Local Alumna Releases Second Book
Allie Larkin is a member of the St. John Fisher College Class of 2002, and she’s also a best-selling author who lives right here in Rochester. Larkin recently released her second book, Why Can’t I Be You, a follow-up to her debut novel, Stay.
In Why Can’t I Be You, the main character, Jenny Shaw, explores the idea of becoming someone else. Stay reached #8 on The Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Romance List in 2010.
Critics and other authors have praised Why Can’t I Be You, saying:
“This is a fun and quirky read for anyone who always wondered what it would be like to live life in someone else’s shoes. Readers will likely identify with the main character, and will definitely enjoy the crazy ride along the way, thanks to Larkin’s breezy and light writing style.”
- Romantic Times Book Review
“Allie Larkin provides an unexpected and completely fresh take on the familiar theme of mistaken identity in Why Can’t I Be You. She’s a master at creating complex characters who feel like old friends and crafting situations that you’d swear really happened. In other words? I adored this book! Put Allie Larkin on your “Authors to Watch” list because she’s at the top her game.”
- Jen Lancaster, bestselling author of Jeneration X
“Allie Larkin’s latest explores an intriguing question: What if you could shed your own life, and step into someone else’s? Why Can’t I Be You is a thoughtful and compulsively readable examination of identity, friendship and trust – and what happens when all three spectacularly collide.”
- Sarah Pekkanen, bestselling author of These Girls
We caught up with Larkin and asked some questions about the new book:
Q: How long did it take you to write Why Can’t I Be You? How long after Stay did you start concepting and writing it?
A: Jenny Shaw was actually a character who started out in a completely different story. What stayed the same was the basic framework - someone who’d always made the safe choices over the right ones and was long overdue for a personal revolution. I’d written a proposal and chapters, but had to put it on the backburner to work on something else. Once I committed to writing the book, I only had six months, but it’s been three years since Stay came out, and Jenny Shaw was bouncing around in my head in one form or another for much of that time.
Q: What was your inspiration?
A: My editor for Stay, which was inspired by an episode of “This American Life,” proposed the idea of someone becoming another person. When I spun that around several different ways, what was most fascinating to me was trying to tell an identity story from a very grounded place.
I always listen to music when I work. “Wrecking Ball,” by Chris Pureka, was on my writing playlist for this book. There’s a line about the lights going out and learning to see in the dark. At some point in the process, those words got stuck on repeat in my brain, and I realized that Why Can’t I Be You needed to be a story that was not only about someone slipping into a stranger’s life, but the things in her past that made her a person who was both willing and able. So the song inspired a layer of the book that desperately needed to be there. As one of the characters puts it – what doesn’t kill you, gives you superpowers.
Q: Do you write here in Rochester, or do you travel? Are you at home when you write or perhaps at a favorite place around town?
A: I love the idea of writing in a coffee shop, and I’ve taken copyedits to Starry Nights to get myself out of the house, but the actual writing part is something I need to do alone. I’m weird when I write. On the days I work, I don’t leave my house or answer my phone. I talk through dialogue and read aloud to myself constantly. If one of my characters is crying, there’s a good chance I am crying, too. My writing process wouldn’t be possible (or welcome) in a coffee shop. The tight timeline on Why Can’t I Be You meant that a weekly trip to Wegmans was usually my only venture into the outside world.
Q: Your dog, Argo, was such a huge part of your first novel. How is he?
A: Argo, the dog who was on the hardcover of Stay, passed away in December. He was an amazing being and such a good friend. We were lucky to be his family and are still struggling with the loss. Our other dog, Stella, is learning to navigate the world without her best friend, and helping her do that has been helpful to us, too.
Q: What now? Vacation?
A: Oh, no. Getting a book out into the world is just the first step in the process. So, next is the book tour. And then back to writing.
Q: When will we see your next book?
A: There isn’t a timetable on that yet, but I’ve spent my time since turning in Why Can’t I Be You writing like crazy.
Check out photos from Fisher's 2015 Commencement Ceremonies on Flickr!
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