11 October 2015

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Laini Giles on THE FORGOTTEN FLAPPER, A Novel of Olive Thomas

This week, we're pleased to welcome author LAINI GILES with her latest release, THE FORGOTTEN FLAPPER, A Novel of Olive Thomas (book one of the Forgotten Actresses series). One lucky visitor will get a free copy in epub, mobi, or paperback of The Forgotten Flapper - this giveaway is open internationallyBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

A presence lurks in New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre when the lights go down and the audience goes home. They say she’s the ghost of OLIVE THOMAS, one of the loveliest girls who ever lit up the Ziegfeld Follies and the silent screen. From her longtime home at the theater, Ollie’s ghost tells her story from her early life in Pittsburgh to her tragic death at twenty-five.

After winning a contest for “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York,” shopgirl Ollie modeled for the most famous artists in New York, and then went on to become the toast of Broadway. When Hollywood beckoned, Ollie signed first with Triangle Pictures, and then with MYRON SELZNICK’s new production company, becoming most well known for her work as a “baby vamp,” the precursor to the flappers of the 1920s.

After a stormy courtship, she married playboy JACK PICKFORD, MARY PICKFORD’s wastrel brother. Together they developed a reputation for drinking, club-going, wrecking cars, and fighting, along with giving each other expensive make-up gifts. Ollie's mysterious death in Paris’ Ritz Hotel in 1920 was one of Hollywood’s first scandals, ensuring that her legend lived on.

Q&A with Laini Giles

So, from Texas, how did you end up in Alberta, Canada of all places?

I married an Alberta boy from Wabamun, west of Edmonton. We were an internet relationship in the early days of that, and have been happily married for fifteen years. I wasn’t sure what to think of Edmonton at first, but I’ve come to love it in the last six years. I’m a native now.

Does it feel strange being far away from Hollywood—the source of many of your books? Or even Toronto—the source of most publishing in Canada?

Sometimes, but in either place, the traffic would make me crazy. That’s what research trips and conferences are for—to get me to other places for vacations. I once heard a lecturer at a conference say “Never set a book someplace you don’t want to visit.” That’s very true in my case. Edmonton’s the perfect size. I almost always run into someone I know when I’m out now. That reminds me of Austin, when I grew up there. Homey and full of friends. But I’ve been making semi-regular visits to Los Angeles now too for researching, taking tours, getting a feel for where everything is (and used to be). And I’ve made lots of friends there too. So I’m bi-coastal. Or something.

What made you decide to write about Olive?

I read Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon when I was about 12, and although most of the content has now been proved to be outright lies, I think it’s what got a lot of us classic film fans interested in silents and that early era (and the scandals that went along with it). I also read Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank not long after it came out, and it made a HUGE impression on me. A brilliantly-written book that wove a real historical tale through her imagining of how the story played out, and I began searching around for subjects to whom I could give that treatment. Olive was the first who came to mind.

How did the idea of the ghost occur to you?

Oh, she really exists. Ask anyone at the New Amsterdam Theatre. I’d started the book in 3rd person and gotten quite a ways in, but it was just laying there, and I couldn’t figure out how to liven it up. Then, I started playing around with perspective and voice, and realized that Ollie wanted to tell her own story. Once I let her loose, she pretty much took over. And from there, the ghost’s perspective seemed a natural projection—looking back with the knowledge that comes from experience and all that.

Do you have anything in common with Ollie?

Well, we both lost our fathers pretty young. I was 13 to her 8. And I did some pretty stupid stuff in my 20s, but I was lucky that none of it was TOO stupid. Sadly, Ollie never got a chance to make it past her 20s. I’m baffled by her dislike of libraries and bookstores though. She really has no idea what she’s missing.

Can we expect more novels from you in the future?

Yes. In fact, there’s an excerpt to the next book in the back of this one. Clara Bow is my next subject, as seen through the eyes of her secretary, Daisy DeVoe, who eventually went on trial for theft in 1931. And there are quite a few other ladies I have planned, all in various states of completion or planning. I’m unofficially calling myself “The Philippa Gregory of Forgotten Actresses” to give everyone a vision of what I’m trying to accomplish. Fortunately, there are plenty of hard luck cases to turn my attention to.

Sounds exciting! When can we expect the next one?

I’m editing furiously right now to have Clara ready by a late 2017 date. I’m hoping to keep with that. I’d rather it not slip, but I also want to deliver the best book that I can.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Yes. If you read the book and like it (mine or anyone else’s), reviews are like gold. They really are. Word of mouth is the best way for authors to sell books, and if you liked it, tell people. Once an author has twenty reviews in places like Amazon, that book will begin spontaneously popping up as a suggested read in peoples’ feeds. So share your thoughts. You have no idea how far they go, and how grateful authors are for those words. 

Learn more about author Laini Giles

Blog/website: www.lainigiles.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/4gottenflapper
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LainiGiles
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7034038.Laini_Giles 
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Laini-Giles/e/B00D9STF4W/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1