Jen: Today we are happy to welcome Allison Winn Scotch to Romancing the Book. Allison, please tell us about The Song Remains the Same and where the idea came from.
Allison: The Song Remains the Same is about a woman who survives a plane crash but who loses her memory in the process, and has to put her life back together from the stories that her friends and family relay back to her. Obviously, this is an extreme situation (!), but what it really explores is who we are without our past history (or who we are because of it), and how we can move forward into a new and different life while not leaving the past behind. The idea came from the fact that I have recurring plane crash dreams that really shake me to my core, and because they are almost always an indication that something subconsciously is bothering me. So I took what is one of my greatest fears and managed to write about it in a way that was sort of cathartic for me. The book itself isn’t about the crash at all, but that gave me a launching pad to explore what I always love to explore in my books: what if you’re not living your best life? How can you get there? What’s next?
Jen: Was there any special research that went into this book?
Allison: My father is a neurosurgeon, so I had a decent understanding of the brain (as much as you can without going to medical school and by hearing about his surgeries over dinner every night while growing up), but I did do a fair amount of research as to why and how this can happen to a brain. Because as out-there as it sounds, amnesia does indeed occur. I also spent A LOT of time filtering through old music catalogs. The book is built around a music play list, and I took a lot of care into which songs and lyrics I selected: it was many, many months of listening, remembering old favorites, and fine-tuning until the playlist was a perfect reflection of Nell’s life.
Jen: What does one of your days look like?
Allison: It really depends on where I am in a project. When I’m in the thick of a book or a script, I take my daughter to school, come home for a quick workout, and then spend most of the day writing. I take a break in the middle of the day for lunch and errands and a dog walk, but then I’m back to it before my kids get home. When I’m not smack in the middle of a big project, it really varies. Today, I’m spending the morning working on interviews and promotional things, and then I might blow off the afternoon. (Shhhh.) 🙂 Some days, I’m juggling celebrity interviews which I write for a bunch of places, some days, I’m just catching up on emails and reader tweets and that sort of thing. It’s a perfect job for me because my personality gets really antsy with monotony, so I rarely do the same thing two days in a row.
Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
Allison: There are too many other writers to cite: truly, at every point in my life, someone new has come along to help push me to be a better writer, whether it was Judy Blume as a child or Laura Dave, my critique partner and dear friend, or someone like Nick Hornby, who I read obsessively in my 20s as I was developing my craft. Right now, as cheesy as this sounds, my kids inspire me. They provide a soft place to land if I’m having a crappy day, and they’ve enriched my life in ways that you can’t explain until you become a parent. This probably fuels my emotional life which helps me write deeper, more nuanced characters.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Allison: I’ve been working on a few screenplays over the past year, and I just filed one with my producers. So I’m really excited to see what’s next there. As I mentioned above, I’m someone who loves what she does but also gets bored after a while, so I always like to take on new challenges. Learning to write a screenplay was an entirely different endeavor than writing a novel, so I’ve certainly had a steep learning curve to ascend. I’m still learning, but it’s been a blast – I can’t wait to see what else is in store!
Jen: Please share a short bio with us.
Allison: I was born in the ’70s at 3:43 AM in Charlottesville, VA. After my mother assured my father that yes, he could take that business trip to Montreal because, no, there was no chance that I would be making my appearance while he was gone, out I popped. Which my parents now like to use as a frequent analogy about my general attitude and overall take on life.
Er, not the kind of biographical information you were looking for? Then continue reading my bio at my website.
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