, author of Time of My Life.

"Scotch's novel is a clever, entertaining look at the compromises women make - and the dangers of getting what you asked for." - People

"Time of My Life is a fabulous, madcap read, but don't be fooled: Allison Winn Scotch's narrator is wrestling with some tough issues: how do I find my place in the world? Can I become a wife and mother without losing myself? Would I have been happier if I had chosen another path? Scotch's book is hilarious and true. I loved it." - Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Sleep Toward Heaven, How To Be Lost and Forgive Me

"Book pick of the month. Insightful and honest, Winn Scotch keeps it light but delves into the dark doubts of the road not taken." - Family Circle

From the outside view, Jillian Westfield has a pitch-perfect life. Her cherubic 18-month old daughter, her wildly successful investment banker husband, a four-bedroom, five-bath, lemon-scented home with landscaping and neighbors to match. But that doesn’t stop her from mulling over the past, from pushing away the “what ifs” that haunt her when she allows them to seep into her consciousness. What if she hadn’t married Henry? What if she hadn’t abandoned her job at the first sign of pregnancy? What if she’d never broken up with Jackson ? What if she answered her mother’s letter? Because underneath the shiny veneer of her life, Jill waddles around in a faltering marriage, brewing resentment, and an air of discontentedness.

But after an ethereal massage in which her therapist releases her blocked chi, she wakes up to discover that she’s been whisked seven years back, back to her old life, her old self, back to the moments in which she made decisions that charted her future course. And now that she’s back, she’s faced with the same roadblocks and obstacles, only this time, armed with hindsight, she can choose a different path and finally lay to rest all of her “what ifs.”

Time of My Life is much more than a story about a real life desperate housewife. Instead, it speaks to so many of our tiny, lingering doubts, the same doubts that send us googling old friends and exes or wistfully pulling out pictures of days gone by. And through Jillian’s journey, in which she rediscovers the mother who abandoned her, reacquaints herself with the strengths she once deemed important, and may literally rewrite her future, we all get a chance to peek inside the windows of our own “what ifs,” and consider if the path we took was the one that has granted us the most happiness.

Allison was kind enough to answer some questions. I'm glad to hear there's another writer who admits to spending way too much time reading

Name three songs that would be perfect for the soundtrack of your book.
-Time by Chantal Kreviazuk: I totally see this playing during the trailer of the movie
-Time of My Life by David Cook: (I know, soooo cheesy, but I love it!): I totally see THIS playing on the credits of the movie
-Always On Your Side: Sting and Sheryl Crow: It’s this song of longing and regret and wondering why you didn’t appreciate what you had when you had it, which pretty much sums up the big themes of the book.

What was the inspiration behind the writing of Time of My Life?
I knew I wanted to write a book that dealt with time-travel in some way…the last episodes of Felicity were among my favorite hours of television EVER, and I was drawn to doing something like that. But I didn’t know how to sort it out in my mind. In fact, I mentioned something to my agent about “time-travel” for my next book, and I think she thought I was nuts! But then one afternoon while this was on my mind, my best friend called while she was on vacation in a city of her ex-boyfriend, and she said, “I’m so weirded out…I can’t stop thinking about what my life might have been like.” Then we had one of those intimate life conversations that you can only have with your closest friends about her what-ifs and my what-ifs, and how this was all very normal, even though people didn’t really talk about it. We hung up, and I headed out for a run, and bam, the idea, characters and plotlines just presented themselves very clearly. I came home, wrote what are now the first 14 pages, and sent them off to my agent, who flipped for them. I think, as so many of us get older and look back on our younger years with nostalgia, it’s very easy (and normal) to consider what the other possibilities could have been – and I wanted to explore that.

How do you approach writing your novel? Do you outline the plot? Start with a character or...?
I start with a plot idea - in this case, as I mentioned, I wanted to explore what-ifs and second chances. But the character very much define where the book goes from there. Jillian presented herself to me immediately – her voice and her situation rang very clearly to me on the run I just mentioned – so I came home and wrote HER story, that happened to fit into my plot. But from there, I let her (and the other characters) dictate what happens…often times, a book will go in an unanticipated direction because the characters lead me there. Which I why I don’t work from an outline – it seems like an exercise in futility.

What is your writing schedule like?
When I’m in the writing groove, which I’m not right now, I have a pretty specific schedule because with two kids and a dog to walk, I don’t have a choice. It also really, really helps curb my constant procrastination. So, basically, I drop my son off at school and take a little walk to clear my head. When I get home, I eat breakfast and surf any necessary junky gossip or writing sites that I absolutely can’t live without before I start work. I usually set a time limit for myself because if not, I will do this for the entire day – seriously Facebook or J.Crew or can suck me in forever – so at 10:30 or so, I start writing. I set a word count for myself, when I’m really in the groove, it’s about 2k a day – and this usually takes me about 2 hours to reach. Once I’m there, I break for errand running/lunch picking up/gym, and then if I have magazine stuff to tackle, I do so afterward in the mid-afternoon. Then, I’m off to walk the dog (he gets walked in the morning, so he gets a good romp in with his friends), and then, by 6pm, my sitter leaves, and I’m whipping up dinner for my kids. (And by whipping up, I usually mean nuking something moderately healthy. Let’s not kid ourselves here.)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I waste A LOT of time online. In fact, just the other day I was thinking that I would have so much more free time if the internet hadn’t been invented! But other than catching up with friends on Facebook and reading PerezHilton, I like to hang out with my kids, just chilling with them, seeing movies, reading books (duh), going running (which actually really helps with my writing, as I do some of my best thinking while working out)…just generally relaxing. I’m a pretty low-maintenance person, and we’re a pretty low-maintenance family, so just vegetating while spending time together is pretty much my ideal day!

Thanks so much, Allison! Learn more about Time of My Life and Allison at her Web site:

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