Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Q&A with Alison Rose Greenberg



Alison Rose Greenberg is the author of the new novel Maybe Once, Maybe Twice. She also has written the novel Bad Luck Bridesmaid. She lives in Atlanta.


Q: What inspired you to write Maybe Once, Maybe Twice, and how did you create your characters Maggie, Garrett, and Asher?


A: Someone in my life gave me an elevator pitch: a 30-year-old man told two different women in his past to marry him, and then both women show up at his door.


I remember thinking, that’s not very interesting, because men get all the choices. Society and biology aren’t holding 30-something men at gunpoint, telling them to have life figured during their fertile years.


I had the idea to gender-flip it, and age a female main character up to 35. I’m at the end of my 30s, and in reflecting on this last decade, I was inspired to create a story that would dig deep into the choices women my age face.


With Maggie, I knew I wanted to showcase a dreamer. The creative side of me is reflected in Maggie’s passion for her career coupled with the agony of trying to make it.


To round Maggie out, and make her feel very real to me, I wanted to have her career ambitions complicated by a yearning to start a family. I went through a divorce as a single mom in my early 30s and fought like hell for my career as a screenwriter (and then, author), with two young children in tow.


I wanted Maggie’s resolve to showcase that it’s never too late to fight for a career and fight for the family you desire.


I wanted the men to be very different—but I also didn’t want us to question if they loved Maggie.


Garrett was created to embody That Guy You Pine For. For Maggie, he’s the definition of right guy, wrong time. And he has a difficult time putting his heart on the line—both for Maggie and for his own career.


Conversely, I created Asher to be the soulful artist, an actor who leads with his heart. He’s Mr. Right Guy, Right Time. I played Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” on repeat when writing young Asher. He’s the first love we all wish we had.


Q: Maggie is a musician and music plays a big role in the book. Why did you choose that as a theme, and did you need to do any research to write the novel?


A: I knew Maggie would have the career of a creative, and I’ve always been infatuated with singer-songwriters, so it felt natural to put Maggie into the shoes of a struggling musician.


I researched the hell out the industry. From reading books on lyric-writing, to picking up biographies and autobiographies on female singers, to devouring interviews with female singer-songwriters.


I loved Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile and the Stevie Nicks biography Gold Dust Woman. I dove into the darker sides of the industry, inspired in part by an explosive New York Times article I had read in 2019 about Ryan Adams.


Q: The writer Robinne Lee called the book “an emotional journey of love, lust, longing, and being true to the artist within.” What do you think of that description?


A: I was destroyed (in a great way) by Robinne’s novel, The Idea of You, so her description made me shriek with joy. Maggie leads with her emotions and her whole heart—showing us unapologetically how badly she wants love and how badly she wants to make it in her career.


Q: The novel jumps from one year to another in Maggie’s life. Did you write the story in the order in which it appears, or did you go chronologically through her life and then move things around?


A: My original draft did not have flashbacks as chapters, but rather little pieces and anecdotes peppered into the present.


I’m endlessly grateful for my editor, Alexandra Sehulster. She pushed me out of my comfort zone, and we realized that the most authentic way to tell Maggie’s story was with three timelines.


I created a master Excel spreadsheet of the timelines, and in using and rewriting some of my original draft, I wrote a majority of the story in the order in which it appears, rather than chronologically through her life.


I was able to have a pretty good handle on where Maggie was emotionally in those timelines, which helped me navigate writing the past and present, side-by-side.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Getting all my ducks in a row as I dive into book #3.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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