#PimpMyBio: Allison Augustyn (YA Contemporary)

Hi, I’m Allison. I wrote a book about a girl who is determined to have sex for the first time, or die trying. Like, throw-herself-off-the-back-of-a-cruise-ship-while-on-vacation-with-her-grandmother-if-she-doesn’t-find-someone-to-have-sex-with die trying.

It’s a contemporary dark comedy, and the title is “GOING OVERBOARD” (or maybe just “OVERBOARD” — I am never sure about titles).

That probably gives you some sense of who I am. I like writers who bring clarity to difficult issues and emotions through levity, because comedy can help make sense of how hard it is to be human.

I like exploring sex and depression in my writing, two important topics to young adults (and likely all adults). Though my manuscript is complete (78,000 words) I’m a new fiction writer, and know I could use some help tightening scenes and heightening tension in the story. And probably other things. I’m learning. I take classes, revise, critique and edit other’s manuscripts, and take critique in turn, because I’ll want to serve the writing.* It’s all about the writing, and the reader!

Here’s me on a good hair day:


Actual photo. I even own that sweater.

Here are some other things about me:

  1. I’m from northern Wisconsin. Yes, I love cheese, the Packers, and Pabst. It’s the law.
  2. I always wanted to travel. When I was five, I loved to stare at a tree that looked like an Acacia from the African savanna.
  3. I grew up to become a career nonfiction writer. I paid the rent! I could sometimes pay for drinks! Only Pabst!
  4. I am a music buff, and cut my teeth on music critique for the Chicago Sun-Times.
  5. I later worked in a natural history museum writing exhibits and bribing scientists so I could look at the African pelts Teddy Roosevelt shot and donated, back when people like him did that sort of thing.
  6. One year later, I had an opportunity to move to Africa as a consultant with a bicycle nonprofit, and took it! I lived in Zambia and Kenya and loved it. I wrote constantly. I also got to see all the animals. Well, many animals. But BABY HIPPOS, which are maybe the most important animals. Seriously cute.
  7. I moved to Seattle, which has fewer animals but a lot of great people, and also my husband, the best animal of all. I still work as a writer and editor, and volunteer with Hugo House, which is an amazing writing nonprofit supported by authors like Sherman Alexie, Maria Semple, and others. I’ve learned to write good fiction through classes there, and am eternally grateful to them for the opportunity to grow as a writer. That’s why I volunteer — to give back, and hopefully encourage other writers in the way I’ve been encouraged.

Favorite authors/books below. Feel free to drop me a line at ARAugustyn@gmail.com, especially if you want to hear about favorite music, foods, bike gear, hiking gear, places to hide out and write in Seattle, etc. Thanks to Lana Pattinson for the Blog Hop, and thank you for reading!

Favorite YA Writers and Books, Books, Books:

  • A.S. King
  • M.T. Anderson
  • C.S. Lewis
  • L.M. Montgomery
  • (apparently anyone with initials in their names, said the newly branded A.R. Augustyn)
  • Andrew Smith (particularly “Grasshopper Jungle” and “Winger”)
  • Meg Rosoff
  • Jaqueline Woodson
  • Beautiful and classic books written by people like Lois Lowry, Laurie Halse Anderson, Madelaine L’Engle, Francesca Lia Block, Roald Dahl, and of course Sherman Alexie
  • Do I even have to mention Harry Potter? I guess I should, in case there’s any doubt. DO NOT DOUBT. I lurve it so much.

So many others. I also love Margaret Atwood, Ursula LeGuin, Mark Twain, Nabokov, Updike, Kingsley Amis (and Martin Amis’s “Rachel Papers”). More recently, I loved “The Goldfinch,” George Saunders “Tenth of December,” anything by Elizabeth Strout, Lydia Davis, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me.” I also read a lot of poetry, which I don’t always understand but really like. I just read the poem “A Brief for the Defense” by Jack Gilbert, and haven’t stopped thinking about it.

I am also finishing Justin Cronin’s “PASSAGE” trilogy, which is a great summer read if you like world-ending vampire viruses and masterly PEN-award-winning writing. Who doesn’t?!

*I am reading (again): Vogler, McKee, Syd Field, and “Wired for Story” by Lisa Cron, which I loved. I just reread “Bird by Bird” for the instruction and laughs. Next up are “Writing Down the Bones” and “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.”

Lastly, here’s me excited about #PitchWars: