• Aka—Katie Gallagher
• Birth—ca. 1972
• Where—Ashville, North Carolina, USA
• Education—B.A., University of North Carolina, Asheville
• Currently—lives in Asheville, North Carolina
Garden Spells didn't start out as a magical novel," writes Sarah Addison Allen. "It was supposed to be a simple story about two sisters reconnecting after many years. But then the apple tree started throwing apples and the story took on a life of its own... and my life hasn't been the same since."
North Carolina novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction—a captivating blend of fairy tale magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.
Born and raised in Asheville, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature—because, as she puts it, "I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate."
After graduation in 1994, Allen began writing seriously. She sold a few stories and penned romances for Harlequin under the pen name Katie Gallagher; but her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen's accomplished debut "spellbindingly charming," and the novel became a BookSense pick and a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection.
The Sugar Queen followed in 2008, The Girl Who Chased the Moon in 2009, The Peach Keeper in 2011; and Lost Lake in 2014. Allen's 2015 novel First Frost returned to some of her charaters in Garden Spells.
Since then, Allen has continued to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as "Southern-fried magic realism." Clearly, it's a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.
From a 2007 Barnes and Noble interview:
• I love food. The comforting and sensual nature of food always seems to find its way into what I write. Garden Spells involves edible flowers. My book out in 2008 involves southern and rural candies. Book three, barbeque. But, you know what? I'm a horrible cook.
• In college I worked for a catalog company, taking orders over the phone. Occasionally celebrities would call in their own orders. My brush with celebrity? I took Bob Barker's order.
• I was a Star Wars fanatic when I was a kid. I have the closet full of memorabilia to prove it — action figures, trading cards, comic books, notebooks with ‘Mrs. Mark Hamill' written all over the pages. I can't believe I just admitted that.
• While I was writing this, a hummingbird came to check out the trumpet vine outside my open window. I stopped typing and sat very still, mesmerized, my hands frozen on the keys, until it flew away. I looked back to my computer and ten minutes had passed in a flash.
• I love being a writer.
• When asked what book most influenced her career as a writer, here is her response:
Every book I've ever read has influenced me in some way. Paddington Bear books and Beverly Cleary in elementary school. Nancy Drew and Judy Blume in middle school. The sci-fi fantasy of my teens. The endless stream of paperback romances I devoured as I got older. Studying world literature and major movements in college. Who I am, what I am, is the culmination of a lifetime of reading, a lifetime of stories. And there are still so many more books to read. I'm a work in progress. (Author bio from Barnes & Noble.)
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