I’m so thrilled to share my interview with Alison Hammer today. She’s the debut author of the stunning, You and Me and Us. Welcome, Alison!
Author Name: Alison Hammer
Book Title: You and Me and Us
Book Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Happy release day! Can you please tell us a bit about your book?
YOU AND ME AND US is the story of a workaholic mom and her distant teenage daughter, struggling to be a family without the one person who held them together. It’s a tearjerker, but there are definitely parts that will make you laugh and smile.
What sparked the idea for YOU AND ME AND US?
While YOU AND ME AND US is my debut novel, it’s not the first book I wrote. My first book was also about Tommy and Alexis, just fifteen years earlier. At the end of that first novel, I knew a secret that Alexis didn’t even know—she was pregnant. And that’s what sparked the idea for YOU AND ME AND US.
I knew that she would have a daughter, the same age as she had been in some of the flashback scenes, but that was pretty much all I knew. When I had the idea that Tommy would be sick, the story really came to life.
How long did it take for you to write the book?
It took me two months to write the first draft of YOU AND ME AND US, which was pretty remarkable since the first draft of my first book took me fifteen years to write. I credit the speed to National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, an organization that challenges people around the world to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I thrive on deadlines and competition—even against myself—so once I stopped writing every day, I couldn’t stop!
For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
Drafting is probably the hardest part about writing for me. Specifically the middle of a manuscript. There’s a reason they call it a muddy middle—it’s brutal! Editing is much more fun, the hard work is mostly done at that point.
What do you love most about it?
There are so many things I love about writing! I love when I really get into a story and have visceral reactions to the things I’m writing. I also love the collaboration that comes with a story as it evolves. Some of my favorite things in my book are only there because of my critique partner, editor and agent. Now that the book is out in the world, I also love hearing how the story resonates with different people. That’s probably my favorite thing.
How does your day job inform your novel writing?
My main character, Alexis, and I share a day job. We’re both creative directors for an advertising agency (although she owns her agency.) I think my experience in the industry and being a workaholic helped inform her character and the story. But more than that, I think my advertising background really influenced my writing voice and style. Short sentences that hopefully pack a punch!
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love traveling and live music. I bring those two loves together at least twice a year with two annual trips I take. Every year for the last twenty years, I’ve gone on The Rock Boat—a floating music festival. And every spring, a group of girlfriends and I rent houses on the beach on St. George Island for a charity music festival called Rock by the Sea.
Are you working on a new project?
I’m currently finishing up edits for my next book, called LITTLE PIECES OF ME. It’s coming out next spring, and it’s about a woman who finds out through a DNA website that the dad she adored wasn’t really her biological father.
Where can readers find you?
I am all over the socials and I love connecting with readers! I try to keep it easy to find me, my name is @ThisHammer on all the sites—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads. My live events are a little up in the air thanks to this whole global pandemic, but my website will be updated with events in Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta and Destin, Florida.
Thank you, Alison! You and Me and Us is out TODAY!
The heartbreaking, yet hopeful, story of a mother and daughter struggling to be a family without the one person who holds them together—a perfect summer read for fans of Jojo Moyes and Marisa de los Santos.
Alexis Gold knows how to put the “work” in working mom. It’s the “mom” part that she’s been struggling with lately. Since opening her own advertising agency three years ago, Alexis has all but given up on finding a good work/life balance. Instead, she’s handed over the household reins to her supporting, loving partner, Tommy. While he’s quick to say they divide and conquer, Alexis knows that Tommy does most of the heavy lifting—especially when it comes to their teenage daughter, CeCe.
Their world changes in an instant when Tommy receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, and Alexis realizes everything she’s worked relentlessly for doesn’t matter without him. So Alexis does what Tommy has always done for her—she puts him first. And when the only thing Tommy wants is to spend one last summer together in Destin, Florida, at “their” beach, she puts her career on hold to make it happen…even if it means putting her family within striking distance of Tommy’s ex, an actress CeCe idolizes
But Alexis and Tommy aren’t the only ones whose lives have been turned inside out. In addition to dealing with the normal ups and downs that come with being a teenager, CeCe is forced to confront her feelings about Tommy’s illness—and what will happen when the one person who’s always been there for her is gone. When the magic of first love brings a bright spot to her summer, CeCe is determined not to let her mother ruin that for her, too.
As CeCe’s behavior becomes more rebellious, Alexis realizes the only thing harder for her than losing Tommy will be convincing CeCe to give her one more chance.
You and Me and Us is a beautifully written novel that examines the unexpected ways loss teaches us how to love.
Alison Hammer has been spinning words to tell stories since she learned how to talk. A graduate of the University of Florida and the Creative Circus in Atlanta, she lived in 9 cities before settling down in Chicago. During the day, Alison is a VP Creative Director at an advertising agency, but on nights and weekends you can find her writing upmarket women’s fiction. Alison is represented by Joanna MacKenzie of Nelson Literary Agency. Her debut novel, YOU AND ME AND US is coming out April 7th from William Morrow (HarperCollins).
Diane Byington joins us on the blog this week to discuss her latest novel, a time-travel thriller, If She Had Stayed. Welcome, Diane!
Author Name: Diane Byington
Book Title: If She Had Stayed
Book Genre: Women’s fiction/thriller/time travel
Release Date: February 17, 2020
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
How would you describe If She Had Stayed?
From would-be rock star to museum curator, Kaley Kline remembers the past through rose-colored glasses. When she gets the opportunity to go back into her own life and change the thing she regrets the most, she chooses to go back to college and not break up with her boyfriend, Scott. But that might not have been the best decision she’s ever made.
What drew you to the idea for the book about time travel that in part features the inventor Nikola Tesla?
This book was a process. I’ve always liked time travel, but in this case it was a means to an end, the end being the ability to have a second chance at fixing the things we regret the most. We can’t do that, of course, so I needed to find a way that someone could. Ergo, time travel. And I think that Tesla was so quirky that he could have actually discovered it, if that were even possible.
How has your real life informed If She Had Stayed?
I love to write about professional women and their concern with their careers. I am a retired social worker. During my career I was a college professor, a professional coach, a technical writer, a psychotherapist. I was never a museum director, though, and that caught my interest in trying to figure out what that life would entail.
In what ways do you think you’ve evolved as an author since your first book came out?
This is my second novel. The first one was a serious historical novel about a girl who wanted to run the Boston Marathon, but it was 1968 and women weren’t allowed. I loved writing that book, but for my second novel I wanted to write about something different, fun, a little on the crazy side. In my third novel, which I’m finishing now, it returns to the serious side. I think I’ve found my niche, which is as a writer of women’s fiction with an edge of suspense.
What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?
The absolute best part is seeing my writing in print and hearing from readers who’ve liked the book. That is awesome! The most challenging part is the marketing. I’d rather write than market, but that’s the case for most introverted author. In these challenging time, authors must do both.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love to kayak, spin and weave, and photograph sunsets. I also love to hike and bike and hang out with friends.
What are you working on now?
My new book is about an astronaut who, just before she goes up to space for the first time, is hit by a truck and terribly injured. Because of this, she is ultimately grounded. She is devastated and, instead of finding a new life, she is determined to find another way to get to space. It leads her into some questionable decisions and a dangerous situation that threatens to end her life.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Any upcoming events?
Because of the coronavirus, it will be a while before I do in-person appearances. I’d be delighted to attend your virtual book clubs, though, or speak to groups via Zoom or Skype. You can reach me at www.dianebyington.com, at my author Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/dianebyingtonauthor), Twitter (@dianebyington), or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dianebbyington). I’m also starting a Facebook group to support people who are interested in journaling during the pandemic. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2696965530532463/. I hope to have it up and running by the time this interview is printed.
Thank you, Diane! If She Had Stayed is out now.
Sometimes the past is better left alone.
Kaley Kline is thrilled to have landed a job as director of the new Tesla Museum in Colorado Springs. To make the museum successful, she searches for undiscovered works to display. When she finds an old safe that might have been Tesla’s, she’s shocked to find some diary pages supposedly written by the inventor himself.
Kaley initially thinks either that the journal is a fraud or Tesla was experiencing a nervous breakdown when he wrote it. However, if his experiments were real, the world will never be the same. She decides to secretly build Tesla’s time machine and attempt to go back into her own life to change a decision she has always regretted.
She prepares for a trip to the past, not knowing whether she will electrocute herself or travel back to the Boulder of her sophomore year in college. But an old boyfriend might have hidden some secrets from her—secrets that could have her fighting for her life.
Diane Byington has been a tenured college professor, yoga teacher, psychotherapist, and executive coach. Also, she raised goats for fiber and once took a job cooking hot dogs for a NASCAR event. She still enjoys spinning and weaving, but she hasn’t eaten a hot dog or watched a car race since.
Besides reading and writing, Diane loves to hike, kayak, and photograph sunsets. She and her husband divide their time between Boulder, Colorado, and Dunedin, Florida.