Q&A With "Stay" Author Allie Larkin
I’m a sucker for compelling new women’s fiction, and when there’s an adorable German shepherd puppy on the cover, well, I’m sold! I recently read, and loved, Allie Larkin‘s debut novel, Stay, a terrific story that drew me in from the very early pages. I highly recommend it and think you should order it from Amazon, or your favorite bookstore ASAP! Ask my husband, the evening Stay arrived in the mail, I was on the couch, book in hand, for hours. What a fun read! And, I met Allie a few weeks ago in Seattle at our mutual author friend Allison Winn Scotch’s reading, and I can tell you the author is as lovely and kind as the book. Turns out, Allie was sitting next to me, and we got to chatting. Allie and I are both Penguin authors, though my book is a few months behind her’s (won’t be out until June 2011, but cover designs are beginning this week, so stay tuned for some updates on my novel!). She lives in Rochester New York with her hubby and two pooches.
I recently chatted with Ali about book stuff, and here’s what she had to say:
SJ: I love that there’s a pet element to your book and that Joe, the adorable, rascally German shepherd, is a main character. I know you are an animal lover (with two pooches at home), so when you set out to write this novel, did you have your heart set on writing something about dogs?
AL: I didn’t set out to write a story about a dog. STAY started as a short story about two women, Van and Janie, discussing Van’s messy love life while having coffee at Starbucks.
I put the story aside for several years, but decided to start working on it again shortly after we got Argo (who happens to be the cover model). Argo completely changed my life for the better. Van was so stalled in her life, and I realized that getting a dog would be a perfect way to push her forward. How I came up with the idea to have Van order a dog off the internet while drunk and watching Rin Tin Tin episodes is beyond me. It just kind of happened.
SJ: Your main character, Van (Savannah), is dealing with some serious heartache over the man she loves—having to watch him marry her best friend (ouch!). You write those scenes with such authenticity, I wondered if you’d experienced such heartbreak?
AL: I’ve never been in love with any of my friends’ significant others (unless you count the fact that in fourth grade my best friend and I had the same crush). But I experienced my fair share of heartbreak and unrequited love when I was younger. I think it’s part of growing up–not everyone is in the same stage at the same time. Sometimes the people we love don’t have the capacity to love us back the way we need them to, and it hurts.
SJ: Tell us a little about the process for writing this novel, your first: Did the story come to you easily? Did it take a long time to write? Did you have a full-time job while writing and squeeze in writing at night?
All of the above. Some scenes almost seemed to write themselves, but then there were times STAY felt like my never ending project–like I’d be ninety-two, still trying to figure out the fate of Van and her trusty dog, Joe.
For much of the process I did have a full-time job. I wrote at a pace of eight pages a week for my writing group. Group met on Monday night back then, so I spent many a Sunday evening writing scenes I’d been playing around with in my head all week. For the final stages of the book, I was lucky enough to be writing full time. My husband put in extra time so I could stay home to write. I am constantly in awe of his belief in me. STAY couldn’t have happened without him.
SJ: I can totally see this movie on the big screen! Any film interest so far? Any ideas on who you would like to play Van?
AS: I’m always hesitant to say who I’d like to play Van. I really want readers to relate to her in their own way, instead of picturing a certain actor as they read. But I absolutely love hearing everyone’s thoughts for casting. It’s so interesting!
My favorite game is looking for Van and Janie in real life. A woman who looked almost exactly the way I picture Van served us drinks at a bar in Seattle. And in the airport last week, I saw a woman who looked and acted the way I think Janie probably would ten years after STAY takes place. I think everyone around me is thankful that I realize it would be weird to walk up to a stranger and say, “You know, you look exactly like a person I made up in my head,” but sometimes I am so tempted.
I also have to say that Julia Whelan, who read STAY for the audio book, sounded exactly like I thought Van should. I cried when I heard it the first time. It was eerie and absolutely amazing.
SJ: Finally, tell us what you’re working on now? Is there a new novel on tap? If so, can you give us a little hint?
AL: I am working on something new. Like STAY, it focuses on the complicated nature of friendships, but with completely new characters in a very different situation. I think that’s really all I can say about it right now. And I’d love to revisit Van and the other characters from STAY at some point.
Thank you Allie!