Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Winn Scotch.
Allison, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I got my start as a journalist and freelance magazine writer – in my late ’20s, I really dove into the magazine world, which at the time, was still very much thriving and in its prime. After a few years, that voice in your head that tells you that you should write a book steadily grew louder, and while still freelancing, I banged out my first manuscript… which took me about four years to finish!
Well, that manuscript got me an agent but failed to sell to a publisher. So. I wrote another one! I loved that book, but my agent felt differently and didn’t want to shop it around. So. I fired her! (Welcome to the career of a creative.) I ended up finding a new agent who went on to sell that manuscript in a four-way auction, and it went on to become my debut novel, THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND.
Since then, I’ve pared back my freelancing, primarily doing celebrity interviews and some personal essays, and have now published seven novels. There have been plenty of other roadblocks and obstacles along the way, but I feel very grateful and lucky to have the career that I do and to be able to create worlds that come to life from only a speck of a seed that takes root in my imagination.
Has it been a smooth road?
I imagine that you can ask any creative type this question, and you will get a million different answers. But I also suspect that my experience isn’t all that unusual, which is to say, that there are challenges at every stage of this career. I think a lot of people assume that once you are published, the road forward is smooth and serene, but that’s just not the case. I have had imprints shutter (my favorite imprint which published my second and third books at Random House).
I have had editors jump to a different publisher in the middle of our project on three out of my first four books. I had one book tank, due to circumstances totally outside of my control, and then, despite having two books hit bestseller lists, been unable to sell my fifth. I was told to change genres, to write under a pseudonym, all sorts of things. I stood my ground and ended up publishing that one – my fifth and one of my favorite books – on my own.
It got great reviews, sold film rights, sold foreign rights, sold a variety of subsidiary rights and ended up being one of my best-selling books in general. Because I took that risk and overcame that obstacle, I then received several offers on my sixth book, IN TWENTY YEARS, which went on to be my best-selling book. The lesson here, of course, is that you will be told all sorts of negative things over the years, you will be rejected, you will be spurned, you will be given bad reviews.
None of that really matters if you can keep your head up and keep going. That’s not easy, to be sure. But I suspect that creatives who have the most longevity learn to zig or zag, even if they never wanted to or thought they would ever need to. I didn’t love all of those experiences – though did LOVE indie publishing my book so, so much – but they all lead to the next thing and next step in wherever my career went.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I suppose that I am known for writing pretty honest, incisive novels and characters within the commercial fiction world and genre. Am I allowed to say that? 🙂 I think that is often the feedback that I get from readers: that aspects of whatever world I’ve created really resonate and can cut close to the bone.
That’s what I try for – to leave it all on the page emotionally and comedically and truthfully. Hopefully, that makes a reader feel less alone or more understood or seen or comforted or inspired. I’m guessing a lot of writers would hope for the same thing.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I started my career in New York, which is obviously vibrant and pulsing and was a wonderful place to be a young writer where there was always something happening literally outside my door. Now, I really appreciate the serenity and beauty that Southern California and particularly the west side of LA offer me.
I take a lot of walks or go on runs to kick start my daily writing, and it’s really easy to lose myself to that necessary meditation when I’m surrounded by vast blue skies, towering trees, the wide open ocean, and just the calm that they all bring.
- Website: allisonwinn.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @aswinn
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AllisonWinnScotch/
- Twitter: @aswinn