Rehoboth Beach resident debuts first novel

‘As the World Turns’ actress becomes author with new book
November 22, 2022

Rehoboth Beach resident Allyson Rice will soon be a published author when her first novel “The Key to Circus-Mom Highway,” releases in stores Jan. 6, 2023. 

The book opens when Jesse Chasen and Jennifer McMahon, two estranged sisters living in Chicago, receive calls from a lawyer in Tallahassee informing them their birth mother has passed away. Jesse and Jennifer were unaware they had a birth mother, but they are unable to ask their parents about it because they both died years earlier. To make things even more unusual, the sisters embark on a road trip through the Deep South to collect the inheritance she left behind. They learn about their mother’s life, including the fact they have a brother they didn’t know existed. 

“I wanted to do some kind of journey where someone is trying to get somewhere and obstacles keep getting in the way with really funny characters there,” Rice said. 

To gather research for the locations featured along the road trip, Rice pulled from her experiences living in southern Mississippi as a child. Once the trek was mapped out in the book, Allyson traveled along the entire loop, driving with her son through southern Louisiana and with her mother through Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, visiting juke joints, haunted houses, and other cultural sites that eventually became important elements in the story. 

The book is Rice’s debut novel, but she is also an actress, producer and mixed-media artist, among other titles. Most notably, she was a cast member on “As the World Turns” from 1990 to 1997. 

“At a certain point, I got tired of the world of acting because you’re kind of on the low end of the totem pole and you’re just waiting for people to give you jobs,” Rice said. “I wanted to have a little more creative control than that and started writing. I loved the process of world building and doing research … It was more fun than writing scripts because you can do whatever you want. You can go anywhere with it, and I absolutely love that.”

Rice was born in Huntington, W.Va., and moved throughout the country often during her childhood. After settling in Washington, D.C., her family was invited to visit some friends renting a beach house in Rehoboth. 

“We started renting places with them every summer, so from the age of 11 on we were here every summer with a couple of other families, and we just had the best times,” Rice said. “My parents were eventually able to buy a little condo on Rehoboth Avenue in the heart of the circle … Then, a few years ago, my mom left Bethesda, got rid of the little condo, and got a bigger townhouse and moved here full time.”

Rice was splitting time between Los Angeles and Rehoboth, but she is now planning to stay at the beach to care for her mother. While living locally, she is able to remotely work in her new position as the co-owner of a production company. This also gives her an opportunity to return to other projects in the works. 

Rice has published three women’s coloring books and is currently finishing a fourth. The Los Angeles Art Association recently chose some of her mixed-media pieces to be shown in galleries across the country. She also dabbles in photography. Her photo from a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest will be displayed in the Soho Photo Gallery in New York in December, and she’s had several nature scenes selected for other shows. 

“I usually have a lot of projects going on at any given time. When I’m stuck on one, I just leave it and go work on my art or go work on my photography,” she said. “Then, when I come back to the original thing that I had a block with, I find I see it with fresh eyes and I have ideas. That’s kind of how my life goes in general.”

The idea for “The Key to Circus-Mom Highway” was actually developed while Rice was in the midst of writing another book. “Normal is Overrated” is the tentative title of another original novel. Now that “The Key to Circus-Mom Highway” is complete, she is back to working on that book. 

The soon-to-be-published book was originally written as a screenplay, and additional side characters and smaller plot details were incorporated once the draft was completed. Her goal is to produce a movie version of “The Key to Circus-Mom Highway.”

“I have two different casts already in my head for it,” she said with a laugh.

The book will be available for purchase on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble, Target and most other online bookstores. It is available to preorder on those platforms now.


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter