The Year That Changed Ally Carter’s Life (Except It Didn’t)

Ally Carter‘s debut novel, Cheating at Solitaire, came out last November, and she’ll tell you a little bit about her forthcoming YA novel, I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, in the essay below. But as she explains, sometimes the difference even a hugely successful year makes in a writer’s life isn’t that much difference at all.

allycarter.jpgIt’s almost Valentine’s Day, or as I like to call it, National Chocolate Day (because, really, isn’t that more inclusive?), and I can’t help but think about Valentine’s Days past. Remember when we covered shoeboxes with red velvet and everyone in class got a card from everyone else? Remember when flowers poured from the principal’s office like it was the Rose Parade and the hallway was Main Street in Pasadena?

Last Valentine’s Day, I had a nice day job and a publishing deal for Cheating at Solitaire and its sequel, Learning to Play Gin. I had a big box of chocolates and the notion that 2005 was going to be a good year. But in March, things changed. In March, it became a great year. It became—in a word—significant.

That’s when my agent asked if I’d ever wanted to write a young adult novel, and even though I sometimes doubt that I ever was a young adult (those Rose Parade-like flowers weren’t flowing to me), I said yes. By April I had an idea I loved and three sample chapters. By May, I had a deal with Hyperion which was significant, or at least Publisher’s Lunch thought so—it had the requisite zeros.

I’ll never forget that phone call from my agent, especially her parting words: don’t quit your day job.

Then June came and the call from Disney and the film option and yet another warning from my agent: don’t quit your day job.

Then came a number of foreign rights deals and an audio book deal, and you guessed it, I still didn’t quit my day job.


12 February 2006 | guest authors |

Jessica Anthony’s Best Story Ever

I first discovered Jessica Anthony when I heard her reading from “The Rust Preventer” at an event for Best New American Voices 2006 (which is also how I met Amber Dermont), by the way). Jessica’s work has also appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney’s, New American Writing, Mid-American Review, and many other fine publications. Her first novel is dangerously close to completion, and when asked to tell Beatrice readers about her favorite short story, she took a clever tack (along with her unique author picture).


Dear Reader,

The best thing about writing an essay like this (“Name a Short Story Or Novel That Has Influenced You And Why”) is that the assignment carries with it a whiff of elementary school’s classic biftek: “What I Did Last Summer.”

The problem was that I never really did anything over the summer. I grew up in a small agricultural community. I had a dog and a backyard. I climbed trees. Do children even climb trees anymore? I ran around in shorts with my shirt off. I played a lot of badminton. Mostly, I read. But “I read” is not a very exciting answer for “What I Did Over the Summer,” so I often made a few important embellishments to my essay which included things like rescuing puppies from high places, throwing rocks through the window of a limousine, and accidentally setting the carpet on fire.

But that’s not why I’m here today. I?m here to talk about a short story or novel that has influenced my writing, and you have been very patient to wait so long, and so without further ado, I present to you the title of the aforementioned, extremely influential story. Here it is:



10 February 2006 | selling shorts |

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