Allen, a native of Asheville, has a philosophy about college students. She believes that the "flyers" zoom through school with intent and purpose, while the "floaters" aren't exactly sure what they want, but they'll know it when they see it.
"I was a floater. I was the Queen of the Floaters. But the beauty of a liberal arts education is its dedication to all of us, the floaters and the flyers," she says. "Through my degree in literature, I discovered who I was as a reader. And from that, I learned who I was as a writer. I know I wouldn't be where I am today without my college experience."
And where is Allen today? She is taking the literary world by storm.
Allen began writing professionally upon graduation from UNC Asheville. She sold a few stories and penned romance novels for Harlequin under a pseudonym. Her big break came in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern 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 New York Times bestseller, a BookSense pick, and a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection. Her second novel, The Sugar Queen, tells the tale of a young woman with family secrets and secret passions that change her life forever. Allen is currently at work on her third novel, which will be released next year.
Even though she is rising to the top of her profession, Allen hasn't forgotten the lessons she learned as a "floater" at UNC Asheville.
"Fifteen years after graduating, here's the note I blow back to you, dear UNC Asheville: I arrived safely. All is good. Thanks for getting me here."