I love that dog's face. (Cover model is one of the author's dogs, too!)
STAY by Allie Larkin is one of my favorite novels of the year. I loved it so much I endorsed it with, "I'm madly in love with this big-hearted, charming keeper of a debut about love in all its forms, including the four-legged kind. Allie Larkin has a special and original voice." STAY is such a treasure–warm, emotional, funny, touching–and it made me want to adopt a dog (one day, I will have my dream mutt)!
Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van's standing behind her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man Van's ever loved. Before, Van's mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy tale ending will ever come true.
After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. The pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, and Van is at the end of her rope… until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what.
Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together, they work to mend the pieces of Van's shattered heart. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Joe's vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted, proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.
Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay is an unforgettable debut that illuminates the boundlessness of love and marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.
I caught Allie in the middle of her debut day for a Q&A about STAY and here are her thoughtful answers:
1) STAY is one of my favorite novels of the year, and I'd love to know what inspired the story:
Thank you so much, Melissa!
STAY started as a writing exercise in a college writing class. I had to pick two words off a sheet of paper and form a sentence. My sentence was “Separation is a battle.” I wrote a short paragraph around the sentence. Later on in the class, I went back to revise it and turned it into a short story about Van and Janie having coffee at Starbucks. In the conversation, Van confesses to herself that she’s in love with Janie’s husband. Years later, I went back to the story, and realized something was missing. I started asking myself, what happened before that? What would the wedding have been like for Van? And that’s where STAY started. Later, after Argo became a part of the family, I realized Van needed a dog.
2) I'm dogless, but one day I will have the little rescue mutt of my dreams. I sort of imagine taking the dog for long walks in which I figure out my plot problems or sketch out scenes in my head. Do you find yourself doing this? I also figure you must meet some very interesting types every day–a writer's goldmine.
I do! Hiking with my dogs is one of my favorite ways to work out issues with my stories. When I’m working through ideas, it’s amazing to have company, but not conversation. And dog people are amazing, too. If you have a dog, you share an understanding with other people who have dogs. You know what it’s like to have that kind of unconditional love in your life. You know what it’s like to feel understood by someone who can’t talk to you. It’s an instant connection, and that’s a wonderful thing.
3) I love knowing what books other authors have on their bedside tables or tucked into their bags:
Well, I have to say that I devoured THE SECRET OF JOY, and it’s still on my nightstand waiting for a second read. It’s wonderful. And I just finished SEVEN YEAR SWITCH by Claire Cook, and absolutely loved it. Right now, I’m reading BROOKLYN by Colm Toibin for my book club. I usually have a non-fiction book going at the same time. I just started THE UPSIDE OF IRRATIONALITY by Dan Ariely. And I picked up IT COULD BE WORSE, YOU COULD BE ME last week. It’s a bunch of short and hysterical essays by Ariel Leve. Minus the fact that it keeps making me laugh like a crazy person in public, I’m finding it to be the perfect ‘take along in my purse’ book.
[Melissa interjects a THANK YOU about The Secret of Joy!!!]
4) And finally, what would readers be surprised to know about you?
I think there’s a common idea that to be a writer you must have always been a writer or wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t start writing fiction until I went back to college in my mid-twenties. I’d never written anything that wasn’t assigned to me before that, and I was an epically awful English student in high school.
That said, I was always a reader. I loved good stories, and had an interest in what makes people tick, but writing fiction wasn’t something I’d really tried or considered until I went back to school. Of course, just because you haven’t done something before, doesn’t mean you can’t learn.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Allie! STAY is a true treasure! For more information about Allie Larkin and her debut novel, STAY, you can visit her website or check out the book on Amazon. See links above!