Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Allison Buccola

Allison Buccola is an attorney with a JD from the University of Chicago. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and their two young children.

Buccola's new novel is Catch Her When She Falls.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

It took a few tries to get the right title for Catch Her When She Falls. My first working title was No Stone Unturned, the name of the online blog that digs into Emily’s death. But that centered the blog too much, which is only one source of the pressure on Micah to reexamine the past. Next was Safe Harbor, since, when we meet Micah, she’s fleeing her hometown and looking for help and refuge, and then Show Me How to Disappear, a more exciting version of the same idea. We finally landed on Catch Her When She Falls, and I think it does a good job capturing a few different aspects of the book. There is Emily’s literal fall, of course, which sets Micah’s whole story in motion, but Micah is also spiraling and in search of help, and it’s uncertain whether that help is going to be there at the end.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self would be very excited that I had written a book, and probably not too surprised about the genre. Psychological thrillers weren’t yet as huge as they are today—Gone Girl was still a few years off—but I’ve always loved mysteries and books that get into the characters’ heads.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings and endings go hand in hand for me, and the beginning of Catch Her When She Falls is, in fact, temporally very close to the end. The book opens with Micah driving to find the brother of her best friend, who died when they were in high school. Micah has learned something about Emily’s death and she needs his help, but first she needs to figure out how to get him on her side. The main narrative is Micah rehearsing what she’ll say to accomplish this goal. As a result, the beginning (and middle) of the story is imbued with information that Micah has at the end of the story. So, any change to the beginning meant a change to the end, and vice versa.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I don’t think there’s any character in the book who I’d say is a lot like me, but I share small traits or characteristics with most of them. Micah and I are very different personality-wise; I think she’s a lot tougher than I am. But I drew on my experiences as a waitress/bartender to create Micah’s coffee shop and her interactions with her customers. Ryan, Micah’s current boyfriend, is bookish and oblivious. The first is definitely true of me; the second is probably often true, too. And Micah’s best friend Natalie is, like me, usually orbited by her two children.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I came up with the initial idea for Catch Her When She Falls while listening to a true-crime podcast about a cold case. I started imagining the lives of the family and friends interviewed and wondering what their reaction would be to the new attention on the case. This got me thinking about Micah, a character who would have complicated feelings about revisiting the past, as best friend of the deceased and girlfriend of the supposed murderer. The story took off from there.
Visit Allison Buccola's website.

--Marshal Zeringue