What were your thoughts after publishing Dollface and What the Lady Wants?
These were two historical novels set in Chicago and I wondered if I’d run out of material for a third book set in the Windy City. I fretted over it for sometime before I realized there was a fascinating story right under my nose. The Chicago Tribune during the 1950s was the perfect backdrop for a novel filled with real-life scandals, intrigue and the role of women rising up in the workplace. We pitched White Collar Girl as Mad Men meets House of Cards and with my publisher’s support I was off and writing about a young ambitious reporter struggling to make a name for herself in the man dominated newspaper world. Incidentally, the title, White Collar Girl came from an actual Tribune column by the same name that appeared in the 1940s and 1950s. It was geared toward career women whom in those days were mostly secretaries, nurses and schoolteachers.
Wow. That alone would make me want to read the book. Plus I loved the clothes they wore in the 1040’s and 1050’s. Women and Men both dressed.
Did you ever work for a newspaper or even go in one?
I’ve never stepped foot inside a newspaper before. I knew next to nothing about journalism. I had my work cut out for me. I met with numerous reporters and learned about some of the biggest, juiciest scandals that rocked Chicago and the nation back in the 1950s. I always knew Chicago had a reputation for political corruption and voter fraud, but I had no idea just how outlandish Daley’s political machine really was. I think readers will be surprised by the author’s note I’ve included in the back of the book, which specifies all the factual scandals that appear in the novel.
With that research as my foundation, the story took over and I became merely a vehicle. Right away I sensed that there was something different in the writing, in the development of the characters and in the arc of the story. I had no idea where the book was going, but my characters sure did and I stepped aside and let them lead me in a way that I’d never experienced before. As a writer, I felt that I truly grew in my craft with this book and I truly hope that people will enjoy reading White Collar Girl as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Sounds like there will be many people wanting to read the book. It sounds intriguing.
I was looking over your website, http://reneerosen.com/about-renee/ and read about in your former life as an advertising copywriter. You said you always had a novel in your desk drawer.
Yes, I did, and when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped from writing ad copy to writing fiction. You see, I love history, all things old, all things written and I love Chicago.
In late 19th century Chicago, Marshal Field, who was a visionary retail tycoon made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” He began an affair with Delia Spencer. After the Great Fire Marshall Field led the way in rebuilding. He transformed his dry goods store into a glamorous palace of a department store. Behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.
The Gilded Age always captured my imagination and interest and the fact that the book is an historical novel will make it that much more interesting to readers. So if people haven’t read this one, I suggest they get it. It is wonderful.
Your book DollFace is also a great read.
Thank you. I set this in the 1920’s when America was alive with jazz, speakeasies and a new kind of woman—the flapper.
Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood and live an exciting life. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname “Dollface.”
She’s the ultimate flapper and captures the attention of two high rollers, a nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entree into a world filled with bootlegged bourbon, wailing jazz and money to burn. She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them, until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.
The life she’s living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before. When the good times end, Vera becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder. And as men from both gangs fall around her, she must put together the pieces of her shattered life, as Chicago hurtles towards one of the most infamous days in its history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
You have a knack in being able to weave the story in with history.
I want to thank you for dropping by and telling us about your books.
Be sure and visit Renee http://reneerosen.com/book/white-collar-girl/