Looking Forward, Looking Back
by Allison Winn Scotch

One of my favorite parts about writing THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND was writing about how Natalie, my protagonist, tracks down the five former loves of her life to determine what went wrong and what lessons she can glean from those doomed relationships.

First, I should be clear: these ex-boyfriends are not my ex-boyfriends! Ha! I always want to preface that because even friends of mine have said, “Oh, I recognized so-and-so,” and I'm thinking quite firmly, “No, you didn't!”

So with that caveat out of the way (and to appease enquiring minds!), here's why I did it. The full confession is that I'm a little bit obsessed with everyone's, myself included, backstory. In fact, my next book, TIME OF MY LIFE, is focused on this entirely: how one woman is granted the chance to relive her adulthood and correct any mistakes she made along the way.

I'm a full believer that we are the sum of our parts--the errors and the missteps and the correct choices too: all of these decisions, for better or worse, have put us on the path to where we are today. So, I'm not above pulling out old photo albums or flipping through my weathered shoe box full of photos from days gone by and mulling over all of those broken relationships and reveling in the ones that are still thriving. In fact, sometimes I sit there and am just totally shocked at how college can seem like two years ago or how I've already flown by my fifteenth high school reunion!

Where did time go and how did it get the better of me?

But even as I view the highlight reel of my life and wish that I could slow things down, I'm okay with it because I know and trust that this is my history, and thus, this is my life. Maybe all thrown together in a shoe box, but still not so shabby.

Natalie, on the other hand, is a character who doesn't have a lot of insight as to why her life--way beyond her cancer diagnosis--is so turned-around. She stomps her way through the day to day, never stopping to look at either her footsteps or her wake. So when she realizes that she needs to slow down and reflect, I thought, what a better way--and what more fun for me!--than to have her retrace her past by contacting the five men who really mattered.

Every once in a while, I'll have a reader say, “Really? Would anyone really do this?” And for me, the answer is definitely yes. I'm someone who lingers in relationships far longer than I should (that's me on the bow of the Titanic, going down with the ship!), and because I take their endings so gravely, I've managed to maintain some wonderful friendships with exes. Not all of them to be sure! But a few, yes...as I firmly believe that just because something didn't work out with someone in one capacity, it doesn't mean that there's not room for him (or her) in your life in another.

I set Natalie on this journey of uncovering her relationships and, in the process, she uncovers so much about herself. That's the part that I really loved writing. If I peer back at my old loves, I, too, in hindsight, can see both insurmountable rifts and the valuable experiences that transformed me into who I am today. I say why hide from the past? Embracing it can make your present so much stronger.

But you tell me...when you leave a relationship, are you done for good? And would you ever get in touch with an old love to find out what truly went wrong? Recipe for healing or recipe for disaster?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Cindy Kirk said:

Allison,

What a beautiful cover. The book sounds very interesting.

I'll definitely have to pick it up!

11:23 PM  

Blogger Delilah Devlin said:

What I wouldn't give to go back, knowing what I know now! Awesome premise for a book!!

10:26 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home