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Interview with Allie Larkin: ‘The most important thing to do is figure out how you work best’

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Allie Larkin and Argo

Allie Larkin lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, Jeremy, their two German Shepherds, Argo and Stella, and a three-legged cat. She is the co-founder of TheGreenists.com, a site dedicated to helping readers take simple steps toward going green.

STAY is her first novel.

You can visit Allie’s website at www.allielarkinwrites.com.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Allie.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Stay is my first published novel.

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

I did start a book for my senior project in college.  I actually can’t remember the name of it anymore.  I don’t think I ever settled on a title.  I stopped writing it because it was very dark, dreary and overly descriptive. I hadn’t found my voice yet.  I was trying to be something I wasn’t.  I started Stay in college too, but I was just working on it as a short story at the time.  In writing those early drafts about Van, the main character in Stay, I figured out who I am as a writer.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

I went through a fairly long process in finding an agent, because halfway through the agent search, a friend read Stay and gave me some excellent revision advice.  I stopped, rewrote, and then started my agent search again.  But once I had an agent and we started submitting, things happened fairly quickly.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

I saved all my agent rejection letters.  Submitting my work was a big step for me.  And even rejection letters were a sign that I was going for it – I was in the game.  Even a rejection was something of an accomplishment.  I also had a system: any time I got a rejection, I sent out a new query letter.  It kept me looking ahead and it didn’t give me much time to mope.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

Dutton published STAY.  They have such a strong track record of publishing great commercial fiction and I’m honored to be working with them.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

My book tour has really felt like a celebration.  This summer, touring for Stay, I’ve gotten to see old friends, meet people I’ve only known through Twitter and blogging in person, and hear from people who read my book and wanted to talk about it.  That’s such a gift.  I’m still a little stunned and so very thankful.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

My very first event was at my local bookstore.  It’s where I shop, and where I go to book club.  It’s one of my favorite places in Rochester.  And it meant so much to me to start everything there.

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

I learned so much in this process.  Maybe there were little things I could have done here and there to make things easier, but easy doesn’t always allow for the same kind of growth or richness of experience.

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

I wrote an essay about our dog, Stella, that will be in an anthology of dog essays edited by Wade Rouse called, I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship next year. And I’m working on my next book.  I learned so much through the editing process for Stay.  Plus, seeing a book through from idea to completion makes writing the next one seem like a little less of a daunting task.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

When I first started writing, I was trying to hard to write what I thought I was “supposed to” write, instead of just following my gut and writing the kinds of books I’d want to read.  But it’s all a process.  There’s not a lot I would have done differently, because I learned from my mistakes.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

I have been lucky to get some really wonderful reader e-mails.  The idea that my book means so much to someone that they are inspired to write to me is amazing.  I am really thankful for the opportunity to share Stay with readers and so appreciative when they share what the story means to them.

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

I am fascinated by animal behavior.  I could watch my dogs play together all day, and I love observing the subtleties of their interactions.  And I am sucker for nature documentaries.  I think, had I thought to take the necessary science classes when I was younger, I could be quite happy as an animal behaviorist.

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

I think I’m in a good place.  I get to spend my days writing with snoring dogs at my feet.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

When I turned thirty, I decided that my goal was to be healthier at forty than I was at thirty.  I’m thirty-three now, so by forty-three, I hope I’m in darn good shape.  And, of course, I’ll still be writing.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

The most important thing to do is figure out how you work best.  What inspires you and motivates you to write.  Because, at the end of the day, if you don’t write the book, no one is going to publish it.


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