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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest Post with Allison Winn Scotch, Author of Time of My Life

Today I'd like to welcome author Allison Winn Scotch who stopped by to talk with us about her novel Time of My Life. I asked Allisonwhat she would do differently (or not at all) if she was in main character Jillian's shoes and went seven years back into her past. Here's what she had to say-

Well, for me to go seven years into my past might not be all that interesting – I was married, embarking on a new career as a writer, turning 30 within a year, and I felt pretty content, like I’d ironed out a lot of the kinks of my life. So I think to really give a meatier answer, I’d say that I’d have to go about ten years into my past to really get into the thick of things, to land somewhere in chaos like Jillian did.

So ten years ago, I was 26 and life was pretty discombobulated. My love life was a mess – I was dating a guy whom I loved dearly but who wasn’t really the right fit for me, moved to a new city when the relationship sputtered to a death (though was still lingering via occasional visits and catch-up phone calls); had an ex who wanted me back and whom I really didn’t want to be back with but I was lonely, so what the hell; and was pretty confused about just what I planned to do with my life in general. I’d gotten a great education but wanted to be an actress, but also knew that it wouldn’t be an easy route, but I was chugging along, shooting commercials, doing NYC shows (until I moved to LA), but still somewhat discontent...I don’t know...not lost because I have a decent personal barometer, but...listless, maybe. I wanted my life to come together, I was ready for it to come together, but it...just wasn’t. It wasn’t there yet.

When I think about Jillian, I think that she and I shared this listlessness. Jillian’s life wasn’t a bad one by any stretch, rather she just didn’t feel like it all tied together – there were aspects of it that kept jutting off into places she didn’t anticipated, and this made her deeply unhappy. So in sending her back in time, I gave her the opportunity to see if she had done something differently, if she’d find a greater happiness, GET that bow to wrap up all the aspects of her life neatly. And without giving too much away, Jillian realizes over the course of her journey that it’s about personal responsibility: if there’s any sort of discontentedness in her life, it within her control to fix it. That often times, our problems aren’t about our husbands or our kids or our jobs (though sure, sometimes they are), rather our approach and reaction to these problems in the first place.

Which takes me back to 26-year old me. So there I was, in Los Angeles, recovering from heartbreak, but too scared to close the door on that relationship entirely, enjoying my pursuit of a career as an actress but also feeling like my brain was atrophying a little too without anything much to challenge me. And eventually, with small steps at first and then bigger ones as I got braver, I started to carve out my own responsibility in where my life was going. I began dating other guys – a few fun first dates, then a few more serious ones. I considered whether or not another career could make me just as happy as acting, and when the answer was yes, I took the VERY terrifying leap of testing the waters. I moved back to New York. I gave myself the freedom to screw-up the career and the (other) ex, whom eventually I realized wasn’t for me, no matter how many times he asked me for another chance. I put myself out there: I saw a guy whom I thought was gorgeous at the gym, and I ran into him enough times to screw up the courage to introduce myself. A year later, we were engaged. A year after that, I was steadily freelancing for magazines.

The undercurrent, through all of my various missteps and the path I took toward rectifying them, is that eventually, I learned to accept responsibility. That whatever road I was on WAS OF MY OWN MAKING. And so too was Jillian’s journey. I think it’s really easy to be a bystander in your own life, but then, yes, aren’t you always going to be left asking “What if?” Because if you never take action, then of course you’re going to wonder if you had. That aspect of Jillian’s life really resonated with me, and I think it’s what’s resonated with readers. Not that we want to cash in our husbands or wish we didn’t have children: it’s that the road not taken is always more intriguing when you’re not sure that you did everything in you power not to be on that road in the first place.

So that’s my look back at 10 years ago. Sometimes, sure, I still wonder “what if,” but mostly, I’m content knowing that I made informed choices along the way, and all of those choices have led me to where I am today.

Thank you Allison for stopping by and sharing with us!

Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch

Jillian Westfield has the perfect suburban life straight out of the upscale women's magazines that she obsessively reads. She’s got the modern-print rugs of Metropolitan Home, the elegant meals from Gourmet, the clutter-free closets out of Real Simple, and the elaborate Easter egg hunts seen in Parents. With her successful investment banker husband behind the wheel and her cherubic eighteen-month-old in the backseat, hers could be the family in the magazines’ glossy Range Rover ads.

Yet somehow all of the how-to magazine stories in the world can’t seem to fix her faltering marriage, banish the tedium of days spent changing diapers, or stop her from asking, “What if?”

Then one morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past. Before her daughter was born. Before she married Henry. Suddenly she’s back in her post–grad school Ikea-furnished Manhattan apartment. She’s back in her fast-paced job with the advertising agency. And she’s still with Jackson, the ex-boyfriend and star of her what-if fantasies.

Armed with twenty-twenty hindsight, she’s free to choose all over again. She can use the zippy ad campaigns from her future to wow the clients and bosses in her present. She can reconnect with the mother who abandoned her so many years before. She can fix the fights at every juncture that doomed her relationship with Jackson. Or can she?

With each new choice setting off a trajectory of unforeseen consequences, Jillian soon realizes that getting to happily ever after is more complicated than changing the lines in her part of the script. Happiness, it turns out, isn’t an either-or proposition. As she closes in on all the things she thought she wanted, Jillian must confront the greatest what-if of all: What if the problem was never Henry or Jackson, but her?

Sharp, funny, and heartwarming, Time of My Life will appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to redo the past and will leave readers pondering, “Do we get the reality we deserve?”

Read my review HERE.

Allison Winn Scotch is the author of the novels, Time of My Life (Random House/Shaye Areheart, October 2008) and The Department of Lost and Found (HarperCollins/Morrow, May 2007). She is also a frequent contributor to numerous national magazines including Parents, Woman's Day, Women's Health, Redbook, Self and American Way.
Visit Allison at her Official Website & Blog


Michelle said...

I'm reading this book right now. The concept is so great; loving it so far. :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Cool post :)

jsturgeon said...

Like Allison, I'd have to go back farther than 7 years to find a time of chaos in my life. I like this book's premise, because when I think of reliving those first few years after college, all I can come up with is, "NO! NO! Don't make me!"

Kristan said...

"Jillian realizes over the course of her journey that it’s about personal responsibility: if there’s any sort of discontentedness in her life, it within her control to fix it. That often times, our problems aren’t about our husbands or our kids or our jobs (though sure, sometimes they are), rather our approach and reaction to these problems in the first place."

Great comments by Allison, and great advice/food for thought for all of us. Thanks for doing this, y'all!