Jen: Today we welcome Ally Mathews to Romancing the Book. Ally, will you share a short bio with us?
Ally: Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, four dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading or binge watching Psych, Scream, Younger, and superhero movies. She loves to cook but hates to clean up afterwards, and strongly believes that Disney World is truly magical.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Ally: I write historical romance under a different pen name, and about two years ago, I mentioned to my editor that I really wanted to write a YA romance. We brainstormed together and came up with the idea of a story about football players taking ballet lessons. My dad was a high school football coach, and my daughter has been dancing since she was three, so I was very familiar with both topics. I took the idea and decided to make it about one particular football player who had been injured the previous season and was desperate to earn a college football scholarship. His coach suggested he take ballet lessons to improve his game, but when he arrived at the studio, a classmate of his that he didn’t know well saw him and decided to blackmail him because she was equally desperate to try out for a prestigious ballet company and needed a partner to dance with her. That’s how Offsetting Penalties came about.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Ally: I’m a reluctant plotter, but I’m really a pantser at heart. My stories require way too much editing if I try to pants them though, so I force myself to plot. I use a modifed version of a beat sheet (a screenwriting technique), but some parts of it change as I write. The important thing for me is to know the main turning points of the story before I start writing.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Ally: I keep pens and pads of paper all over the place so one is always within reach, and I always carry some with me. If I don’t have paper, I’ll type it into my phone, but I prefer pen and paper because the act of writing it down helps me remember it. I’ve also been known to write on myself with a Sharpie if I’m desperate.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Ally: Oh, that’s an interesting question. I think Australian actress Maia Mitchell would make a great Izzy, and she even has some dance experience. For Garret, I like Leo Howard, who was in the movies Logan and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He also gets bonus points for being an animal lover and volunteering at shelters.
Jen: If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Ally: Madeliene L’Engle. Her work has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was first introduced to her Wrinkle in Time series when I was in elementary school, then moved on to her YA books about the O’Keefe and Austen Families. A Ring of Endless Light is on my top ten list of most favorite books ever. As an adult, I frequently read her Crosswicks Journals and I’ve also enjoyed her adult fiction. Her books helped me gain perspective and work through some difficult times in my life.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Ally: It came in the form of a review from a fabulous reader who compared one of my Regency historicals to an episode of Gilligan’s Island. No, I’m not making this up. It was pure awesomeness.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Ally: A sequel or two for Offsetting Penalties that will pair more members of the football team with some unlikely heroines.