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Cover design by Robert Smith.

Put this on your Summer Reading List: Vamps of ’29 by Alice Jurow.

Vamps of ’29 is a captivating and fashionable tale of three models in 1920s Paris, who, as it happens, are not just vamps but vampires, too.

Alice Jurow is a friend of mine from the Art Deco Society of California. Back in the 1990s Alice was the editor of the Society’s publication, The Sophisticate, and I wrote the occasional feature article.

In addition to editing Alice also writes, having penned articles on art, style, and architecture. She’s a big fan of writing fiction as well, with many a short story under her belt and now she has published her first novel.

I was pleased when Alice agreed to a Q&A with OverDressedforLife.

What was the inspiration for your first novel? How long did it take you?

Vamps of ’29 first grew out of one specific, fashion-related prompt. My friend Sally Norton (of Foggy Night Jewelry) was telling me about a Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild event; it was a vampire port tasting, and she said there would be a lot of 18th and 19th century costuming but she would love it if some of the “Deco gals” came as “vampires in little black 1920s Chanel frocks.” That image took root, and several months later I realized I wanted to write about it. Since I’m slow, and subject to distractions, the book took about four years.

What drew you to the well-covered topic of vampires?

I’m pretty squeamish, actually, so I was never really drawn to the genre  — but of course Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’ was so compelling and created such a complete world. And the oh so stylish movie ‘The Hunger,’ with Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. But it was really Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] that sort of “domesticated” vampires, making them characters with personalities and humor. For a while I worried that my vampires were breaking too many rules of the genre (they can be seen in mirrors, for example) — but I did a bit of research and found that vampires vary quite a bit from one source to another. It is fiction after all – right?

Author Alice

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Author Alice Jurow. Photo: Heidi Schave.

There is a lot of scrumptious 1920s fashion detail in your book and I know you know so much about that era, but did you find you had to do some research? Where did you search?

The fashion details were already in my head, after years of being steeped in images and descriptions from the period — I could basically “see” what the characters were wearing in any given scene.  But I did quite a bit of research on other things, like train schedules and jazz clubs. It’s amazing how much is on the internet — and how much isn’t. I found some wonderful books in the Berkeley Public Library.

(Let’s hear it for libraries!)

How do you go about writing? Do you start with longhand or go straight to the computer?

There’s some writing I can bang out right at the keyboard, but with fiction I always start in longhand and then revise when typing.

Describe your usual writing environment.

Ideally it’s a beautiful afternoon in the garden … but barring that, a comfy chair in the living room. With a tiny cocktail or a lovely coffee.

When I sit down to write I have a my preferred notebook next to me and a couple of my special pencils, do you have favorite writing instruments to take notes?

I hate to waste paper, so I used to always write on recycled printer paper that had one side blank, but I worried about losing pages. So I switched to old notebooks that were only partly used. But I think I’ve used up all the ones around the house, so I may need to buy a new notebook!  Spiral bound, with pockets. I admire beautiful pens, but I write with ordinary ballpoints.

(I love that you don’t waste paper. I also use old notebooks, mostly leftover from college. But I do like choosing new writing supplies. I recommend Elmwood Stationers on College Avenue.)

I picture you at your writing table in your signature turban and red lipstick. Do you like to dress to get into the mood of your story?

I definitely dress to write, even if it’s just a gesture. Often I’m in jodhpurs — “writing breeches.” Red lipstick is essential.

(Always.)

Care to tell us what you’re working on next?

I feel that my characters aren’t done with me yet, and being immortal, they want to move on. They are in the 1930s now.

Thank you, Alice and congratulations!! We look forward to more from you.

Vamps of ’29 is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

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