Interview with Sheryl Westergreen, Author of The Marigold Chemise


What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Marigold Chemise?

I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was growing up but ended up working in health care for many years. Along the way, I studied photography and painting, including a term in Rome. During that time I walked the streets in Rome that are mentioned in the book. It was a time in my life that I felt most alive. The images and feelings remain vivid, almost magical.

One day, I had the idea to create a novel that follows a garment through a period of time, weaving the friendship of two young women as they grow and love. The Marigold Chemise becomes the inspiration for a successful family lingerie enterprise.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I enjoy reading novels. I love all kinds of stories, especially those with interesting multi-faceted characters and visually rich prose. I like to write short stories. This is my first novel, and I really loved working away on the story, allowing it to evolve naturally.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

I just finished Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal Of the Sea. On my nightstand are the Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenburg, In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Soueif, Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

My favorite scene to write came as a surprise to me. Martina’s efforts to manipulate the two main characters, Lucida and Alessia, the painter, ended up changing the course of the story.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Not so quirky, but I usually sip tea in a blue flowered mug, stare out the window a lot, and then quickly write 500 – 600 words that I review the next day. I generally alternate working in the studio on paintings with writing. That seems to work the best for me.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. beware of allowing a tactless word, a rebuttal, a rejection to obliterate the whole sky.” – Anais Nin 1944

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Related to the Anais Nin quote, I hope that readers are inspired to follow their hearts. Also, I hope they enjoy the visual pleasures of Italy.

 

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