|Allison Winn Scotch, photo by Kat Tuohy Photography|
Allison Winn Scotch is the author of the new novel Between Me and You. Her other books include The Department of Lost and Found and Time of My Life, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Brides and Family Circle. She lives in Los Angeles.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Between Me and You, and for your characters Tatum and Ben?
A: A few different ways. Tatum was a character in a book I was 100 pages into writing but not enjoying at all. I threw out the book but kept her as a character: she was the only thing I liked about it.
At the same time, my daughter and I were binge-watching Felicity. I started thinking: what would Felicity and Ben be like in 20 years, after life had thrown everything it could at them. I swapped Tatum for Felicity, but Ben (Livingston vs Covington) ☺ became a version of what I envisioned that fictional character to be at 40 or 45. And from there, the book was born.
Q: The book takes an interesting approach to time, with one character's scenes moving forward and one's backward. How complicated was it to write it, and did you plot it all out beforehand?
A: It was, frankly, a complete nightmare to write. I threw out 75 percent of my first draft and then 75 percent of the second draft too.
I really wanted to stick with the structure because what I find interesting about relationships is how far they can divert off the initial heady love-filled days, and I wanted to drive the characters back to those feelings, so I just kept trying and trying.
I worked with a program that allowed me to drag chapters around and constantly play with structure…and yes, eventually, I had sort of a skeleton of an outline, as in, this happens then, so this has to happen next.
I don’t generally work with outlines, so it was a little bit of me trying to write spontaneously while also writing under the confines of a structure.
Q: You begin the book with a quote from Zelda Fitzgerald. Why did you choose it?
A: I’ve always loved this quote, to be honest, and as I searched around looking for an epigraph to capture the spirit of the book, I kept coming back to it because ultimately, I saw this story about the heart’s capacity to expand, forgive and love.
Initially, I had two quotes – I also included one from Mae West – but I felt that Fitzgerald’s was so powerful that I cut the second quote to let hers stand on its own.
Q: Who are some of your favorite writers?
A: Oh gosh, I’m not trying to be cagey but there are so many, too many!, I admire. One thing I really love is when an author takes risks or tries something new.
So in general, I gravitate toward books and authors who surprise me. When I read something that does, I always learn something about my own writing that then raises the bar for me. So I guess that’s a generic way of answering? ☺ But honestly, it’s true!
Recently, a few books I’ve read and loved include Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn. They each played with the constructs of traditional novel formatting a bit, and I loved them all.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just started the very first pages of a new book, though I’m not quite ready to dive in all the way. I’m also working on the screenplay of Between Me and You, which is a new muscle for me, and I’m enjoying figuring it out.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Only that I am so grateful to anyone out there who picks up the book, and I love interacting with readers, so feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. And thank you for having me!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb