I met Alison Strobel Morrow online, through ACFW--a recurring theme throughout my blog posts. I think you'll enjoy getting to know her better through this interview as much as I have.
Quite a bit, I think, at least into certain characters. Grace, the heroine in my first novel, had my personality, and even a little of her backstory was autobiographical. I have to work sometimes to not write aspects of myself into my characters; I don’t want for all my protagonists to start looking and sounding alike!
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I tend to be VERY literal. Someone asked me once what frozen pizza I liked, to which I replied, “Ew, frozen pizza, why on earth would you eat frozen pizza?!” My dad once asked me to hand him the phone (back in the days before cordless handsets), and I took the entire unit off the wall. Unfortunately, I do that kind of thing all the time.
Interesting. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I started writing down stories in first grade. Composing narratives has always been something I’ve done; I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories, if not on paper, then in my head. I think it really hit me that writing was a passion when, in fourth grade, I went through every writing prompt my teacher had in the “writing folder” in about a week. Kids started asking to read the stories I’d come up with, and I thought, “Hey, I really love this!”—not just the writing, but having people want to read what I’d written, and seeing them enjoy it so much.
I know what you mean. I'm that way. Maybe it's my drama background. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I tend to stick with plain old fiction, although I also love the occasional science fiction story, especially by William Gibson. I always snatch up the newest releases from Amy Tan, Douglas Coupland, and Jodi Picoult—they’re definitely my favorites. And once in a while I get into a biography; I have Kate Remembered in the car, and I read it when we’re out driving and the baby falls asleep and my husband has to run in somewhere. It’s taking me awhile to get through, as you can imagine!
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Other than a truly embarrassing teen saga I wrote over the course of a year’s worth of junior high homerooms and algebra classes (math has never been my strong suit), all of my books have been published.
Check her out at http://alisonstrobel.com/. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I refuse to let the world rush me. My husband and I both work from home, so we don’t have to work on anyone else’s schedules but our own, and that definitely helps. And given that our daughter is still just a baby, we don’t have one of those zany extracurricular schedules for her yet—I’m sure the time will come, though, when I feel like I’m running a taxi company!
Oh yes, I remember feeling like the chauffeur for the world. How do you choose your characters’ names?
If a name hasn’t hit me already when I start to write, then I get out a baby name book and start flipping through it. Usually the sense of a name just fits with a character’s personality, and when I hear it, I just know that’s it. However, in Violette Between, I chose the names of the main characters based on the names’ meaning in French. I chose Violette because I think of that as a strong but fun color, and that combination meshed well with the main character. Saul means ashes, Alexine means helper, and Christian means redeemer, and once you read the book, you’ll probably be able to figure out why each character has their particular name.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Actually finishing two books. I had started many, many books in the past, but never once did I get all the way to the end of one until I finished Worlds Collide. It was quite a shock to realize I’d completed an entire novel. Then, with Violette Between, I ended up deleting (on purpose) my entire manuscript—about 140 pages—three months before my deadline, because the story just wasn’t working. So finishing that book on time was also quite a shock.
I know what you mean. I'm really proud of a friend who had been a book of the month author, starting a new book every month and never finishing any. She's nearing the end of her second completed novel. A very good feeling. Let's turn another direction. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A cat, probably—and I’m not even much of a cat person! But, like cats, I like to lie around and just chill, and then, once in a while, I’ll get a burst of energy that sends me tearing around the house (usually cleaning, however, and not chasing mice or little lights).
What is your favorite food?
Right now, anything with bread or processed sugar in it is my favorite food, because those are the foods I’m trying desperately to avoid. I’m borderline hypoglycemic, and for the past four months I’ve been trying to completely revamp the way I eat. I’ve been a cereal and bread girl my whole life, and I’ve always had a wicked sweet tooth, so going from that extreme to the high-protein, high-fruits-and-veggies end of the spectrum has been a real challenge.
Violette Between asks the question: If you had the chance to relive your life with someone you’d lost, would you take it, even if it meant giving up your future? The story was born out of a friend’s loss—her husband of just a few years, who was only 30 at the time, died of an undetected heart defect—and “The Painter Song” by Norah Jones. One of the song’s lyrics is, “If I were a painter, I would paint my reverie, if that’s the only way for you to be with me.” I heard that song just a couple weeks after my friend’s husband died, and one day I got this image of a widowed painter painting her deceased husband into a mural, and then getting pulled into the mural to be with him. That was the original idea for the book, but you’ll see that I took quite a different tack when I started over.
Readers, I told you this is a different book. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. But if you don't win, you must buy one and read it.
Alison, thank you for this peek into your life. I hope you're busy writing the next one.