Interview with Southern Magical Realism Novelist Sarah Addision Allen

Sarah Addison Allen lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she serves up heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as "Southern-fried magical realism.” She is the New York Times Bestselling Author of Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen. Her new book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, is on sale March 16, 2010.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Sarah. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Answer: I’m a foodie and a bookworm. My mother is a fabulous cook and my father is a journalist, so I come by it honestly. I’ve been writing most of my life, and finally made it to published writer with the publication of my first book, Garden Spells, a few years ago. It’s been a glorious whirlwind. My life hasn’t been the same since.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Answer: The Girl Who Chased the Moon is about a girl who comes to the small town of Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life.

But the moment she enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew, 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.

That’s just for starters.

The book is set in a barbecue town, and it ended up being my love letter to North Carolina barbecue -- an institution where I come from.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Answer: Weight gain. I battle it with every book. Food plays a big role in my stories. Edible flowers in Garden Spells, Southern and rural candies in The Sugar Queen, and now North Carolina barbecue and Southern cakes in The Girl Who Chased the Moon. All that research is tough on the waistline.

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

Answer: I speak at book signings when I’m on tour. I also give radio and TV interviews. It is equal parts exciting and terrifying for a person who spends most of her time in a ponytail and pajamas, talking to imaginary people. My upcoming tour for The Girl Who Chased the Moon will take me to bookstores across the South.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Answer: My agent is Andrea Cirillo, at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. She’s genius, pure genius.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

Answer: The marketing and publicity departments at Random House are the indomitable forces behind promoting my books. Book trailers, ARCs, appearances, interviews, reviews. They are such a creative and hard-working group. I’m very lucky to have them.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Answer: I’m finishing my fourth book right now, another book of love, magic and food. It will be out in 2011.

Thank you for your interview, Sarah. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Answer: Thank you for having me. My website is 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. The Girl Who Chased the Moon will be in bookstores everywhere starting March 16, 2010.
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