Thursday, April 26, 2018

[Timeless Tour] Q & A with Kim Van Alkemade, author of BACHELOR GIRL

Today's Timeless Tour post is a Q & A with Kim van Alkemade, the author of BACHELOR GIRL!

Q & A

1. What draws you to writing historical fiction?

To me, learning about history is like reading a collection of fascinating true stories. My grandmother, who lived to be 98 years old, was born in Manhattan in 1918, so I feel especially connected to early twentieth-century New York. Although they take place in other times and places, historical events are, at heart, about the people who lived them. I love combining imagination and research to create historical worlds where my characters can tell their stories while readers learn something new about our common human experience.

2. What is your writing process like? For example, do you listen to music, do you plan or just wing it when you write?

I always have a plan before I start writing, but I stay open to the surprises that come along during the drafting process. I like a silent room while I write. When things are really flowing, I lose track of time and get immersed in the process. Drafting, for me, is the hardest part, so I set word-count goals every day until I have a complete draft. I really like the process of rewriting and revising, which is where the characters and the story begin to come alive for me. Editing is like the icing on the cake! I am so thrilled to get to the point where my biggest concern is which word to choose. 

3. How do you go about writing your characters into history? Do you start with the historical elements or the characters?

I like inserting fictional characters into a historical situation. By fictionalizing historical characters, it makes it seem as if the characters I invented really could have lived in a specific time and place. I am a huge fan of E. L. Doctorow’s approach to historical fiction—I read Ragtime every couple of years to keep it fresh in my mind—and I am so inspired by his audacity in creating a fictional version of the historical world. If I am successful, then my reader won’t quite be able to tell where the historical world ends and the fictional one begins.

4. If you had to pick a song (or songs) that would make up a playlist for BACHELOR GIRL, what would you choose, and why?

In Bachelor Girl, there is a scene in a black-and-tan club in Harlem where I imagined the band performing Bessie Smith numbers, and in Antonio’s, the Greenwich Village club I imagined where Albert would meet up with his friends, I evoked songs by Gladys Bentley, a blues singer famous as part of the Harlem Renaissance.

5. In one or two sentences, how would you pitch BACHELOR GIRL to someone who hasn’t heard of it before?

Bachelor Girl is the story of an actress in jazz Age New York City who finds the courage to pursue her profession—and her heart’s desire—after a surprise inheritance from the millionaire owner of the Yankees baseball team.


Bachelor Girl plunges the reader deep into life during the Jazz Age…and the revealing of other secrets and confessions will keep readers up all night looking for answers.” —Booklist, starred review

From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 comes a fresh and intimate novel in the vein of Lilac Girls and The Alice Network about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love—inspired by the true story of Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, and his mysterious bequest in 1939 to an unknown actress, Helen Winthrope Weyant.

When the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, takes Helen Winthrope, a young actress, under his wing, she thinks it’s because of his guilt over her father’s accidental death—and so does Albert Kramer, Ruppert’s handsome personal secretary. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.

New York in the Jazz Age is filled with possibilities, especially for the young and single. Yet even as Helen embraces being a “bachelor girl”—a working woman living on her own terms—she finds herself falling in love with Albert, even after he confesses his darkest secret. When Ruppert dies, rumors swirl about his connection to Helen after the stunning revelation that he has left her the bulk of his fortune, which includes Yankee Stadium. But it is only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed that Helen and Albert will be forced to confront the truth about their relationship to him—and to each other.

Inspired by factual events that gripped New York City in its heyday, Bachelor Girl is a hidden history gem about family, identity, and love in all its shapes and colors.
About Kim van Alkemade:

Kim van Alkemade is the author of the historical novels Orphan #8 and Bachelor Girl. Her creative nonfiction essays have appeared in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, CutBank, and So To Speak. Born in New York City, she earned a BA in English and history from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a Professor in the English Department at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches writing.

Follow Kim: Facebook | Twitter

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You can also find a tour schedule on my
[Timeless Tour] Kick Off Questions & Full Tour Schedule post.

What did you think of Kim's answers?
Are you adding Bachelor Girl to your to-read list?

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