LUCY BURDETTE: I'm a sucker for hearing about where writers get inspiration. I know lots of people hate the question: Where do you get your ideas? But I love it! And so I'm happy to introduce Edgar winner Lori Roy, to talk about her brand new book.
LORI ROY: One of my favorite keepsakes is a set of vintage white gloves. When I first began working on UNTIL SHE COMES HOME, I held these gloves and imagined a woman living in 1958 Detroit who had boarded a bus to do her daily shopping. Sitting among the other ladies, all bound for the shops on Willingham Avenue, she realized she had forgotten her white gloves. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hid her bare hands in her lap. Why was she so distracted, I wondered. What had happened to make her forget her white gloves?
Before I could answer these questions, I had to get to know this character and so I turned to one of my favorite research tools—a 1958 Sears catalog I bought from Ebay. In the first few pages of the catalog, I came across the clothing for the young women, girls really, still in their teens. They wore skirts with wide sweeps and slender belts cinched around their slender waists. Their long smooth hair was pulled back and up into ponytails that sat high on their heads. These girls didn’t wear white gloves. Even when bundled up and cheering from the sidelines of a football game, they challenged convention and refused to wear gloves. Only one young girl in all these pages had dared to pull on a pair. She stood with three other teenage girls on a dance floor. Balloons were scattered at their feet, streamers hung overhead, and all the girls wore party dresses, but only one of them, the one who had clearly won the attention and affection of the one man in the photo, wore short white gloves with simulated pearls stitched at each cuff.
As I continued to turn the pages of my catalog, the girls grew to young women. While standing in line at a movie theater, several men hovering nearby, the young ladies wore belted jackets and cropped sweaters and all wore gloves. Most had abandoned the high ponytails for thick bands that held their hair, still long and smooth, from their faces. In this section, I also found pictures of brides and bridesmaids. They, of course, all wore gloves.
More pages and the ladies continued to age. They must have all found husbands because there were few men in these photos. The ladies appeared settled in their lives. They had husbands at home, children to care for, lunches to prepare, bake sale committees on which to serve. The ladies of this certain age matched their gloves to their shoes and handbags, or for a more casual afternoon outing, they chose gloves that matched the color of their dresses. But no matter the color, the fabric, the length or the style, if there was a hat on her head, or a jacket slung over her shoulders, or a handbag hanging from her forearm, a lady of this age wore gloves on her hands.
This is how I came to know Grace and Julia and Malina—all important characters in UNTIL SHE COMES HOME. They are the women who give voice to my story. They are the women who always wear gloves and when Grace forgets her gloves that day on the bus, she can no longer ignore what has happened to her and her neighborhood or what may yet come.
For all the readers out there…I’m always looking for new inspiration. Do you have a favorite keepsake and what is the history behind it?
LORI IS OFFERING A COPY OF HER NEW NOVEL, UNTIL SHE COMES HOME, ALONG WITH A COPY OF BENT ROAD TO ONE LUCKY COMMENTER!
Lori Roy’s debut novel, BENT ROAD, was awarded the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, named a 2011 New York Times Notable Crime Book, named a 2012 notable book by the state of Kansas, and was nominated for the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award. BENT ROAD has been optioned for film by Cross Creek, with Mark Mallouk to adapt and Benderspink to produce. Her second novel, UNTIL SHE COMES HOME, was published June 13, 2013. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.