Interview with Author Allie Larkin + Giveaway

If you’re a dog lover and in need of a heartwarming read, I have just the novel for you! Allie Larkin made her debut with her novel, Stay. This is a story involving the perils of falling in love, friendship, and the calamity of ordering a “puppy” online….a puppy that turns into one hundred pounds of fur and only responds to Slovakian commands that is…

Can guess just how this author knew what man’s best friend is like? Allie lives in Rochester, New York with her husband, two dogs, and one sassy three-legged cat.

1) When did you know you wanted to write a novel?

STAY started as a writing exercise in a college class in 2002.  In an assignment later that semester, I used the exercise to write a short story about Van and her friend Janie, sitting in Starbucks and talking about Van’s failed love life.  Years later, I revisited the story for a writing group, but I only intended to fix up the dialogue and send it out as a story.  Something wasn’t working, and I decided to write some scenes outside of the boundaries of the story, just to get to know the characters better.  I wrote the first chapter of STAY and realized that I hadn’t been telling the right part of the story.  And then I kept writing from there.  Eventually, my writing group convinced me that I was actually writing a book, and not a short story.  So it was never about sitting down and saying, “I think I’ll write a novel.”  It was really all about Van.  I fell in love with her as a character and I wanted to work with her until I felt like I got it right.

2) How did you become a published author?

I worked on STAY over the years, writing eight pages a week for my writing group.  Once I got done with the first draft, I started focusing on it more intensely.  After a few drafts, I started sending out queries.  And I went back and wrote another draft in the middle of that process.  I found my agent, Rebecca Strauss from McIntosh & Otis, on AgentQuery.com.  She pulled my query out of the slush pile, requested the manuscript and offered representation.  A lot of times people don’t believe that it really can happen that way, but it worked for me.  Rebecca met with my editor, Erika Imranyi, at Dutton and told her about STAY.  Erika asked to read it and they made an offer soon after, which was an amazing, life changing thing.

3) What are three things you wished you would have known about the publishing business?

I worked very hard to make sure I had an understanding of how the business of publishing works, so there weren’t as many surprises as there would have been otherwise.  There are a few things I wish I had done before the book came out, to make things a little easier for myself.  I wish I’d worked to streamline my non-writing responsibilities a little better, so I wasn’t trying to juggle quite so much while I was touring.  I wish I’d found a way to have a little more time in each city I visited.  And I wish I’d known just how amazing it feels to talk with readers who love STAY, because it would have quelled some of my pre-book release jitters.

4) What has been your favorite author experience so far?

Hearing from readers that Van and Joe and their story means something to them is the most incredible feeling.  Touring is amazing.  Travel can be stressful and it’s hard to balance everything while I’m on the road, but it isn’t an experience I’d trade for anything.  I got to spend time with other people who love books as much as I do, and that is an incredible gift.

5) What’s the less than thrilling part of being an author?

I love what I do and there’s usually a huge pull to get to work and be in the middle of a story and delving into the lives of characters I’ve fallen in love with.  But some days, even when things are going very well, it can be a little lonely, and it’s hard to resist the urge to leave to meet friends or take an impromptu road trip.  I have to be incredibly self-motivated.  Most days, that’s a really empowering feeling, but sometimes getting myself to sit down with my computer can be an exhausting task in and of itself.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write the first few drafts of your book for you.  Do it on your own schedule and enjoy the process.  Allow yourself to write freely and then worry about sculpting the book into the right form later drafts.  Learn about the business, but don’t allow that to take away from your writing time.  It doesn’t matter if you know how to write a query letter, if you don’t have a finished manuscript.  Realize that it’s all a process and make the commitment to going through the process without getting to far ahead of yourself.

7) Describe your writing space:

Here’s a picture.  I just repainted and moved the furniture around to make it a room I actually want to spend time in.  But I do also migrate around the house while I work.  If I feel like working in the kitchen, I work in the kitchen.  Getting the work done is more important than where I do it.

8 ) Tell me about your novel, Stay:

STAY is about, Savannah “Van” Leone, who is heartbroken when her best friend marries the guy she’s been in love with since college.  She has to be the maid of honor in the wedding (and wear a hideous bright orange dress).  When the wedding is over, she goes home, has a few too many vodka and grape Kool-Aid cocktails, watches a Rin Tin Tin marathon and accidentally orders a German Shepherd off the internet from Slovakia.  The tiny puppy she thinks she’s getting turns out to be a 100lb beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, but Van quickly realizes that the dog, who she names Joe, is the loyal friend she’s been looking for.  Joe leads Van to Dr. Alex Brandt, a veterinarian with floppy blond hair and a winning smile.  But just as things start to heat up with Alex, the newlyweds come back, forcing Van to decide between old relationships and the promise of new ones.

9) Your actual dog, Argo, is on the cover of your book. How did that happen? Was he the inspiration for Van’s dog Joe?

Argo was not an internet purchase and he’s not from Slovakia, but he was the inspiration for Joe.  Argo completely changed my life for the better.  There’s something so powerful about having the kind of constant and unconditional love that dogs give.  I knew if Van had a dog, her life and the way she started to see herself would change.

When it came time to design the cover for STAY, my editor mentioned that there was some difficulty finding a photo of a black German Shepherd, so my husband and I took tons of pictures of Argo and sent them along.  It’s wonderful to have him on the cover.  I couldn’t have written STAY without him.  He’s an incredible friend.

10) You own another German Shepherd named Stella. How did you end up with two German Shepherd dogs? What does your three-legged cat think of them?

The kennel where we board Argo knew of a dog who’s owner couldn’t keep her anymore, so they called to ask if we would be interested in taking her.  And then there were two.

German Shepherds are so smart, and change can be pretty traumatic for them.  She was like living with a wild animal for a little while when she first arrived.  She is a beautiful, funny, sweet and strange little dog (she’s thirty pounds smaller than Argo).  I’m really glad we all worked through the adjustment period, because Stella has an amazing spirit and she tries so hard.  I am a better person for having her in my life.

Argo and the cat don’t often acknowledge each other.  It’s weird – like they don’t see each other.  Stella, however, is obsessed with the cat, and vice versa.  They play their own version of tag.  The cat cries until Stella comes running and then she runs away so Stella will chase her.  It happens over and over again all day long.  It’s noisy, but adorable.

11) What are a few things you can’t live without?

Coffee.  Everything else is really just a bonus.

*To Enter for a chance to win the novel Stay:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (Jan.23). Those who comment will be entered to win. Giveaways are U.S. only (sorry!) When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff

*Follow me on Twitter

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

As always, every name is thrown into a hat or in the case of huge entries…a bucket, and I’ll announce the winners on Jan. 24! Once contacted, the winner will have three days to email me their mailing addresses. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*What’s is the name and type of you favorite pet you’ve had?

For example: For my fifth grade birthday, I bought my first dog, Juliet. She was a little pekingese dog. She’s now 16 years old but she’s still a puppy at heart!

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18 thoughts on “Interview with Author Allie Larkin + Giveaway

  1. Bobbi says:

    Sounds like sweet story for dog lovers:)

  2. Nancye Davis says:

    I follow you on Twitter
    @NancyeDavis

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

    ** The date and time are wrong on your blog. Right now in Kentucky it is 1/23 11:59PM

  3. Nancye Davis says:

    I like you on Facebook

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  4. Nancye Davis says:

    email subscriber

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  5. Nancye Davis says:

    My fave pet is my Miniature Schnauzer named Abby. I have her now and love her to pieces!!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  6. Shana says:

    My favorite pet (besides my two current kitties, Yossi and Isaac, who are reading this over my shoulder) was my first kitty, Zodiac, a beautiful gray tabby with the personality of a princess. Sadly, she’s over the Rainbow Bridge now, but oh, how I loved her.

    I’m a blog subscriber via email.

  7. Lisa M831 says:

    I dont know if I can just have one so right now we have
    Horse named Lee
    Turtle Named Briann
    Cat names Chevy.

    I love them all!
    lisa.mcgeen@hotmail.com

  8. Pauline Tilbe says:

    Dang…you ask this question and I think about all these dogs and try to pick one and now I’m crying. So, for just one, I say Sandy, our Cocker Spaniel. We adopted her from the local shelter 12/9/06 when she was 3. She had been there 3 months because she needed very expensive surgery on her ears. We adopted her, thinking the cost of the surgery would be in lieu of Christmas presents. The day we showed up with her for the surgery, the staff notified us that they had collected enough donations in the 3 months to cover her surgery. She’s deaf. She’s beautiful and she’s my special little girl…all our other dogs are also rescues, and all male so she’s my girly girl….only she’s more of a tomboy.
    And I LOVE Allie’s book!

  9. Jane Cook says:

    Oooo, favorite pet? OMG, I’m almost 50, and I’ve had pets since I was 6, maybe younger. I’ll try.
    It would be a cat; I’ve loved dogs, but cats have known my soul. Even though my Siamese Boo-Boo (my first) and Koko (my first as an adult) were both special, and gave me beautiful kittens, I have to say my Tonkinese Koko (what a coincidence) that now owns me is probably my ‘favorite’ simply because we’ve been together the longest (14 years), through the death of my husband and beyond.
    I would love to read this book – my Shephard Tasha had a ‘special’ relationship with our cats; she was a gentle giant, and we’d often look outside in the morning to see several cats asleep on the dog while she waited patiently for us to bring her food.

  10. Alicia says:

    I have to choose which pet was my favorite? Oh boy. Well, I’d have to say my very first pet, Thumper. And yes, he was a bunny. Then there was my kitty, Atilla, who was with me for most of my twenties and then I had to put him down in my thirties….that was the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.

    I am a blog follower and twitter follwer.

    I also tweeted about it: http://twitter.com/#!/aliciacald

  11. Tara H. says:

    I have had two favorite dogs…Buzz and Echo. I love them both the same, so it’s hard to say one is a favorite over the other. Buzz, passed away three years ago, two days before his 7th birthday, due to cancer. He was a Rott-Shepherd mix and the most loving being you could meet. Echo, came into our lives through a shelter. He is an Australian Cattle Dog mix and he makes life fun. He definitely has taught me how to enjoy each and every day by all his silly antics. He is such a sweetie and I don’t know what I would do without him. He is also such a sweet, loving dog!

    I wanted to add that I read ‘Stay’ and it’s an absolutely wonderful book! I highly recommend this book!

  12. Ruthie B says:

    When I was first married my husband brought home a puppy that was a ‘schnoodle’…a combination of a schnauzer & a poodle. We named her Pookie & had no idea how to train her & as result I can tell you many stories of what we used to come home to after work…funny now but not back then. She was sweet & cute & lovable & we had her for 12 years until she died of old age. RIP Pookie!

    Email subscriber & FB follower

  13. Nancy H says:

    I also follow you on Twitter, am a FB fan and subscribe to your blog!

  14. Nancy H says:

    Smudge (cat) was her name. She came with my husband. At first, Smudge did not like me, she hated change. She used to attack me at night. I would sleep facing toward the center of the bed, with the covers over my head because she would dive bomb off the dresser onto my head. But as she got older and realized I wasn’t going to go away, she became my constant companion. We had many good times together before she passed away in 2009 at the age of 18. Even though we now have new furry friends, Smudge is never forgotten. She is still missed in our household.

  15. Krista says:

    When I was in elementary school my family got a Shih Tzu name Rosie. She was the best dog ever. My sisters and I used to play dress up with her for hours and she would just put up with us! I still remember making her do the Turkey Trot over and over and over, we thought it was so funny.

  16. Nina says:

    I just discovered this blog through a link on twitter on BookSparksPR, and I definitely plan to visit again! (to make sure of it, I am now following you on twitter!) But to pick ONE favorite pet?! I would have to pick my current pet, my dog Sarah. She wasn’t ordered online, but we did hear of her through a Labrador Rescue Group we discovered online! She is certainly the sweetest dog I know, and I am so grateful for rescue groups such as this one that kept her alive and brought her into my life!

  17. Snitz says:

    I have my own puppy, Bailey, but 3 weeks ago, we had to put our beloved lab mix, Morgan to sleep. She would have turned 14 years old this past Monday and she will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart. I don’t say I love her more than I love my little Bailey, but since her death is so fresh, I have to honor her and put her at the top of the list for now!

  18. Shannon says:

    Well this is hard since I have 4 cats and an african grey parrot but I’d say my favorite (now don’t tell the rest) is my oldest cat. She is 13 years old and I have had her longer than my kids! She is a muted calico and she listens to me and we talk quite nicely. She communicates just by looking at me and some getting me to follow her simple direction! She comes when she’s called and is just the best cat!

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