Lynn Steward is a successful business woman who spent many years in New York City’s fashion industry in marketing and merchandising, including the development of the first women’s department at a famous men’s clothing store. Through extensive research, and an intimate knowledge of the period, Steward created the characters and stories for a series of five authentic and heartwarming novels about New York in the seventies. A Very Good Life is the first in the series featuring Dana McGarry.
VS: What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Lynn: I do not have children or family distractions and writing is less intense than my previous careers in merchandising and residential real estate, which demanded long hours and usually seven-day weeks. Friends and family know that work has always been an important and satisfying part of my life and, I suppose not having children, I never felt the need to set boundaries.
VS: How long have you been writing?
Lynn: I started business writing more than thirty years ago, including: copywriting, editorials, corporate brochures, all forms of adverting, etc. Three years ago, I started putting ideas on paper for a TV series, and that led to creative writing and endless storytelling.
VS: What inspired you to write your book (if this is a personal story about you, please share about the decision to open up about your life)?
Lynn: The project was launched with the idea of developing a TV series, set at a time and place I know very well: New York in the late 1970s. Through extensive research and an intimate knowledge of the period, I develop the pilot and synopses for five seasons. After meeting, however, with professionals in the entertainment industry, I realized that the main character, Dana McGarry, needed more drama and the plots had to be developed, and I felt the best way to do that was to convert the pilot and the first season into a novel, as well as each subsequent season.
VS: What is a typical writing day like for you?
Lynn: My favorite time to write is early in the morning, preferably around 5:30 a.m., or earlier, if possible, when my mind is clear, it is peaceful, and there are no interruptions. I won’t even peek at emails; I don’t want anything to distract me for at least three hours. In late afternoon or evening, I research, or work on marketing and promotion, another responsibility of the indie author!
VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book(s)?
Lynn: Plot development and giving Dana, the protagonist, more drama and interest. Dana’s soft demeanor hid her fortitude and I didn’t want her to be seen as a victim.
VS: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?
Lynn: Dana’s love of family, friends, and her life in New York.
VS: If this is a work of fiction, what character is most like you?
Lynn: Dana. I understand her struggle with being more assertive.
VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Lynn: Volume Two: “April Snow.” We meet Dana in London on holiday. While shopping at Jaeger’s on Bond Street, she is inspired to create a similar women’s classic clothing boutique at B. Altman, but, once again, Helen, the junior buyer, is an impediment. Back in New York, she finds a new love interest, Mark, who introduces her to Irwin Berger, a menswear manufacturer. After Dana learns that Brooks Brothers is opening a ladies department with fashions made in the cutting rooms of menswear manufacturers, she convinces Irwin to work with her to design a private label collection of tailored clothing, using menswear fabrics, to present to senior management at B. Altman. When Mark’s daughter suffers a serious horseback riding accident, she is faced with a new heartache, and, the always resilient Dana, concentrates on her work. Dana meets a mysterious woman, Abby, in London, and she invites her to speak at a luncheon program at the Colony Club, but Abby doesn’t show. The book ends with Dana receiving a letter from Abby’s husband, and this correspondence sets the stage for Volume Three.
VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?
Lynn: Endearing, believable, and sympatric characters.
VS: What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours? (answer only if your book is fiction)
Lynn: The characters should not be perfect. If the good guy, we should also see a flaw or two, and the same for antagonist. Also, their responses, dialogue, preferences should be consistent with the type of character. I think if you know your character well, it is easy to portray a believable person.
A Very Good Life, by Lynn Steward
Title: A Very Good Life
Genre: Literary Fiction
Author: Lynn Steward
Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/Very-Good-Life-1/dp/0991500776
Although Lynn Steward’s debut novel, A Very Good Life, takes place in 1970s New York City. it has a timelessness to it. Dana McGarry is an "it" girl, living a privileged lifestyle of a well-heeled junior executive at B. Altman, a high end department store. With a storybook husband and a fairytale life, change comes swiftly and unexpectedly. Cracks begin to appear in the perfect facade. Challenged at work by unethical demands, and the growing awareness that her relationship with her distant husband is strained, Dana must deal with the unwanted changes in her life. Can she find her place in the new world where women can have a voice, or will she allow herself to be manipulated into doing things that go against her growing self-confidence?
A Very Good Life chronicles the perils and rewards of Dana’s journey, alongside some of the most legendary women of the twentieth century. From parties at Café des Artistes to the annual Rockefeller Center holiday tree lighting ceremony, from meetings with business icons like Estée Lauder to cocktail receptions with celebrity guests like legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Steward’s intimate knowledge of the period creates the perfect backdrop for this riveting story about a woman’s quest for self-fulfillment.