I’ve been hinting at it for weeks now. And the day is finally here! I’m so pleased to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Abbott as a Featured Writer on the Happiness Project.
Karen is author of the historical nonfiction hits, Sin in the Second City and American Rose. Now, I’m a big fan of history as it is, but if you ask me, Karen has some of the coolest stuff around illustrating her research and her passion for this genre! Her websites are some of my all time favorites! There’s KarenAbbott.net, SinInTheSecondCity.com, and AmericanRoseTheBook.com. Just look at her book trailer for American Rose! She’s got blurbs from The Help author Kathryn Stockett, and my favorite book of all time, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks author Rebecca Skloot!
Before I reach total fangirl overload, I better let you meet Karen for yourselves!
They approached my friend, author Mike Dash, who writes really fantastic, incredibly researched historical narrative nonfiction. They needed another blogger, and he very kindly suggested me. I really enjoy writing for them. It gives me a chance to explore little pockets of forgotten history that would probably never work as a full-length book.
Erik was really generous with his time and insights, telling me anecdotes that had never been published before. For example, Gypsy’s memoir contains a scene in which her mother accidentally shoots a cow while they’re camping. Erik implied that it wasn’t actually a cow at all but someone who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… And talking with June Havoc was like time traveling back to the 1920s. The first time I met her she was 96 and had been bedridden for years; I couldn’t imagine how frustrating it must’ve been for someone who had been dancing since the age of two to lose the use of her legs. She had her white hair done up in these little pigtails and was eating her favorite snack of Oreos and milk. She was still gorgeous but fierce; I had the feeling that, if she were so inclined, she could leap up from that bed and strangle me with her bare hands. She shared many stories about her relationship with Gypsy–they were sort of death bed confessions. I was the last person to interview her before she died, and it was truly an honor.
Probably Erica Jong. She’s brilliant, a feminist icon, and also so warm and supportive and generous. The Everleigh sisters and Gypsy would’ve loved her. Also Erik Larson. Knowledgable about journalism, history, and the best way to make a martini.
I found this joke while researching American Rose. When NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia called burlesque “entertainment for morons and perverts” he was referring not only to striptease, but also to burlesque comedy. Here’s an example of a typical burlesque joke (warning: it’s neither lewd nor funny!)
Karen Abbott is the author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose, both New York Times bestsellers. She is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine’s history blog, Past Imperfect, and also writes for Disunion, the New York Times series about the Civil War. A native of Philadelphia, where she worked as a journalist, she now lives in New York City with her husband and two African Grey parrots, Poe and Dexter. She’s at work on her next book, a true story of four daring (and not entirely scrupulous) Civil War spies who risked everything for their cause.
Leave a comment before Thursday, 5pm CST, and winner will be announced on Friday’s post!
Oops, there’s Vic Shaw, guess the party’s over! See you in the comments section!
For more fun, check out Karen’s interview with Beauty and the Book owner, Kathy Patrick! They go vintage shopping together! Learn how to make your own Gypsy Rose Lee outfit!