Guest Author: Allison Winn Scotch

Guest Author: Allison Winn Scotch

OK, I am just not getting my act together this holiday season, so I’m having Allison Winn Scotch on instead of myself to talk about the release of her first book, THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND.


Isn’t that lovely, the release of a first book? I wish it on all of you pre-bookshelf writers, and also I wish onto you: enjoy every moment before it, too. Some days the difference between wishing you were published and being published seems like the difference between wishing you were a hero and being one. BEING A HERO AIN’T FOR SISSIES, I can tell you.

Not that being published is heroic, exactly, just…oh, fine. So my analogy falls all to pieces, and I’m just going to pass you on over to Allison for better logic and brilliant metaphors and all that…

In her debut novel THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND, Allison Winn Scotch broaches, with humor and hope, the topic of cancer.

Natalie Miller has just had the worst day of her life. But it didn’t start out that way. After all, she’s on her way to the top. She has a bright future ahead of her and is using her determination and smarts to get her—and the senator she works for—where they need to be, regardless of whom they step on along the way. Passing lukewarm bills to please the constituents and leaking stories to the press are mere checkmarks on Natalie’s to-do list. And that’s the way she likes it.

Until, on the very same day, her doctor gives her the shocking news that she has breast cancer and her boyfriend dumps her, leaving Natalie to question everything she knows.

So she decides to take on her cancer the way she does everything—with steely determination. But as she becomes a slave to the whims of chemo, her body forces her to take a time out. She gets a dog, becomes addicted to The Price is Right and, partly to spite her counselor’s idea to keep a journal, Natalie embarks on a mission. She is going to track down the Five Lost Loves of her Life and figure out what went wrong.

Unwittingly, Natalie’s personal challenge to see why good things come and go—and what responsibility she has in it all—forces her to look at her life in a new light. Everything comes under question—her relationship with a mother who drives her crazy, the friendships she could nurture more tenderly, and her knack for pushing away the very people who want to be there for her the most. There’s a wedding, a reunion with the Man Who Got away, and an encounter with Bob Barker himself that helps her face her fears and change her life.

As one character says, “It’s funny, isn’t it? How the thing that cancer changes the most isn’t your breasts or your hair or anything at all on the outside. What it changes is everything else instead.” And just as Natalie uses her bout with cancer to discover what is most important to her, this heartwarming debut will encourage readers to take stock of their own lives.

About Allison Winn Scotch

Scotch has contributed to American Baby, American Way, Cooking Light, Family Circle, Glamour, InStyle Weddings, Men’s Health, Parents, Prevention, Redbook, Self, Shape, Women’s Health and Woman’s Day, among others. She lives in New York with her husband and their son and daughter.

“Funny and frank. A serious comedy that shines light into the darkness.” – The Tampa Tribune

“A light, fast and fun read about a serious topic.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[The Department of Lost & Found] does a good service to readers showing how breast cancer, while physically devastating, can strengthen one’s resolve and give life a new meaning.” – Mamm Magazine

“A great way to kick off your summer reading. Editors’ choice.” – Redbook

“Smart and well-written.” – Marie Claire

“Too good to pass up. You’ll laugh a lot (and cry just a little) as Natalie rebounds from the big C and reinvents her life.” – Cosmopolitan

“Scotch handles the topic of cancer with humor and hope, never dipping into the maudlin. The changes and realizations that the characters make are profound and moving. An impressive debut.” – Booklist

“A bonbon of a book.” – Publishers Weekly

“Funny, touching, tender, true — The Department of Lost and Found is the story of a woman who loses everything, and finds herself. I loved it.”
-Pamela Redmond Satran, author of The Man I Should Have Married,
Babes in Captivity, Younger, Suburbanistas

“Allison Winn Scotch’s debut The Department Of Lost And Found is not just smart and engrossing, it’s so real and raw that I’d have sworn it was a memoir. With such a sensitive subject, getting heavy-handed with emotion would have been understandable. However, Winn Scotch deftly interjects enough levity to make the story captivating and redeeming rather than maudlin — I was engrossed from the very first page! (But, really? She had me at The Price Is Right.)”
– Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black

“More than a story about struggling with cancer, the Department of Lost and Found is a story about strength, courage and finding your own way. Allison Winn Scotch writes with honest realism. This is a smart and moving book.”
-Cara Lockwood, author of Pink Slip Party, Dixieland Sushi and I Did (But I Wouldn’t Now)


Laura: We are doing this interview in Jean-Pierre Jeunet style. Please tell me you recognize it and have seen Amélie Poulain. If not: go watch it right now! So Allison, can you do a self-portrait Jean-Pierre Jeunet style?

Allison:J’aime : A newly cleaned house, complete with the smell of Murphy’s Oil and no little (and thousands) of toys scattered in every nook and corner; a late spring day when the sun hits your skin and almost warms you from within, shaking of the last memories of winter; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

n’aime pas: People who are rude to waiters or any service-person who is only trying to be helpful; professional or personal jealousy or bitterness (why can’t the world just get along?!); waking up, even if it is to see my children’s darling faces.

Laura: Yay! Allison gets me! Or else she gets Jean-Pierre Jeunet! But really, there are only six degrees of separation between me and JPJ. And I agree: it’s never a good idea to be rude to a waiter, especially if he’s cute or has an opportunity to spit in your food. So what about the same portrait for one of your characters?

Natalie loves: both her current boyfriend, Jake and her potential future boyfriend, Zach; pushing a bill through congress, even if that bill won’t necessarily improve the lives of her senator’s constituents; her dog, Manny, whom she adopts to keep her company as she endures her battle for her health and who might literally be the one who has to rescue her, even though, theoretically, she rescued him. Oh, and just for a fourth: The Price is Right, which proves to be a bit of salvation.

Not so much: Losing – losing anything, that is: a battle with another aide, a vote in the senate, her hair, her breasts, her boyfriend;

Laura: Okay, on to my really tough one. Do you know what kind of chocolate your main character eats?

My character, Natalie, finds comfort in mint chocolate chip ice cream. That counts, right? In the novel, she’s undergoing chemotherapy and finds that few foods seem palatable. On a blustery November day, her potential love interest (if it weren’t for the fact that he’s also her M.D, not to mention one of her best friend’s exes, suggests that they stop off for some ice cream), and bam, she finally finds something that soothes her. It becomes a bit of a crutch, but only in a good way, as she battles her way back to health.

Laura: I feel deeply awkward and guilty to have asked a character going through chemotherapy what her favorite chocolate is. But I’m glad to hear it about the mint chocolate chip. As I remember from my first trimester, when you can’t eat mint chocolate chip, it’s hard to get through a day.

Allison, your book sounds wonderful and good luck with it’s release! Thanks so much for coming on and playing my Amélie game. Extra bonus points for being a good sport. 🙂

PS My blog is doing the all bold thing against my will again. If you read this in all bold, Sébastien has not yet returned from the gym to fix it or else I killed the internet in frustration.

  • This is the third review of this book I’ve stumbled across. Guess the gods want me to read it!

    November 29, 2007 at 5:23 pm
  • Looks like my kind of book. So count me in for nights of sleeplessness as i read to my heart’s content!

    Thanks for the good tip!

    December 4, 2007 at 7:47 am

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