I was first charmed by Sarah Addison Allen’s writing and how effortlessly she weaves magic through her stories when I picked up her 2007 debut, GARDEN SPELLS. It’s the story of the Waverley sisters — Claire and Sydney — two women with a curious family history, peculiar mystical ‘gifts,’ and a magical apple tree in the backyard with a personality all of its own. I quickly devoured the rest of her books, always hoping we’d hear more from the Waverleys one day…
So now I’d like to say, “Thank you, Sarah!”
FIRST FROST, her latest novel (out January 20th!), picks up where GARDEN SPELLS left off. We’re back in the Waverley home, and though some time has passed and life has changed for everyone, being reunited with the characters and their stories was oh-so satisfying for this fan.
Okay, enough of my gushing. Here’s more about Sarah, including the career she dreamed of as a child, her advice for writers, and a secret about Claire Waverley…
The road to publication is twisty at best–tell us about some of your twists.
Despite a lifelong love of writing, I didn’t always want to be a writer. When I was a kid, my most fervent hope was to become a trash man when I grew up. I would daydream about it.
But I gave up on my dream of waste management and decided to pursue writing as a career when I graduated from college. I wrote for about 12 years, sold a few small things, but then I went through a very long dry spell during which I wrote like a fiend, trying to follow what was hot in the market, and couldn’t sell a thing. That’s when I decided to write the story I wanted to write, not the story I thought would mostly likely get published. I followed my voice, not the market. I wrote Garden Spells. And that’s when my big break occurred
Occasionally, though, I still daydream about how fun it would be to ride on the back of a garbage truck.
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel.
One of the main characters in First Frost, Claire Waverley, is associated with a couple of hidden “easter eggs” in the book. Although a standalone book, First Frost is a continuation of my 2007 book Garden Spells, and there are a few metafictional nods to that first book die-hard fans of Garden Spells might recognize. One hint: Claire actually describes the cover of Garden Spells when referring to something else in First Frost.
If you were a drink (preferably alcoholic), what would you be and why?
I love this question.
A Scarlett O’Hara (Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, lime juice)— because, like Scarlett, I sometimes look at curtains and think they would make awesome dresses.
But occasionally I’m a Rhett Butler (Southern Comfort, lime juice, lemon juice, Triple Sec, powdered sugar) and not give a damn.
Now I want a sit down with a drink and watch Gone with the Wind.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Trying to get published is sometimes a disheartening process because writing isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are. Rejection feels so personal. The best advice I can give is to just keep writing, no matter what. Don’t give up because of the dark days. Succeed in spite of them. The dark days will make the bright days seem even brighter. So bright you can hardly stand it.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
Maybe not one book, but one genre. I am a big fan of magical realism. And my favorites continue to be the first I ever read, in college. I think the newness, the way this literary device opened a whole new world for me when I discovered it, made these titles unforgettable, like first loves: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chapppell, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel, A History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters by Julian Barnes.
Thank you, Sarah, for stopping by!
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, January 23rd to enter to win a copy of FIRST FROST (U.S. only). Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
SARAH ADDISON ALLEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Peach Keeper, and Lost Lake. She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. Visit her at www.sarahadduisonallen.com. Follow Sarah on Facebook and Twitter.
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