Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m comedienne, award-winning audiobook narrator, producer, screenwriter and the bestselling author of The English American, a novel. I was adopted as a baby by English people and raised in England and Africa. When I was 28 and working as a classical actress and playwright in London, I found my birth mother in Tennessee. As a result I moved to New York City and became a stand-up comic, because what else do you do? My first one woman show on the subject was a combination of theater and stand-up comedy and headlined at the Soho Theater in London. Then I turned it into a novel called The English American. I live in the Berkshires in Massachusetts where I write, perform, give speeches and have a merry time producing audiobooks through my own imprint Alison Larkin Presents.
Could you tell us what your new book is about?
The English American NEW audiobook edition with bonus material is an autobiographical novel about an adopted English woman who finds her birth parents – and true love – in the US. it is followed by an interview in which I tell 2 time Grammy award-winning audio producer Paul Ruben how much of the book is truth and how much it’s fiction, plus a clip from my new one woman show Alison Larkin Live!<http://www.wamtheatre.com/alison-larkin-live/>
What inspires you to write? And how does your writing process look?
I’m inspired to write when there’s something I feel I have to say. I wrote The English American because I was fed up with the way adopted people are portrayed in commercial fiction as eternally damaged victims at best – or serial killers. I figured if I could write the kind of book I like to read which has to have short chapters and a what’s-going-to-happen-next quality then maybe people on a beach or a plane would understand why someone from a really happy adoptive family would need to find the truth about the people she came from. Plus I knew I could have a lot of fun with the culture differences between England in America.
The words ‘writing process’ sound rather grown up for what I do. I’m not sure I have one. Unless writing a first draft in a big rush of adrenaline and then editing it and expanding it over the next few months is a process. Perhaps it is.
What is the most challenging part about writing in the genre of Contemporary Women’s Fiction?
Making sure there isn’t a boring moment. I learned the importance of this when a friend who was dying of a brain tumor asked to read the first draft of The English American. I knew he didn’t have long to live and I thought ‘Right. I’m not going to waste one minute of this guy’s life. Every word needs to be necessary or it gets cut.’ So I sat with the manuscript and ruthlessly edited out everything that didn’t further the story and anything repetitive. It was challenging because it meant I had to bid farewell to some of my favorite passages – but it made the manuscript better. Less is always more.
And what is the most fun?
Having the freedom to make up anything you want – because it’s fiction! .
How do you do your research?
By trying to understand myself and other people as fully and deeply as I can.
When you aren’t writing; what are you reading?
When I’m not writing I’m narrating audiobooks. Favorite recent narrations include The Complete Novels by Jane Austen which begins with the AudioFile Earphones award-winning recording of Sense and Sensibility, The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie and Fairytales of the Fiercer Sex by the Brother’s Grimm et al.
Could you give us a book recommendation?
Bird by Bird by Ann Lammott. It’s the best book on writing I know.
Photo cred: Sabine Von Falken