When I heard about VINTAGE by Susan Gloss, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! A thrift shop, clothes, accessories, jewelery, and friendships? In women’s fiction. This isn’t your high heels chick lit novel, folks, not that there’s anything wrong with those. This book showcases a cross-section of the female population and is a layered tale of friendship, written with some special touches (like the vintage clothes).
VINTAGE debuted this week, and Susan was kind enough to answer my interview questions last minute, because GUESS WHO was a little behind on her blog interviews (for shame).
Please welcome debut novelist Susan Gloss to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Tough Love And A Vintage Vibe From Debut Novelist Susan Gloss
Susan: I have a few favorite thrift stores in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. The idea for the novel came to me over the course of many afternoons spent wandering their aisles.
Amy: What was your favorite item to research and write about?
Susan: There’s a Dior evening gown with matching gloves that shows up in one of the scenes where Violet and April, two of the main characters, are picking out outfits for models to wear in a fashion show fundraiser. The gown in the book was inspired by a real vintage item I saw on Etsy, but couldn’t afford. And, even if I could, I’d have no place to wear it! So instead I researched the types of dresses Dior was making at that time and came up with a fictional one I could enclose in the pages of Vintage instead of in my own closet.
Amy: Can you share with us a little of your journey to publication?
Susan: VINTAGE is actually the second book I queried. I queried a different manuscript before VINTAGE that I eventually shelved because it didn’t garner any offers of representation. Even with VINTAGE, I racked up quite a few rejections and some R&Rs (revise & resubmits) that didn’t end in offers. At one point, around the time my son was born, I took a break from querying. Between feedings and sleepness nights, I kept hammering away at revisions to VINTAGE, based on the feedback I’d gotten. When I came back to querying a few months later, I knew the manuscript was ready because I got a lot more requests for the full manuscript and, eventually, a few offers to choose from. Once I signed with my agent, the book sold pretty quickly. But the road to getting to that point was a long one.
Amy: What does the term Women’s Fiction mean to you–and does the label bother you?
Susan: The label doesn’t bother me as applied to my own work. I know that my target readers are mostly women and, thus, I feel like it’s just honest marketing. It does bother me, though, when literary novels are stamped with the label just because they are written by a woman. I do feel that, in the field of literary fiction (which I read a lot of), books by women are discussed and marketed differently than books by men, and the difference isn’t always a positive one.
Amy: What’s your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction?
Susan: I’m gonna go all “tough love” for a minute here. Here’s my advice: do NOT let rejection win. If you allow rejection to push you toward giving up, then you’re not cut out for the game of writing and publishing. There will be ego bruises and rejections at every stage of the writing and publication game. Your critique partner doesn’t love one of your characters. An agent or ten or fifty rejected your query. An editor passed on your submission. A reviewer bashed your novel. Your editor or agent liked your first book, but didn’t like the next. See the pattern here? The writers whose books end up on the shelves are the ones crazy enough to keep going.
Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. When she’s not writing fiction, Susan can be found working as an attorney, blogging at GlossingOverIt.com, or hunting for vintage treasures for her Etsy shop, Cleverly Curated. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.