Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Come Party with Nancy Moser and celebrate Masquerade! GIVE AWAY!

Folks, you are in for a treat today! Nancy Moser has a tremendous talent for transporting readers back to a time and place in history in such a way that after you finish her stories you are informed, entertained and curious to know more! Her latest book, Masquerade explores the Gilded Age in 1886 and the distinct roles that people fulfilled within this very divided social class. As immigrants made their way to the New World, they brought their social division right along with them, and Nancy allows her characters to explore the New World, and new social roles in a very innovative way!

Please welcome Nancy Moser to my Window as she discusses Masquerade!

Where on earth? How on earth did you conceive such a plot set in this particular time in history?

I’ve always liked the idea of seeing what would happen if a rich person and a poor person traded places. Since I’m fascinated with the over-the-top lifestyle of the NYC rich during the Gilded Age and with the immigrants who gave up everything to come to this country only to live amid the horrors of the slums . . . 1886 seemed the perfect place and time to set the story. Masquerade is a melding of The Prince and the Pauper, "Titanic", "Far and Away", and Age of Innocence.

What was your inspiration for Charlotte’s character? As spoiled and as snobby as she was, she had some unexpected streaks of courage and imagination of her own that made her intriguing to anyone who met her!

People are complex beings—a unique melding of good and bad, selfish and giving, cowardice and bravery. So characters have to be the same way. Much of the time we (and characters) don't know our true mettle and who we are until we are faced with situations that test us. That's what I did with Charlotte and Dora—put them in situations where they had to dig deep.

You state in your notes to the readers that the characters really took over this story and took you places that were surprising even to you…the author. What was the most pleasant surprise from your characters? The most unpleasant?

Not to give away any of the plot . . . they surprised me because in the end neither girl really cared that much for riches. They both grew in a way where they realized people matter. Relationships matter. The rest is just frosting. Don't we all have to learn those lessons?

You have a lot of really neat and varied characters in this novel. (one of my favorite was the original Miss Hathaway!) Who was your favorite? Your least favorite?

It’s probably odd that my favorite characters are not the two main girls. Perhaps it's because they had so much learning and growing to do that they tried my patience on many occasion. I also enjoyed Miss Hathaway the most. She was a wise, tell-it-like-it-is woman who didn’t let Lottie get away with anything. If only we all could have a mentor like that who would hold us accountable—and have the wisdom to back up their advice. Another character I liked is the rich sister, Beatrice. She doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder, it’s a two-by-four! I never knew what she was going to do or say, but I enjoyed the times she let me in and revealed a softer side. I know it sounds strange when I say she let me in, but that’s the truth of the author-character relationship. They become very real and often take over. Sometimes I have to beat them back, but most of the time, I welcome their input. As far as characters I didn't like . . . I'll be cliché and say the bad guys. And yet even then, I understood why they did what they did. These were tough times.

What topics did you have to research to give this novel such an authentic feel? Was there a particular detail that was a challenge to unearth?

Steamer ships, Castle Garden, the layout of NYC at the time, Five Points, fashion, department stores, Central Park . . . there was SO much. So much, in fact, that I've started a blog with fellow historical fiction author, Stephanie Grace Whitson, called Footnotes from History. It's a place where we share the cool tidbits we discovered in our research, the ones that can't make it into the story. We also share the inspiration behind our books. See it at Footnotes from History. I've also made a book trailer for Masquerade, to whet your whistle with the story a bit: Masquerade video. And since I'm in an informational mode, you can read excerpts for all my books at: Nancy Moser Website

The challenges were the small things: did they have passports? Did they have dances on steamer ships? Did they have moveable furniture or was it bolted down? Did the rich houses have electricity? What were things worth? It is so easy to get sidetracked while I'm writing. Sometimes I dig and dig and never find an answer. But that's what my Fact & Fiction section in the back of the book is for. To let you know what I've found. And didn't. For fun I've also included a Fashion section where I show old drawings of fashion that I used as the clothing on Charlotte and Dora. There's just no way to describe the fashion of the Gilded Age. It's utterly and delightfully complicated!

If you could choose a character to switch places with who would it be and why?

I'll choose a character from another novel: Pride & Prejudice. Oh to be Elizabeth Bennet—or should I say, Mrs. Darcy.

Will we ever see these characters again? I’d love to know what happened to Conrad, how Charlotte and Dora fared in their new roles, how Charlotte’s parents reacted to her life? So many things! What project is next for you?

My next project is An Unlikely Suitor in which I take an immigrant family from Masquerade and tell their story—mixing it with the wealthy people, of course. Here's the gist of it:

Eighteen ninety-five. Lucy Scarpelli, a New York Italian dressmaker, is invited to live at the Newport, Rhode Island, mansion of Rowena Langdon and make her gowns for the summer society season. Grateful for Lucy’s skill in creating clothes that hide her physical deformity, Rowena encourages Lucy to dream of a better future for herself. One day Lucy encounters an intriguing young man at the Atlantic shore and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for she must provide for her family. Her new friend Rowena faces a worrisome arranged marriage to a wealthy heir. And Lucy’s teenage sister, Sofia, takes up with a man of dubious character. All three women struggle as their lives, and those of each unlikely suitor, become intertwined in a web of secrets. Will any of them find true happiness?

In the end notes to your reader you state: “ Sometimes God takes us out of our comfort zones in order to make us see there is more to us than we imagine.” How has God done that in your life? Is there a particular experience that took you outside your comfort zone and resulted in teaching you something significant about yourself?

Writing historical fiction! Before I started in this genre I'd written sixteen contemporary novels. Sixteen. I never thought I'd write historical novels. Ever. The event that opened my eyes to this very uncomfortable zone happened while I was standing in the Mozart family home in Salzburg in the summer of 2004. In truth, I was only half-listening to the guide, being very close to tourist-information overload. Yet one statement reached into my weary brain and ignited it: Most people don’t know this, but Mozart’s sister was just as talented as he was, but because she was a woman, she had little chance to do anything with her talent. That one statement stayed with me all the way home to the States.

At the time I was putting together a proposal for a contemporary novel. Because of the tour guide’s comment, I got the idea to have one of my characters write a book called “Mozart’s Sister”. My agent sent the proposal to publishers.

Within days we got a call from Dave Horton, an editor at Bethany House Publishers. “I don’t want the contemporary book, I want the book the character is writing: Mozart’s Sister, an historical book about the sister’s life.

“But I don’t write historicals.”

“I want Mozart’s Sister.

“But I don’t write in first-person, in one person’s point-of-view throughout an entire book. I write big-cast novels in third person.”

“I want Mozart’s Sister.”

“I hate research.”

“I want Mozart’s Sister.

Well then. He seemed so sure, so excited. I could not ignore him—actually, I could, but I didn’t.

The rest is history. And so, as so often happens when God offers us an opportunity and we say “yes”, it turned out to be the best experience of my writing life. And, irony of ironies, as I sit in my office with four reference books opened before me, I even found that I enjoy the research. Imagine that.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now?

Our youngest daughter is getting married this fall, so all of our kids will be married and live close by. Which means our three grandchildren are also close by. I love being a Grandma. Or as 3-year-old Lily calls me, "Beema Moses."

Closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

All of my books have a common message: we each have a unique purpose; the trick is to find out what it is. I hope the reader realizes that God is always working, even when things seem hopeless. And He works in spite of our mistakes—with our mistakes—to bring us closer to Him and toward the plan He has for our lives.

Nancy has offered an autographed copy to one lucky reader to celebrate Masquerade's party! Leave your name and contact information on this post to be entered to win!


Virginia C said...

Hi, Nancy! I love the time period and story line for "Masquerade"! My favorite era in history is the mid to late 1800's. I feel as though I could set my birthdate back 100 years and not lose my stride. So much occurred during a relatively short period of time. Changes to technology, transportation, communications, social mores, religion, fashions, science and medicine, literature, art and entertainment. The American Civil War and its long-lasting aftereffects. The glory and grit of the American Old West. A very rich and revolutionary period in history.

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Cindy W. said...

Sounds like a wonderful story. I really enjoy reading historicals and would love to read Masquerade. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Julia M. Reffner said...

I love Nancy's historicals and have been waiting for this release! Count me in.

adge said...

Oh my goodness, I would love to be included in this giveaway! I have read Nancy Moser's books before and I love this storyline. Thanks. I also enjoyed the interview. I had wondered why she wrote Mozart's sister so that was interesting.

Sheri said...

I love historical fiction and would love to read this book. Thanks for the chance!


hspruitt {at} juno {dot} com

Kim said...

Cindy W. You are the winner for this drawing! Please be watching for my email!

Thanks to everyone who participated!