Take Five: Allison Winn Scotch and The Theory of Opposites

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Allison Winn Scotch’s latest book–The Theory of Opposites–just released, and as likely know it’s a big departure for her as this is her first foray into self-publishing. If you missed her post with us last week, check it out here, and then come back. Today, we’re with Allison to talk more about the book itself. Read on!

Q: What’s the premise of The Theory of Opposites?

Like a lot of my books, it explores the notion of living our best lives, of taking more risk, of finding more fulfillment. Beyond that, it’s the story of Willa Chandler-Golden, whose father has proven that free will doesn’t exist, and whose entire life has been one of inertia. When everything is turned on its head – her husband proposes a two month break, she is fired from her job, her 12-year old step-nephew moves in – she’s forced to take responsibility for her life. There’s also an incredibly insane – but lovable – cast of family characters, including a famous yogi-brother and a xanax-semi-addicted sister.

Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

That it is, in my opinion, a ridiculous roller-coaster of a story and a ride. And by “ridiculous,” I mean fun but not so fun that you won’t hopefully pause and consider your own notions of fate and free will and meant-to-be. I honestly wanted to write a page-turning, riotous book that as a reader, I’d enjoy. So that’s what I did.

Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

Willa has to overcome so much – a wavering husband, an bonkers family, an ex-boyfriend who pops up on Facebook – but more than any of these things, what she really has to overcome is herself. Her self-doubt; her listlessness; her unwillingness to take accountability for her actions. And I guess I believe the same is true for our own lives off the page: we have to own who we are, what are mistakes might be…and so I presented Willa with these same challenges. There are the obvious challenges – like, her dad is the nation’s #1 self-help guru and has shaped her whole life – but there are more subtle challenges too. Like…who are you when the night falls quiet, and it’s just you and your thoughts and your determination? That’s really the bigger challenge for Willa.

Q: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

Ha ha ha ha ha! Well, as I’ve mentioned before on Writer Unboxed, everything about this book was a challenge. From finding the motivation to write it to deciding to publish it on my own after four books a traditional house. I came very, very, very close to walking away from the industry entirely. The book itself, once I started writing it, was wonderful and thrilling and the best writing experience I’ve had in a long time. But all of the factors that swirled around it were certainly the biggest challenges of my career.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

EVERYTHING. I mean it. Every. Single. Thing. To begin with, I truly love this book. I love these characters, I feel for them, I care for them deeply. I feel, and this may sound weird, almost indebted to them because they pulled me back into writing fiction, and I showed up every day at my computer because of them and their journey. And then beyond that, I made the major decision of indie publishing and was very unsure of how people would respond to that choice. Well, people have been more than gracious, more supportive than I ever hoped for, and the book is being really well-received critically too. So. I mean. I just…honestly, the whole thing has been rewarding beyond words.

You can learn more about Allison’s book on her website,  or follow her on Twitter (@aswinn).

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Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.

Comments

  1. says

    “we have to own who we are, what [our] mistakes might be” is a great premise for a novel – and a main character.

    That moment – of realizing you’re a grownup and need to become a responsible adult – or rather, that process, is the best part of being alive.

    Achieving that – or failing in the attempt – creates great reading.

    Non-writers don’t realize how much writers get to work out their own demons. Even the most prolific writers have to spend time, and invest their own emotional capital, on every book – that feeling you express, or loving everything about it – is one of the best things about writing.

    Choose well who you write and what you write about: it is going to consume a big chunk of your actual life.

    And isn’t that great?

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  2. says

    Oh, I LOVE the part about feeling indebted to your characters. It wasn’t the same kind of situation, of course, but I remember saying something very similar about the characters whose story I wrote after my Gram passed away. They helped me work through the grief and I will forever be indebted to them for that.

    It makes me happy that this book has been so rewarding for you, because it certainly also has been for those of us on the other end who are reading it! :)

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  3. says

    I read the book this weekend and loved Willa and her family and extended family. The story was contagiously fun. Counterposing a surrender to fate so complete that one is indifferent against aiming to do what one least wants to do was hilarious. While those are indeed extreme positions, they made an interesting backdrop to the very real confusion of competing desires.

    Not sure I would buy either Vanessa’s or Chandler senior’s books, but I’m really happy I got The Theory of Opposites!

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