This week’s guests for the Two on Tuesday author spotlight are Young Adult Historical Fiction writing team, Jo Schaffel and Sara Webley. In their novel, Somewhere Besides Denver, three seventeen-year-old girls, seeking a future more exciting than society parties and safe marriages, leave their Denver homes in 1907 to greet the new century on a Grand Tour in Paris and London.
Jo Schaffel’s Two on Tuesday Facts:
- Sara and I worked together at the Boston Children’s Zoo. We both love reading, writing, and old movies, so we decided to write a young adult book together. My father-in-law had told me family stories about his great-aunt, Josephine Marion, who chaperoned wealthy young women on European trips in the early 1900s. This was the inspiration for Somewhere Besides Denver. Josephine, who never married, was a Denver socialite and spoke several languages. She worked for the city of Denver—and had streets named after her! During the Depression, “Aunt Jo” remained in Paris, and died there in 1946.
- I especially enjoyed researching the transportation, clothing, city life, and time period of 1907–1908, when women’s roles, as well as art and music, were shifting. Fashion, too, was changing: women were rejecting stiff clothing and corsets.
Sara Webley’s Two on Tuesday Facts:
- Paul Poiret’s fashions freed women from wearing corsets. (See photo below.) His designs appeal to me because my dad was an industrial designer and artist, and my grandma Marie emigrated here from Slovenia in the early 1900s, when the suffrage movement was catching fire. Marie told me great stories, like being fooled by the “chocolate scam” featured in Somewhere Besides Denver. Marie was a dynamic, independent woman, like the characters Jo and I created.
- Fancy-dressed dogs appear in Somewhere Besides Denver. I loved researching the fad of dressing up dogs, popular in Europe in the early 1900s. Besides writing books for young readers, I’ve also worked as an animal technician in the zoo and aquarium field. So most of my writing includes animals: my recent fantasy Zo in the Roosting Tree is the story of a crow and a girl who switch places.
Jo and Sara are available to connect with readers on Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads. For more info on Somewhere Besides Denver, visit www.somewherebesidesdenver.com and for more info on Zo, visit www.zointheroostingtree.com
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