Wednesday, October 26, 2022

T. Greenwood Interview - Such a Pretty Girl

Photo Content from T. Greenwood

T. Greenwood is an acclaimed author whose novels have sold more than a quarter-million copies. A four-time winner of the San Diego Book Award, she has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Maryland State Arts Council. Five of her novels have been Indie Next Picks and her twelfth novel, Rust & Stardust, was a LibraryReads selection. Her novels have been translated into five languages. She lives with her family in San Diego, California, where she teaches creative writing for The Writer's Center and San Diego Writer's Ink, studies photography, and continues to write. Her most recent novel, Such a Pretty Girl, alternates between present-day and 1970s New York City, as a former child star is forced to reevaluate her past when a photo taken of her as a preteen resurfaces amid accusations that could put her estranged mother in prison. Visit T. Greenwood online at


Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from SUCH A PRETTY GIRL
One of my favorite scenes from SUCH A PRETTY GIRL is when Gilly gives Ryan a tour of Westbeth, the artists’ residence in the West Village where he lives and where Ryan and her mother have come to stay. It is 1976, and New York City is on the verge of collapse, but Westbeth is a magical bohemian world. He brings her to meet his friend, Henri Dubois, a photographer. His apartment is more curiosity shop than apartment, with circus posters, vintage toys, fur rugs, a velvet sofa, and art on every wall. He has a master key to the rooftop of the building as well, where a mother kitten has just had babies.

Henri becomes a father-figure to Ryan, and she ultimately becomes a bit of a muse to him. Several chapters in the book depict specific photographs that Henri takes of Ryan. These were some of my favorite scenes to write, because they captured what the experience of making art is like.

One photo he takes of Ryan, Blackout, 1977, is central to the story. I knew exactly what this image would look like, but by the time I finally wrote the scene, it was so difficult to write. I had grown so attached to both Ryan and Henri, my heart broke with every sentence.

Some favorite lines from the novel are:
  • Her words were like the golden thread that Rapunzel spun, turning something ordinary into something glittering. Something dangerous.
  • My love for Henri was so big, it felt almost swollen inside me, while my love for my mother felt like the love you have for the stars. For something you can never really have. A longing for something beautiful but too far away, untouchable.
    For now, in this photo, I am just a girl at the edge of everything.
What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Oddly, I was very focused when writing this novel. It was the summer of 2020, and I was in Vermont where our family goes every year. After months and months confined to our home, I was really eager for escape. Writing this novel transported me not only to a different world, but to a different era.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I always say that both reading and storytelling are the best paths to empathy. In order to write authentic characters, it is imperative that you understand them, even if they are very different from you. And when a reader opens a novel, they too inhabit the skin of the characters. How many other experiences enable you to do this?

What was your inspiration for writing SUCH A PRETTY GIRL?
I grew up in the 1970s, and child actresses like Brooke Shields and Jodie Foster were my contemporaries. I remember the scandals associated with films like “Pretty Baby” and “Taxi Driver.” But I also remember thinking how glamorous and exciting their lives seemed. As an adult, I now see the way many young girls were commodified, even exploited. This book is very much about Ryan’s looking at her past through a contemporary lens.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I have always written stories – since I learned to read. Writing was something I did for fun. For pleasure. But it wasn’t until my high school English teacher told me I should really think about being an author that I saw writing as a viable career. I was fortunate to have many teachers who ushered me along this path.

What was your first job?
I worked as a cashier in a little grocery store in my hometown in Vermont for my last two years of high school. It was called Lyndonville Fruit, and we were allowed to have a running tab on candy. I also met so many of the local, colorful characters in my town there.

What’s the best date you've ever had?
The first real date my husband and I went on was a picnic in Oak Creek Canyon (between Flagstaff and Sedona). That was pretty terrific. (And almost thirty years ago now!)

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
Because I wake up early to write, I almost always wake up thinking about whatever novel I am working on. I tend to start working through the various plot issues I’m having about an hour before I finally roll out of bed.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I went to Spain to visit a friend right after I graduated high school, and I got terrible food poisoning. I fainted in a cathedral in Toledo, and I thought I might die. But I didn’t, and the rest of the trip was wonderful.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or to have never loved before?
What a coincidence! There is a flashback scene in my next book where the main character and her new boyfriend are at a restaurant in Big Sur called Nepenthe. Nepenthe is from Greek mythology - an elixir for sorrow. The boyfriend suggests that he would never take it, because experiencing grief means you had something to grieve. I think I feel the same way.

Even if you have no regrets now, if you had to go back in time and change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I always wish I had played an instrument growing up. I really wish I knew how to play the cello. I think that probably wouldn’t mess up the space/time continuum too much.

What was your First Love?
Reading, of course. I have always, always loved books.

Award-winning author T. Greenwood explores the often-flickering line between woman and girl in this vividly lyrical drama alternating between an West Village artists community in 1970s New York and present day, as a former child actress is forced to confront the darkest secrets of her youth when a controversial photo taken of her as a preteen on the night of the 1977 blackout ignites a media firestorm.

Living peacefully in Vermont, Ryan Flannigan is shocked when a text from her oldest friend alerts her to a devastating news item. A controversial photo of her as a pre-teen has been found in the possession of a wealthy investor recently revealed as a pedophile and a sex trafficker—with an inscription to him from Ryan’s mother on the back.

Memories crowd in, providing their own distinctive pictures of her mother Fiona, an aspiring actress, and their move to the West Village in 1976. Amid the city’s gritty kaleidoscope of wealth and poverty, high art, and sleazy strip clubs, Ryan is discovered and thrust into the spotlight as a promising young actress with a woman’s face and a child’s body. Suddenly, the safety and comfort Ryan longs for is replaced by auditions, paparazzi, and the hungry eyes of men of all ages.

Forced to reexamine her childhood, Ryan begins to untangle her young fears and her mother’s ambitions, and the role each played in the fraught blackout summer of 1977. Even with her movie career long behind her, Ryan and Fiona are suddenly the object of uncomfortable speculation—and Fiona demands Ryan’s support. To put the past to rest, Ryan will need to face the painful truth of their relationship, and the night when everything changed.

You can purchase Such a Pretty Girl at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you T. GREENWOOD for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Such a Pretty Girl by T. Greenwood.

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