About the book
As a fashion buyer at one of New York’s most glamorous department stores, Dana McGarry is a tastemaker, her keen instinct for fashion trends and innovative ideas coupled with a razor sharp business sense. But like the elegant and conservative store that employs her, Dana is caught between two eras—between being liked and standing her ground, between playing by the rules and being a maverick. Dana is sensitive and beautiful, but what you see is not what you get. Behind the cool and attractive facade, Dana is both driven by her need to control yet impeded by her expectation of perfectionism. As she competes to replace women at the top of their game, she is challenged by jealous colleagues. And when a wealthy love interest wants to open doors and support her ambition, she embraces Coco Chanel’s mantra of “never wanting to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” As the women’s movement paves the way, Dana finds a path to the career she wants at the expense of happiness that was not meant to be.
Steward captures the nuances of 70s life in New York City and provides the perfect backdrop for an independent woman determined to make her mark. What Might Have Been is a story that transcends any period.
Title: What Might Have Been
Genre: Literary fiction/women’s fiction
Author: Lynn Steward
About the Author
Lynn Steward, a veteran of the New York fashion industry and a buyer on the team that started the women’s department at Brooks Brothers, created the Dana McGarry series, set at a transformational time in the 1970s world of fashion and in the lives of multigenerational women. What Might Have Been is the second volume in the series. A Very Good Life, Steward’s debut novel, was published in March 2014.
1. What inspired you to write the book?
I always enjoyed business-related writing and thought a non-fiction self-help book, with life-lessons I learned along the way, would be a fun project. But, as often happens when you sit at the keyboard, a story starting writing itself! 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, the TV series expanded to five seasons!
2. When did you realise that you want to write a book?
After meeting with professionals in the entertainment industry, I realized that the main character, Dana McGarry, needed more drama and the plots had to be developed, and I felt the best way to do that was to write a novel for each season
3. Who helped you in writing the book and please say about their contributions?
I worked with a developmental editor who advised me to trim the story for the page. The TV series had more too many characters for a novel. She also was a tremendous help with the pace and timing.
4. How is your book going to inspire the readers?
I am delighted that the novels are appealing to a multigenerational audience. Young readers relate to Dana’s challenge of balancing work and a personal life and seniors enjoy bringing their own memories to the story. The themes are universal and transcend any period.
5. If you are given the chance to change one thing in your book what would it be?
I would fictionalize two of the characters in A Very Good Life vol. 1. in order to weave them into the story, rather than keep them in their real-life roles.
6. How do you find time to write and which part of the day is best for writing for you?
My favourite and most productive writing time in early in the morning. Ideally, I like to be at my desk between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
7. Which books have inspired you the most, in the journey of writing this book?
Many biographies of legendary women and men of that period. Diana Vreeland, Grace Mirabella, Ira Neimark, Crossing Fifth Avenue, Jackie as Editor, Rosamond Bernier Some of my Lives.
8. What is the best advice, you would give for writers who are trying to write a book?
We’ve heard it time and again, but it’s true: Write what you know and love. Start a scrap book of visuals pertaining to your idea and keep the pictures in front of you as you write. Don’t necessarily write in chronological order, and don’t worry about grammar and style, that’s why we have editors! At some point, the story will gel. Most important, be prepared to ask for help along the way. Many editors and professional writers can be paid on a work for hire basis, depending on your specific needs. Have a team of professionals, including an attorney if you are writing a period piece and want to include real events and people.
9. What are your hobbies?
I’m an in-door gal, so if I’m not at my computer working on a writing project, I’m in the kitchen planning a dinner party, in a cozy chair reading, or redecorating a room.
10. What can we expect from you in the future?