Friday, August 15, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Author Guest Post: The Typewriter Girl

I am very excited to welcome Alison Atlee here to A Bookish Affair today!

A notion exists out there in the world of fiction-writing:  the story you want to tell in your book already exists, fully formed, within your subconscious. Getting the story to the page is merely a matter of accessing that subconscious knowledge enough times.
Well, who knows? I don’t think writing a book is “merely” one thing or another, but there are moments when that detail I thought didn’t matter at all suddenly, serendipitously makes me feel a little brilliant: “So that’s why I did it that way!”
Three “throwaway” details from The Typewriter Girl that ended up being rather important:
1.  Lillian hearts Tennyson:  Why did I have Lillian Gilbey give John (the male lead in The Typewriter Girl ) a volume of Tennyson’s poems? Wealthy Lillian sees John as potential husband material, but he needs, in her opinion, “remodeling,” including some cultural education. Tennyson was a quick choice when I was drafting, little thought behind it other than knowing he fit Lillian’s tastes—contemporary and intellectual, but not too much of either of those.
Much later, when my editor at Simon & Schuster asked me to add another scene with Lillian, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I started by browsing a volume of Tennyson. Turns out, Tennyson wrote a poem entitled “Lilian.” Reading it filled me with glee because I knew my Lillian would hate it, and that became the basis of the new scene.
2. Buttoned Up:  I have a particular fondness for the fitted, buttoned bodice silhouette of the late-Victorian era, so when Betsey’s new supervisor requires her to wear a uniform, of course I made sure it had lots of buttons going down the front. But I didn’t know those buttons would keep turning up in the story. By the time I reached the last chapter, I realized Betsey’s journey and development as a character could be followed through her buttons.
3. This is embarrassing:  Betsey needed to have some job, and I picked typewriting probably because I was in front of a keyboard. “I can always change it,” writers tell themselves, but sometimes the Jell-O sets before you get to stir in the canned fruit.  The qualities of a good typist, what it took for a poor woman in Victorian England to learn to type and then get a good job doing it—those things helped me discover Betsey’s character.
Still, when my agent was discussing revisions with me and suggested changing my beloved-but-awful original title to “The Typewriter Girl,” I knew:  “There needs to be a lot more typing in this book!” Having that one detail helped me revise to a stronger character arc for Betsey.
Maybe my subconscious knew all along I was making good choices. Maybe it needed time to make sense of what I was throwing at it. Either way, the discovery that makes things snap together is pure magic for a writer.
See the places and fashions that inspired The Typewriter Girl on Pinterest; connect with Alison on Facebook or Twitter: All the links are at her website,

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, August 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Mina’s Bookshelf
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at What Is That Book About
Tuesday, August 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews (Print)
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, August 7
Book Blast at Mari Reads
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, August 8
Book Blast at Book Blast Central
Saturday, August 9
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Sunday, August 10
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Monday, August 11
Review at Just One More Chapter (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads
Wednesday, August 13
Review at Historical Tapestry (Audio Book)
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, August 14
Review at A Bookish Affair (Print)
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Friday, August 15
Review at Brooke Blogs (Audio Book)
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Saturday, August 16
Book Blast at Broken Teepee
Sunday, August 17
Interview at Closed the Cover
Monday, August 18
Review at The Maiden’s Court (Audio Book)
Tuesday, August 19
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Always with a Book
Wednesday, August 20
Book Blast at Literary, Etc.
Thursday, August 21
Review at Books in the Burbs (Print)
Book Blast at Bibliotica
Friday, August 22
Review at Bibliophilia, Please (Audio Book)
Saturday, August 23
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Book Blast at Ageless Pages Reviews
Sunday, August 24
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, August 26
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, August 27
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing
Thursday, August 28
Review at Luxury Reading (Print)
Review at The True Book Addict (Audio Book)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (Print)
Friday, August 29
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

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