Author Interview: Bianca Turetsky on The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic

Bianca Turetsky (photo credit: Sarah Shatz)Bianca Turetsky is here today to talk about her delightful first novel The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic. This book came out in 2011 and is the start to a truly enjoyable series that blends history, time travel and fashion in some very fun ways when twelve-year-old vintage junkie, Louise finds a very unusual traveling vintage sale. Louise’s vintage-fueled adventures continue in The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette and in The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. This week is an especially timely time for Bianca to visit the blog as this week also marks the release of the third installment in paperback. If you were waiting to get this series, now is a great time to get a shiny paperback set (which still includes gorgeous interior page designs and illustrations by Sandra Suy)!

Miss Print (MP): What was the inspiration for The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic?

Bianca Turetsky (BT): The idea for the book came to me after visiting this amazing vintage shop in New Haven CT, called Fashionista Vintage and Variety. It’s owned by these two fabulous women, Todd and Nancy, who know everything and anything about vintage clothing.I tried on this pink tulle party dress that belonged to a Mrs. Baxter from Newport Rhode Island, and I couldn’t help but wonder what her life was like, what the last gala or fancy event was that she wore this to. Was she in love? Was she happy? And how in a way, her memory was being preserved through this garment.

MP: You and Louise both share a love of vintage clothing. In the book we learn that one of Louise’s first vintage finds is colorful knit dress that looks like a classic Missoni piece from the 1970s. What was your first vintage piece?

BT: I wish it were a Missoni! At Louise’s age (12), I was always dressing a bit odd compared to my middle school classmates, but at the time there weren’t really any vintage stores in the small CT town I grew up in. (And we were a few years away from eBay and etsy!) I spent a lot of time combing through the racks at the local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores looking for discarded treasures, which ended up being more from Ann Taylor than Anna Sui. I have to admit that ½ the reason I love living in NY is that there are so many great vintage shops to explore!

MP: What is your dream vintage find either in your closet or waiting to be purchased?

BT: When I was writing the The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette, I went to this amazing vintage store in San Sebastian, Spain and found a gorgeous long white tiered dress with handmade lace trim. The dress probably dates back to around 1910- just the period I wrote about in The Time-Traveling Fashionista on Board the Titanic, and the intricate buttons require another set of hands to help you put it on. (Luckily Louise had Anna for this purpose!) It fit me perfectly, and I got a bit of a chill when I tried it on, it just seemed like some sort of sign that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The fabric is so delicate that I’m afraid to wear it out of my apartment, but I love it.

MP: Although Louise is a modern girl, much of the story is spent aboard the Titanic on its fateful voyage. What research was involved in bringing the Titanic to life for both Louise and your readers?

BT: I took the research part of the book very seriously as I wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible. I spent a lot of time at the library reading every book I could, watching documentaries, and there was a really cool and informative Titanic exhibit that coincidentally came to Times Square when I was writing the book. Also one of my friends was an assistant director on the Titanic movie, and ended up being a huge resource to me. He had this great illustrated book that James Cameron gave to the crew which really helped me get an idea of the layout of the ship, and what it would be like to actually have been a passenger on the boat. From what I would have eaten in the first class dining room, to how I would have spent my free time, to who I would be traveling with. Through these pages and drawings, I really felt like I was there.

MP: If you were able to time travel with vintage clothes the way Louise can, would you want to? If yes, where would you like to go?

BT: Absolutely!  Writing this book was an exercise in wish fulfillment for me. There are so many eras I’d love to visit, but I think first I’d go back to the roaring 20’s. I adore the bobbed haircuts, shift dresses and t-strap heels. There is a scene at the beginning of the first book where Louise is imagining that she’s wearing a flapper dress and dancing in a speakeasy. That’s pretty much my fantasy.

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

BT: It sounds so obvious, but read and write as much as possible. Like with everything, you need to practice, whether it’s the piano, soccer, French, whatever. I write every day, and am very disciplined about my schedule. No one else will make you do it; you have to be accountable to yourself.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project? Will readers be seeing more of Louise and her vintage adventures?

BT: I hope so! I have infinite ideas of where Louise could go next. (And my readers do too!) Right now I’m focusing on getting a film or television version of the series going. Fingers crossed that you will be seeing Louise on the big screen!!

Thank you to Bianca for taking the time to answer my questions today about her series. You can find out more about all three books (so far) and Bianca at her website: