Today is the day for our discussion about Park Avenue Summer and our chat with its author Renee Rosen! It has been so much fun to hear how many of you have read this book and loved it!
I was lucky enough to talk with Renee last week. She gave me some insights into what it was like to write this fantastic novel what she has in store for us in the future.
Where did the idea for Park Avenue Summer come from?
I had been binge-watching Mad Men and just fell in love with New York from that time period. I knew I wanted to set a book in Manhattan in the 1960s but I didn’t want to tread on Mad Men‘s storylines. So I began to think about what other “glamorous” professions there were and magazines came to mind.
Is it hard to write historical fiction?
I definitely walk a fine line between fact and fiction when I write this kind of story. My characters and setting are based on actual people and places, and I never start a work like this without lots of research–even visiting with people who may have known some of my characters or certainly going to the places we see in the book. But it’s so important that the storylines unfold organically so that they’re believable. For this reason, I almost always include an epilogue where I can clarify anything that seems fuzzy. I don’t want any confusion about what’s real and what’s not.
What was it like to be in Helen Gurley Brown’s head?
Wasn’t she over the top? That was the biggest challenge of writing Helen. I didn’t want to create a caricature out of her. I wanted her to be strong and quirky, but I also wanted her to be relatable. I think her vulnerability in quiet moments helped make her human.
Was it easier to write about Alice?
You would think so, but at times she was almost too steady and too predictable. My editor kept pushing me to “crack Alice.” That was good advice because it lead to a nice storyline for her. I was happy with where her storyline went.
Speaking of storylines, do you know how your book is going to end when you begin?
I wish I was an outliner, but I’m not. I never have been. But not outlining gives me a freedom to let my characters go and just be. This definitely makes the writing process more exciting!
I think we’re all sad that Park Avenue Summer is over. Do you have anything we can look forward to?
Yes! I’m taking you back to New York and I’m going to introduce you to the Astors and the Vanderbilts. We’re going to explore their fall from grace in New York society. This will be out next year.
With Renee’s thoughts about Park Avenue Summer fresh on our minds, let’s get this discussion going! My answers are in the comments below.
- Was Helen Gurley Brown a boss you could work for?
- Does a Cosmo girl exist today?
- How did you feel about the ending of the book and were you surprised to learn where Ali ended up?
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say! Thanks for sharing your feedback! Be sure to check in Thursday to find out what we’ll be reading in August.