Monday, August 13, 2012

Interview with Bianca Turetsky, author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Court of Marie Antoinette

I'm very excited to share my recent interview with Bianca Turetsky, author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista series and its newest entry, The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette. If you haven't heard of the series yet: It follows the adventures the young and vintage-loving Louise Lambert, who receives a mysterious invitation vintage fashion sale and, upon trying on unique vintage wear, finds herself transported back in time. The first novel sent Louise on the historic and fateful first voyage of the Titanic in 1912--the newest and second novel will find Louise in the distant 18th century, in the glittering but also doomed world of Marie Antoinette. The second novel is set to be released on September 18th and can be pre-ordered from retailers such as 

Q. What was your inspiration for the first Time Traveling Fashionista book? And did you always plan for the story to be a series?

A. The idea came to me a few years ago after visiting this amazing vintage shop in New Haven CT, called Fashionista Vintage and Variety. It’s owned by these two fabulous women, Todd and Nancy, who know everything and anything about vintage clothing. I tried on this pink party dress that belonged to a Mrs. Baxter from Newport Rhode Island, and I couldn’t help but wonder what her life was like, what the last gala or fancy event was that she wore this to. Was she in love? Was she happy? And how in a way, her memory was being preserved through this garment.
   ©Sarah Shatz (2012)
I had always hoped it would be a series, as there are so many historical events to explore and people who would be fun for my character Louise to meet through their dresses! 

Q. This second story takes Louise all the way back to 18th century France. What kind of research did you do on the time period and what would you say was the most difficult part of putting Louise in that historical setting?
A. Doing the research for this book was so much fun. My grandmother, who immediately volunteered to be my research assistant, and I went on a trip to Paris! We took the train out to the palace of Versailles to see what it is actually like in person. It’s really hard to appreciate the scale and grandeur of the place from photographs- although I hope I was able to capture it in this story. We ate lots of French pastries (for research purposes of course!) and wandered around the grounds and gardens where Marie Antoinette lived hundreds of years ago.
The most difficult part was trying to be as historically accurate as possible. The books are fun, but through them I also want to get girls excited about history by teaching it in this new way- through the fashion of the times.  

Q. Could you tell us a little about what inspired you to pick that particular time period?  

A. After watching Sofia Coppola’s movie, Marie Antoinette, which was such a visual treat, I became obsessed with the fashion and food and aesthetic of that time period. And Marie Antoinette herself is such an iconic historical figure that I thought it would be fun to research more about who she actually was as a person. She was really just a girl when she was thrown into such responsibility. I thought my readers, many of who are just a few years younger than she was when she was taken from her home and married into the French royal family, would be able to relate to her in a different, more intimate way.  

Q. Fashion, obviously, plays a big part in the books. How would you compare the fashion of Marie Antoinette's court with the fashion of the well-do-to during the early 1910s? Do you personally have a favorite 18th century fashion style?  

A. The fashion of the 1910’s was constricting, but it had nothing on the heavy, corseted frocks of Marie Antoinette’s court. The gowns were so complicated and intricate that it would take a whole gaggle of ladies in waiting to help her get dressed each day.  I think I’d prefer to wear the more casual (and definitely more comfortable) muslin tea dresses that she introduced when she was spending more time at Petit Trianon.  

Q. And finally: The first novel definitely had a "there's no place like home" feel to it. Is there a special message you hope to convey to readers in the second book? 

A. The second book has a bit of that “there’s no place like home” and “be careful what you wish for” sentiment as well. I feel like when you’re 12 (or at least when I was!) you want to be living in another more fabulous life with hair that never frizzes, a less embarrassing set of parents, and a fabulous closet full of clothes.  Of course I still feel that longing sometimes, but I’ve grown to feel more comfortable in my own skin and appreciate my “real” life more as I get older. Louise is still learning that!


I'd like to thank Bianca Turetsky for taking the time to answer my questions and many thanks to Lisa Moraleda, (Associate Director of Publicity at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) for helping me set this interview up!

*This interview has also been published on my Tumblr blog, Treasure For Your Pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful interview. I can't wait for her second book next month. I featured her books on my guest post at English Muse. Anyway, I'm really glad I discovered your blog and I'm about to wander through it. Have a good day.