Author Interview with Marcia Gloster

1) How long have you been writing?

Six years. Until then, the only things I’d written were marketing plans and business proposals. One day I heard a song in a store that triggered a deep memory from the summer when I was 20. Seconds later I had the name of a book and the first page. For the next six months I wrote 12-16 hours a day. That story became my first book, 31 Days: A Memoir of Seduction, which was published in 2014.

2) What is your favorite genre to write?

If there is a genre for difficult relationships, then I’ve found it. Both my memoir and I Love You Today take place in the 1960s. The novel’s Mad Men era setting of the novel puts it in the historical fiction genre. The book I’m currently writing is much more of a romance. At the moment, I’m calling it a ghost story, as it deals with a relationship that spans thousands of years.

3)  Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Crime. Definitely crime. I love reading mysteries. There’s one problem: I’ve never knocked anyone off. In order to write a mystery, I’m afraid I would have to commit some sort of crime!

4)  Please tell us about your book.

 

Set in the late 1960s, I Love You Today is the vivid tale of Maddie Samuels, a young woman determined to succeed as an art director in the male-dominated worlds of publishing and advertising. After being hired by the charismatic creative director Rob MacLeod, Maddie warns herself to maintain her distance, yet soon finds herself irresistibly drawn into his world.

Told in two voices, the story reveals Maddie and Rob’s intimate yet volatile relationship, their individual drives for love, success and gratification at any cost, and, ultimately, the truths and lies they tell one another, and themselves.

Pamela Fiori, author and former editor-in-chief of Town & Country, called it, “A romp through the Mad Men era, told from a woman’s point of view.”

5)  Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Maddie. She is unstoppable in her quest to succeed professionally in a world dominated by men. Despite their dismissive views of women, she learns to negotiate her way in and around the old boy networks she encounters. Nevertheless, she tries in vain to maintain a relationship that she knows in her heart has no future.

My least favorite character is Denise, the bartender who further provokes Rob’s anger and growing dependence on alcohol.

6)  What was the hardest part about writing your book?

This was a difficult story to write. There are many aspects to it including unchecked ambition, infidelity, gender discrimination and sexual harassment, which was very prevalent at the time. Over the course of the book the lovers become angry and yet try to hold on a relationship that is slipping away. As they act and react, Maddie and Rob reveal their innermost feelings on their lives, their work, and one another, and over the arc of the story we observe their full range of desires and emotions.

The most difficult part was near the end where Maddie and Rob’s marriage falls apart. Rather than assigning blame to one or the other I tried to show both their viewpoints and their reactions to a devolving relationship, and how a love they felt would last forever went so wrong. It was very emotional for me, as if I was breaking up my own love affair.

7)  What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I usually write in the morning and once I begin very little distracts me. There is something that drives me and brief interruptions from my husband or the phone seldom disrupt my concentration. I know most writers require quiet and solitude; I need neither. My focus keeps me on track, and often four or five hours go by before I realize how much time has passed. No matter the hour, when something comes to me, I’ll write it—even if the idea is disconnected from what I am currently working on.

8)  How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

Writing I Love You Today took four years. I had two unfortunate interruptions, both of a few weeks, and afterwards it was difficult to get back to it. There were also times when I had to walk away and take time to think through where it was going.

9)  Can you tell us about your editing process?

I tend to over-edit myself. When I started my first book, 31 Days, I may not have known how to write a book but I knew how to edit, because in my career as a book designer, I often got involved in the editing process. I Love You Today went through dozens of revises and edits, with a lot of back and forth with my editor. I needed it to read well and flow easily, and the dialog had to have a rhythm. It takes time, work and commitment to refine a manuscript.

10)  Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned? 

No. It stands alone.

11)  Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Many people have asked how is it that after so many years I could just sit down and write a book. I wish I was able to tell them, but I don’t really understand it myself. I do know that I sometimes have to push myself to write, usually because I’m dealing with something sad or confrontational within the story. But once I begin, it somehow kicks in.

Occasionally as a writer, you may hit a roadblock, but then you either have to write through or around it, or step back and think about where you are going. In one instance I actually interviewed my character. I made coffee, sat at a table and imagined that my character and I were in a café talking. I asked questions and she answered, and suddenly it began to make sense. After our “chat” I had the next chapter.

Also, I don’t think it’s necessary to write in a linear fashion. For I Love You Today. I often wrote a few paragraphs or even an entire chapter that I knew would occur later in the book and then worked it in when I got to that part. You have to write as you feel it—even if it’s disconnected.

Finally, I am a voracious reader of novels as well as non-fiction, and I imagine that over the years those books have influenced my thoughts and sparked my imagination. An agent once told me that one couldn’t be a writer unless one has read a lot.

12)  Why should everyone read your book? 

I Love You Today is a story that will resonate with a broad range of readers, from Mad Men fans to readers of romantic women’s fiction. The book is also timely today in a way I hadn’t expected when I started writing it. In the past year-and-a-half, the advertising industry has been hit hard by allegations of discrimination, high-profile media executives have resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment, and charges that the Mad Men culture is alive and well in the advertising business have hit the front pages of major newspapers. It seems the tenor of Madison Avenue hasn’t significantly changed in the years since I left, and anyone wanting a glimpse into what it was really like in those days will find it in I Love You Today.

13)  If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Jean Paul Sartre, because I am an Existentialist at heart; Milan Kundera, for the glorious poetry of his novels; and Stephen King, because in any genre, his imagination, storytelling and prose is stunning and he has a unique ability to draw the reader into his books in only a few words.

14)  What inspired you to write your book?

After writing 31 Days, which takes place in 1963, I began thinking about the years following, when I first began working in New York City. It was a time of cultural upheaval, marked by resistance to the Vietnam War, hippies in Haight-Ashbury, and on my own doorstep, mini-skirts, single bars and the revolutionary concepts of free love and woman’s lib. There was a sudden, unique freedom that separated my generation from the hypocrisy and stringent conformity of the 1950s, and after watching Mad Men, I wanted to cast it in a different light, more from a woman’s viewpoint.

15)  Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

Yes, the “ghost story” I mentioned earlier, as yet untitled. Set in 1975, it’s the story of a romance between a young woman in New York and a slightly older man who is an artist in London. She has just endured a devastating divorce and he has encountered some unexplained mysteries in his life, including several powerful experiences of déjà vu and the receipt of a ring with a powerful stone that has brought him great success. They meet in London at a gallery and develop a relationship, but after several puzzling occurrences she begins to fear him. Aware of her reticence, he finds a professor who convinces him that he has lived previous lives, many with the woman he now loves.

About the Book

Set in mid-1960s New York City, I Love You Today is the story of Maddie Samuels, a young woman determined to succeed as an art director in the male-dominated world of publishing, and Rob MacLeod, the charismatic, controlling creative advertising director who hires her. Unfolding over five years, the story follows Maddie and Rob’s intimate yet volatile relationship and their individual drives for love, success and gratification at any cost. Ultimately, it reveals the truths and lies they tell one another, and themselves.

“A romp through the Mad Men era, told from a woman’s point of view.”

—Pamela Fiori, author and former editor-in-chief of Town & Country

“Marcia Gloster paints an intimate portrait of life in 1960s Manhattan…”

Marilyn Brant, New York Times bestselling author

I Love You Today pulled me right in, from the wrenching love story that could never have a happy ending, to the ultimate strength shown by the main character. An overall compelling journey.”

—Andrea Hurst, best-selling author of Always with You

 

About the Author

After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in the 1960s, Marcia Gloster built a career in New York City as an award-winning book designer and art director. A decade later, she founded and ran a boutique ad agency specializing in fashion. Her new novel, I Love You Today, is the story of a young woman determined to succeed in the male-dominated worlds of publishing and advertising in the mid-1960s.

Gloster is a member of the National Association of Women Artists and Studio Montclair and exhibits her paintings in the New York area. Her first book, 31 Days: A Memoir of Seduction, was published in 2014.

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