A few weeks ago, on a rainy Friday I picked up a book. Going into the start of the book, I had a (very) brief moment of hesitation. Not because of the book itself, but because I wasn’t exactly sure it was going to be my kind of book. Within a few hours, I finished the book and was, well, surprised. It turned out this book was just the book I needed – it was smart, it was fun, and it was pink (one of my fave colors by the way.)
At this point, you’re wondering what book I’m referring to, right? If you read my latest review that you already know the answer – Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm. I don’t need to tell you, readers, just how much I enjoyed this book.
I enjoyed this book so much, I knew that I wanted to feature author Stephanie Kate Strohm on this blog alongside my review. I knew from the get go that she would be just as fun, energetic, and delightful as her debut novel.
Without further adieu ….
BookBandit (BB): Can you tell a little about yourself, and about your path as a writer?
Stephanie Kate Strohm (SKS): I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer – I wanted to be an actress. I was always a big reader, though, and I enjoyed writing in school. After I graduated from college, I moved to New York to start auditioning, and ended up getting cast in a children’s theater tour. While on the road, I started writing a blog to keep my friends back home informed about my adventures. I found myself looking forward to writing the blog more and more, and decided to experiment with writing fiction – just for fun. As I started working on my young adult story (Twilight was super hot at the time, so I had the YA genre on the brain), I completely fell in love with writing. I found it was the thing I looked forward to the most every day. I couldn’t wait to get to the hotel every night so I could write. To my surprise, I completed a manuscript, and I decided to start sending it to agents. I knew the chances of getting something published were very small, but I felt like I had nothing to lose. After sending out lots of query letters, I found an agent who wanted to represent me, and she sold my manuscript to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! I was very, very lucky. I followed a nontraditional path to a writing career, and I feel so fortunate do be able to do something that I love so much.
BB: What was the inspiration behind your debut novel Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink?
SKS: One summer, I worked at a living history museum, just like Libby does in Pilgrims. And believe it or not, there was a rumor that the museum was haunted – just like in Pilgrims! I started to wonder what would happen if someone tried to get to the bottom of the ghost mystery, and that’s how I came up with the idea for Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink. Most of my ideas come from something that really happened to me, then I start asking “What if…?” and the story develops from there.
BB: Libby is a history nerd, she openly admits and is proud of that (and why shouldn’t she be?!?) Would you consider yourself to be a history nerd yourself? If so, what is one history fact most people don’t know about, but you do?
SKS: Oh, I am absolutely a history nerd. A giant one! And I’ve been one my whole life. As a kid I was much more likely to put on a bonnet and play Westward Expansion that I was to play princess dress-up. Even now, out of school, I still love studying history, just for fun. Now the one fact…hmm…I’ll share one of my favorites! Mary, Queen of Scots, was the first woman reported to play golf! She even got in trouble for golfing too soon after her husband’s murder!
BB: At one point in Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, best friend Dev mentions Libby’s love of Radiohead. What songs would one be most likely to find on Libby’s iPod (that is, if she has one)?
SKS: Definitely lots of Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. Probably the Decemberists, because they sing about whalebone corsets. And Radiohead for those introspective moments.
BB: What is your favorite time period in history? Why?
SKS: The Wild West – American in the 1880s/90s. I think this fascination was born out of some Little House on the Prairie love, a healthy dose of Westerns, and a childhood obsession with sharpshooting phenom Annie Oakley. Of course, I know it wasn’t all saloon girls dancing on top of bars with feathers in their hair – it was a pretty grisly time – but even the grisliness is interesting!
BB: What was the easiest part of writing Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink? The hardest?
SKS: The easiest part was writing the dialogue – I really like all my characters (even the not so nice ones), and I just love writing them all talking to each other! The hardest part, for me, was dealing with the pacing of the plot. I struggled a lot with unspooling the events at a good pace and making sure the timeline all made sense. Luckily, I have a copyeditor who catches me on any timeline mistakes!
BB: What kind of research did you do for Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink?
SKS: I’d already done most of my research by living it – that summer working at a living history museum proved invaluable! Most of the additional research I did specifically for this book revolved around colonial wardrobes – many thanks to Colonial Williamsburg’s excellent fashion history website.
BB: If Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink were to be made into a movie, who would you want to see cast as Libby? Cam? Garrett? Ashling? Dev? And who would you want to create the wardrobe/costumes?
SKS: Aimee Teegarden as Libby and Nicholas Braun as Garrett (they were in Disney’s Prom, a movie I not-so-secretly love), Zac Efron as Cam (although he’s getting close to aging out of the part), Troian Bellisario (Spencer on Pretty Little Liars) as Ashling, and maybe Dev Patel as Dev (I didn’t consciously name Dev after Dev Patel, I swear). Milena Canonero would have to do the costumes – she did Marie Antoinette, and that movie has the best costumes of all time!
BB: Can You tell anything about any of your upcoming projects?
SKS: I’m working on a third book in the Libby series, and a brand new YA series that features less history and more theater. And of course, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture, the sequel to Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, comes out June 4th! Heartache, haunting, and hoopskirts!
BB: What piece of advice could you offer aspiring writers?
SKS: Finish. Finish whatever it is that you’re working on. Don’t let your piece languish in a file folder forever. Finish it up, and let people see it! It’s scary to share your work, but it’s so important to take a chance on your writing, and on yourself. You never know what could happen!
Guys, isn’t she great! Stephanie Kate Strohm is definitely an author to be on the lookout for! For more information about her and her books, check out her blog here.
A big THANK YOU goes out to Stephanie Kate Strohm for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for the BookBandit Blog?