Jillian Manning here, one of the Blink YA editors. I’m so excited to introduce you to our upcoming title, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, in which 18-year- old Piper Sail must uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her best friend, Lydia, in 1924 Chicago.
Here to celebrate the announcement of this book with me is author Stephanie Morrill. She’s a veteran of the YA industry as the author of the Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt and Ellie Sweet series, and she’s also one of the leaders of Go Teen Writers, a website that helps young writers learn their craft and uncover the behind-the- scenes world of publishing.
JM: Welcome, Stephanie! We’re thrilled to talk about Lost Girl with you. Tell us a little bit about the inspiration for the book.
SM: Thanks for having me, Jillian! I had the idea for the book a few years ago when I was putting away laundry. My thoughts were wandering (as they often do when I’m doing something like laundry!) to Downton Abbey because I had just gotten hooked. And then I was thinking how I wished another season of Veronica Mars would magically appear, because I miss that show so much. Then I thought, “How fun would it be to write some sort of Veronica Mars meets Downton Abbey type of story?” I wasn’t totally sure yet what that looked like, but I’ve never been so instantly excited about a story idea!
JM: Your main character, Piper, is clever, headstrong, and totally awesome. Was Piper’s character based on anyone you knew?
SM: I would love to say she’s based on me, but I get nervous just venturing to the unfinished part of my basement! But no, Piper is all a product of imagination. Except for when she says she always tries to lead when she dances. My friend Kelli said that about herself once, and I unapologetically stole it.
JM: Lots of people love the Roaring Twenties—it was an era of great change and great fashion! How did you research the novel, and what were some of the craziest facts you uncovered?
SM: Before I started writing this book, all my knowledge about the 20s came from reading The Great Gatsby, so I had a lot to learn! I read lots and lots of books (there’s a complete-ish list on my website) about fashion and food and organized crime and daily life. I will limit myself to three things about the 20s that I found fascinating:
Health care for women really improved over this decade. Any guesses why? Because in 1920 women won the right to vote, so issues that mattered to women finally started to matter to politicians.
Because refrigerators and freezers were primarily owned by wealthy people, the fashionable foods of the day were mostly cold and frozen items. If you were invited to a swanky luncheon, you would have been served foods like frozen cheeses, frozen fruits, and frozen salads. Yummy…
I’ve always loved the iconic flapper look—drop-waist beaded dresses, cloches, long necklaces. It’s much less fussy than all the fashions that came before. Never had it occurred to me that the fashion of the day was born out of the role of women changing. Along with women winning the vote came the movement for equality between the genders, and we see that in the curveless shape of the dresses and the bobbed hair.
JM: 1920s Chicago wasn’t all glitz and glam. Tell us what you learned about the darker side of the city, especially when it came to the mobsters Piper has to face.
SM: When selling alcohol was outlawed, there were of course people who were ready to make a profit selling it illegally. (The documentary, Prohibition, by Ken Burns is fabulous.) The mafia was already in the U.S. and had been for a while, so they were already organized. But the prohibition bureau was under-staffed, under-funded, and completely new; they were working from behind from the start. With the amount of money a person could make selling alcohol—even bad alcohol—and with the nation split on their beliefs about prohibition, it was fertile ground for corruption.
JM: This story—full of adventure and romance and mystery—is really about friendship. Is there anything Piper wouldn’t do for her friends?
SM: Probably not! Piper doesn’t warm to people quickly, but she’s fiercely loyal to those whom she loves.
Thanks so much, Stephanie! Readers, stay tuned for more posts on Lost Girl and from Stephanie, and be sure to preorder the book at the links below. Also visit www.StephanieMorrill.com/LostGirl for more info on preorder perks and special events such as:
An evening with the author and editor: video chat with Stephanie and Jillian to talk about the publishing process, the Roaring Twenties, and more!
Exclusive Lost Girl content and bonus chapters
Playlist featuring Piper’s favorite 1920s songs
Hair and fashion guide to looking your best in 1924
About the Book
With a Veronica Mars meets Downton Abbey twist, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric, jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.
When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year- old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.
As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.
About the Author
Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and three kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrill.com.
About the Cover
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