Interview: Allison Winn Scotch, Author of The Theory of Opposites

Tell us about your new novel, The Theory of Opposites.

Like my earlier books, Theory is about a woman who isn't living her best life and has to dig deep to figure out how she can get there…and what's going to be required of her to find happiness. Ultimately, it's also a story about the role that fate plays in our lives and how much of that we can change, how much control we have over our own destinies.

What inspired you to write this story?

I started this book a long time before I ever completed it, so…I can't remember the exact inspiration. :) However, I set it aside when I was debating whether or not I wanted to continue writing fiction. I'd had a terribly discouraging experience with my last book, and I just wasn't sure if I wanted to continue on this path. Eventually, I sort of got the itch to write again, and I remembered that I'd started this funny, irreverent book. I opened it up and loved it. And from there, the story just poured out of me: I wrote the first draft very quickly. In, maybe, two months. I just wrote it for me – to have fun, to remember why I loved writing. And I think that actually became the inspiration. I had more fun with this book and these characters than I'd had in my work in a long time, which I think is reflected in the writing. And since the book explores the notion of, "does everything happen for a reason," I guess part of me likes to think that I opened up that abandoned partial-manuscript for a reason too: it helped me find my way back to my love of craft.

How would your novel’s best friends, Willa and Vanessa, describe each other? 

Willa: loyal, complacent, dependable, not someone who wants to challenge authority, a diamond in the rough

Vanessa: loyal, daring, unpredictable, someone who challenges authority, the person you want in your foxhole

On your blog, you shared your struggle to write this book after losing interest in writing. What kept you motivated enough to get to the finish line?

To be honest, as I mentioned above, I fell in love with these characters. That sounds super-hokey and very "writerly," but I truly adored spending time with them every day. I thought about them endlessly, I looked forward to seeing what antics they'd get into…I just…I just let myself have an utterly ridiculous time with them. They are funny, albeit, flawed people. Bawdy, slightly insane, but never mean-spirited. What's not to love about that? So honestly, it was just them – creating these characters and writing the book for ME – not a publisher, not an editor, no one but me – that kept me going. One of the best writing experiences of my life.

The publisher of The Theory of Opposites is Camellia Press. Is this your own publishing company? Why did you decide to publish independently after all your success with traditional publishers?

Yup, this is me. My son's name is Cam and my daughter's name is Amelia, so together, they are Camelia, but I allowed for proper spelling. :) There were a lot of long and complicated reasons for why I branched out on my own, but the short version is that I had grown very dissatisfied with what traditional publishing was offering its authors. Too many of my friends are disappointed, let-down, over-promised/under-delivered, and frankly, I shared their feelings in my experience with my last book, The Song Remains the Same, and it reflected in the book's sales. With Theory, we had some very early conversations with editors and publishing houses (my editor had left my imprint, so I was orphaned at my publisher, which was the third time in four books that has happened), and my agent and I came away from these conversations feeling like either the enthusiasm wasn't there because of what happened with Song and I was going to be stuck feeling disappointed again, or if the enthusiasm was there, I didn't trust that I couldn't do it better on my own regardless. What's remarkable about the publishing world today is that if you have come up in the system and you know the ins and outs of how to put out a really spectacular book, there is zero reason why you can't do it yourself. I hired an entire army of people – the same people my publisher would have hired – a top editor, the jacket designer who did my other covers, an amazing publicist, the same printing firm many of the publishers use – and then I went to work. I wasn't relying on anyone else…frankly, the experience has been transformative. Too many authors have been relegated to work-for-hire these days, and they're treated as such. No longer. Authors have power too, and it's been thrilling to rediscover mine.

As a freelance writer, you’ve interviewed celebrities. So far, who was your favorite star to interview and why?

I've interviewed so many great people, to be honest. I'm lucky in that my editor tends to let me strictly interview celebs who I am predisposed to liking, and almost inevitably, they don't let me down. That said, I have to say that the interview I did with Steve Carell for a cover story several years back was truly memorable – he is everything you'd expect him to be: kind, funny, warm, self-deprecating. We went on way longer than the allotted time slot, and I felt like we were old friends. Also, for the fan girl in me, I had the best time chatting with Michael Vartan a few years back, shortly after Alias went off the air. I think we talked for over an hour, just shooting the breeze and exchanging some fun Hollywood horror stores, as well as gushing over our dogs. If I hadn't been married with kids (well, still married with kids), I might have hopped the first flight to LA and tracked him down. :)

Who are your favorite authors?

Too many! Unfair question!! I refuse to answer on grounds that it may incriminate me. :) Honestly and more seriously, I admire so many of my friends for how and what they write – Laura Dave is my first reader and critique partner, so it goes without saying that she tops my list. Of the writers I've never met, Nick Hornby might top my list.

What was the last book you read that you loved?

I just finished Unbroken and thought it was mesmerizing, just…insanely good. From there, I immediately started Jojo Moyes's Me Before You, and I can already tell I love it. I know, both of these books came out a while ago, so I am slightly behind the curve, but it's never too late to pick up a great book! When I'm in the thick of writing a novel, I tend to lag behind in my reading because I'm so caught up in my own characters' voices. So now I'm reading like a fiend.

The Weinstein Company optioned film rights to your novel, Time of My Life, several years ago. When can we see this story come to life on the big screen?

That's a great question! :) And I don't really have a good answer. Hollywood is fickle and takes foreeeeeeeeever to get anything done, so I really can't say. But the good news is that I've moved onto the adaptation of The Theory of Opposites, so I'm focusing on that and am super-excited. I think some really exciting things will come of it.

Do you have any plans to get back into blogging to help aspiring writers?

I toy with the idea off and on. I blogged for six years, usually three times a week, answering as many questions as came my way, and I found it truly gratifying to pay it forward to up and coming writers. But after six years, it started to feel – as many jobs do after six years! - more like a habit than a passion. So I stepped back and reassessed. Now that I've self-published and am getting a bit of notice for it, I may want to jump back in and offer some dos and don'ts of my experience. We'll see. :)

What are you working on now?

Because I published this book myself, most of my energy has gone toward that, to be honest. I've learned in the past that there's no point in forcing a new book until I am really consumed with the idea, and that idea has to hit me like an enormous bolt of lightning. So…I'm sort of waiting to be hit with that bolt right now. But that's okay. I have a lot on my plate, and as much as I love the writing process, I also think there's tremendous value in letting your brain breathe, you know? Just giving it some time to relax and contemplate all of the ideas and notions that filter through. Eventually, one of them will stick, and then I'll be off to the writing races all over again.

Thank you, Allison!

Allison Winn Scotch is the bestselling author of four novels, including Time of My Life, The Song Remains the Same, The One That I Want, and The Department of Lost and Found. Her fifth novel, The Theory of Opposites, was just released. In addition to fiction, she pens celebrity profiles for a variety of magazines, which justifies her pop culture obsession and occasionally lends to awesome Facebook status updates. She lives in Los Angeles with her family. For more about Allison and her books, visit or follow her on Twitter at @aswinn.