The Girl Who Chased the Moon – author interview – Sarah Addison Allen

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Paperback Writer welcomes author Sarah Addison Allen, author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world…no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. For instance, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? Why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life.

Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth and in the hope of bringing back the love she fears she’s lost forever. In Julia, Emily may have found a link to her mother’s past. But why is everyone trying to discourage Emily’s growing relationship with the handsome and mysterious son of Mullaby’s most prominent family? Emily came to Mullaby to get answers, but all she’s found so far are more questions.
Is there really a ghost dancing in her backyard? Can a cake really bring back a lost love?
In this town of lovable misfits, maybe the right answer is the one that just feels…different.

Hi Sarah Addison Allen,

Welcome to Paperback Writer,

Thanks for having me.

Q: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book.

A: It all started with barbecue. From the beginning, I knew I wanted The Girl Who Chased the Moon to be set in a North Carolina barbecue town. It was the only constant throughout many drafts, and it actually ended up influencing the story and the characters.

Q: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

A: My writing process is very organic. I start with an idea. I have the general story arc and the cast. But then I sit down to write and things change. New characters appear and some disappear. And the big elements of magic in all my books — the prophetic apple tree in Garden Spells, the books that appear on their own in The Sugar Queen, and cakes with the power to call in The Girl Who Chased the Moon — weren’t in the stories until I started writing. I was actually surprised by them. Making it up as I go along is one of the best parts of writing. But it’s also one of the most frustrating parts. It’s an insecure feeling, not knowing what’s going to happen. But I’ve learned to trust the process.

Q: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?

A: There’s always a point where I can see the ending scene so clearly that I can’t wait to get to it. Sometimes I see it when I begin a book, but sometimes I’m almost on top of it before its clear.

Q: Do you have a process for developing your characters?

A: All my characters give me trouble at first. I always pick an unruly bunch. But it’s just a matter of getting to know them. They’re like friendships. They take time. Again, it’s about trusting the process.

Q: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

A: I think my characters are more wish fulfillments than they are mirrors. My characters are wonderful cooks, magical gardeners and world travelers – all things I’m not…she says with a wistful sigh.

Q: What is your most favorite part about this book?

A: The research for The Girl Who Chased the Moon was my favorite part. From researching the names of the monthly full moons, to visiting barbecue restaurants all across North Carolina, to pouring over biographies of Robert Pershing Wadlow – the tallest man in history – for inspiration for my elderly giant in the book, it was all magical.

Q: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?

A: With Garden Spells, my first book, I had the book finished and as polished as I could possibly make it before querying agents. I had no credentials, so the book was the best thing I had going for me.

Q: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?

A: I wrote for about 12 years before Garden Spells sold, and I struggled constantly with the urge to give up. Discouragement is a big ugly beast.

Q: What has been the best part about being published?

A: I love that my dad has stopped asking me when I’m going to get a real job.

Q; What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

A: My favorite books are the ones that make me smile for hours after reading them. I want that for my readers, for the sweetness to linger. Sort of like pie.

Q: Do you have plans to write another book?

A: I’m finishing up my fourth book, another quirky piece of Southern-fried magical realism. It will be out in 2011.

Q: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?

A: Challenging! But it’s good for a writer to delve thoughtfully into her finished work. I wrote The Girl Who Chased the Moon over a year ago, and it’s been interesting to see how my perspective has changed.

Q: Where can readers find a copy of your book?

A: In bookstores and online stores everywhere.

Q: Do you have a website for readers to go to?

A: Yes, it’s There you’ll find a fabulous virtual tour of downtown Mullaby, the fictional town featured in The Girl Who Chased the Moon. There are also contests, recipes, book extras, and some great features for book clubs.

Thank you, Sarah Addison Allen, for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.

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This article was written by Rebecca

Rebecca is a book coach and editor. She guides aspiring writers, coaches, entrepreneurs and speakers to become self-published authors so they share their expertise, knowledge and passion. Thinking about writing a book? Contact her today to start writing your book.

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