Interview & Giveaway: What Girls Are Good For by David Blixt

Hello David and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about What Girls Are Good For!

My genuine pleasure.

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I’m an author and actor living in Chicago. I was always a fan of Historical Fiction, but didn’t consider being a writer of it until I came across an idea in a play that I couldn’t let go of. That tends to be my process – the stories I write choose me, not the other way around. I become entranced by some gap in the record, or by a story untold, and feel compelled to put it into words.

What inspired you to write Nellie Bly’s story?

In April of 2016, I was reading a story in The Atlantic about how there were more women action stars in film 100 years ago than there are today. I was startled, but it’s totally true – think of The Peril Of Pauline and the like, where you have women in the Silent Film era leaping from horses onto moving trains, or jumping off bridges.

Naturally, I started reading more about these movies, and noticed that the majority of them had something in common. They were “loosely based on a story by Nellie Bly”. I knew the name, but only in a vague way. So I started reading, and realized she’s the template for 100 years worth of “plucky girl reporter” stories. She’s the reason we have Lois Lane, and His Girl Friday, and every other female reporter who puts herself in danger to get the scoop. Only Nellie Bly never needed Superman to save her.

What research did you undertake when writing What Girls Are Good For?

I read the only true biography of her, by Brooke Kroeger, and Matthew Goodman’s terrific Eighty Days. For the rest of it, I read her own work. She gave us three books about her reporting, as well as a truly awful novel. But the best bits are her actual articles, and nine letters we have in her own hand to her fiend/nemesis Erasmus Wilson. Then I did a lot more reading of period newspapers, to gather the style and feel of the day, and finally set to work.

During your research did you come across that surprised you or changed the way you thought of Nellie?

Constantly. She is wonderfully contradictory. She wants to be attractive and taken seriously at the same time. She lied about her age all her life, even under oath. She co-owns the patent on the oil drum we still use today. She castigates men for not employing women, but also lets women have it for not working to look pretty. She was in no way an intellectual, but she was famous for her writing.

What I love most about her is her unending, unyielding work to champion the rights of the downtrodden, the unseen, the forgotten. She was a daredevil feminist, the first of the stunt girls. But she also yearned for the love of an older man, one who she would love her entire life. It’s very Gothic.

What would you like readers to take away from reading What Girls Are Good For?

The importance of her anger. From the very beginning she wrote from outrage. Outrage fueled her. I’m looking at the next book, where she has this incredible period of activity culminating in her trip around the world. But she loses her way, because she loses her outrage, and has to find it again. In this book, she has no trouble accessing her anger.

Rebecca Traister has a great new book out, Good And Mad, about the history of women’s anger in the United States, and how it’s the vehicle for so much change. My novel was finished before it came out, but I found myself resonating again and again with passages about how feminism is fueled by righteous outrage, much the same way the American Revolution was.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Favorite? There are so many. The bull fight. The kiss with Wilson. But probably my favorite was her at her wits’ end, broke and alone in New York, marching into the office of Pulitzer’s paper and demanding to see the editor because she had a story idea.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

There’s one night in the madhouse where she’s given chloral, and it provokes a flashback to her childhood. All of that was hard, both for her present moment in time, and the moment when she first thought she was going to die.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

6th grade, Mr. Melby’s class. He made us write 200 word short stories every Friday. After a couple weeks, I started linking the stories. They were very LOTR derivitive, with a little Dreadstar thrown in. But by the end of that year, I had something like a novel. I wrote a sci-fi epic in high school, and a timeslip romance in college. So I’ve never really not seen myself as a writer.

What does your daily writing routine look like? 

Get on the computer between 9 and 10 am, and hope that I can resist the sinkhole that is Facebook. Write and/or research until the kids get home.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Facebook. Have you been able to overcome it? Not yet.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Dorothy Dunnett, Sharon Kay Penman, Bernard Cornwell, Colleen McCullough, Jonathan Carroll, Raphael Sabatini, and Dashiell Hammett.

What was the first historical novel you read?

THE FIRST MAN IN ROME by Colleen McCullough (unless you count Mists Of Avalon as Historical Fiction, which I don’t)

What is the last historical novel you read?

THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn (it’s amazing, but then, so is she)

What are three things people may not know about you?

I am an avid devotee of the music of Benny Goodman, I like scented candles, and my first car was a midnight-blue 1941 Chevy two door sedan.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Dear lord, what doesn’t? It has the world-building of good fantasy/sci-fi, is filled with mysteries to unravel, and you can always cheat when stuck by asking what really happened!

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Ancient Rome and the Renaissance.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I am sadly an avid follower of the news. I also act on occasion. But mostly I’m a homebody. Right now I’m rewatching Downton Abbey in advance of the movie.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Um – that’s a hard one. Here goes:

• A vampire novel (no kidding – I had a story idea, or I’d never have tried it)
• The fifth book in the Star-Cross’d series.
• A novel about the fall of Granada.
• A time-slip/magical realism novel.
• A novel set in Hell (kind of an update on Dante)
• The next in the Colossus series (nearest completion)
• And finally, the next Nellie Bly novel.

Whew! I'm exhausted just reading that list, David! I am absolutely loving What Girls Are Good For and look forward to these upcoming projects! Thank you for being here with us today!

What Girls Are Good For by David Blixt

Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 535 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Nellie Bly has the story of a lifetime. But will she survive to tell it?

Enraged by an article entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’, Elizabeth Cochrane pens an angry letter to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, never imagining a Victorian newspaper would hire a woman reporter. Taking the name Nellie Bly, she struggles against the male-dominated industry, reporting stories no one else will – the stories of downtrodden women.

Chased out of Mexico for revealing government corruption, her romantic advances rejected by a married colleague, Bly earns the chance to break into the New York’s Newspaper Row if she can nab a major scoop – life inside a madhouse. Feigning madness, she dupes the court into committing her to the Insane Asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

But matters are far worse than she ever dreamed. Stripped, drugged, beaten, she must endure a week of terror, reliving the darkest days of her childhood, in order to escape and tell the world her story. Only, at the end of the week, no rescue comes, and she fears she may be trapped forever...

Based on the real-life events of Nellie Bly’s life and reporting, What Girls Are Good For is a tale of rage, determination, and triumph - all in the frame of a tiny Pennsylvania spitfire who refused to let the world tell her how to live her life, and changed the world instead.

Available on Amazon

Praise for What Girls Are Good For

"Dramatic, engrossing, and spirited, What Girls Are Good For takes the reader straight to the heart of an unsung American hero--a feminist icon whose voice rings loud and true. This is a must-read for anyone who loves an underdog and celebrates justice; the perfect accompaniment for our present times." - Olivia Hawker, international bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night

"With rich imagination and meticulous research, David Blixt has brought the hectic, exciting world of nineteenth-century journalism vividly to life. His Nellie Bly is determined, independent, crafty, irresistible -- a heroine any reader would be delighted to get to know." - Matthew Goodman, New York Times bestselling author

About the Author

David Blixt‘s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history.

Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, he describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”

For more information, please visit David Blixt's website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 10
Review at Bookish Rantings

Thursday, December 13
Review at Bri's Book Nook

Monday, December 17
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, December 18
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog

Wednesday, December 19
Review & Guest Post at Clarissa Reads it All
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, December 20
Review at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 21
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Tar Heel Reader

Saturday, December 22
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 27
Review at A Bookish Affair

Friday, December 28
Review at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Reading the Past


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 4 paperback copies of What Girls Are Good For! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

What Girls Are Good For

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Passages to the Past
All rights reserved © 2013

Custom Blog Design by Blogger Boutique

Blogger Boutique