About 416 pages.
No, c’mon, seriously what’s it about. Don’t you have one of those pithy elevator pitches handy?
Well, um, okay, here goes… Dollface is a novel about a flapper who falls in love with two mobsters from rival gangs during Prohibition Chicago.
Now that you’re loosening up a bit, would you care to elaborate?
Okay, but remember, you asked for it. So in Dollface, the main character, Vera, unknowingly falls for these two men who turn out to be gangsters. One of her lovers works for Al Capone and the other one works for Dion O’Banion and Vera is caught in the middle.
What makes this story a different from other gangster novels, is that it’s told from the woman’s point of view and we see how a nice Jewish girl like Vera gets caught up with a city full of gangsters. Think of it as Boardwalk Empire meets Mob Wives (not that I’d ever watch a show like Mob Wives.) There’s plenty of action, lots of historical events like the famous handshake murder and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. And of course it has all the glamour and excitement of the Roaring Twenties as scene through the eyes of a flapper.
Funny, you don’t look like a flapper. I thought this was supposed to be autobiographical.
Ah, that was the first book.
I see. Well then, since you’re not a flapper and you’re not 107 years old, how could you write an entire novel set in in the Roaring Twenties?
It’s called Wikipedia.
I’m joking. I actually spent ten years researching this novel. I interviewed a lot of people with ties to the Prohibition and Chicago’s previous gangland activity. I spent days reading actual newspaper clippings from real historical events. I visited one of the last standing slaughterhouses left from the Union Stock Yard days.
Ick! That seems excessive. What were some of the more interesting things you discovered during this ten years of research?
That Al Capone’s great niece sells Tupperware. That there’s a bullet hole in the cornerstone of Holy Name Cathedral where Hymie Weiss was gunned down. That one of Dion O’Banion’s favorite speakeasies is right around the corner from where I live. That Vincent “the Schemer” Drucci starred in a blue film (porno flick) in 1923.
Sounds fascinating. Tell us a few things about yourself that readers would find surprising.
Well, for one thing I can’t spel. I mean spell. I’m a self-diagnosed dyslexic and I’m a painfully slow reader.
Sounds like the perfect makings for a writer. Obviously you’re a bit challenged so ah, what made someone like you become a writer anyway?
Because I have no other marketable skills. Seriously, I have no choice but to write—it’s just the one thing I’ve done since I was a little girl. I started working on my first novel when I was about 16. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t a writer.
So can you talk a little about your process?
Seriously? What makes you think I have a process? What makes you think I even know what the hell I’m doing here?
Fair enough. We’ll move on… So what have the early reviews been like? What’s the feedback you’re getting?
Let’s see early reviews have been good. Some very good, in fact. Getting a starred review from Library Journal was nice. And a bookseller said it was a ‘romp of a good time through the Roaring Twenties’. I’ve been told it’s a bit of a page-turner. I’ve been told it’s a great book club pick. I’ve been told it would make a great movie. I’ve been told that it makes a great Christmas gift—
Okay, okay, we get it! [Clears throat. Rolls eyes] So the acknowledgments in your book read a little like the who’s who of publishing. Were you just name-dropping or do you really know these people? And hey, if you really do know all these famous authors, how come nobody’s ever heard of you?
Excellent question. [Renee shifts uncomfortably in her chair]. Is it getting hot in here?
Hey, wait a minute—come to think of it, I actually have heard of you. Aren’t you that writer who’s best known for writing herself into 20,000 word corners?
Why yes. Yes, I am and thank you for bringing that up.
Excuse me, but aren’t you on deadline for your next novel? What the hell are you doing here talking to me when you should be writing?
RENÉE ROSEN is the author of Every Crooked Pot, a YA novel. Dollface, A Novel of the Roaring Twenties is her first adult work of fiction. Renée has contributed to many magazines and newspapers, including Chicago Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Complete Woman, DAME and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel, What the Lady Wants due out next November from Penguin. Visit her at www.reneerosen.com.