... Only, we’re in Detroit and not Chicago.
Picture this: Detroit in the late 1920s. A beautiful, headstrong, young girl determined not to follow in the wake of well-mannered young ladies of that period and be “married off” to the best suitor. A mysterious walk-in closet; a mother with a dark secret. Men and women with self-serving motives, gangsters and molls, booze, murder, and flying bullets!
All this, and more, will you find in author Patty Wiseman’s trilogy, The Velvet Shoe Collection, consisting of: An Unlikely Arrangement, An Unlikely Beginning, and An Unlikely Conclusion.
Patty is experiencing great success with her romance suspense series featuring 17-year-old Ruth Squire, and her “unlikely” adventures.
I’ve just finished reading Book 2 in the collection, and caught up with Patty in between book tours and literary award dinners to ask her a few questions about her unique series.
Sylvia: You picked an interesting era to write about--Detroit, late 1920s--what made you write about this time in history?
Patty: Imagine a tow-headed, five-year-old runt of a girl crouching behind the stairwell in her grandmother’s three-story mansion, listening to the grownups talk about her life during the roaring twenties. We were leaving to move to Kansas. My dad took a new job there. Kansas is where my grandmother met her second husband, and where her story took an unexpected twist. She’d fled from Detroit, Michigan, to save her life and her son’s. I’m a naturally curious being, and my vivid imagination worked over time while grandmother spun her story of intrigue. I’ve often thought she missed her calling. She should have been a writer herself. Over the years, I made a point to stay with her on any occasion I could and sat in rapture most of the time as she told the story of her life’s journey. Those stories never left me. I knew I had to write about them. Life, of course, got in the way. I put it on the back burner, but shortly before I retired, the stories grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go.
Sylvia: How did you find having to research details to write about this era?
Patty: First of all, I love, love, love that era. Partly, because of the stories I heard, but more because when I did start to research that era, the role women played during that time fascinated me. This was an era of women really coming out of the shadows, and making themselves and their desires known. I put my grandmother in that category, as well. She was headstrong, passionate, and beautiful. She knew what she wanted, and was going to find a way to have it. I found a lot of information through ancestry.com. I also have a lot of online friends who live in Detroit, who were very accommodating when I needed to verify facts about the time period. I really had a lot of fun researching.
Sylvia: Why did you name this series of books "The Velvet Shoe Collection"?
Patty: As I said before, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother growing up. She had a huge house, and the guestroom I stayed in had a cavernous closet. I was always exploring; and one night, I found the closet didn’t end in the guest room. It actually turned the corner and continued into my grandmother’s dressing room. When I turned that corner, I was amazed. Rows of fancy dresses, jewelry and shoes! So many shoes! There were all kinds to match her dresses, but the ones I liked best were the velvet ones. Especially a red velvet pair. That’s where I came up with the name. I wrote that closet and those dresses into the books.
Sylvia: So the idea to write this series come from real life, as with most authors?
Patty: Yes. I wrote the stories from my grandmother’s perspective, but really to honor her first husband, my father’s father, who never lived to see him grow up. I had only planned on one book at first, but I got such a wonderful response, I decided to write a series. Now, people are clamoring for me to write about some of the other characters in the books and to expand on their lives. There is so much material there. I could write for years!
Sylvia: I see you are doing some book tours and talks around the country. Please tell us more about this.
Patty: In 2012, I pulled out all the stops and traveled everywhere for book signings and festivals, libraries and book stores. I hardly ever had a weekend off. What I found was women who love to read about strong women who have found a way to live their dreams. This year, I’ve slowed down on the tours and am working on a series of workshops designed to encourage women to pursue their dreams no matter what station in life they find themselves. If you follow me on my website, www.pattywiseman.com, you will be able to keep up to date on the progress of these endeavors.
Sylvia: I like the slogan on your website: "Challenge, Conquer, Change". What is the premise behind this?
Patty: I’ve been able to live my dream, and it is a passion of mine to encourage other women to follow theirs. So many women feel that time has passed them by, that they don’t have anything meaningful to contribute anymore. There are two blogs about "Women of a Certain Age" on my website. One spotlights quotes from women at various ages, and what they like most about the age they are. The other, affirms the worth of women as they get older and spotlights the man’s point of view, and the beauty they find as their partner travels through each decade.
We should never discount our influence in this world because we are aging. Too many times, women get trapped in what the media portrays beauty to be, thus creating an impossible image to sustain. We need to stand away from the television, the billboards, and the magazines, and examine the virtues we have to offer to the younger generations. We are beautiful at every age! We need to find the jewel within!
Sylvia: That is inspiring indeed! Ageing is not very kind to women because of the media, and the culture we live in, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries such as the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Is there anything else you'd like to tell your readers?
Patty: I’d just like to encourage all women to explore the UNLIKELY! Many times, we fall into a pattern, and just stay on the same old treadmill. Try something new, whether it be in the books you read, the entertainment you enjoy, or the places you travel, even the food you eat. Open up your world! Explore the possibilities. It’s an exciting time to be a woman!
Sylvia: Patty, it has been a great pleasure to feature you on "Sylvia Says". Thank you, and I wish you all the best with the Velvet Shoe Collection and your workshops on inspiring women to reach their potential. I think this kind of empowerment is something we can never get enough of.
Patty: The pleasure is mine. Thank you for the interview, and for having me on your blog. I wish you all the best with your own "Unlikely Adventures" as a strong woman and novelist!
We have an expression in Australia that we sometimes use when we're feeling rather overwhelmed; and when I finished reading a certain article about the chances of women finding men after a certain age, I was left trembling with apprehension. As I clutched the newspaper to my breast and shakily boarded the train on the way home from work the other day, I said to myself: "How much can a koala bear?"
On the train, I re-read the by now crumpled paper so I could take things in once more, this time sitting down. A flashback to the movie Sleepless in Seattle brought back the comment made to the Meg Ryan character that "A woman has a much higher chance of being killed in a terrorist attack than getting married after the age of forty."
Well, I have news for you, sisters! The age has now dropped dramatically since they filmed that movie. This explains my downing a valium when I arrived home and making myself a huge bowl of pasta with pesto (my favourite comfort food) so I could get over the shock of what I had learned.
The following comes from a regular column in the mX newspaper (courtesy of City Rail) written by Emma Merkas. WARNING: READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL!!!
Never mind 40! Bloody hell--they are now saying if we don't land a man by 29 we're done for! What are the freakin' chances for us to do that if we're older chicks past a certain age? As we fondly say in Australia: "Buckleys and none". This is how much of a chance we have of landing a man past the age of 29, 30, 35, 40, and so on. So our mission is not just impossible; it's friggin' IMPOSSIBLE!
Therefore, with heartfelt sympathy and condolences to my older, wiser, and sometimes dumped sisters out there, bring on the terrorists! In fact, I think we have a much better chance of capturing a whole terrorist organisation and bringing them to justice while winning millions on Lotto three times in a row, and having George Clooney and Clint Eastwood in a bidding war for the film option to one of our novels (this last one is for my literary sisters), than landing a man who is decent, faithful, loving and considerate. Oh, fudge! Forget the last bit and simply make it ANY man!
Okay, I'm off to find a mining town now where women are few and men are desperate :-)
Okay, this is really spooky. It seems that every time I write a novel I am either on the way to fulfilling some kind of unknown or subconscious prophecy, or my life changes in such a way that I start to become like the main character in my novel.
For instance, when I wrote the romantic comedy, The Other Boyfriend (TOB), in 2010, there were certain elements in the story that at the time were mainly fiction but partly based on an old ex-boyfriend. But lo and behold, within months of publishing TOB my marriage broke up and I discovered in my ex-husband aspects of the lying, cheating and thieving person he turned out to be--and which he shared with one of the characters in TOB! Ironically, when I started my first draft of TOB, I hadn't even met my now ex-husband. Yes, I started working on TOB about a year before I met him!
Now, I have just finished writing Playing With The Bad Boys--A Mia Ferrari Mystery; and suddenly, I've started to become more like her: confident, sassy, doesn't suffer fools gladly, assertive, strong, and a whole lot more. Well, I've always possessed these personality traits, but now they have become a lot more pronounced. And what's really strange is that Mia Ferrari works for a hotel group and this is where she stumbles upon her mysteries. Now, only this week, I have started consulting for a hotel group! You see, my bread and butter comes from consulting (this is until I become famous like JKRowling. LOL), and in between my consulting I write.
One of my present clients is a wholesaler and I have been consulting to them for 20 months. But as soon as I finished writing Mia's first mystery I landed my second client, and sure enough, like Mia, I will be working within a group of hotels Australia-wide. So how's that for spooky? I only hope that when I start consulting this coming week I won't stumple upon a dead body, like Mia does in her first mystery!
I know that writers draw from their life experience, but it all starts to get a little weird when something I write about ends up happening in my life at a later stage. On the upside, this sets me to thinking that I should write about winning Lotto! Hmm. Food for thought.
Author Sylvia Massara's: