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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway - Wealth and Privilege by Jeanette Watts

Wealth and Privilege
Author: Jeanette Watts

Book Description:
Money. Family. Love. Hate. Obsession. Duty. Politics. Religion - or the lack thereof. Sex -- or, once again, the lack thereof.

Thomas Baldwin finds himself married to a woman he can’t stand, while head-over heels in love with another woman he can’t have. Talk about bad planning. He feels like a kite, buffeted by circumstances which blow him not only through personal crises, but also through some of the most significant events in Pittsburgh during the late 1800s, including the railroad riots of 1877, the creation of the Homestead Steel Works, the assassination of President Garfield, and the Johnstown Flood. Over time, and with the help of his muse, who dances maddeningly just beyond his reach, he takes control of his life, wresting it from the winds attempting to control him.

A carefully-researched historical novel about life among the privileged class of Pittsburgh during the Industrial Revolution.

Buy Links:
Amazon ¦ B&N

Author Interview

1. What inspired you to write your first book?
My first full-length book was a piece of Star Wars fan fiction when I was in elementary school. My best friend and I were HUGE Star Wars fans. Every day while we walked to school, I would tell her an installment on Ambrosia Tarkan, Governor Tarkin’s daughter. Eventually she found out that I was coming up with these stories, but I wasn’t writing them down!  I started over with a new character, Anacrea Palpatine.  The emperor’s daughter. This time I wrote it all down for her. The funny thing is, years and years later, some other fan writer wrote the character of Mara Jade – the book is almost exactly like my old childhood story!

2. Do you have a specific writing style?
I think I have a pretty distinctive voice. My most natural writing style is the tone I took with my waltz textbook, The Mechanics of Waltz.  It’s very chatty and reads very much the way I speak. With fewer jokes and sexual innuendoes. For Wealth and Privilege, I take my inspiration from Margaret Mitchell and Edith Wharton, so it is a much more traditional style. Maybe that’s why I’m currently working on a satire called Jane Austen Lied to Me. It gives me a chance to do something in a chatty, speaking-voice style again.

3. How did you come up with the title for your book?
I must confess, I don’t remember anymore. Wealth and Privilege describes what these characters have – and then once you have these two things that everybody wants, it turns out it isn’t as much fun having them as we all think.

4. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Stand up for yourself. Other people will overlook you, run right over you, ignore your feelings. The only way to stop it is to stand up for yourself. When you do, your life will get better.

5. How much of the book is realistic?
All of it. My main characters are fictional, but they are carefully distilled from real people and history. The iron industry was huge in Pittsburgh. So was the glass industry. Before the big tycoons like Andrew Carnegie, there were several families running big iron or steel plants. It’s an overlooked generation that we never seem to talk about in our history. Labor and management played well together. These were family businesses, and these factory owners valued unions and respected their employees. You gave your people what they needed to do the best job they could for you. Laborers wore their Sunday best when they came to pick up their paychecks, out of respect for the job and your employer.  nions were focused on making sure that the members were sober, on time, reliable, and gave a top-quality performance. I love research, and I love putting in little details that give my readers a sense of what it smelled like, tasted like, felt like back then.  If I say it’s November 1878 and it’s raining out, I had looked it up in the newspaper at the Heinz History Archives.

6. What book are you reading now?
I just finished reading a biography on Amelia Bloomer. I’m trying to decide whether I want to read J.P. Morgan’s biography next, the biography of Philip Sidney, or the Philippa Gregory book I picked up the other day! 

7. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Frankly, I’ve got my head in the sand so much with my own writing and researching (and reading biographies for the fun of it), I’m not sure who’s new these days. I’ve read all the Twilight books and all the Hunger Games books. Do those count as new authors?  I love the characters in both. I don’t like the endings.

8. What are your current projects?
I love you put that question as a plural! Right now, I’ve got several people proofreading the sequel to Wealth and Privilege, which will be called Brains and Beauty. I’ve just registered a couple screenplays with the Writers Guild of America, one is a romantic comedy about the sport of fencing, the other is a historical drama called Wilkes and Liberty. Johnny Depp really, really wants to play this part, he just doesn’t know it yet.  I’m not actually a big Johnny Depp fan, but I realize the part was made for him. No one out there could play this character as well as he can.

9. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Agents are crazy! When I started writing query letters, I was read by an agent who loved my book, but wanted to change A. Another agent wanted to change B. The next agent wanted to change C. All three of these things were in opposition to the other agents’ changes. One agent loved my book, wanted to represent me, but said the book was too long, I needed to cut it down by 40 percent.  So I took six months to rewrite it, and then she HATED the book… When I figured out that all these agents were insisting on these changes to protect their favorite characters, I realized:  if they are all so emotionally involved, I did it right. I would like to put all of these agents into one book club, and let them duke it out. 

10. What were the challenges (research, psychological etc) in bringing your story to life?
Distractions!  Besides writing, I run several dance companies (a cancan troupe, a belly dance troupe, and a group that teaches historic social ballroom dance – aka Vintage Dance), I go to Renaissance Festivals in elaborate court garb that I make for myself and my husband, I have a club that goes out once a month in Victorian costume to do fun things like archery, or ice skating, or the opera, or mini golf.  Then there’s the normal things, like laundry and lawn mowing, and teaching my classes.  I finally finished Wealth and Privilege because my best friend Leah would call me up absolutely every day and ask “Have you worked on your book yet?”  Saying no to her too many days in a row really helped me remember my priorities.  The laundry can wait.  There will always be more laundry.  But writing has to come first if it’s ever going to get done!

About the Author
Jeanette Watts has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing.

When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.

Author Links:


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  1. Looks like a fabulous read, thanks for the chance to win :)

    1. Good luck, and if you get a chance to read the whole thing, please stop by Amazon or Goodreads (or both) and give the book a review!

  2. Great interview, I enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks! I am amazed at the things I'm learning about myself from doing these interviews.

  3. I really enjoyed the interview! Thank you for your candor!

  4. I love all things Victorian. I also hope you don't mind if I spam this area every day commenting.

  5. A great author interview thank you.

  6. Judging by the book description this is going to be a must read for me.

  7. I've just read some wonderful reviews for Wealth and Privilege on Goodreads. I'm going to have to pick up a copy this weekend.