RTRR 300x450Today we welcome back historical romance author, Michelle McLean. Thanks for joining us again, Michelle. 

Top 5 Favorite Things About Writing Romancing the Rumrunner

  1. 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.
  1. 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” ;-)
  1. 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.
  1. 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) 
  1. The Fashions – gorgeous! Fabulous! I don’t have the arms to pull off the dresses, but would love to try :-D 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.
  2. phoenix necklace 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!

me 300x450 Author Bio:

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.


30 thoughts on “Jaunty Guest: Michelle McLean

  1. Hello, Michelle! My 18 year old daughter was just bemoaning the fact that there aren’t enough books set in her favorite era. The Great Gatsby ruined her. Your book sounds fantastic! We’re very happy to have you join us today.

    1. Thanks so much! It really is an amazing era. We definitely need more 1920s books! :)

  2. Laurie G says:

    My daughter gave my husband THE GREAT GATSBY DVD for Father’s Day. We haven’t watched it yet but I’ve heard about the glitz, glamour and excess.

    Al Capone had a hideout in Northern Wisconsin near Mercer. My parents-in-law had close friends who ran a restaurant that he apparently frequented. Yes, there are pictures!

    My son went to a bachelor party at a speakeasy bar in the Tampa area . Milwaukee, Wisconsin also has The Safehouse Speakeasy. At both you enter with a secret code word. I’ve been to the Milwaukee bar. You give the password and then take an elevator to the basement. Drinks were expensive but creative.

    The flapper dresses with the fringe were so care free and flighty. Like a bird! The hair pieces too. Love the gorgeous necklace.

    1. Oh wow, what a fun piece of history to be a part of! And yes, I came across many really popular modern speakeasies, esp in New York City. They seem to be making a comeback! :D

  3. Mia Marlowe Mia Marlowe says:

    I’m so glad the window for historical romance is widening. I’m expecting the WWII era to open soon. It’s such a rich canvas upon which to paint a story.

    1. It really is. Pearl Harbor is one of my favorite movies – not a book, I know, but I would love to read a story like that. Such an amazing time period!

  4. anne says:

    I am captivated with the style and sheer uniqueness of that era. A short time ago when we were in a cafe two young girls waltzed in wearing flapper dresses, jewelry and makeup. It was wonderful and special.

    1. So fun! Really, the perfect blend of comfort and sheer beauty. I love 1920s fashions :D And what a time that must have been to live through! Those women really pushed the envelope, just fascinating to research :)

  5. elaina says:

    The music, the fashions, the lifestyle are so well depicted in the movie Midnight in Paris. Your book looks wonderful.

    1. Oh, I’ve only seen parts of that movie, but my sister loves it. I need to sit down and watch the whole thing! :D

  6. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    I love the fashion of the 20s. I don’t know that much of the music, but I’ll take your advice and check it out :-) Thanks for stopping by!

    1. I enjoyed the music a lot more than I thought I would :) And once I started looking up the lyrics I really got a kick out of it :D

  7. Your book sounds fabulous, Michelle! So glad you could join us today.

  8. catslady says:

    It sounds like a wonderful time period and I liked all five of your favorites. I think a reader can always tell when the author enjoys her research!

    1. One of the best parts of the job, for sure ;-)

  9. girlfromwva says:

    Will have to do a search of the 1920′s music. I do love the clothing from that time period.

    1. I really loved coming across pictures of women from that era. They just looked like they felt fabulous and were having the time of their lives. :-)

  10. pearl says:

    Books set during the 1920′s are fascinating and memorable. The way the women dressed, drank, smoked etc. and the clubs and frivolity of it all makes it seem life a fairytale.

    1. It really does. Such a fascinating era!

  11. bn100 says:

    Interesting time period

  12. ellie says:

    The 1920′s was an era of fun, jazz was played and enjoyed, life was lived to excess. Chicago, the movie typified that era well.

  13. JoannaM says:

    Not too fond of the ladies fashion as far as dresses or shoes but dear lord, the hair pieces and jewellery, give it all to me!! I think the dresses were too boxy and didn’t emphasised a woman’s lovely curves enough but the accessories made up for that terrible mistake.
    I have to admit the 20s it’s an era that I haven’t read much about (aside from the Great Gatsby)so looking forward to your book :)

  14. Quilt Lady says:

    Great post! I don’t know much about this time period because there are not many books set during this time. Sounds like if was an amazing time in history though.

  15. Maureen says:

    Thanks for the interesting post. The fashions are what I think about when I think of this time period.

  16. Alyn says:

    I love the flapper dresses. They’re so different. I can’t believe how much fashion changed in such a short amount of time.

  17. Barbara Elness says:

    This sounds like a wonderful story. I love the 1920′s, I think the fashions are fabulous and just the freedom that women were enjoying is so remarkable and fun to see.

  18. Glenda says:

    I’m with you on loving the research! I got into SO many binds in college because I got carried away with my research for history papers. I had so much information to work with and very little time left to actually write the papers. :-D

  19. GladysMP says:

    It all sounds so fascinating. I enjoyed the jewelry shown. It amazed me at the research you had done. Congratulations!

  20. Chelsea B. says:

    Sounds fantabulous! I’ve actually never read a book set in this era!

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