As clichéd as it sounds, Renée Rosen is a former advertising copywriter who always had a novel in her desk drawer. When she saw the chance to make the leap from writing ad copy to fiction, she jumped at it. A confirmed history and book nerd, the author loves all things old, all things Chicago and all things written.
Rosen's latest book is Dollface, A Novel of the Roaring Twenties. From her Q & A with Liz Baudler at Newcity Lit:
Why do you think the twenties are back in style?My Book, The Movie: Dollface.
We’ve all been struggling since about 2008, and the twenties was such a prosperous time, such a happy-go-lucky time, and I think that’s a perfect escape for us now. We’re tired, we’re weary. And I also think people love the fashion. Mary Janes, cloche hats are back in. People are having a lot of fun with it.
There’s a lot of consideration that goes into creating a historical novel’s world. How did you handle it?
You have to get a feel for the time, the language, the clothes. For example, there were no zippers in 1920. You have to know how much slang to put in, and how much to pull back on it. I went really heavy-handed on one draft and a friend said, “God, it reads like ‘Guys and Dolls.’” And you’re locked into certain timelines, striking that balance of the authentic coupled with your imagination, what you’re going to bring to the party.
I spent a lot of time poring over newspapers from the twenties. One thing I found interesting was that Al Capone’s alias was Al Brown, and they often refer to Al Brown in the papers—he was a used furniture salesman. They all had a front. Reading the reports of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, it’s “the killings on Clark Street.” It hadn’t yet become “the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.” Whenever possible I tried to speak to people who had a relative who was connected to either O’Banion or Capone. That led me to lunch with...[read on]
Writers Read: Renée Rosen.
The Page 69 Test: Dollface.