Today author Alison Cherry visits The Hiding Spot to chat about her recent release, Red. Read on to learn more about Alison,including the character that gave her the most trouble in Red, her favorite (yet unused) word, and her go to movie choice for dire situations.
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
My protagonist, Felicity, was actually the most difficult character for me to write. Somehow, I managed to finish an entire (terrible) first draft without ever really getting inside her head and figuring out what she wanted. Needless to say, that made it pretty hard for my early readers to sympathize with her. But once Felicity and I spent some quality time together, I started to understand where she was coming from, and things began to click into place. Disturbingly, I had the easiest time writing Felicity’s mother, Ginger, who is the least sympathetic character in the book. My own mom is basically Ginger’s opposite, so perhaps I was channeling her throughout the process and writing whatever she wouldn’tdo.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
This book was originally called Seeing Red, but my agent suggested we retitle it before it went on submission. Neither of us could think of anything good, so we sent it out under a placeholder title: Red. You can see how that worked out…
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
I must have read Matildaby Roald Dahl fifty times as a kid. It was just the right mix of hilarious, absurd, intriguing, and horrifying. It also confirmed my belief that being a smart girl who loved to read was something to be proud of. Matilda’s brain is a powerful thing, and I wanted mine to be, too!
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
I spent my first four years out of college working as a lighting designer for theater and dance productions all over the east coast. To pay the bills, I was also a theater electrician (which I was TERRIBLE at, since I’m afraid of heights) and a freelance editor (for which I was much better suited.) Eventually I left the freelance world to take a job as a photographer and archivist for the Metropolitan Opera. The Met was a fabulously bizarre place to work; on a typical day, I might photograph swords in the armory, document some fake severed heads, or film test runs of pyrotechnic effects. Once a ten-foot piece of scenery collapsed under me while I was taking pictures, confirming my belief that heights are terrifying. None of these experiences made it into Red, but I do intend to write a theater book eventually. These days, writing is my only job.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
My favorite word is “quiddity,” which means “the inherent nature or essence of a thing.” I have never once found the opportunity to use it, but I love that it’s sitting there waiting for me in case I ever do.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Books have always been my escape, too, and I’m happy to report that writing professionally has done nothing to change that. Reading is the only thing that’s guaranteed to cheer me up or calm me down. There are certain TV shows that do the job almost as well—I will never get tired of watching The West Wing, Freaks and Geeks, Parks and Recreation, or Buffy. When things get really dire, I watch Pixar movies.