I mentioned last week that Allie, one of my friends from the blogging world was stopping by little ‘ole Blatherskite to let me interview her. But before we get to the interview I should tell you that her book Stay was released two days ago on June 10th. You seriously should go out and buy it. Like I said, it has gotten great reviews and it was even featured in People Magazine! Allie is a fantastic writer (just read her query letter if you don’t believe me. That is one damn good query letter). I know you won’t be disappointed.
So. Without further adieu. I present my interview with Allie Larkin:
1. Being a children’s librarian, I have to ask, what was your favorite book as a child? What did you like about it?
I have the hardest time picking one favorite anything. Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, The Ordinary Princess – if it had a strong, smart, impulsive, and possibly impetuous girl in it, I loved reading it.
2. What advice can you give someone who is thinking about following your path and becoming a novelist?
Get comfortable with the idea of rejection. And I’m not saying that in a negative way. It’s just a fact. I don’t think it’s true of just writing. Any time you put yourself out there creatively, your work is probably going to get rejected in one way or another. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Rejection isn’t an end point. It is, absolutely, a growth opportunity. Rejection is a chance to say, ‘How can I improve?’ or a chance to seriously consider the criticism and then say, ‘I don’t agree.’ And when you don’t agree, and you stand up for your work, it builds strength. I grew so much as a writer and as a person through the process of getting rejected. I’m not going to pretend it always felt good, and there is a time and a place for moping (and ice cream, and sappy movies), but there’s no shame or greater proclamation about your personhood in someone considering your work and saying, “Hey, sorry! This isn’t for me.” It’s good to realize that. And it’s important to pick up the pieces and keep going.
It’s also very important to learn how to submit work. Understand the submission process, learn the basics of publishing, and put your best foot forward when you do send your work out. AgentQuery.com is a great resource. As are the archives on Ms. Snark’s blog (http://misssnark.blogspot.com/).
3. On your blog, you talk about being ADD. What advice could you give to a young person struggling with the same issues you dealt with in school (i.e. a Mrs. X)?
Don’t let other people, even if they are adults and teachers, define who you are or how you feel about yourself. Being a grown-up doesn’t necessarily make someone right. It’s hard, at that age, to realize that for good or bad, teachers are people too. I think, when I was younger and had teachers who treated me like I was not so smart, there was a very tiny glimmering part of me that suspected they were wrong, but I didn’t have confidence yet to go with that feeling.
I also had some teachers who were amazing and encouraging. Looking back, I realize that if I had talked with them about how I’d been treated in other classes, they would have been more than willing to help. I would encourage any young person who is feeling discouraged the way I was to find an adult to talk with about it. I hid those feelings, because I was ashamed by the idea that maybe there was something wrong with me, or I was somehow less than the people around me. But, there is no shame in feeling lost or struggling. Everyone struggles in one way or another, and there’s no need to pretend like you don’t. People like Mrs. X lose their power if you don’t hold their comments and actions inside as a secret.
I think it’s also important to note that at this point in my life, ADD is absolutely a gift. Yes, I still struggle with some organizational tasks. I’d rather pull my teeth out one by one than do my taxes or balance my checkbook. But the creative process, and my ability to multi-task and deal with a lot of different directions of work at once are, I think, a part of the gift of ADD. And I do think that struggling with it when I was younger helped me to develop a sensitivity that is very useful in writing.
4. “Stay” is your first book, and it is getting really good reception. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in your shoes right now. So I will ask. How does it feel to be in Allie Larkin’s shoes right now?
It’s a little surreal, but I’m not going to lie, it feels pretty darn good. I love Van, the main character in STAY, so much, and it’s wonderful to know that other people are connecting with her. I feel such a connection to the people reading STAY, and I love that. Book blogs, twitter, Facebook, etc. are amazing ways to connect readers and writers, (which is something I appreciate as both a reader and a writer), and I think there’s a fantastic sense of community out there. Reading used to be so much more of a solitary act, and now there are great opportunities to connect more through reading. I love being able to communicate with authors of books I love, and I’m looking forward to connecting with people who enjoy STAY. I am very excited!
Allie, thank you for visiting Blatherskite and allowing me to interview you! Congrats on your success! I am so incredibly happy for you. It makes me very happy to see good things happen to truly good people. 🙂