I am so happy to be welcoming Kathleen Tessaro to Novel Kicks today and her blog tour for her new novel, Rare Objects which is due to be released by Harper on Thursday.
Mae Fanning seizes on a job at a tiny, exclusive Boston antiques shop as the fresh start she desperately needs. It opens a window to new world, one peopled with rare and rich characters. But the day that enigmatic socialite Diana van der Laar walks in, Mae’s hidden past returns.
As a moth to a flame, Mae is unable to resist Diana’s heady, seductive glamour and glittering life. Yet, like the rare objects in the shop, very little is what it appears – Diana included.
Moving from Jazz-Age New York to Boston in the grip of the Great Depression, Rare Objects is a rich and gripping story of what it means to reach for a braver, bolder life.
Hello Kathleen. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your typical writing day?
Thank you for inviting me!
My normal day involves getting up at 6am, walking the dog, and getting my son off to school. Then I drink lots of strong coffee, research, write, walk the dog again, spend far too much time looking up useless information and then give up entirely around 2:30. The nice thing about historical fiction is that when you get stuck in your writing, there’s always interesting reading or research to indulge in.
How do you normally approach the process – do you edit as you go? Plan? Write in silence or with noise and where do you like to write?
I normally write at home, in relative quiet, and often in bed (though it must be made and I must be dressed – otherwise one is simply asking for trouble). I like to get the first 50 or so pages out before I go back over anything, just because one can get stuck quite easily in re-working the first three paragraphs over and over and never move forward. (Chances are the first three paragraphs never make it to the final cut anyway.) I do plan and sometimes even outline but have never managed to stick to it.
Congratulations on the release of your new novel, Rare Objects which is due to be released this week. Can you tell me a little about it and where the idea originated?
Thank you! The idea came from my fascination with found objects and the stories behind them. I’ve always wanted to write about an antiquities shop so that I would have a constant influx of characters and stories coming in and out. And the reason why different people collect certain things intrigues me. Add into that mix two young women from very different social classes with a shared secret, the glamour and despair of the Prohibition period and a mythical object that acts like an omen to everyone who comes across it and before you know it, an entire world is up and running!
Are you a big reader and which three novels are your favorite?
I tend to always be reading non-fiction for research but I do get sent advance copies and really enjoy those. Recently I was sent a copy of Hazel Gaynor’s “The Girl from the Savoy” which was lovely. Among my favorite novels of all time are AS Byatt’s “Possession”, Nancy Mitford’s “The Pursuit of Love” and Evelyn Waugh’s “Decline and Fall”.
Do you cast your characters and if you do who did you have in mind for Mae and Diana?
I did have one actress in mind when I wrote the character of Nora, Maeve’s mother – Anna Chancellor, who is wonderful in “The Hour”. As for Mae and Diana, that’s tough. Jennifer Lawrence as Diana…..Carey Mulligan as Mae? There are so many talented young actresses to choose from.
Is there a fictional character you’d like to meet and why?
I used to want to have Mary Poppins as my nanny. The real Mary Poppins, that is – not Julie Andrews. I think I’ve outgrown that one now.
Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell me about it?
A new novel set in Vienna at the turn of the century through to post World War 2. It concerns a Jewish woman who goes back to Vienna shortly after the war in search of an old lover.
Any advice for new writers?
Finish your damn book!
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop.
Her debut novel, Elegance, became a bestseller in hardback and paperback. All of Kathleen’s novels (Innocence, The Flirt, The Debutante, The Perfume Collector, and most recently, Rare Objects) have been translated into many languages and sold all over the world. She returned to Pittsburgh in 2009, where she now lives with her husband and son.
My verdict on Rare Objects:
The plot of this book fascinated me. What could two girls from very different walks of life could have in common? Mae is an Irish redhead who lives with her mother in a small apartment in the North end of Boston whilst Diana’s family is wealthy and has a higher social standing.
What you find is two girls with very complex lives and nothing is what it seems. The further I got through the book, the more I realised how similar these two girls actually are. They are both trapped by their circumstance and are desperate to escape it and be free to be themselves without fear of opinion and disgrace.
The plot itself was compelling and I was quick to fall into the story. I would have liked to have read this from Diana’s point of view as much as from the perspective of Mae. I find both stories interesting.
The characters in this story is what I liked most about it and what I empathised with – this idea that you are trying to escape the mistakes of your past and not managing to do so because of this hardship to shake this own perception of yourself. This paired up nicely with the setting of Mae working in an antiques shop I think.
Kathleen’s style of writing made this book hard to put down and it didn’t take me long to read it. I am quickly becoming a fan of her novels and look forward to the next one.
(Rare Objects is due for release by Harper on 5th May 2016. Thank you to them for the advanced review copy.)