Today we have with us featured guest Renee Rosen, author of the debut novel DOLLFACE: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties.
Renee is here to speak with us today about her love for the craft of writing, as well as give away a signed copy of her debut novel! Be sure to comment below to enter to win :)
|Renee Rosen, author of DOLLFACE|
Lia Mack: Welcome to the BB Writers Retreat, Renee. Thank you so much for being our guest author today.
Can you please start us off by telling us a little about yourself?
Renee Rosen: I grew up in Ohio and have lived in Chicago most of my adult life, except for a brief stint in New York City. I’m a former advertising copywriter who always had a novel in her desk drawer. Not surprising that I’m a history nerd and an avid reader, too.
Lia Mack: I think history nerds have a warm place in all our hearts...book worms too :)
Ultimate question...Why do you write?
Renee Rosen: I wish I could say that I have some earth-shattering message that needs to be conveyed or that I feel this intense need to express myself, but the simple truth is that I write because I can’t not write. I know that sounds ridiculous but my life just doesn’t feel right and it doesn’t work if I’m not writing.
Lia Mack: I think you summed up the drive to write perfectly.
Can you describe a bit how your venture into writing looked like?
Renee Rosen: I’ve always known I wanted to be writer and began working on my first novel when I was a teenager. It was horrible—truly shameful. It took me 17 years to get my first novel published back in 2007. And in between I had the great fortune to study with writers like Susan Minot, Carol Anshaw and Michael Cunningham. It was and continues to be a lot of hard work, but I find it extremely gratifying.
Lia Mack: How wonderful to be able to study the craft of writing with those great writers.
Can you tell us a little about your debut novel DOLLFACE?
Renee Rosen: DOLLFACE is the story of a flapper who falls in love with two mobsters from rival gangs during Prohibition Chicago. Vera, the main character, is torn between two men whom she later realizes are both gangsters; one works for Capone and the other for Dion O’Banion and she is caught in the middle. Anyone watching Boardwalk Empire will find some familiar territory here as several of the characters in the HBO hit are also featured in DOLLFACE. One thing that I think separates DOLLFACE from other gangster novels is that this one is told from the woman’s point of view. We see how a couple of nice girls get sucked into the grim world of gangsters and how they grow and struggle to navigate their way through such historical events as The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Lia Mack: That is an exciting and complex perspective to write from. Truly sets the stage for an excellent read.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing DOLLFACE?
Renee Rosen: Definitely nailing the time period and the voice. I really had to pay attention to historical details. For instance—there were no zippers in the Twenties and I really wanted to get the clothing right. Also, there’s a lot of wonderful slang that came out of the era and at one point I went way overboard with it. As one writer friend put it, it was starting to sound like something out of Guys and Dolls.
Lia Mack: It's an ecentric era to write about indeed, alive with unique visuals and details. Can't wait to read your novel and be transported back in time.
What are you working on now?
Renee Rosen: My new novel, out next November, is called WHAT THE LADY WANTS and it’s about Marshall Field (the retail tycoon) and his thirty-year illicit affair with his neighbor, Delia Caton. It starts in 1871 with the Great Chicago Fire and goes through the early 1900s. It covers the establishment of the world’s greatest department store, Marshall Field & Company, as well as the 1893 Columbian Exposition. I’m having a lot of fun with this book as well, though I have to say there’s a lot of tragedy involved with the Field’s family.
Lia Mack: How exciting. That's so great you've been able to use your love of history in your writing.
What does your typical writing day look like?
Renee Rosen: Typical depends on what phase of writing I’m in. If I’m drafting (which is the hardest for me) I’ll get up in the morning, put on a gallon of coffee, answer some emails and sit down to write. I’ll write from about 10 until 2ish. If I’m revising and on deadline, like I am now, it’s a whole different ball game. I get up and start working and I’ll work until 5 or 6, take a break for dinner and then I’ll work from about 8 until I can’t see straight anymore!
Lia Mack: Wow! That's dedication :)
Can you share a photo of what your writing space looks like?
Renee Rosen: Have laptop, will travel. In other words, I write all over the place (inside my home and other places, too) but this is my favorite writing chair.
|"Have laptop, will travel."|
Renee Rosen: I think it’s necessary to have an online presence and if you’re writing non-fiction or a memoir, platform is key. It’s less critical with fiction and if you do have a platform and you’re writing fiction, I think publishers think it’s a lucky strike extra. But ultimately for fiction, it comes down to the book, the story, the writing.
Lia Mack: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself if you could speak to the aspiring writer you once were?
Renee Rosen: I would have read more and I would have gotten involved with my local writing community sooner than I did.
Lia Mack: I think that's great advice, Renee. Thank you. And thank you so much for being our guest author today!
Where can BB readers go online to find you and your work?
Renee Rosen: Here’s all my scoop:
Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451419200