Author Interview - Renee Rosen
Author I draw inspiration from: It’s impossible for me to pick just one, but a few names that immediately come to mind include: Michael Cunningham, Amor Towles, Donna Tartt, Kate Quinn and debut author, Anissa Gray.
Favorite place to read a book: My comfy couch! I have a super comfortable couch and every day you can find me curled up there with a book—and always a physical book.
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: Holden Caulfield! I would love to get his take on the world today and see how he might rebel against our current political climate. By the time we were rescued, I’d wonder if he thought I was a phony or the real deal.
The moment I knew I wanted to become an author: This is something I’ve known from the time I was a little girl. It’s strange but I knew I wanted to be a writer before I became a reader—which is totally backwards. I have no idea where this “knowing” came from—I didn’t grow up in a family of writers but it was just something I’d always known about myself.
As soon as I learned to write I was scribbling down poems and short stories. I was a pain to play Barbies with because while everyone else was focused on the clothes, I was thinking about the storyline and everybody’d motivations. Example: No, Barbie and Ken couldn’t just take off for Paris—they’d just had a fight!
When I was in high school I wrote my first novel and actually attempted to find an agent and get it published. Thankfully that didn’t happen! It would take many, many years to hone my craft—something I’m still learning to do and hope I’ll always be learning and growing.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook: I prefer to read in the exact order you’ve listed here. Hardbacks are my favorites followed by Trade Paperback. I never got into e-books and audio. I need to hold the book, carry it with me wherever I go and when I’m finished, I need to find just the right place for it on my bookshelf.
The last book I read: I’m currently reading THE GREAT BELIEVERS by Rebecca Makkai. I’ve always admired her work but this book is truly special and worthy of all the awards and praise its received.
Pen & paper or computer: Definitely computer. At least to start. I find that my mind goes so fast that I can’t capture it all in long hand and then of course there’s the issue of not being able to read my own handwriting! But once I do get a solid draft, I print the whole thing out and do a paper edit with pen in hand.
Book character I think I’d be best friends with: Katey Kontent from Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Katey was filled with wit, smarts and she enjoyed a gin martini. I would love to romp around New York City with her!
If I wasn’t an author, I’d be a: A singer although I can’t really carry a tune. Not that that’s ever stopped me. I did take singing lessons once upon a time but people close to me will tell you I could have put my money to better use. The same it true for the guitar lessons I took. I do love music though and I love to sing and have been teased for being a song stylist since I botch up lyrics and melodies all the time. A friend even bought me a karaoke machine one year for my birthday.
Favorite decade in fashion history: Hmmm, I would have to say it’s a toss-up between the Gilded Age (oh those Worth gowns and the ridiculous swimming costumes!) and the Roaring Twenties. I love those sassy frocks and cloche hats.
When I published Dollface: a Novel of the Roaring Twenties, I threw a 20s party and dressed up as a flapper. My costume included a $9 wig. Everyone assumed I had cut my long hair and told me how good it looked. Now if a $9 wig looks better than your own hair, it’s time to do something. I went to my stylist, showed her a picture of me in the wig and she reached for the scissors. I’ve been wearing my hair in a 1920s bob ever since.
Place I’d most like to travel: Europe! Take me away to England, Italy, France, Germany, Spain. Just take me there and turn me loose with John, my partner in crime. No structured tour guides for us, though. We’re great explorers and love go off the beaten path and discover the local culture, food, sights.
My signature drink: A Manhattan on the rocks with bourbon and a brandied cherry (two if I can get them) along with a tall glass of ice. As I sip my Manhattan I add ice cubes one at a time. It’s weird but it’s the way I do Manhattans!
Favorite artist: Three enormously talented artists immediately come to mind. The fist is Jonathan Santlofer, a celebrated visual artist (who also happens to be a beautiful writer. Check out his memoir, THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK). Next would be Scott Goodwillie whose work is haunting and so emotionally arresting, they hold you spellbound. I highly encourage you to investigate his work. Lastly, there’s Michael Goldzweig whose art is a burst of color and energy.
Number one on my bucket list: To meet Barbra Streisand. No, actually just meeting her would not be enough. I would need time to go to lunch or have dinner with her. I’d want to sit and talk to her about everything! I went to see her in concert a few years ago and was completely verklempt!
Anything else you'd like to add: I am super excited about the next book I’m working on, THE SOCIAL GRACES. It’s the story of Mrs. Astor and Alva Vanderbilt vying for control of New York Society during the Gilded Age. The material is so fun, all the etiquette, the clothes, and their over the top balls and palatial homes are mind boggling. It’s coming out in January 2021 so I’m hard at work on that now.
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