With release of 10th novel, Allison Winn Scotch explains ways writers need help from their readers

Author Allison Winn Scotch poses for a portrait in her home office, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Author Allison Winn Scotch poses for a portrait in her home office, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

For her 10th novel, best-selling author Allison Winn Scotch was inspired by the idea of a popular female star whose career and image are threatened by a scandal and the lengths she’ll go to restore her reputation.

“In the time of post-#MeToo, women still have it harder, they’re still put under a microscope in a different way. They are still judged over the smallest slip-up. And, I was interested in seeing how that could derail a woman’s life.”

“Take Two, Birdie Maxwell” is about an actor, named Birdie Maxwell — who is best-known for her rom-coms. She returns home to her small town after a PR disaster to plot her next movie, and discovers an unsigned love note from years prior. Birdie decides the best way to rehab her reputation would be to distract the public and get them invested in her reconciliation with a former boyfriend who wrote her this love letter.

Her longtime best-friend’s brother, Elliot, who is now a reporter, agrees to help Birdie track down each of her exes and find out who wrote that letter.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Scotch shares the inspiration for Birdie, pulls back the curtain on the writing business and shares some thoughts on Taylor Swift.

Answers are shortened for clarity and length.

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AP: What was your inspiration for the Birdie character?

SCOTCH: I sort of envisioned her as Julia Roberts in her heyday. I feel like movie stars now are a little different than in the early aughts or even 90s. Social media has made them more accessible, but there was sort of this mystique about them for a long time. And (Roberts) in particular, I think, stood out to me as somebody who was one of the most famous people in the world. She had her own set of people trying to paint her as difficult or problematic back in the day.

AP: The dynamic between Birdie and her sister Andie is really funny. Andie is not remotely impressed by her sister’s fame or status.

SCOTCH: I live in LA and you see pretty quickly that the mystique of celebrity wears off. They go to your schools, they play on your teams. From my understanding of family members of celebrities in particular, they’re happy for the success, but like, you’re still the annoying person they grew up with. So I really I loved writing Andie. Even if you don’t have a famous sibling, I think we can all be all relate to being irritated with siblings.

AP: You often post about new books by other writers on social media and others do the same. It seems like female authors in particular really support each other online.

SCOTCH: 100%. It is a real joy. This is a unique job, and a lot of people don’t necessarily understand it. I personally feel it’s insane to think that (other authors) are competitors. Like, if somebody likes Emily Henry, they may like my books. So let’s join forces and be stronger together. And one rom-com book read leads to another one. Not everybody has that mentality but I do think that a lot of women in publishing really are each other’s best champions and it’s awesome.

AP: You’ve shared with readers that pre-orders of books, reviews and requests are extremely important. Why?

SCOTCH: There is a lot of inside baseball stuff that readers don’t understand and I am happy to talk about that. Many of your favorite authors are one failed book away from never being offered a deal again. I was in that situation halfway through my career where a book that everybody had high expectations for really did not perform. When it came time for me to write another, people wanted me to change my name. They wanted me to write in a different genre. I have a personal connection to the fact that there are a lot of writers who really are white knuckling it to the next contract.

A lot of readers don’t understand that. If you want to buy a book, please do. Please tell your friends. Please make a request at the library. Please post a review on Goodreads or Amazon. These metrics all make a difference in the lifespan, not just of the book, but of an author’s career. It really is a career of starting over constantly.

AP: Another one of your favorite subjects is Taylor Swift. Why are you invested in her relationship with Travis Kelce?

SCOTCH: For her to seemingly have found somebody who is not threatened by her and is sort of in awe of her is certainly something that my teenage daughter is watching. I was talking to her about Travis traveling to see Taylor on tour now that he’s in the off-season and she said, ” Taylor showed up for all of his games. How messed up would it be if he didn’t show up for hers?’ And I was like, ‘OK that is the attitude that you want when you’re looking for a partner.’ But I don’t know that I had that attitude at 17 or 25 or whatever.

I think that is why a lot of us have been taken with this story. You see the difference in how this incredible businesswoman and songwriter has been treated by men. She’s been diminished. And here is somebody who is like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m dating Taylor Swift.’ I feel like that’s how we should all be treated, even if we’re not Taylor Swift.

AP: It’s fun to watch mothers and daughters occupy space in the Taylor Swift fandom and go to the concerts together.

SCOTCH: When the tickets went on sale for “The Eras Tour,” I just assumed my daughter would want to go with a friend. She’s 17, and at the age where they’ll go off and do their own thing. And she said, ‘No, I only want to go with you.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, OK. Whatever it costs, that’s what we’re doing.’ And we still talk about it. It’s really been something that I think we will hold on to forever.

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