Interview & Giveaway: The Limits of Limelight by Margaret Porter

Hello, dear readers! I am so excited to be hosting Margaret Porter today! She is currently touring the blogosphere for her new book, The Limits of Limelight, which I will be reading and review soon! I hope you enjoy getting to know Margaret and please don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Hello Margaret and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Limits of Limelight!

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

I’ve been writing since childhood, throughout grammar school and my teen years and college and graduate school. I’ve had 14 novels published by large New York publishers, boutique publishers, foreign language publishers. For a long time, novel-writing was a sideline, because from the age of 10 I was a stage actress, then I worked in television, radio, and film. But eventually I stepped away from that, and instead of working in collaboration with a group of dozens of people, I’m engaged in what is mostly a very solitary and homebound profession.

What inspired you to write The Limits of Limelight?

When I was researching Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr, I was looking up Hedy’s friends and colleagues in Hollywood. I was curious to find out if she’d been acquainted with Ginger Rogers, who was a really big star at the time, although they were under contract to different studios. I performed some cursory Ginger Rogers research in a newspaper archive, and found numerous references to her cousin Phyllis Fraser, a starlet at RKO. So I followed Phyllis down a research rabbit hole, just far enough to retrieve fascinating facts about her relationship with Ginger, and Ginger’s mother Lela. It was immediately clear to me that Phyllis would be the subject of my next novel!

What research did you undertake when writing The Limits of Limelight?

The most fun research was watching lots of Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire movies! And watching all kinds of films that Phyllis appeared in, either as an extra, or a walk-on with a line or two, and eventually, in a couple of instances, as a supporting or even a leading character. And the most helpful and important research was reading My Story, Ginger’s published memoir, and Phyllis Fraser’s unpublished reminiscences. Phyllis reveals a great deal about her years in Ginger’s and Lela’s household, their private lives, movie stars she encountered, and her own pursuit of independence. I pored over movie fan magazines, sifted through newspaper archives, did a lot of photo research. I collected stills and portraits and autographs and other ephemera associated with Phyllis. I rely a lot on visuals and tangibles as part of my writing process.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Limits of Limelight?

I hope readers find it an entertaining story, and an accurate picture of 1930s Hollywood. But what I most want them to take away is the realization that, although working in movies too often involved cutthroat competition and lots of professional conflict and angst, it didn’t preclude really close and supportive relationships—with family members and with friends. Phyllis was uprooted from her family and planted in a strange and unfamiliar place, yet she was able to thrive, thanks to the people around her. Peg Entwistle’s tragic fate demonstrates what far too many young, obscure actresses endured.

What was your favorite scene to write?

That’s a hard question. I loved writing all the scenes involving Phyllis and the New York publisher she dated. And the iconic scene in at RKO, when Ginger is told she can’t wear the feathery dress she had designed for her “Cheek to Cheek” dance with Fred Astaire. Lela to the rescue! There are several versions of exactly how it unfolded, so I combined what I learned about it, and mixed that up with a healthy portion of my imagination.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The last few scenes involving Peg Entwistle. Phyllis wanted so much to help her friend, but time was running out, more quickly than either realized. Then she was prevented from knowing what had happened to Peg, although the reader knows, and Ginger and Lela know. Peg’s biographer referred to her as “a dead girl walking” during those final, desperate days.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

From childhood. There were plenty of writers in the family, so it wasn’t looked on as a bizarre or unattainable profession. My mother predicted I would become a writer, because I was always scribbling something.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Island Queen by Vanessa Riley. Wonderful! I’ve visited some of the Caribbean settings, so it was good armchair travel for me, as well as being a fantastic story about an incredible woman.

What are three things people may not know about you?

My very first publishing credit, with byline, and my very first onstage performance, in a singing and dancing role, happened the same year. When I was only ten.

My family kept dairy goats when I was young, and I was a goat dairymaid. When not on the stage. Or scribbling stories. Or riding my horse.

I’m left-handed for writing, eating, and sewing. But otherwise—for everything else, which includes but isn’t limited to mandolin playing or any kind of sports, I rely on my right hand.

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

I grow roses. Lots and lots of roses. Many historical varieties, that my characters in past centuries would recognize, and the modern hybrids that mimic them. I have 175 rose bushes, and lots of perennial flowers mixed in. So if I’m not writing, I’m probably outside in the garden. Or walking my dog. Or sitting on the screened porch at the lake house, reading a book.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m juggling two projects. One is another biographical historical, this time set in the 18th century theatre and ballet world. The other takes place in 17th century France, in a region familiar to me, and is a re-telling and embellishment of a story from a source I’m not ready to reveal. One major character, however, is a real woman of that era, and an amazing one.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Margaret!

The Limits of Limelight by Margaret Porter

Publication Date: September 14, 2021
Gallica Press
Paperback & eBook; 412 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pretty Oklahoma teenager Helen Nichols accepts an invitation from her cousin, rising movie actress Ginger Rogers, and her Aunt Lela, to try her luck in motion pictures. Her relatives, convinced that her looks and personality will ensure success, provide her with a new name and help her land a contract with RKO. As Phyllis Fraser, she swiftly discovers that Depression-era Hollywood’s surface glamour and glitter obscure the ceaseless struggle of the hopeful starlet.

Lela Rogers, intensely devoted to her daughter and her niece, outwardly accepting of her stage mother label, is nonetheless determined to establish her reputation as screenwriter, stage director, and studio talent scout. For Phyllis, she’s an inspiring model of grit and persistence in an industry run by men.

While Ginger soars to the heights of stardom in musicals with Fred Astaire, Phyllis is tempted by a career more fulfilling than the one she was thrust into. Should she continue working in films, or devote herself to the profession she’s dreamed about since childhood? And which choice might lead her to the lasting love that seems so elusive?

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"An engrossing glimpse into a bygone era and the forces affecting a young woman's evolution into her own abilities and adulthood . . . vigorous and involving to the end." ~ Midwest Book Review

"A witty and meticulously researched treat." ~ Kirkus Reviews

"A biographical novel as bright as the Golden Era . . . A lovely tribute to the larger-than-life celebrities of early Hollywood . . . a glitz and glamour novel that shines brighter the deeper you go." ~ Independent Book Review

"A time capsule of Hollywood's Golden Era . . . a captivating novel of Tinsel Town's perils and pitfalls, trade-offs and triumphs!" ~ Leslie Carroll, author of American Princess

"Porter's elegant, warm and well-researched novel is a joy to read! Perfect for lovers of historical fiction and tales of remarkable women. 5 of 5 Stars." ~ Literary Redhead, Goodreads

About the Author

MARGARET PORTER is the author of more than a dozen works of historical fiction, including The Limits of Limelight (September 2021) and the award-winning Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr. Her critically acclaimed novels have been translated into several foreign languages. Other writing credits include nonfiction, newspaper and magazine articles, and poetry. She studied British history in the U.K. and afterwards worked professionally in theatre, film and television. Margaret and her husband live in New England with their dog, dividing their time between a book-filled house in a small city and a waterfront cottage located on one of the region’s largest lakes. When not writing, she keeps busy reading, tending her extensive rose gardens, or playing the mandolin.

More information is available on her website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 20
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Tuesday, September 21
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Wednesday, September 22
Review at Rachelle Loves Books
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Thursday, September 23
Review at Michelle the PA Loves to Read

Friday, September 24
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, September 25
Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, September 27
Review at Rajiv's Reviews
Review at Booking With Janelle

Tuesday, September 28
Review at With A Book In Our Hands

Wednesday, September 29
Guest Post at Jorie Loves A Story

Thursday, September 30
Interview + Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Friday, October 1
Feature at Bibliostatic
Review at Niki Loves to Read

Monday, October 4
Review at Novels Alive
Review at Jorie Loves A Story

Tuesday, October 5
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Wednesday, October 6
Review at Passages to the Past
Review at The Enchanted Shelf


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away some fabulous prizes!

Grand Prize Winner:

Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook, plus an acrylic 16-oz sippy “go” cup with straw.

2nd and 3rd Prize Winners:

Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook.

Runners-up (5):

Reproduction vintage Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire postcard, plus author-autographed bookplate.

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Limits of Limelight

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