Back when I was a local arts and culture reporter, my editor asked me to cover a book signing. The author had just published her first novel, and was going to be talking about it at a little restaurant down the street, popular with the so-called "blue hair" crowd. I had expected an older, self-published Sunday afternoon writer. Instead I found a gorgeous, hip, young New York writer who just happened to have local roots. Truthfully, it's not hard to be taken with Bianca's style, charm and genuine nature, all of which are evident in her delightful series about young Louise Lambert.
Three books later, Bianca has just quit her day job (as, oh, Julian Schnabel's assistant) and she continues to forge a solid path in the world of middle grade fiction.
Bianca, how do you define creativity? To me creativity is taking your own odd and unique outlook of the world and making something new and truly your own from it. It could be a poem or a pie. It’s being open to new things; it’s the opposite of fear.
How did you get started as a writer? I think, as is the case with many writers, I’ve just always written. Whether it was a diary or short little stories and poems when I was younger, to finally a full-length novel. I studied English Literature at Tufts, and have always had my head in a book from before I could even read. I remember specifically being about 4 years old and pretending to read books to impress my parents' friends. Pretty sure they were upside down half the time.
What's your relationship to inspiration? Some writers say it's a must; some say, "Write regardless." Oh wow, I think the image of the inspired writer is such a myth! Most of my writer friends actually find the process of writing to be really painful and slow, but you just have to do it every day regardless. Although there are really beautiful moments where inspiration strikes and an hour or two will go by, and you’ll look down and wonder how those words got on the page. That’s what I live for. That happens about 2% of the time.
Tell me briefly about the journey from scribbled manuscript to published book. My journey at the time felt very unique, but I guess it’s a pretty typical story. I wrote the first Time-Traveling Fashionista book out of love with no guarantee it would become anything more than a Word doc. Then, I found a really lovely agent, and they ultimately sold the book (which had gone through several rounds of revisions at this point) to a wonderful editor at Little, Brown named Cindy Eagan.
Fashion plays a big role in your work. What is it about fashion you love so much? I love the escape and fantasy element of it. Growing up in a small suburban town I devoured fashion magazines and loved imagining these glamorous other worlds that seemed so different from my own reality. And more simply, I like the way putting on a really beautiful dress can totally transform your day.
You do a lot of research for each book. Where do you go? How do you keep track of it all? The research part has been really fun. I got to go to Versailles to study Marie Antoinette! I went to a lot of museums, libraries, read history books and watched a ton of documentaries. I’m super organized with my notes and sources. I’m one of those people who actually enjoys making lists for fun. One of the good traits of being a Virgo, I guess!
You just quit your job to be a full-time writer. Congrats! How does it feel? It’s exhilarating and a bit terrifying to not have the safety net of a full-time job. But I finally (after 3 books!) have been able to call myself a writer, and to give myself the space and time to just write. It’s something I’ve wanted my whole life, and I sometimes have to pinch myself that it’s actually happened.
Any daily habits or practices? To be honest, I’m still figuring it out. When I had a job, I had a much shorter window to write (about 2 hours before work), so I was in a very strict routine. Now I feel like I have all day, so it’s a lot easier to procrastinate and get distracted. My apartment has never been cleaner! But I do feel like it’s vital to write every day. It’s a job, and you have to show up. You’re not accountable to anyone but yourself, and that’s a huge responsibility and blessing.
Lastly, any advice for aspiring authors? It sounds so boring, but read and write as much as you can. Growing up, I read every type of book I could get my hands on, fiction, biographies, mysteries, poetry… And it’s good to get into the practice of writing every day, whether it’s the book you’re working on or a journal or blog post. Also, one thing that helped me finish my manuscript was taking a class with local writers (or you can form your own writer’s group). It’s great to have deadlines and get constructive feedback on your work.
Bianca Turetsky is the author of the Time-Traveling Fashionista series, which has been translated into nine languages. After graduating from Tufts University, Bianca began working for artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel. She managed his studio for the past 11 years and was his assistant on the Academy Award-nominated film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. She lives in a cozy studio apartment in Brooklyn, New York, that houses her very extensive and much-loved vintage collection. More info about Bianca and her books can be found on her website.