Monday, November 9, 2020

Interview with Danielle Martin, author of Glimmer As You Can (Alcove Press)

Martin, Danielle. 2020. Glimmer As You Can. New York, NY: Alcove Press, a division of Crooked Lane Books. ISBN: 978-1643855233. $26.99 USD

Book Description and Reviews

Welcome to the Starlite. Let your true self shine.
1962. In the middle of Brooklyn Heights sits the Starlite: boutique dress shop by day, underground women's club by night. Started by the shop's proprietor after her marriage crumbled, Madeline's social club soon becomes a safe haven for women from all walks of life looking for a respite from their troubled relationships and professional frustrations. These after-hour soirées soon bring two very different women into Madeline's life--Elaine, a British ex-pat struggling to save her relationship, and Lisa, a young stewardess whose plans for the future are suddenly upended--irrevocably changing all three women's lives in ways no one could have predicted.

But when Madeline's ne'er-do-well ex-husband shows up again, the luster of Starlite quickly dampens. As the sisterhood rallies around Madeline, tension begins to eat at the club. When an unspeakable tragedy befalls their sorority, one woman must decide whether to hide the truth from the group or jeopardize her own hopes and dreams. Glimmer As You Can captures the heartbeat of an era and the ambitions of a generation of women living in a man's world--a world threatened by a wave of change.
In the glitz and glamour tradition of Beatriz Williams's Tiny Little Thing and Fiona Davis's The Chelsea Girls, Danielle Martin's debut is "a love letter to...women" (Greer Macallister, The Magician's Lie) that illustrates the courage of women and the strength of sisterhood.
"A timely and beautiful story of female friendship and strength." ~ Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Queen's Fortune "Martin deftly and exquisitely captures this historical moment." ~Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of In Another Time
Author Interview
I'm so pleased to have Danielle Martin, author of Glimmer As You Can on my blog today! Danielle is a debut author whose book is being published on November 10, 2020 by Alcove Press. Let's get started.

Danielle, how did you come up with the idea for your book?
It was a long journey and an indirect path. Around fifteen years ago, a family member told me about his visit to a late-night barbershop in Brooklyn. I don’t think he shared many details from his experience, but this idea of a late-night barbershop seemed delightfully unexpected and ripe with story possibilities. After our conversation, I scrawled down the idea as an entry in my “ideas portfolio” where I warehoused seeds for creative projects.

Flash forward to 2014—I was interested in writing a novel that focused on women’s experiences during the liminal period between the “Leave it to Beaver ‘50’s” and the “Woodstock wild ‘60’s.” But I needed a setting. For inspiration, I flipped through my “ideas portfolio,” pausing on the nugget about the late-night barbershop in Brooklyn. I had this image in mind of a late-night social setting, buzzing with activity in a commercial district that was otherwise stilled for the night. I decided to change the barbershop into a women’s social club, an “underground”
group that would gather during the night in a central character’s dress boutique. 
Are your characters based on people you’ve known or are they entirely new creations?
They’re new creations; I was following my curiosity about women’s experiences in certain roles. I wanted to know more about the lives of flight attendants, especially during the early sixties when that role was glamorized on billboards. 

I was also curious about what it felt like to be a woman with aspirations in the field of journalism during the early sixties. The newsroom of a major New York newspaper seemed like it would be a tough professional environment, and I wanted to write about a woman trying to gain a foothold in that arena.
Where did the title Glimmer As You Can come from?
I didn’t have the title immediately, but I had this imagery in mind of the Starlite (the social club in the book). I created the Starlite as a beacon—a gathering place where women could feel free to enjoy themselves and toss aside their many struggles. The title came to me after I wrote an early scene where Lisa (the flight attendant) was leaving the Starlite for the first time. She was treading with caution down the snowy sidewalk as streetlights glinted off the ice crystals, and I considered her feelings of freedom and fear, all alone in this neighborhood at night—her mixed feelings after such an eye-opening experience at the Starlite. 
What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

Originally, the book was in first person POV. I believe that the book was originally also in present tense. I completed a number of drafts in 1st person present; but eventually, I switched it over to 3rd person past tense, in a painstaking process which entailed picking over thousands of words. That was definitely the most challenging part! Also, working through material in dozens of drafts is an immense challenge; sometimes, my best insights came from working out the material on paper. It’s a slow route that requires patience, but it can be helpful for those crucial scenes. 
Did you always know you wanted to write a book or did it come gradually?

I always wanted to write a book—I can remember sitting on the floor behind the coffee table in my living room at age 8 or 9, writing a long story with chapters. 
What was the first book or story you read that had an impact on you?

Maybe it was the Phantom Tollbooth. I loved the premise of escaping “the doldrums” through challenges of the imagination and intellect. 
What’s the strangest thing you had to research for your book?
There’s a scene where Elaine is making scalloped potatoes, and I was determined that this would be the recipe she would want to make for her fiancĂ©. I tried to find a magazine from that time period, so I could say that “Elaine made a new scalloped potatoes recipe from ____ magazine,” but after spending hours trying to find this specific recipe in a magazine from early 1962, I decided to omit any references to a magazine title.
What are you working on now?
I’m developing an idea that takes place in the early 1920’s. For the foreseeable future, I want to continue writing books about women’s experiences in the twentieth century. It was a century of such rapid change—I feel the need to keep exploring these underpinnings to our current century.
I love that you are focusing on this era, and will look forward to reading your next book. Thanks for being on my blog today, Danielle, and good luck with Glimmer As You Can!

Find Danielle's debut at your favorite local book seller, or the links at the below online retailers.

Happy Reading!