Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Remember When . . . Bobs were the Bees' Knees?

The 1920s. Hemlines went up, waists went down, curls waved goodbye, and everyone shimmied their way into the Jazz Age. Prohibition was the law of the land . . . and gangsters made millions flaunting it.

Is there anyone who thinks this doesn't sound like a fun time write about? LOL

A little over a year ago, I was struck by inspiration. "What if," I thought, "a law enforcement officer used a girl to get an in with her family? And what if we're on the girl's side, even though her father's, oh, I don't know . . . a mob boss? And what if she knows what he does and has no problem with it--at the beginning?"

This is how Mafia Princess was born.

I threw myself wholeheartedly into research. After reading a book about the Mafia (not yet called the Mob), I decided that I wanted to set my book in pre-Capone Chicago, which meant around 1922. (Capone was there, of course--just not ruling the city.) I made this decision because I much preferred the Mafia of those days. In spite of some really nasty illegal goings-on, they had an honor that was lost after Capone took over. A respect for the "old ways" that they brought with them from Sicily.

Unfortunately, that also meant that a lot of the styles that came to define the era weren't around yet. Yes, hair was bobbed--but not yet shingled. Yes, dress silhouettes were simplified and elongated--but waists hadn't dropped to the hip quite yet. Yes, cloche hats were coming into style--but brims still reigned the day.

And of course, there was the super-fun slang like in the title of the post. I had to use it sparingly, but I really enjoyed writing one character who peppered her conversation with every faddish phrase I could find. She habitually said things like, "Take off this ball and chain, put on your glad rags, and let's hit the town. I know of this party that's going to be the elephant's instep."

Now, selling a Mafia story to the CBA (even one that is decidedly Christian) may prove a challenge, but I just received word that the first editor we submitted to has requested the full, and I'm pretty excited. So for the next few weeks, our Remember When Wednesdays are going to share some more interesting FYI about 1922 Chicago. We'll learn a little about the Mafia of the day, the styles and fashions, and some of the misconceptions that have arisen about the era over the years.

Come on, Twenties, give us a roar!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the request for the full. You're on your way, girl!