Monday, June 9, 2014

Lynn Steward, author of A Very Good Life

Author Bio:
Lynn Steward loves to reinvent herself and her journey has taken her not just from New York City to Chicago, but from businesswoman to author, culminating her first novel, A Very Good Life. Inspired by a career in New York's fashion industry, including the development of the first women's department at a famous men's clothing store, and an intimate knowledge of the period, Steward created the characters and stories for a series of five authentic and heartwarming novels about New York in the seventies. A Very Good Life is the first in the series featuring Dana McGarry.

Title: A Very Good Life
Author: Lynn Steward
ISBN: 978-0-9915007-7-2
Page count: 284
Genre: Literary Fiction
Price: $10.99

Tell us about your book:
A Very Good Life is the first in a five book series featuring Dana McGarry, set in 1970s New York City. When we first meet Dana, she is a twenty-nine year old married career woman living a privileged New York lifestyle of a well-heeled junior executive at B. Altman, a high-end department store; but, change comes swiftly and unexpectedly. Cracks begin to appear in the perfect facade. Challenged at work by unethical demands, and the growing awareness that her relationship with her distant husband is strained, Dana must deal with the unwanted changes in her life. Can she find her place in the new world where women can have a voice or will she allow herself to be manipulated into doing things that go against her growing self-confidence?

How long did it take to write the book?
Approximately three years, spending the first eighteen months researching the period, and developing characters and storylines.

What inspired you to write the book?
The project was launched with the idea of developing a TV series, set at a time and place I know very well: New York in the late 1970s. Through extensive research and an intimate knowledge of the period, I develop the pilot and synopses for five seasons. After meeting, however, with professionals in the entertainment industry, I realized that the main character, Dana McGarry, needed more drama and the plots had to be developed, and I felt the best way to do that was to convert the pilot and the first season into a novel, as well as each subsequent season.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
My favorite time to write is early in the morning, preferably around 5:30 a.m., when my mind is clear, it is peaceful, and there are no interruptions, and I don’t allow anything to distract me for at least three hours. I am always surprised and disappointed how fast that time passes. I easily spent a year and a half researching – a minimum of three hours a day, and over thirty hours many weekends.  I studied historic events, iconic women, not only individuals, but how they related to each other, and interiors of famous locations, such as B. Altman, CafĂ© des Artistes, Kenneth Salon, etc.  I drew inspiration from archived articles in The New York Times and The New Yorker.  Most important, I organized my notes and articles by date,  making spread sheets of events; for example, every costume institute show at the Met from December 1974 through 1980. Quickly reaching for the right file is crucial when an idea is sparked at the keyboard.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope that younger readers will enjoy learning about people and events of the period, and my contemporaries, who remember when, will bring their own memories to the story.

Excerpt from book:
Chapter One excerpt
 Dana McGarry, her short blond hair stirred by a light gust of wind, stood on Fifth Avenue in front of the display windows of the B. Altman department store on the day after Thanksgiving, November, 1974.  Dana, public relations and special events coordinator for the store, pulled her Brooks Brothers camel hair polo coat tighter around her slim, shapely frame.  Shoppers hurried past her, huddled in overcoats as mild snow flurries coated the streets with a fine white powder.  It was now officially Christmas season, and Dana sensed a pleasant urgency in the air as people rushed to find the perfect gift or simply meet a friend for lunch.  The frenetic pace of life in Manhattan continued to swell the sidewalks, but pedestrians were more inclined to tender a smile instead of a grimace if they bumped into one another.  Dana often told her friends that Christmas was a time when there was a temporary truce between true believers and grinches.  As far as business was concerned, she was pleased to hear the cash registers of B. Altman singing their secular carols inside the store, but she also still believed that the holidays brought magic and balance, however briefly, into a world of routine and ten-hour workdays.  
Balance?  Dana smiled wistfully, for balance was becoming harder to achieve.  She was only twenty-nine, but the pressures of life were already assaulting her mind and spirit in numerous ways.  She tried to please multiple people in B. Altman’s corporate offices on a daily basis, not an easy task given that the seasoned professionals who were grooming her had various agendas, not all of which tallied with each other.  And then there was her marriage to Brett McGarry, a litigator at a Wall Street law firm.  Brett was as busy as she, and simultaneously attending to her career and the needs of her husband was sometimes difficult, if not downright burdensome.  His needs?  Well, “demands” would be a more accurate description of what Dana had to contend with.  Although Brett didn’t overtly order Dana around, he informed her of what he would or would not be able to do with her on any given day.  His growing air of superiority was extremely subtle and couched in affable smiles that most of Dana’s friends could not accurately read.
Chapter Two excerpt
Brett McGarry walked confidently into the offices of Davis, Konen and Wright on the thirty-seventh floor of 80 Broad Street.  The address was in the heart of New York’s financial district, a suitable home for the powerhouse corporate law firm where Brett hoped to soon make partner.  The imposing limestone edifice of the Art Deco building, with its many tiers of set-back facades, was near Battery Park, the Staten Island Ferry, the New York Stock Exchange, and other famous landmarks in lower Manhattan.  Brett felt at ease in the financial district, and whenever he entered the area, he felt a spring in his step.  This was where he belonged, and when it was time to have a drink with colleagues, he could walk to Fraunces Tavern, the Georgian-style building on nearby Pearl Street where General George Washington had bid the officers of the Continental Army a fond farewell at a dinner in his honor.  On any given evening, one could find newsworthy faces at the tavern, and for Brett, scotch neat went down that much easier when at Fraunces. 
“Good morning, Brett,” came a female voice from behind a secretary’s desk in the center of an office suite occupied by the firm’s litigators.
Startled, Brett jerked his head forward.  He had expected to find only the cleaning staff shuffling through the hallowed offices on this Friday morning.  The voice belonged to Janice Conlon, the firm’s new junior litigator. Brett stopped in his tracks and surveyed the five-foot-ten leggy blond dressed in tight jeans and an even tighter turtleneck covered by a brown distressed suede jacket.  Long straight hair splashed across her shoulders, and her deep blue eyes gazed at Brett above high angular cheekbones.

Where can we go to buy your book?
A Very Good Life is available on, both the print book and the digital edition for Kindle and all devices that support the Kindle app.

Any other links or info you'd like to share?

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Thank you, Virginia! Shared on FB and Twitter!