Once again, I bring you back to one of our very first issues to remind you of the wonderful things One Story was doing before (many of) you became loyal subscribers! Issue #13: “Stations West” by Allison Amend follows a Jewish father from the old country making a life in America in the 1880s, and his son trying to do the same. Allison’s words are beautiful and carefully chosen to describe the lifestyles of these men that are foreign to most contemporary readers. The story demonstrates a unique family dynamic, and how despite attempts to change paths, the apple often doesn’t fall far from the tree. I strongly encourage you to see life through the eyes of Boggy and Moshe by ordering the story or, even better, picking up a copy of Stations West the novel.
After her publication in One Story, Allison Amend came out with her debut story collection Things That Pass for Love in 2008, for which she won a bronze IPPY award. However, years prior to this publication, Allison had completed her first novel, Stations West, in 2004. Using her One Story issue as chapter one, she found a well-known agent and began the hunt for a publisher. Several big name houses responded to the book with lots of enthusiasm, but no one was interested in pushing forward with a buy. After sending the novel around to smaller publishers with no success, Allison’s agent eventually told her to put Stations Westaside and move on. But this author wasn’t taking no for answer.
Allison parted ways with her agent and, because she believed in the book so much, persisted on her own. At one point, she even went to Book Expo America, pitching her novel to every publisher she liked. She said it was “horribly embarrassing and humiliating and in between every pitch [she] would go over to the bar and have a shot of something.” After some more time of sending her work around to no takers, the moment finally came. Hannah Tinti, editor-in-chief of One Story, put Allison Amend in touch with Michael Griffith, who was curating the Yellow Shoe Fiction Series and in search of a historical fiction novel that had been overlooked by mainstream publisher. As Allison stated, “the rest is history.” Stations West was published to great reviews and was a finalist for the prestigious Sami Rohr Prize.
Though Allison went through an unconventional publication process, her dedication and true belief in what she does followed what the students at One Story’s summer workshop learned all of last week. As Hannah Tinti explained in one of her craft lectures, “it only takes one person to like what you’re doing.” It may take a while, but you just need to find that one person to reaffirm your efforts. Many of our workshoppers said they felt validated at the end of the week and were comforted knowing that what they do is truly important and that they are certainly not alone. It’s a matter of passion, and Allison Amend certainly has it.