Tuesday, June 4, 2019

#46 Inside the Emotion of Fiction's THE LAST COLLECTION by Jeanne Mackin

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****Jeanne Mackin’s The Last Collection – A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel is #46 in a never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? The Last Collection – A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel.

Fiction genre?  Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc.  And how many pages long? Historical
Has this been published? If yes, what publisher and what publication date? To be published on June 25, 2019, by  Berkley.

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I began writing it in the winter of 2016, and ended in the fall of 2018.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo?
I like to work at home, since I use so many reference texts…a whole shelf of books that can’t be toted around unless I want to risk putting out my back.  I have a home office with lots of windows,  great light, and trees just outside my window so when I want to rest my eyes I can watch the squirrels attack the bird feeders.  When I get stuck, though, I’ll go sit in a café and work, or if it’s warm enough, go to the park and work.
What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I like to have music in the background.  For this novel, set in Paris between the wars, I listened to a lot of jazz from the 1920’s and 30’s, and the great singers – Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf, Josephine  Baker (Below).  I work best in the morning, when I’m fresh and the story has been simmering in my head overnight as I sleep.   I do write directly on my laptop.  I’m left-handed and my handwriting is illegible even to me!  I drink hibiscus tree or green tea.

What is the summary of this specific fiction work? I’m including some of the quotes I’ve received for my novel, since the authors were so wonderful about giving a sense of this novel.

     “Exquisitely melding world politics and high fashion, THE LAST COLLECTION is a smart, witty, heartfelt, and riveting look at the infamous rivalry between Coco Chanel (Above Left) and Elsa Schiaparelli (Above Right) set against a gripping period in history. Mackin’s powerful novel brings these characters to life and transports the reader, juxtaposing both the gaiety and tension of Paris on the brink of war. As elegant and captivating as the designs depicted in the novel, THE LAST COLLECTION is the perfect read for both historical fiction lovers and fashion aficionados. Simply stunning.”--Chanel Cleeton, USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

      “A wonderful story of two intensely creative women, their vibrant joie de vivre, and backbiting competition played out against the increasingly ominous threat of the Nazi invasion of Paris. Seamless research makes every character leap to life and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end. --Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach 

     “A vibrant portrait of two designers cut from very different cloth, Jeanne Mackin’s THE LAST COLLECTION pits bold Coco Chanel and colorful Elsa Schiaparelli against each other in a fiery feud even as the ominous clouds of World War II darken the horizon. A captivating read!” --Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess

      "As Hitler and the Nazis gather strength and the world braces for war, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, whose politics differ as much as their couture, wage a war of their own. Lily Sutter, the woman who finds herself in the middle of their feud, has a battle of her own as she struggles to make a new start amidst extreme grief and loss. From New York to Paris, Jeanne Mackin takes the reader on an enthralling journey, complete with such vivid descriptions of the clothing, you can practically see them on the page. Beautifully rendered and meticulously researched, THE LAST COLLECTION is a must read." --Renée Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? The Last Collection is narrated by Lily, who has gone to Paris to visit her brother, Charlie, who is in love with Ania, who is already married.  The heartbreak of their story is set against the growing tension in France, which is on the brink of war with Germany, and the rivalry between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli.

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? Going to a party, a ball, all dressed up and with people you love, is such an act of hope and joy, but in this case everything is about to go very wrong. Charlie and Ania and Lily are heading toward destruction, just like France is, and don’t yet know it.  This passage, for me, is about that moment when everything you want is almost within reach and you’re warm with the joy and possibility of your life.
Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.


Pp 87-88

     Ania’s chauffeur drove that night, and I was sardined in the backseat with Charlie and Ania, those silly wings of my costume backdropping all three of us, like overlarge angel wings in badly painted medieval altar pieces. Charlie and Ania, sitting next to each other, pretended, for the chauffeur’s benefit, to make conversation for all three of us. I recognized the lovers’ codes, the “remember whens” and “do you thinks” that pass for conversation but are instead lovemaking with words.
     I could sense the chauffeur’s suspicion and disapproval. He hadn’t fallen for my little act with Ania: me, the inseparable friend who happened to have a brother always tagging along. He knew what was going on, he knew what the conversation really was. And I couldn’t help thinking that this chauffeur, in the employ of Ania’s husband, wasn’t as attractive as von Dincklage’s driver, that serious, unsmiling boy with the blond hair.
     The evening shone with blue—the sheen of Charlie’s lapels, the blue crystals on Ania’s dress, the sky overhead, deep-blue velvet with glittering stars. I wasn’t happy—Allen wasn’t with me—but I was beginning to remember what happiness had felt like. Even the automobile drive, which I had dreaded, wasn’t too bad. Every once in a while the road would curve and my hands would curl into white-knuckled fists, and then the road would straighten and I would be okay again. Even so, I had a sense of foreboding, as I always did in an automobile, after the accident. Ania was in a gay mood, refusing to be serious about anything, to answer any questions.
     The air was almost too soft, the temperature too perfect. The oppressive daytime heat had tempered itself into something milder, sweeter, closer to a welcome embrace than a suffocating blanket. Charlie and Ania spoke in soft murmurs. Under cover of the wrap thrown over her knees, they were holding hands again, like they had that first day, under the tea table in the Schiaparelli showroom.
     “What a night,” Ania sighed. “I’ll never forget it.”
     Charlie whispered something to her and I saw the driver’s eyes dart into the rearview mirror, checking.
     “Ania, are my wings okay? They’re not getting crushed, are they?” I asked, reminding them they weren’t alone.
     It was my first, my only, full-dress costume party. They were events planned for, and attended by, the very rich and sometimes, I suspected, the very bored or at least those who feared boredom more than any other condition. People with more money than I could imagine, dressed to kill in disguises that sometimes defied description. The worse the economy grew, and in Europe and the United States it was growing worse by the day, the fancier the balls became. It was fairy-tale time, as if truth could be ignored.
     . . . as if the reality that was Hitler could be ignored.
     When reality threatens to become unbearable, we make believe. Children do, and adults, too, except their make-believe is more expensive, in terms of either dollars or emotional cost, because reality is there, waiting for you around the next corner.
     Paris that year had already concocted a silver ball, where everyone dressed in silver and the rooms were plated in silver. A golden ball had followed; a Racine ball with everyone dressed as characters from a Racine play, the ancient regime risen from its own, moldy grave.
     It was mad, this ignoring of reality just as reality was about to turn horrific. There were so many things we should have been paying attention to, newspaper headlines, a look of fear in some people’s eyes, a restlessness like that in a herd before lightning strikes. We were the passengers on the Titanic, still hoping that the thud and shudder of the ship was just a large wave, not an iceberg.
Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. I edit on my laptop, so I don’t have a marked up draft I could share.

Other works you have published? Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction.  Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox,  Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness.  
     Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications)  and co-editor of  The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.

       I was born  in upstate New York, in a rolling countryside of lakes and small towns. After college, a year of backpacking through Europe and living a few years in Boston, I returned to this beautiful place to pursue what I had always known would be my life’s work:  writing fiction. I can’t imagine my life without this work, without the joy of delving into that place in my head where stories take shape and then leap (well, sometimes crawl or limp!)  onto the page. I live with my husband in a farmhouse that first sheltered a family before the Civil War, and in its nooks and crannies we have found report cards from the 1930’s, a former resident’s love letters from the end of World War II , and old photos from the nineteenth century, and books, books, books left behind by many generations. This is a house that loves stories!


001   11 15 2018 Nathaniel Kaine’s
Thriller Novel
John Hunter – The Veteran

002   11 18 2018 Ed Protzzel’s
The Antiquities Dealer 

003   11 23 2018 Janice Seagraves’s
Science Fiction Romance
Exodus Arcon

004   11 29 2018 Christian Fennell’s
Literary Fiction Novel
The Fiddler in the Night

005  12 02 2018 Jessica Mathews’s
Adult Paranormal Romance
Death Adjacent

006  12 04 2018 Robin Jansen’s
Literary Fiction Novel
Ruby the Indomitable

007  12 12 2018  Adair Valerez’s
Literary Fiction Novel

008  12 17 218 Kit Frazier’s
Mystery Novel
Dead Copy

009 12 21 2019 Robert Craven’s
Noir/Spy Novel
The Road of a Thousand Tigers

010 01 13 2019 Kristine Goodfellow’s
Contemporary Romantic Fiction
The Other Twin

011 01 17 2019 Nancy J Cohen’s
Cozy Mystery
Trimmed To Death

012 01 20 2019 Charles Salzberg’s
Crime Novel
Second Story Man

013 01 23 2019 Alexis Fancher’s
Flash Fiction
His Full Attention

014 01 27 2019 Brian L Tucker’s
Young Adult/Historical

015 01 31 2019 Robin Tidwell’s

016 02 07 2019 J.D. Trafford’s
Legal Fiction/Mystery
Little Boy Lost

017 02 08 2019 Paula Shene’s
Young Adult ScieFi/Fantasy/Romance/Adventure
My Quest Begins 

018 02 13 2019 Talia Carner’s
Mainstream Fiction/ Suspense/ Historical
Hotel Moscow

019 02 15 2019 Rick Robinson’s
Multidimensional Fiction
Alligator Alley

020 02 21 2019 LaVerne Thompson’s
Urban Fantasy
The Soul Collectors

021 02 27 2019 Marlon L Fick’s
Post-Colonialist Novel
The Nowhere Man

022 03 02 2019 Carol Johnson’s
Mainstream Novel
Silk And Ashes

023 03 06 2019 Samuel Snoek-Brown’s
Short Story Collection
There Is No Other Way to Worship Them

024 03 08 2019 Marlin Barton’s
Short Story Collection
Pasture Art

025 03 18 2019 Laura Hunter’s
Historical Fiction
Beloved Mother

026 03 21 2019 Maggie Rivers’s
Magical Mistletoe

027  03 25 2019 Faith Gibson’s
Paranormal Romance

028 03 27 2019 Valerie Nieman’s
Tall Tale
To The Bones

029 04 04 2019 Betty Bolte’s
Paranormal Romance
Veiled Visions of Love

030 04 05 2019  Marianne Maili’s
Lucy, go see

031 04 10 2019 Gregory Erich Phillips’s
Mainstream Fiction
The Exile

032 04 15 2019 Jason Ament’s
Speculative Fiction
Rabid Dogs

033 04 24 2019 Stephen P. Keirnan’s
Historical Novel
The Baker’s Secret

034 05 01 2019 George Kramer’s
Arcadis: Prophecy Book

035 05 05 2019 Erika Sams’s
Rose of Dance

036 05 07 2019 Mark Wisniewski’s
Literary Fiction
Watch Me Go

037 05 08 2019 Marci Baun’s
Science Fiction/Horror
The Whispering House

038 05 10 2019 Suzanne M. Wolfe’s
Historical Fiction
Murder By Any Name

039 05 12 2019 Edward DeVito’s
The Woodstock Paradox

040 05 14 2019 Gytha Lodge’s
She Lies In Wait

041 05 16 2019 Kari Bovee’s
Historical Fiction/Mystery
Peccadillo At The Palace:  An Annie Oakley Mystery

042 05 20 2019 Annie Seaton’s
Time Travel Romance
Follow Me

043 05 22 2019 Paula Rose Michelson’s
Inspirational Christian Romance
Rosa & Miguel – Love’s Legacy: Prequel to The Naomi

044 05 24 2019 Gracie C McKeever’s
BDMS/Interracial Romance
On The Edge

045 06 03 2019 Micheal Maxwell’s
The Soul of Cole

046 06 04 2019 Jeanne Mackin’s
The Last Collection:  A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and

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