Author Interview & Giveaway: The Rose of Washington Square by Pat Wahler

The Rose of Washington Square: A Novel of Rose O'Neill, Creator of the Kewpie Doll by Pat Wahler

Publication Date: January 20, 2023
Evergreen Press

Genre: Historical Fiction

She set out to make her way in a man's world, rising from obscurity into one of the most famous women of her era.

Self-taught artist Rose O'Neill leaves the Midwest for New York in 1893, determined to become an illustrator in a field dominated by males. Mindful of her duty to the impoverished family she left behind, Rose’s obligations require her to yield to the men who hold the reins of her career; as well as the men she grows to love.

Yet despite every obstacle facing her, she excels at her craft, eventually designing a new character, the Kewpie. Her creation explodes into a phenomenon, but Rose’s disenchantment with the status quo fosters new ambitions. She must decide whether to remain within the boundaries dictated for her, or risk everything she’s gained to pursue the creative and personal passions that ignite her soul.

With grit and tenacity, Rose O'Neill blazed an unforgettable path during the tumultuous times of the early 20th century.

Available in eBook


“Rose O'Neill was a trailblazer of her time, and her life is a testament to the power of perseverance in the face of impossible odds.”
—Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House

“A classic reinvention of the life of Rose O’Neill, the creator of the iconic Kewpie doll.”
—Nina Romano, award-winning author of The Secret Language of Women

“From start to finish, this story honors the talent, devotion to family, and the success that was such a huge part of Rose O’Neill’s life.”
—Readers’ Favorite

Interview with Author Pat Wahler

Hello Pat and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Rose of Washington Square!

Thank you so much for hosting me, Amy!

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

I’m a native Missourian with a family I adore. In addition to my family, my major interests lie in books and animals. Funny how books and animals tend to be two things that resonate with many of the writers and readers I know.

As a kid, my mother took me to the library where I’d check out a stack of books each week. I’d read until she glared at me and ordered, “Get your nose out of that book and go outside!” I believe avid readers often transform into writers, and so it happened with me.

What inspired you to write about Rose O'Neill, the creator of the Kewpie Doll?

My first historical novel, I am Mrs. Jesse James, focused on a woman with Missouri ties. This worked out conveniently in terms of research as well as opening for me many venues who were interested in the book. I decided to find another woman connected with Missouri and Rose O’Neill quickly jumped to the top of my list. She lived a fascinating life; one that included much more than the Kewpies. From artist to sculptor to writer to philanthropist to activist and suffragist, it seemed to me Rose did it all.

What research did you undertake when writing the book?

I spent about a year reading and taking notes on anything I could find about Rose. Books, articles, and newspaper accounts to name a few. I spent a day at Rose’s home in Walnut Shade, Missouri, with incredible volunteers who are the keepers of Rose O’Neill’s legacy, before I started to write the story.

What was your favorite scene to write?

That’s almost like asking who’s my favorite child. If I have to choose, I suppose it would be the beginning, when Rose sets out full of hopes, dreams, and determination to make her way in a man’s world.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

There were several scenes related to deaths of people dear to Rose that were difficult, but the toughest death scenes related to two of Rose’s family members. I cried while writing both of them.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As I mentioned earlier, I do think most avid readers at least consider the possibility of writing something of their own. I can remember at the age of six, writing five pages I illustrated, where Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty got married. (I couldn’t understand why the Gunsmoke writers couldn’t manage to make that happen when clearly it needed to!) As time went on I got braver (and a little smarter about writing stories) and began to submit my work. When the first piece was accepted, I was hooked.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

Routine? I’m supposed to have a routine? I tend to operate on deadlines, and sadly I cannot seem to multi-task. This means I need a project that’s been researched and outlined before I can actually write it. I do prefer to write in the morning when my mind is fresh, but I make a point of getting up periodically to walk, even if it’s only for five minutes. I found out the hard way that too much sitting is bad for the back.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I have to start with an outline to know where I’m going with a story, but when the book begins to take on a life of its own, I don’t mind making changes in the original plan. Perhaps that makes me a plantser?

Do you write in a linear fashion (scene by scene) or do you jump around?

My brain works best when I keep things in chronological order. If I have thoughts about a future scene, I’ll jot down notes on it to expound upon later, rather than risk forgetting an inspiration.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast?

That’s a tough one. Maybe Amanda Seyfried as Rose and Emma Stone as her sister Callista. I could envision Marcia Gay Harden as Meemie. I’d better stop there since it’s kind of fun (but time consuming) to Google people and try to match them up to my characters!

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Trying to juggle too many balls. There are an unbelievable amount of hats that must be worn by a writer these days, and most of them don’t involve writing at all. I suspect this is not a challenge that’s unique to me.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Oh my. So many literary talents. Harper Lee boggled my mind with the simple beauty of her prose. Writers like Susanna Kearsley, Paula McLain, Kate Quinn, and Kate Morton never disappoint.

What was the first historical novel you read?

As I youngster, I gravitated toward historical fiction. Little Women. Black Beauty. Beautiful Joe. It seems I always enjoyed reading about the past. Probably my first adult historical novel was Gone With the Wind. I read it in middle school.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I just finished reading The Surgeon’s Daughter by Audrey Blake, and really enjoyed it.

What are three things people may not know about you?

In my former career, I spent decades as a Juvenile Officer, working with kids who had run afoul of the law.
I’m a totally committed tea-drinker that cannot abide even the aroma of coffee.
If life gave out a report card, I’d get an “F” for multi-tasking. In research mode I can’t do anything else. In marketing mode, same problem. Ditto with writing. Sigh.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love reading and writing historical fiction because it brings the past to life in a way history books do not. It’s as simple as that.

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

I’m pulled most toward mid to late 19th century and early 20th century stories.

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

I enjoy spending time with my family (I have the most adorable grandson who loves to read!) and I’m addicted to buying books. Stacks and stacks of books.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I have in mind a woman I’d like to write about who made her mark in the field of medicine. However, as of yet I haven’t even started researching. (Did I mention I’m terrible at multi-tasking?)

About the Author


Pat Wahler is a Missouri native and avid reader. She is winner of Western Fictioneers' Best First Novel of 2018, a Walter Williams Award winner, and the winner of Author Circle Awards 2019 Novel of Excellence in Historical Fiction for I am Mrs. Jesse James.

Pat has also authored a three-book contemporary romance series-the Becker Family Novels, and two holiday-themed books; all named Five-Star Readers’ Favorites. A frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, Pat is an avid reader with a special passion for historical fiction, women’s fiction, and stories with heart. She makes her home in Missouri with her husband and two rescue critters—one feisty Peek-a-poo pup and a tabby cat with plenty of attitude.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | BookBub | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 20
Review at Dive Into a Good Book

Wednesday, February 22
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, February 24
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Monday, February 27
Excerpt at Books & Benches

Tuesday, February 28
Review at Girl Who Reads
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Wednesday, March 1
Review at Novels Alive

Monday, March 6th
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary


Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Rose of Washington Square


  1. Amy, thank you so much for hosting me!

  2. What a great interview! I'm reading THE ROSE OF WASHINGTON SQUARE now and loving it!


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Passages to the Past
All rights reserved © 2013

Custom Blog Design by Blogger Boutique

Blogger Boutique