Thursday, June 12, 2014

Interview with Lynn Steward, Author of A Very Good Life

Lynn Steward is a successful business woman who spent many years in New York City’s fashion industry in marketing and merchandising, including the development of the first women’s department at a famous men’s clothing store. Through extensive research, 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.


Where did you grow up?

Long Island, New York

When did you begin writing?

I always enjoyed business writing, and about three years ago, I started putting ideas on paper for a TV series. That led to creative writing and endless storytelling.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

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. I won’t allow myself to even peek at e-mails, I don’t want anything to distract me for at least three hours. I am always surprised and disappointed how fast that time passes.

What is this book about?

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 façade. 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?

What inspired you to write it?

I spent at least a year and a half researching and developing characters for a TV series, set at a time and place I know very well: New York in the late 1970s, and another year writing the pilot and synopses for five seasons. After meeting with professionals in the entertainment industry, I realized that the main character, Dana, 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 first season into a novel, as well as each subsequent season.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I have great affection and enthusiasm for the real and fictional characters, and the period, and I think that is translated on the page. Dana, however, is the most interesting to me because she has the widest character arch with challenging opportunities for growth. Readers are rooting for Dana from the beginning of A Very Good Life, and they want to know where her life takes her in Book Two.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

The road to publication was smooth sailing, due to many long months of preparation. I did extensive research and found bloggers tremendously helpful; all the information you need and want is on-line, and the more you read, the better questions you have, and the process unfolds. I also hired a good team: a graphic designer, a formatting company, two editors, a proofreader, and a lawyer to vet the manuscript. I am also grateful to the Amazon team who responded to my questions within hours.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have sent galley copies to reviewers a few months before the official release, rather than wait for the proofed and edited manuscript.

Where can readers purchase a copy of 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.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

I am working on that right now, and hope to have one ready in a few weeks.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

Hiring an on-line publicist was my best monetary investment in promoting the book, and learning about social media was my best investment of time.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Write what you know and love, and keep writing. Don’t worry about “elements of style,” that is why we have editors. The more they edit, the better you will get; it’s the story that you want on the page.

What is up next for you? Is there anything you would like to add?

I would love to tell you about Volume Two! “April Snow”

We meet Dana in London on holiday. While shopping at Jaeger’s on Bond Street, she is inspired to create a similar women’s classic clothing boutique at B. Altman, but, once again, Helen, the junior buyer, is an impediment. Back in New York, she finds a new love interest, Mark, who introduces her to Irwin Berger, a menswear manufacturer. After Dana learns that Brooks Brothers is opening a ladies department with fashions made in the cutting rooms of menswear manufacturers, she convinces Irwin to work with her to design a private label collection of tailored clothing, using menswear fabrics, to present to senior management at B. Altman. When Mark’s daughter suffers a serious horseback riding accident, she is faced with a new heartache, and, the always resilient Dana, concentrates on her work. Dana meets a mysterious woman, Abby, in London, and she invites her to speak at a luncheon program at the Colony Club, but Abby doesn’t show. The book ends with Dana receiving a letter from Abby’s husband, and this correspondence sets the stage for Volume Three.


Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks, Cheryl! Shared on Twitter and FB!

Cheryl said...

This sounds like a great book, Mayra. I hope it does well.