Today we welcome back historical romance author, Michelle McLean. Thanks for joining us again, Michelle.
Top 5 Favorite Things About Writing Romancing the Rumrunner
- The Research – I always have fun researching my books, but this one was particularly fun. Aside from a few movies set in this era (and reading the requisite Fitzgerald and Hemmingway books in school), this isn’t a time period I knew much about so I got to spend a lot more time researching than I usually need to. It was fabulous! This is such a fascinating era, one that I really enjoyed playing in for awhile.
- The Music – The music surprised me. I’d heard some songs (I’d been a huge Betty Boop fan when I was younger so it was fun to listen to the songs of Helen Kane, the woman who inspired the cartoon (despite the creator’s claims to the contrary)). Two things surprised me the most: 1 – it is almost all upbeat. I had a very hard time finding a song that wasn’t peppy. Even the sad songs were something you could really dance to. And 2 – they were naughty! And not all that subtle about it either. Some of the songs will downright make you blush! Check out Bettie Smith’s “Empty Bed Blues” 😉
- The Characters – I love all my characters, but Tony and Jessie were so much fun. Poor Tony just wants to get his life back on track and make sure he doesn’t make any more seriously horrible mistakes, and Jessie is in the same boat. They try so hard to stay away from each other but just can’t help themselves. Set against the already clandestine back drop of speakeasies and the flapper era, they were just an absolute blast to write.
- The Setting – I had a lot of fun with this. From Jessie’s butcher shop to Tony’s P.I. office to the speakeasies (Jessie’s underground gothic hangout The Red Phoenix and Tony’s plush and hip club The Corkscrew) the settings were fascinating to research and create in the book. I even spent days researching 1920s automobiles and had Jessie take one for a spin (btw, they had some seriously gorgeous vehicles back then, including Al Capone’s totally tricked out armored and bullet proof Cadillac)
- The Fashions – gorgeous! Fabulous! I don’t have the arms to pull off the dresses, but would love to try 😀 The fringe, feathers, sheer overlays, beadwork, rhinestones *happy sigh*. Oh, and the accessories – if I could pull off those bejeweled “across-the-forehead” headbands, I’d walk around in them all day.
- What’s really interesting to me is what a huge leap fashion took. Just ten years prior, women
were still lacing up their corsets, aiming for the tiniest waist possible. While skirts might have gotten fuller, bustles might have been added or taken away, necklines might have gone higher or lower, for the most part the typical silhouette of a woman hadn’t changed much in a very long time.By the late 1920s, when Romancing the Rumrunner is set, fashion had undergone a massive make over. Lacing up until you passed out was a thing of the past, and women moved to soft silky camisoles, panties, and bras along with their short hemlines, strappy dresses, and boxy silhouettes.
All in all, this was a simply fascinating time period to write. In fact, this might just be my favorite of all my books (just don’t tell the others) 😉
In honor of my heroine Jessie, who runs her speakeasy under the alias The Phoenix, I’ll be giving away a 1920s style Phoenix necklace to one lucky commenter!
Romance and non-fiction author Michelle McLean is a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who is addicted to chocolate and Goldfish crackers and spent most of her formative years with her nose in a book. She has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, and loves her romance with a hearty side of suspenseful mystery. When Michelle’s not editing, reading or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book. She resides in PA with her husband and two children, an insanely hyper dog, and three very spoiled cats.