Allison Winn Scotch is the author of six novels, most recently In Twenty Years, the story of a group of friends who twenty years earlier shared a house as students at Penn. (In fact, Angelinos, come get your copy signed by Allison at Diesel Bookstore in Brentwood Thursday, July 7, at 6:30 p.m.!) Herself a Penn graduate, Allison was raised in Charlottesville and Seattle, and now calls Los Angeles home. Meet Allison:
What have you learned from parenting, or from your own parents, that you bring to your work as a writer?
My parents raised me to work hard and to be independent, but also to be kind and compassionate and forgiving, and I think you need all of these characteristics to be a writer. Not just because of the autonomy it requires and the kindness you have to give yourself, but even more so, to your characters. It’s funny: my parents joke that I always write these difficult, kind of terrible parenting figures in my books, but I swear that it is not autobiographical! From my own parenting experiences, I think I’ve learned not to judge: judgmental parents are, in my opinion, just the worst kind of people, and I very much subscribe to the live-and-let-live motto of parenting and life in general. Sometimes, I have to use this thinking on my characters too: they don’t always behave properly, but it’s my job to make them honest.
Where do you write? What do you love about it?
I have a home office with wide bay windows and a door that closes firmly to keep my children out. 🙂 No, it’s a very serene spot in our house, and in fact, it’s the room that sold me when we were looking to buy it. I walked in and just thought: aaaaahhhh. Like a giant exhale. There are some wall-to-wall bookshelves, and yes, a lovely bay window that lets in the Santa Monica sun. It’s my favorite room in our house.
If you had a motto, what would it be?
“If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” That’s actually a quote from Emile Zola, and it’s my favorite quote in the world. It kinda nails me.
Who inspires you?
My children. Is that a cheesy thing to say? Gah, when did I become that mom?? But really, they do. They are each uniquely different, and I’m sure like any parent, I’ve learned so much from them. My son is driven and self-motivated and hilarious, and my daughter is independent beyond belief and confident and a ball-buster, and I seriously am in awe of both of them, these fully-formed individuals who just know who they are, even at a young age. This isn’t to say that it’s always smooth-sailing in our house: they’re tweens, after all. But I admire the hell out of each of them.
What charity or community service are you passionate about?
We’re very dedicated to dog rescue. All of our dogs have been rescues, and we donate regularly to support a few rescues who have personally touched us, in addition to spreading the word and using our voices to help share the message of adoption. I’m always encouraging friends to adopt and have placed a few dogs with friends and family, which brings all of us such joy. My husband and I talk about our retirement years when we’ll move to a ranch and adopt, like, 100 dogs (this is seriously his dream) and ideally, independently fund a few rescue organizations in memory of the amazing animals they brought into our lives. It’s very much a goal on our radar.
What are you reading now, and/or what book do you recommend?
I just finished Emily Giffin’s First Come Loves, which is going to be the hit of the summer, no doubt. Now, I’m about half-way through Taylor Jenkin Reid’s One True Loves, which is a luscious swirl of romance and agony, and from there, I have an early copy of Kristina Riggle’s Vivian in Red. I came home from Book Expo with a stack a mile high, so my summer reading is set.
About In Twenty Years: “Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday….Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.”