In 2010, after Susan Gloss wrote a poignant guest post for Style Maniac about why she loves vintage fashion, I commented:
"Susan, I am thrilled that you wrote this post for Style Maniac. You captured so much of my own feeling about vintage style. We are truly kindred spirits in so many ways. When you are a famous novelist I'll be tickled to say you appeared on Style Maniac way back when ...."
In fact, Susan had just begun writing her book, Vintage, and it's with such delight that I've followed her four-year journey as she went from manuscript to published novel. Since its debut in March 2014, Vintage's charming tale of friendships forged among women brought together by a vintage boutique in Madison, Wisconsin, has received rave reviews from Booklist and Library Journal plus fans around the world.
In this Style Maniac interview, Susan shares her publishing journey, the role blogging played, her best vintage find ever and how she still believes every seam has a story.
DOREEN CREEDE / STYLE MANIAC: When did the idea for VINTAGE come to you?
SUSAN GLOSS: I came up with the idea for VINTAGE in 2010. At the time, I was living in a house that had a thrift store in its backyard. Literally. I could toss a tennis ball to play fetch with my dog and the ball would hit the brick wall of the thrift store.
Tell us a bit about the process of getting an agent and publisher.
For me, getting an agent took two years, two manuscripts, and more rejections than I care to advertise, but let’s just say that Katherine Stockett ain’t got nothin’ on me. Once I signed with my agent, she sold VINTAGE quickly, though, within a couple of months.
Did having a blog help with writing a book? Getting it published?
I think it helped in building my platform. My agent and editor, before signing me or the book, could see that I had an online presence and had built a portfolio of work. They both told me that they Googled me prior to signing me.
Did blogging hinder writing a book? Will you continue to blog?
I have definitely slowed down my personal blog due to other commitments, including writing my next book. But I've been blogging a lot, just not on my own site! Last September, I was chosen to be a part of the 2014 class for The Debutante Ball--a group blog for debut authors that's been in existence since 2008. It's launched the careers of several bestsellers, including Eleanor Brown, Sarah Jio, and Sarah Pekkanen. It's been great, and I've really enjoyed connecting with the other authors and a new group of readers. My year-long commitment to the Debutante Ball blog ends in about a month, so after that I'm looking forward to posting more frequently on my own blog again.
What's the best thing about being a published novelist?
The absolute best thing has been hearing from readers who enjoyed the book and relate to the characters. That, and seeing my book on bookstore shelves. It never gets old.
I loved your dedication -- "For my grandmother, Sally Baker, who taught me that every seam has a story" --- which incorporates the title of the guest post you wrote for Style Maniac in 2010! What influence did your grandmother have on your fashion sense / desire to write?
Yes, I wrote that post here on Style Maniac when VINTAGE was still in the drafting phase, but what I said then is still true now: I owe my interest in fashion to my maternal grandmother. She was a pattern maker and seamstress for many years, and she taught me about different fabrics and what makes a quality garment. I also had the most gorgeous, unique outfits for my dolls when I was a girl. My grandmother used to design and sew them for me, and I've hung on to all of them. She came to my launch book party in March.
In VINTAGE, each chapter opens with an inventory item of a vintage piece. Are these based on pieces you own?
Sadly, I don't own any of the items. Most of the items in VINTAGE are things I wish I owned! But some were inspired by real-life objects. For example, there's scene where Violet, one of the main characters, packs up her belongings to leave her small hometown for good. She puts everything into a yellow Samsonite suitcase. That fictional suitcase was inspired by a real, 1960s luggage set that a wanderlusting friend of mine bought on Etsy.
What's your favorite vintage find of all time?
That would have to be a vintage navy blue and gold Dior evening bag, complete with a gold chain strap and the original tag still on it. Believe it or not, I bought it for two dollars at a garage sale.
This post is fourth in a Now & Then series highlighting what has happened to people and projects since appearing on Style Maniac over the past five years.
"Use the good china for breakfast."