To celebrate Time of My Life's paperback release on August 4th (and it's sure rocket ride to the New York Times Bestsellers' List, where it also landed in hard cover) we are giving away a copy. To win, read the interview, and answer one simple question.
Now to our conversation with Allison....
As an outsider looking in, Allison, you appear to have an ideal life: handsome husband (I’m guessing!), beautiful and bright children (genetics!) and a stellar career as a rising literary star (New York Times bestsellers!)…. I’m guessing that the impetus for this book didn’t come from your own life. So how did you come up with the premise behind Time of My Life?
Aw, well, thank you! I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful life, yes, but you know, every life has its challenges and its up and downs, so don’t idealize it too much! LOL. Actually, the idea for the book was sparked by my best friend, who called me while she was on a trip to LA, where her ex-boyfriend lives. We had one of those great “what if” conversations that you can have with your closest girlfriends, and I went for a run shortly thereafter (I do my best creative thinking while running), and voila, this idea was sparked. I’m a person who firmly believes that it’s entirely normal to reflect upon your past, so I loved this idea of a woman who could go back and see the mistakes she made (for better or worse) and see if she could come out the other side in any way improved.
Time travel is the vehicle by which Jillian is able to go back in time and examine a ‘what if I’d chosen differently’ scenario. Which of course begs two questions:
1. If you could go back in time, to any point in history, time, or place, where would you like to go?
You know what? I don’t even know! It’s hard for me to say because I don’t know that I’d ever want to go back too far to when women didn’t have the same sort of liberties that we do today...so while going back to, say, 18th century England would be cool in theory, I’m such a 21st century gal that I don’t know how much I’d enjoy it. Boring answer I know. Okay, maybe the 1920s because that seems like a really fun era, or the ‘60s, though I don’t have enough stamina to hang out with the hippies. :) Sorry for the non-answer, but to be honest, I’m pretty grateful to live when I do. I can’t imagine raising children at a time when people didn’t have the choices (and the technology and science and medicine) that we do now.
2. Closer to home, if you were to travel back in time to re-live choices you made at one point in your life, what point would you choose, and why?
Oh gosh, well, to be honest, to point back to your first question, I do think I have a pretty terrific life. That said, I certainly made some choices in my 20s where, maybe I didn’t respect myself in relationships as much as I could have, where maybe, despite my overwhelming sense of confidence that I normally carry around with me, I allowed a lot of doubt to sink in...and I’d probably look back on my younger self and tell her to stand strong, remember who she was, and how she got to be such a kick-ass person. But, you know, I’m sort of an all-roads-lead-to-here type of gal, so I don’t really regret too much about those years. Oh, I’d also probably go back to my senior year in college and enjoy it more rather than anticipating the next step. I mean, come on! Senior year in college – go out and have the greatest time of your life! (No pun intended.)
Along with being a terrific read, is there a message that you want readers to take away from TOML? Is there something that you learned as the story unfolded that would be applicable to your own life?
Great questions: to answer the first, I think it’s really – and I alluded to this above – that you’re in control of your own destiny. Which sounds incredibly hokey, but I believe that life is what you make of it, not what it makes of you. And I think that there are a lot of small choices we can make that will guide us toward the paths we’d like to be on, rather than apathetic choices that might land us on a path we didn’t even consider. I’m a big fan of “responsibility:” my kids hear that a lot (and so does my husband!), so I think one of the themes of this book is OWNING your choices instead of letting them own you. As far as your second question, I think, just in writing and reading Jillian’s journey, I reminded myself about all of my current happinesses. (I just made that word up.) I mean, yeah, I get annoyed at my husband when he leaves his socks on the floor or a mess in the kitchen, and sometimes, this escalates into full-blown irritation on my part, but another overall message of this book – and one that I try to take to heart – is that the life you’re fantasizing about – that perfect husband who doesn’t leave his crap around, the perfect job that doesn’t demand too much of you – is probably a lot shinier in your imagination. It doesn’t exist. You’ve been dealt the hand you’ve been dealt: own it, embrace it, enjoy it.
TOML was your second book, and you are in the process of revising your third, has your writing process changed over time? Does it get easier with each book, or does being a New York Times bestseller add pressure? What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a writer?
Time of My Life was the easiest of the three books I’ve written. While I don’t have so much in common with Jillian, I really understood her, so the words just flew out of me. My first book was still a learning process, and my third, as you suggested, has been a little more difficult because the stakes are a lot higher now. It seems like a silly thing to complain about: oh gee, I’m a NY Times bestseller, and oh, the pressure that comes along with it, but yeah, it’s been a little difficult to step outside of my brain and write what I think is a perfect novel. I know now that there are people anticipating the book, and I also know that TOML has topped some readers’ all-time favorites, so there’s a voice in my head that wonders if I won’t disappoint them. BUT, that said, in line with my responsibility mantra, I refuse to put out a book that isn’t worthy. So I’m just chugging away, and we’re pretty close, I think, to finishing up a worthy follow-up.
Allison, I first ‘met’ you through Ask Allison
Oh, well, thank you!! That is so sweet of you! Hmmm, well, to be honest, yes, sometimes I have about a million other things to do than writing the blog, and it can feel like a drag, but at the same time, I don’t know, I just enjoy it. I believe in paying it forward, and I know that certainly, a lot of people helped me get to where I am. I also still learn things from other posters, so it’s not just a one-way street. Finally, I think – and I could be wrong about this – that the blog slightly demystifies the mystique of becoming a fairly big-time writer. And I like that. I think it’s sort of funny when people are nervous to write me or meet me or think that I have this ridiculous life. I’m typing this email in my workout clothes, with my dog begging me to be walked, with old coffee cups on my desk, my daughter’s “artwork” stacked on my printer, with a grocery list a mile long...you get my point. :) Oh, and finally, it’s actually just really fun to connect with readers. Yes, of course I hope that they buy my books and spread the word, but I’ve met some great people – you included – thanks to my blog, and when you live the solitary life of a writer like I do, this can make a big difference.
Thank you for your time, Allison, and all the best for the launch of Time of My Life in paperback!
Now it's your turn, to win your free copy of Time of My Life leave your answer to the following question in the comments box:
If you were to travel back in time to re-live a choice you made at one point in your life, what point would you choose, and why?
Remember, to win a FREE copy of Time of My Life, just leave your answer below and you will be automatically entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced on August 10th! Good luck!