Allie Larkin’s debut novel, Stay, was released in mid-2010. She is the cofounder of TheGreenists.com, a site dedicated to helping readers take simple steps toward going green. She lives in New York with her husband, their two German Shepherds, Argo (the cover model for her novel) and Stella, and a three-legged cat. (Interview by Annmarie Ottman)Interviewee A to Z
What inspired you to write Stay?
Stay started as a writing exercise in a college class. I turned it into a short story about two women, Van and Janie, sitting in Starbucks and discussing Van’s messy love life. Years later, I pulled the story out to work on for a writing group. We’d just gotten our dog, Argo, and it occurred to me that Van needed a dog too.
Is there any of your personality in the main character Van?
Absolutely. Van isn’t me, and there are some vast differences, but I think there are some similarities. Van wears her feelings very close to the surface, and I think I do too. I love Boston and 70s and 80s bands in general. And, I have a 105lb black German Shepherd, but he’s from the Catskills, not Slovakia, and he wasn’t a drunken internet purchase.
What is your favourite scene in Stay?
I don’t want to give anything away but it’s a scene where Van really sticks up for herself … in a very Van way. She’s not the most eloquent of speakers when the emotions are running high but I love the way she gets her point across, and the risk she takes because Joe is there for her, no matter what.
How did your book deal come about?
My agent, Rebecca Strauss, pulled my query letter out of the slush pile, invited me to submit my manuscript and offered me representation after reading it. We worked together to get the manuscript ready to submit. When it was ready, Rebecca met with Erika Imranyi at Dutton and gave her the manuscript. Rebecca called me while I was shopping at Target to tell me that Dutton wanted the book. I still can’t remember what I went into the store for, although I suspect it had to do with checking out the new books.
What is your advice to aspiring authors?
Learn how the business works. Read blogs and books about publishing and compare sources. Don’t take any one source as publishing gospel. But don’t get so caught up in your research that you forget to write! If you write fiction, you’re going to need a polished, finished manuscript.
What did you do on the day of your book release?
I went to our local Barnes & Noble and had coffee with one of my bookseller friends. They have an amazing community of booksellers at that store and it was so wonderful to be able to celebrate with other people who love books. Then my husband took me out to dinner.
What has been the biggest lesson you've learned through publishing your first book?
This whole process has taught me that it’s okay to believe in myself. That’s something I’ve struggled with quite a bit, and it’s been incredible to finally go for something I really wanted and see it come to fruition.
Do you need to be a dog lover to enjoy Stay?
I don’t think so. I’ve had some people tell me that they aren’t dog people, but they loved Stay. And it’s not just a dog book. It’s about friendship and family and my main character finding her place in the world and learning to stick up for herself.
Tell us about your website thegreenists.com.
In 2007, I started a green blog called Allie’s Answers. Last year, Courtney Craig and I transitioned Allie’s Answers into a group blog called The Greenists. We focus on simple ways the average person can make their lives a little greener. I love having so many great voices involved. It’s so much fun to wake up every morning, read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, and learn something new.
What's next for you?
I’m working on a brand-new book with brand-new characters but I’d also love to have the chance to revisit the characters from Stay at some point.
Who are your favourite chick lit authors?
Right now, I’m part of a group of writers who have banded together to give away a year’s worth of books to four book clubs. I’m completely in awe, because I feel like I’m hanging out with the big kids. It’s amazing to be included alongside writers I’ve been a fan of for years. There’s a full list of all the writers in the group here - leahstewart.com.
You're stranded on a deserted island. Who do you bring, your husband or your dogs?
The correct answer is husband, right?