Guest post: "The Story Behind A VERY GOOD LIFE," by Lynn Steward
About five years ago, I labeled a personal file as “Act Three,” and filled it with creative ideas for a new work-interest. I first enjoyed an exciting career in New York’s fashion industry, then later, via a circuitous route on the way to opening my own boutique Shop for Pappagallo, I established a successful real estate business in Chicago. But I always enjoyed business-related writing and thought a non-fiction self-help book, with life-lessons I learned along the way, was something to explore during this next phase.
But, as often happens when you put yourself out there, I discovered another path and took it: I developed a TV pilot about New York in the seventies because, as they say “Write what you know” and I know New York. I’m a native of Long Island, and between attending school and working, I spent twenty-two years in Manhattan. I was so overwhelmed with ideas, I created a TV series designed to run for five seasons. Appropriately placed in the New York City of 1975, which was International Women’s Year, the plots in the series intermingled fashion legends, business icons, real events, and untold stories, providing a behind-the-scenes look at inspirational women in the worlds of art, fashion, and business.
After meeting with professionals in the entertainment industry, I realized that the main character needed more drama and the plots had to be developed, and I felt the best way to do that was to write a novel, incorporating the TV stories. While I still hope to see the characters alive on the big screen, I tremendously enjoy daily researching and writing historical fiction. 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. For at least three hours a day, I am again at home in New York City in the 1970s, creating a life for thirty-year-old Dana, her family and friends: attending parties at Café des Artistes with celebrity guests like legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, a business meeting with Estée Lauder, an art lectures at the Met.. At the same time, raising important questions that are relevant at every age, then and now: how does one find balance and meaning in the daily routines of life? How does one stop counting the candles, a single year or event, and instead, value the tapestry of life? This quest for self-fulfillment is a universal theme everyone can identify.
Lynn Stewardis 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.
About the Book
Although Lynn Steward’s debut novel, A Very Good Life, takes place in 1970s New York City. it has a timelessness to it. Dana McGarry is an “it” girl, living a privileged lifestyle of a well-heeled junior executive at B. Altman, a high end department store. With a storybook husband and a fairytale life, change comes swiftly and unexpectedly. Cracks begin to appear in the perfect facade. 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?
A Very Good Life chronicles the perils and rewards of Dana’s journey, alongside some of the most legendary women of the twentieth century. From parties at Café des Artistes to the annual Rockefeller Center holiday tree lighting ceremony, from meetings with business icons like Estée Lauder to cocktail receptions with celebrity guests like legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Steward’s intimate knowledge of the period creates the perfect backdrop for this riveting story about a woman’s quest for self-fulfillment.