Win Your Free Copy of Time of My Life!

Today I am thrilled to present an interview with New York Times bestselling author, Allison Winn Scotch, author of The Department of Lost and Found and Time of My Life.

To celebrate Time of My Life's paperback release on August 4th (and it's sure rocket ride to the New York Times Bestsellers' List, where it also landed in hard cover) we are giving away a copy. To win, read the interview, and answer one simple question.

Now to our conversation with Allison....

As an outsider looking in, Allison, you appear to have an ideal life: handsome husband (I’m guessing!), beautiful and bright children (genetics!) and a stellar career as a rising literary star (New York Times bestsellers!)…. I’m guessing that the impetus for this book didn’t come from your own life. So how did you come up with the premise behind Time of My Life?

Aw, well, thank you! I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful life, yes, but you know, every life has its challenges and its up and downs, so don’t idealize it too much! LOL. Actually, the idea for the book was sparked by my best friend, who called me while she was on a trip to LA, where her ex-boyfriend lives. We had one of those great “what if” conversations that you can have with your closest girlfriends, and I went for a run shortly thereafter (I do my best creative thinking while running), and voila, this idea was sparked. I’m a person who firmly believes that it’s entirely normal to reflect upon your past, so I loved this idea of a woman who could go back and see the mistakes she made (for better or worse) and see if she could come out the other side in any way improved.

Time travel is the vehicle by which Jillian is able to go back in time and examine a ‘what if I’d chosen differently’ scenario. Which of course begs two questions:

1. If you could go back in time, to any point in history, time, or place, where would you like to go?

You know what? I don’t even know! It’s hard for me to say because I don’t know that I’d ever want to go back too far to when women didn’t have the same sort of liberties that we do while going back to, say, 18th century England would be cool in theory, I’m such a 21st century gal that I don’t know how much I’d enjoy it. Boring answer I know. Okay, maybe the 1920s because that seems like a really fun era, or the ‘60s, though I don’t have enough stamina to hang out with the hippies. :) Sorry for the non-answer, but to be honest, I’m pretty grateful to live when I do. I can’t imagine raising children at a time when people didn’t have the choices (and the technology and science and medicine) that we do now.

2. Closer to home, if you were to travel back in time to re-live choices you made at one point in your life, what point would you choose, and why?

Oh gosh, well, to be honest, to point back to your first question, I do think I have a pretty terrific life. That said, I certainly made some choices in my 20s where, maybe I didn’t respect myself in relationships as much as I could have, where maybe, despite my overwhelming sense of confidence that I normally carry around with me, I allowed a lot of doubt to sink in...and I’d probably look back on my younger self and tell her to stand strong, remember who she was, and how she got to be such a kick-ass person. But, you know, I’m sort of an all-roads-lead-to-here type of gal, so I don’t really regret too much about those years. Oh, I’d also probably go back to my senior year in college and enjoy it more rather than anticipating the next step. I mean, come on! Senior year in college – go out and have the greatest time of your life! (No pun intended.)

Along with being a terrific read, is there a message that you want readers to take away from TOML? Is there something that you learned as the story unfolded that would be applicable to your own life?

Great questions: to answer the first, I think it’s really – and I alluded to this above – that you’re in control of your own destiny. Which sounds incredibly hokey, but I believe that life is what you make of it, not what it makes of you. And I think that there are a lot of small choices we can make that will guide us toward the paths we’d like to be on, rather than apathetic choices that might land us on a path we didn’t even consider. I’m a big fan of “responsibility:” my kids hear that a lot (and so does my husband!), so I think one of the themes of this book is OWNING your choices instead of letting them own you. As far as your second question, I think, just in writing and reading Jillian’s journey, I reminded myself about all of my current happinesses. (I just made that word up.) I mean, yeah, I get annoyed at my husband when he leaves his socks on the floor or a mess in the kitchen, and sometimes, this escalates into full-blown irritation on my part, but another overall message of this book – and one that I try to take to heart – is that the life you’re fantasizing about – that perfect husband who doesn’t leave his crap around, the perfect job that doesn’t demand too much of you – is probably a lot shinier in your imagination. It doesn’t exist. You’ve been dealt the hand you’ve been dealt: own it, embrace it, enjoy it.

TOML was your second book, and you are in the process of revising your third, has your writing process changed over time? Does it get easier with each book, or does being a New York Times bestseller add pressure? What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a writer?

Time of My Life was the easiest of the three books I’ve written. While I don’t have so much in common with Jillian, I really understood her, so the words just flew out of me. My first book was still a learning process, and my third, as you suggested, has been a little more difficult because the stakes are a lot higher now. It seems like a silly thing to complain about: oh gee, I’m a NY Times bestseller, and oh, the pressure that comes along with it, but yeah, it’s been a little difficult to step outside of my brain and write what I think is a perfect novel. I know now that there are people anticipating the book, and I also know that TOML has topped some readers’ all-time favorites, so there’s a voice in my head that wonders if I won’t disappoint them. BUT, that said, in line with my responsibility mantra, I refuse to put out a book that isn’t worthy. So I’m just chugging away, and we’re pretty close, I think, to finishing up a worthy follow-up.

Allison, I first ‘met’ you through Ask Allison , which I believe to be one of the most helpful blogs- for-writers on the Internet. Recently, I’ve noticed that as some blogging writers hit the big time they sign-off from blogging either because of time commitments or other reasons, yet you continue to produce writing advice that encourages aspiring and newly published writers. Why do you do it and how do you find the time?

Oh, well, thank you!! That is so sweet of you! Hmmm, well, to be honest, yes, sometimes I have about a million other things to do than writing the blog, and it can feel like a drag, but at the same time, I don’t know, I just enjoy it. I believe in paying it forward, and I know that certainly, a lot of people helped me get to where I am. I also still learn things from other posters, so it’s not just a one-way street. Finally, I think – and I could be wrong about this – that the blog slightly demystifies the mystique of becoming a fairly big-time writer. And I like that. I think it’s sort of funny when people are nervous to write me or meet me or think that I have this ridiculous life. I’m typing this email in my workout clothes, with my dog begging me to be walked, with old coffee cups on my desk, my daughter’s “artwork” stacked on my printer, with a grocery list a mile get my point. :) Oh, and finally, it’s actually just really fun to connect with readers. Yes, of course I hope that they buy my books and spread the word, but I’ve met some great people – you included – thanks to my blog, and when you live the solitary life of a writer like I do, this can make a big difference.

Thank you for your time, Allison, and all the best for the launch of Time of My Life in paperback!

Now it's your turn, to win your free copy of Time of My Life leave your answer to the following question in the comments box:

If you were to travel back in time to re-live a choice you made at one point in your life, what point would you choose, and why?

Remember, to win a FREE copy of Time of My Life, just leave your answer below and you will be automatically entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced on August 10th! Good luck!


Jennifer said…
If I could go back to any time and re-live a choice I made, it would be the choice to put off going to the college of my dreams right after I graduated community college in order to marry the boy I'd been dating. I've always been an independent woman, and somehow, this one boy got to me and swept me off my feet to the point where I thought I needed sweeping.

Fortunately (for reasons that have led me to where I am currently), the boy who swept me off my feet and I cancelled our wedding the day after we mailed the invitations, and I never found my way back to my dream school.

While I am thrilled with the choices I have made because of that experience (and ecstatic to have regained my fearless independence!), I've always wondered how my life would have turned out if I never said "yes" when he proposed, and I followed my original path to my dream school...
Anonymous said…
My wedding day was the best day of my life.
The experience was incredibly intimate and spiritual. If I could go back, I'd do that all over again, and I'd do it slower.
Aimee said…
If I could go back in time I'd probably leave a job that wasn't making me happy sooner. It all goes back to the concept Allison discussed of being in control of your life. For many years I stayed with a job that made me unhappy because I thought I had to. I am so glad to have learned that that is not true. You always have control and can make some sort of change, it took me 7 years to figure that out!
i would go back to when i had to have a mastectomy due to breats cancer, and i would have had the other breast removed at the same time. would have saved me an extra surgery down the road!
Angie Ledbetter said…
What a great interview! Hmm, if I could time travel, I might go back and space those three-babies-in-36-months out a little more. :)
Amanda said…
I would stay in school, rather then leaving the first day, because my siblings called me crying. I have only went back part time over the last 8 years and have a whopping 12 credit hours, I can't help but think what if. Especially, since my sibling grew up to be ungrateful and now treat me and our sick parents like crap.
jpetroroy said…
If I could back, I'd make sure to reassure myself that transferring colleges was ok, rather than agonizing over the decision for ages and ages.
Sam Bradley said…
I wouldn't have allowed a man to take 10 years of my young adult life and make it all about *him*. I think about the education I could have had, the career I could have started, or the other relationships I could have enjoyed. The only good from this situation was that it eventually made me a stronger person.
LT said…
The choice that I made in my life that I would go back and relive and possibly change, would be giving away my virginity before marriage. I would have loved to have saved that gift for my future husband, that way he can have all of me, not just a piece that someone did not take.

That choice is something that can't be taken back once it is given away, but if I could, I would go back and do it!
Penelope said…
Not many people can say that they remember the exact point when their entire future was laid out on two paths, the choice of which would lead to a drastically different lifestyle. I can.

It was a on a trip with my basketball team, during a walk to the to the grocery store. It was the answer to one question, and the choice between two friends. Once the answer was given, my future was set in stone.

And that is the exact point I would go back to.
Vickle88 said…
I think a lot of people who know me would expect me to say that I would go back in time to figure out a way to stop the mental breakdown I had. At the time, it ruined my life. I had to drop out of school, I lost all of my friends, I lost control over everything. Oddly enough, there’s no way I would change what happened. Every single day, every single moment I went through during that time, made me who I am today. It helped me find myself and helped me to learn what I want out of life. I might be a little fuzzy in the execution, but I figure I’ve won half the battle.
Anonymous said…
I would go back to a party when I was eighteen. A woman was madly in love with me and I might have been in love with her but I lost the chance to find out.

She wanted to hook up that night but I was having a great time at the party so I wanted to get together the next day. She took it to mean I wasn't interested.

I've long wondered what might have happened if I had instead spent the night with her.
test said…
I believe that all of our choices and paths have brought us to the exact place God wants us to be. If I could go back and change anything, it would be to live in each moment and be more present. I'd suck it all up and just be there in that moment. The great ones, the sad ones, the tough ones, the embarrassing ones. Just feel it, be it, own it and not be jetting off to the next big thing. I wouldn't have worried about having the right stuff for my babies, I would have taken more pictures, actually labeled what was happening at the moment so I could go back now and relive it. I would have journaled about the love that I felt for my husband in the beginning so I could go back and recall. Especially on those days that I can't remember why I ever fell in love with him and then I would know exactly why and maybe recapture a little of those feelings. I'd live life for the now, not the what if, the maybe tomorrow. Just for the now.
Anonymous said…
Okay...this is probably a redundant answer that you've heard before, but I would go back and make a different choice between two men. I wouldn't have let outside influences sway my opinion or decision and I would have followed my heart. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him, write about him often and cry over him a lot. That's an easy one.
bernthis said…
being a divorcee, I think we all know what choice I would redo but it would have to be that I would still come out with the exact same kid I have now
Auburn said…
If I could go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing. I'd keep it all -- every good thing and every bad thing. Each experience is now a story from which to find my footing. Each moment launches me into remembrances that make life what it is -- sorrowful, radiant, powerful and complete.
anda said…
the choice to go to law school - I would have stayed in journalism instead of winding my way back again after years of struggle, working in big firms, and unhappiness
Unknown said…
I would go back to my grandmother's funeral and share some of my favorite memories of her from the podium, as part of the memorial service, like my dad, brother, aunt, and cousin did. (I used my three small children as an excuse not to do this as well as the short notice that I was given to do it.) I would have also stayed longer with my family after the funeral instead of packing my immediate family up and heading for home (long drive or not). I feel like I wasn't present for the "celebration" of her life after the funeral, which should have taken place. I gave into my husband's wishes to "get on the road" because one or both of us had to go back to work the next day. I would have taken another day off work for this occasion.
Unknown said…
One more quick thing I would like to add, while I would change those small things about my grandmother's funeral. I do not have any regrets about leaving work for several days and driving to Duluth, MN to be by her side along with other family during her last few days of life. (She was in a coma after having a stroke.) I was very fortunate to be there, by her side, when she passed away. That was a real gift to be there with her and with my extended family at this moment. I truly believe we are all empowered by the choices we get to make each day. Some go in a positive direction and some we wish we could re-live.

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