Thursday, October 19, 2006

Interview with Allison Pittman!

Allison Pittman is a talented writer with a gift for heartfelt, moving novels. Her characters come alive on the page and sweep you up into a whirlwind of grace, love, and mercy.

Betsy: Thank you for joining us today, Allison! The plot for Ten Thousand Charms is so original and moving. What inspired you to create this story?

Allison: I’ve always had a fascination with history, and I love looking at 19th century photographs. I saw a picture of a group of prostitutes who worked in a frontier brothel, and I was struck by the utter emptiness in their eyes, and reading about them, I got a glimpse into their desperation. These were women who had very little choice in their lives, but I see women today who live with the world at their feet who have the same sense of emptiness—they’re just in color.

Betsy: Oh wow. Well, I just love Gloria's sass and confidence throughout the story. Even if she felt unsure in a situation, she managed to play it off until she figured it out! Did you have fun developing her character?

Allison: Gloria was an absolute blast! In fact, I don’t think of myself as having created a story as much as having created a character who sort of forged her own plot! I love the whole chick-lit movement, and I wanted to indulge myself and dabble in that genre in places. Plus, I knew the spunkier Gloria was, the less melodramatic her story would be. She’s a tough girl who’s led a tough life—it wouldn’t be fair to have her go all soft and sappy just because she happens to have a big strong man around. I must say, too, that there were moments in the story where she surprised even me!

Betsy: Haha! That's great. Sadie was my favorite secondary character in the story. Do we get to read more about Sadie and her life in another book? I understand there are sequels in the works. Can you tell us more about those?

Allison: The second book, Speak through the Wind is due out in March, 2007, and yes, it tells Sadie’s story. The title of the series is “Crossroads of Grace” and the idea of the crossroad is key. The red-roofed brothel is the meeting ground for Gloria, Sadie and Biddy, and each book tells each woman’s story. Speak Through the Wind begins with Sadie as a very little girl in New York City and tells how she eventually came to work at a brothel in Wyoming. The interesting aspect of the series is in the intersection of the characters. There are scenes in the second book that are in Ten Thousand Charms, but we’ll see them through Sadie’s point of view, which gives a completely new perspective.

Betsy: Oh, I can't wait! Allison, when did you first know you wanted to write?

Allison: I can’t remember ever not writing. Even before I was fully capable, I would dictate stories to my mother to write for me. When I was three, I even asked her to write my “I am running away from home…” notes. But the serious, passionate, professional pursuit came on about 10 years ago, and was really a slow dawning as I realized I wasn’t really doing anything productive for my Lord here on earth, and writing was the only real talent I seemed to possess.

Betsy: How inspiring! Growing up, what were some of your favorite books to read?

Allison: My favorite Christmas present EVER was my set of Little House on the Prairie books. I read them over and over and over and over. I loved the idea of living on the frontier—Laura Ingalls Wilder was my hero. She still is. Back then I adored her for plucky spirit, and I envied the world she lived in that would allow her to have such rich experiences. Later, I studied her writing—so rich in detail, yet so simple in truth. Even today, on a rainy afternoon, I love to pick up These Happy Golden Years and spend an hour with my favorite romance!

Betsy: Can you share a bit of your personal faith testimony with us?

Allison: I have always been in church. When I was four years old I asked my mother if I could get baptized. When she asked me if I knew what it meant to get baptized, I said, “Yes! It means I can vote in the business meetings!” She suggested I wait. Theoretically, I was saved when I was eight—with a full understanding of sin and redemption—but I don’t think I had any real appreciation for the Gospel until years later. Maybe not until I was grown, married, and a mother with a responsibility to raise her own children in Truth. In fact, since the moment of my salvation, I’ve lived a series of reinforcements. Just recently, at the death of my brother about a year ago, I experienced for the first time a true, concrete understanding of what it means to have eternal salvation. I experienced such peace knowing my brother was safe with Christ—it was tangible.

Betsy: That is so amazing. What great inspiration. Do you write full time, or do you have other jobs and responsibilities, too?

Allison: As of today, I write full time. What a fun luxury! While I was writing Speak Through the Wind, I was teaching full time, and we all nearly went insane. For the third book, our entire family took a step out on faith and I resigned. God has so blessed that act of obedience! Of course, I still have the responsibilities of being a wife and mom to my three boys, but caring for them is much easier now!

Betsy: What is your advice to aspiring authors today?

Allison: Read, read, read everything you can. Surround yourself with language and absorb it. Study the craft of writing—read books, go to workshops, break down the novels that you read and see the logic behind the authors’ choices. Finally, don’t write what you know. What you know is probably boring. Write what you wish somebody had told you.

Betsy: Great advice! What an interesting spin. So, tell us - what is your favorite part of being an accomplished author?

Allison: First of all, being called an accomplished author! But really, nothing is better than having somebody tell you they loved your book. I love being a part of their lives, having created something for their enjoyment. I even enjoy it when a reader is mad at me for something I allowed to happen to a character in a story—that sort of connection is priceless. I like making the world a little bit smaller.

Betsy: Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Allison.

Check out Allison's website today at


Tina said...

Great interview!

I love the line about not writing what you know, because that's probably boring! That's how I feel. I already had a plan for my next WIP, and it's going to be the story I wish someone had told me.

I'll be looking for Ten Thousand Charms next time I go to the book store.

Tina Helmuth

Jim Sanders said...

Great interview! Thank you.