Thursday, March 9, 2023

Alison Schaffir Interview - Your Dream For Me

Photo Content from Alison Schaffir

Alison Schaffir is a social media strategist and young adult author living in New York City. A lover of contemporary fiction, Alison developed her debut novel, Your Dream for Me, fusing two of her favorite interests, fashion and theater, together. She graduated from University of Richmond with a major in business marketing and a minor in psychology. When she’s not making up stories in her head, she loves indulging in Trader Joe’s lava cakes, belting early 2000s pop hits, and spending time with her friends and family.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’d say as early as elementary school. I had a third-grade teacher who noticed my interest in writing, even at a young age. She saw how invested I became when we’d discuss books or write short stories in class. Because of this, she encouraged me to submit to local competitions and participate in after-school writing workshops. At the end of the year, she gave each student a superlative, and ironically, she nominated me for “most likely to write a book someday.” I’m grateful she believed in me, because it looks like she turned out to be right. It’s fascinating how even your earliest passions can guide your future path.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My most rewarding experience was probably receiving my physical book in the mail for the first time. I could barely contain my excitement when I picked up the package and realized what was inside. I waited until my parents were on FaceTime with me, and then we unboxed it together. As I tore open the packaging, I saw my finished book come into view, and I practically welled up with tears. Up until that point, I had experienced frequent Imposter Syndrome, but when I held the book in my hands (which practically felt like cradling a baby), I could see myself as a real author. That moment made all the struggle and strife worthwhile, and it reminded me why I write in the first place–to create something special that I can share with the world.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Probably trying to maintain a social life. It’s hard to remain disciplined when there are other distractions like spending time with your friends, going to events, and living in the present. Writing a book requires significant focus and dedication, so a level of sacrifice is required–whether that be spending less time with loved ones, exploring other hobbies, or enjoying downtime. Even though a book feels less tangible in the early stages, it’s important to prioritize book writing as you would any other aspect of your life. For me, I tried to set aside a chunk of time each day and not relinquish that window, even if I was tempted by other plans. Regardless of how frequently you write, it’s all about balance, so do what feels right for you. No matter what, if you’re putting pen to paper, you’re still making progress.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
I’d say It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover was one of my most life-changing books. Up until reading that book, I had read required texts for school and a few books for pleasure over my summers. I enjoyed reading to an extent, but I had never read a book that truly captivated me and left me on the edge of my seat. It Ends with Us was my gateway book to falling in love with reading as an adult. I think Colleen Hoover is such a talented storyteller in the way that she’s able to create fully immersive experiences from difficult subject matters. She strikes the perfect balance between heartfelt and emotional, while also providing humor and levity. After reading that book, I realized that I wanted to create a poignant, touching experience for readers, just like she did. That book became the inspiration for fueling my own writing journey and developing a story that I was proud of.

Can you tell us when you started YOUR DREAM FOR ME, how that came about?
Definitely. I’d say it was a compilation of moments throughout my own high school experience that planted the seed in my head. Similar to my main character, I have always had a love for fashion and worked as a retail sales associate when I was in high school. Additionally, I did set design for the school musical one semester and realized how much I enjoyed it. I thought it’d be interesting to create a character who explores both interests and grapples with where her true passion lies. Similarly, high school is full of friendships, first loves, self-discovery, and figuring out your path. I wanted to weave those themes into my novel because they’re particularly pertinent at that stage of life. I didn’t end up starting this novel until I was in college, but I tried to evoke the same nostalgia and heightened emotions that come with being a teenager.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
The most surprising thing was how difficult it was to bring them to life. When I was first writing my main character, Scarlett, she came across as more one-dimensional, without as many of her own goals and motivations. Additionally, her dialogue sounded slightly robotic, as if she were trying to be perfect, but that’s not how real interactions work. Just like in real life, every character has to have strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone has desirable and less desirable traits. Once I was able to add depth to her character and make her a bit more flawed, she began to stand out more. I think it’s similar for other characters in the book too. Whether they’re considered stereotypically good or bad, I tried adding nuances and sentimental backstories, so readers could empathize with them as people and not just archetypes.

  • I started writing this book when I was only 19 years old, so I was practically still a teen myself.
  • My parents first met in a musical in real life (similar to the play that Nathaniel and Scarlett put on for their high school).
  • I always dreamed of working in fashion and moving to New York City after college (similar to Scarlett), and then I did after I graduated.
  • I didn’t tell anyone I wrote this book until after I finished the first draft. (It was a good incentive to keep writing!)
  • The book took a total of 7 years on and off to come together between writing, editing, querying, and going through the publishing process.
  • Scarlett is an only child, but I have a brother in real life who’s two years younger than me.
  • I never actually had a relationship in high school, so I had to live vicariously through this one (but it’s led me to a relationship in real life).
  • Macie is partially inspired by my best friend of over 20 years. (All the good parts of the character!)
  • While the high school in this book is a nameless location, it’s inspired by my hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
  • My first job in high school was as a retail sales associate, and I actually almost fainted working behind the cash registers, similar to my character.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
Can I please press the snooze alarm?

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Kayaking in a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico. Watching the water light up while paddling under the stars was surreal.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love. In the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
That girl looks awfully familiar…where have I seen her before?

What was your favorite subject when you were in school?
English class - is that too stereotypical for an author?

Best date you’ve ever had?
Flying 3,000 miles across the world to go on a date with my British pen pal I’d been exchanging handwritten letters with. (Might be inspiration for a future book!)

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett, unlike her theatrically gifted parents, is not one to spend time near a spotlight. Scarlett dreams of becoming a renowned fashion designer, where she can flex her creative talents away from a crowd. So it's no surprise when she sneaks into her school's costume shop to explore the racks. Unexpected, however, is coming face-to-face with Nathaniel Wilder, a talented theater student who piques a new interest.

With fashion still as her main priority, Scarlett vows to learn how to make a 50s-inspired dress for her best friend, Macie. After all, she needs a strong portfolio of work to help her get into her dream school, the Fashion Institute of Technology. The one problem? She has no idea how to operate a sewing machine. Thanks to Nathaniel's encouragement, Scarlett decides to shadow the school's drama teacher to practice her skills, hoping to fuse her passion for fashion with theater...and be closer to him for the spring play.

Scarlett's designs are unfolding, but a distressing event involving Macie shakes everyone in Scarlett's world—causing their friendship to falter and Nathaniel to unexpectedly pull away. With building stressors threatening the rest of the year, including a rival who wants to tarnish Scarlett's reputation, Scarlett must rely on her determined spirit and newfound sewing skills to keep her fashion dreams—and her most important relationships—from unraveling.

You can purchase Your Dream For Me at the following Retailers

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ALISON SCHAFFIR for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Your Dream For Me by Alison Schaffir.

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