Author Allison Bassen will read from her book "Virtue," inspired by the Eliot Spitzer escort scandal, Thursday, at Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington from 7-8:30 p.m. The evening as billed as a GNO – girls night out – featuring wine, cheese, and conversation.
Patch caught up with Bassen, a decorator at Plainview-based The Fabric Mill, which she co-owns with her husband, Mitchell, to learn more about the author.
Patch: How did the plot of this story come together for you?Allison Bassen: Virtue’s plot was ripped from the headlines. When Eliot Spitzer got caught with an escort I became obsessed with two things: Why would a man risk his entire career for sex with a stranger, and what makes a woman sell her body? I started reading about the history of prostitution, but the psychological issues were the most intriguing and those issues became the spine to build the novel. In other words, little girls don’t announce at the dinner table, “When I grow up, I want to be a prostitute.” Something happens that makes a woman rationalize that it’s okay to use her body. As for the men, well that is a huge can of worms, no pun intended, but I could fill your entire newspaper with the reasons men frequent prostitutes. My favorite was Charlie Sheen’s explanation which went something like, I don’t pay woman for sex, I pay them to walk out the door.
Patch: How long did it take you to write, and did you set time aside to write every day?
AB: Being that Virtue was my first novel, it took about three years to write. I also took some wonderful writing courses in Manhattan at Gotham’s Writing workshop that had me editing for almost a year. I would attempt writing four or five days a week, but there were always days when the creativity just doesn’t pass from your brain to your fingertips. That’s when you get up from the computer and try again the next day. You know when it’s not going to flow. When it is flowing, you can’t type fast enough. My technique was to write one day and edit what I wrote the following day before proceeding with more of the story.
Patch: How did you work the pacing of the novel - did you create an outline, or just start writing?
AB: I had a rough outline. The character development was the most important part. The reader has to really know and understand each main player, and care what happens whether it’s the protagonist or the antagonist. Then there are the scraps of paper you grab to write a good sentence on or a twist you want to ad. I probably had over a thousand notes and scribbles covering my desk throughout the process. You know you have the “pacing” down when readers tell you they couldn’t put the book down, or took it to work to read on their lunch break.
Patch: What do you do when you're not writing?
AB: Think about writing! It really is a passion. I have a second novel, My Father’s Affair, that is about to go to the proofreader. I enjoy cooking, race walking, playing mah jong, rooting for the NY Jets (that takes a lot of heart), and reading. I also work as a decorator at The Fabric Mill with my husband, Mitchell.Patch: What can people expect at your reading - I understand the theme is girl's night out.
AB: It’s funny, I was searching through the novel picking which parts I wanted to read and then boom, an idea out of left field entered my brain. Let’s just say, this will not be a boring reading where people hear the first two sentences and then their minds start wandering, thinking about what they need to do the next day. Girl’s nights are wonderful because we can all be ourselves, have three conversations at once and keep up with every word, and the men can stay home eating all the junk food they truly desire as they channel surf shows we would roll our eyes at.
I look forward to sharing Virtue with the group and want to thank my sister-in-law, Gail Seiden and the staff at Dolphin Book Shop for hosting this fun evening, Thursday, October 3rd, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase that evening and space is limited. People can register by emailing email@example.com