|Author Carolyn Quinn|
CAROLYN QUINN grew up in Roselle and Scotch Plains, NJ, a member of an outrageous and rollicking extended family. She became interested in theatrical history at the age of twelve after participating in a theater arts workshop and later obtained a B.A. in English and Theater/Media from Kean University. Carolyn wrote "MAMA ROSE'S TURN: The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother" after extensively researching the life of Rose Thompson Hovick, whose colorful and unorthodox parenting style inspired the musical Gypsy. She is Co-Editor of The Ziegfeld Times for The Ziegfeld Society. Carolyn lives in New York City and can be contacted through her website, www.carolynquinn.net. Find her also on www.carolynquinn.artistwebsites.com, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sequinrosette, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolynquinnauthor. "MAMA ROSE'S TURN" is her first book. She wants readers to know that she had an absolutely fabulous time researching it!
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
How much fun it is to use words in a creative manner!
What genre(s) do you write?
My first book is a historical biography, and I’m also currently working on a mystery, just for the joy of it.
What genres and authors would we find you?
Biography, non-fiction and mystery
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The proposal for the agent and publisher! Those had me up until two in the morning. The book itself was easy to write once I finished the research – which took two and a half years. I did it in my “spare time” while also having a full-time job.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Oh, I’m a Plotter, definitely.
Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?
My book, MAMA ROSE’S TURN, is supported by extensive research. In other words, I tell the true story and have it backed up by the facts.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
I hope they get a clear sense of what happened.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’d say the underlying message is, “Don’t believe everything you hear.” The woman I wrote about, Gypsy Rose Lee and Jun Havoc’s stage mother, was the subject of quite a few rumors. Almost all of them did not check out. One did. I was shocked about that one since it was told by a chronic prevaricator, but I found documentation that backed it up.
How long have you been a writer?
Unofficially, since I was about eight years old. Officially, since I was published November 2013.
How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?
It was six months to find the agent and publisher, and then another year and a half before the book was on the market.
What other careers have you had?
English Tutor, Social Worker, Administrator.
Do you write under more than one name? Why?
No, I use my own name. I wish I’d used a middle name though. I don’t really have one but should have created one since there’s another Carolyn Quinn who is a broadcast journalist in the U.K.
Are any of your characters based on real people or events?
My book is nonfiction, so everybody in there is a real person.
How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers?
I like to tell the truth in as funny a manner as possible.
What’s something fans would find fascinating about you?
I survived bullying as a child, so anyone else can, too!
What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?
It was a dark story in a lot of places, but the research I did shed light on it.
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
Patrick Dennis, author of AUNTIE MAME, which is a hilarious satire; Janet Fitch, author of WHITE OLEANDER, for its beauty and subtlety. Dennis Lehane for fun and clarity.
How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general? They’re having a wonderful time with it. My elderly parents are even selling autographed copies to their friends! My friends all love everything that’s been happening with the book.
Where are you from?
Roselle, New Jersey, originally – which was, and still is, a great little town! I still go back there on holidays. Now I live in Brooklyn, New York, where there’s lots of non-stop action.
How do you come up with the titles?
“ROSE’S TURN” is a song in the show, Gypsy, which immortalized the woman whose story I was writing, Rose Hovick. People remember her from the show as “MAMA ROSE” even though she’s never called that in the course of the musical. I put them together and the title became “MAMA ROSE’S TURN” – her turn to tell the story. So many of her letters were available to me in a library archive that I was able to finally allow Rose to speak with her own voice.
Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?
Yes, things have been a lot more exciting and fun since I started this project. I met up with a whole creative contingent. Several of them became my closest friends.
Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?
I multi-task. That way the projects always remain fresh.
When not writing, how do you relax?
I have an additional sideline as a fine art photographer, so you can find me all over New York City with my camera at the ready!
Please tell us 5 miscellaneous facts about yourself.
I love the colors yellow and pink, my favorite music is Broadway show tunes, my favorite composers are Jerry Herman and Cole Porter, I was bullied as a child by a teacher who I’m “saving” for the plot of a mystery story, and I live by the bay in Brooklyn, New York.
Fine Art Photography Website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/carolynquinn.html
Excerpt from my Author’s Note:
This book unofficially began on Broadway outside of the Winter Garden Theater on the day after Christmas in 1974. I had just been lucky enough to see my very first Broadway show. It was as fabulous an introduction to the theater as any child interested in Broadway could ever have hoped for: the last-minute chance to see musical comedy genius Angela Lansbury star as Gypsy Rose Lee's mother, Rose, in the first revival of Gypsy, one week before it closed. The day before, Mom and Dad had surprised me with Gypsy tickets under the Christmas tree.
I had been playing Lansbury’s London cast recording for three months straight. I adored the story described in the liner notes of stage mother, Rose, who was bound and determined to make her two daughters into stars and had them tour the country performing on the old vaudeville circuits back in the 1920’s and in burlesque in the 1930’s. Mom and Dad had surprised me with Gypsy tickets under our Christmas tree.
After the phenomenal show was over I spotted a sign outside of the theater and noticed, for the first time, that the full name of the show was Gypsy: A Musical Fable. “Fable? Why are they calling that show a fable?” I asked my parents, who were both teachers. “Gypsy and June and their mother were real people, not a fairy tale.”
“Sure, but they probably had to change a lot of the story,” my mother said. “It was probably a lot different than the version we just saw on the stage. Can you imagine? A mother who let her child work for Minsky’s Burlesque, of all places? They probably had to clean the whole tale up for public consumption.”
I was thirteen, and it was the first I’d heard of such a thing. “Can they really do that, though – change the details in a show that’s about actual people?”
“Oh, sure! They do that with movies and shows all the time,” my dad said.
Well, this didn’t seem right to me, but I was hooked at once. I had gone to what I had thought would be a true Broadway story and found a mystery. What, I wondered, might have really happened regarding Rose, June and Gypsy that was different from the story I had just seen?