Interview with historical fiction author Rebecca Rosenberg

fiction author

joins me today to chat about her book, The
Secret Life of Mrs. London: The love triangle between Houdini, Jack London, and
his wife, Charmian.
Rebecca will give away a
signed copy of the book to a lucky commenter. So if you’re interested, make
sure to leave a note below (along with a way for her to get in touch with you!)
Comments open until end of day March, 29, 2018.
A California native,
Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the
Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a
long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife,
Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is
her debut novel, following her non-fiction, Lavender
Fields of America.
Rebecca. Please tell us about your current release.
San Francisco, 1915. As
America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed
novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital
competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her
own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that
way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape
artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly,
charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual
magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.
As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden,
Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn
between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find
the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she
holds dear.
inspired you to write this book?
Jack London and Harry Houdini were two
of the most famous men of their era. I wondered: How did they fall in love with
the same woman, that we’ve never heard of?
Charmian London, at the turn of the
century, was a dynamic modern woman. A suffragette, an educated, working woman,
a champion horse woman and concert pianist. She worked as a writer and reviewer
of books at Overland Journal, where she met Jack London and was impressed with
his writing. But she knew she could help him with grammar, descriptions,
settings, and they began a 15-year partnership, producing fifty books.
But when I heard she had an affair with
Houdini, I knew there was more to the story that I had to share!
from The Secret Life of Mrs. London:
From Chapter 3
Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, California
November 1915
Love cannot in its very nature be peaceful or content. It
is a restlessness, an unsatisfaction. I can grant a lasting love just as I can
grant a lasting satisfaction; but the lasting love cannot be coupled with
possession, for love is pain and desire, and possession is easement and
—Jack London, The Kempton-Wace Letters
know how magic works—all smoke and mirrors, suffocating doves, and defecating
rabbits. Of course, Jack knows these things, too. He rails against the cruelty
of using trained animals in vaudeville. But his adoring Crowd from Carmel (that
whole arty, hashish-smoking Bohemian clan) insists Jack join them for the Great
Houdini show. Front-row seats, they say. The most famous magician in the world,
they say.
“We need a little magic in our lives,”
Jack says, and I can’t argue with that.
The Orpheum is morbidly gaudy with
flocked velvet walls, tooled woodwork, and gilt, lots of gilt. Jack sports his
rumpled khakis du jour, while he asked me to dress like a heroine from Martin Eden: chartreuse taffeta suit shimmering with
purple undertones in the theater lights.
But this confounded waistline cuts into
my expanding middle like a butcher pinching off sausage casing. I don’t know
why I haven’t told Jack my good news when I’ve known for a while. That’s a lie.
I hold back because he’ll count the months and wonder, like I do.
The Crowd blow kisses to each other in a
cloud of pheromones and cigar smoke. They pass the silver flask of gin under my
nose, and the odor stretches my brain like the taffy puller in the lobby.
George Sterling slides his lanky frame
into the seat next to mine, reeking of patchouli and cannabis. “Looks like this
is just what Jack needed to forget about Wolf House burning down.”
“Nothing will make him forget that
night.” My head reels around to see Jack deep in conversation with Anna
Strunsky. They only talk deep. That young actress Blanche hangs on his arm,
pretending she understands. She doesn’t.
“Wolf says Lawrence burned it down and ran
“You’re such a liar,” I say, but maybe
it’s true. I haven’t seen or heard from Lawrence since I left him by Wolf
“You and Wolf should pick your friends
more wisely.” Sterling grins like Satan.
“Funny, I was thinking the very same
thing. But unfortunately, Jack likes you.” I make a face.
exciting story are you working on next?
My next novel is Champagne Widows, about the widows in France who made Champagne the
world-wide phenomenon it is today. I love doing the research in the Champagne
did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing my first novel ten
years ago, and I still plan to get it published!
you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do
other than write and how do you find time to write?
I live on a lavender farm in Sonoma, the
Valley of the Moon where Jack London wrote fifty books! I like to write by
candlelight early in the morning and break mid-day to hike, swim, and work on
our 5-acre lavender farm.
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Writing by candlelight beginning at 4
am, when the house is so quiet, my characters can think and speak!
for being here today, Rebecca. Readers, remember to
leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win an autographed copy of this book!
Comments will be open until March 29, 2018.

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