Are you ready to be one of the first to get an exclusive look at Denny S. Bryce’s debut historical fiction novel? Wild Women and the Blues intertwines the stories of a film student living in 2015 and a 1920s chorus girl. We Are Bookish has an exclusive reveal of the cover, but first, read our mini-interview with the author.
Tell us about your book cover! What was the cover design process like for you?
The cover for my debut historical fiction novel, Wild Women and the Blues, is all about the main character, a young chorus girl in 1925 Chicago. I love how the image gets her beauty, intelligence, strength, mood, and style. I feel the creative team at Kensington (my publisher!) found my muse with this cover. They also inspired me to adjust a scene in the manuscript. Yes! The jade dress is in the book.
As for the process, it took a few months. Early on, I shared some of the covers I loved. Next, I received a series of cover treatments. I provided some thoughts and reactions, and after a few more weeks, this lovely lady (see cover) showed up in my inbox.
What inspired you to write Wild Women and the Blues?
Several events inspired this story, a novel that has been in the making for a number of years. I will share only two (okay, three) reasons from my laundry list of inspiration. First, my maternal grandmother Ella Elizabeth. She arrived in this country (New York City) in 1923 from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Her life, her personality, her humor will play a role in all the books I write. A few years ago, there was a video on social media of Alice Barker, a 102-year-old woman who was shown a film of herself as a young dancer some 70 years earlier—that gave me my ‘what if’ launching pad. Finally, I must mention blues singer Alberta Hunter. When she was in her mid-80s, she still performed at a nightclub in Greenwich Village. I was a professional dancer by day and a waitress at night, where my job was to bring Miss Alberta her tea. We bonded over our mutual love of Chicago.
In three words, what can readers expect from Wild Women and the Blues?
Bronzeville. Kinship. Jazz Age (pretend it’s one word).
Do you judge books by their covers? What’s your favorite cover of all-time?
Ha! Ha! Judging a book by its cover is risky, but I admit to being occasionally swayed by a pretty face (or intriguing image). I also read back cover copy and love a recommendation from a friend.
Choosing one favorite book cover of all time is tough. My taste buds change every few years. Still, I will go back in time and give it a shot—the 2003 cover of The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a winner. The 1985 film starring Whoopi Goldberg had a fabulous, haunting poster (also used as a book cover) of Celie in silhouette seated in a rocking chair reading a letter. But the 2003 trade paperback cover was gritty, and sepia, with a burst of purple, and drew me in immediately.
What books do you recommend we pick up while we wait for Wild Women and the Blues to hit shelves on March 30, 2021?
This is also tough. My TBR list is out of control (just the way I like it). I don’t want to miss anything, and since I am a genre-hopping gal that means there’s plenty of fabulousness for me to dive into. But here are some on my shelf I’ve read and a couple I’m about to read: The Mothers by Brit Bennett, The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams, The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton, You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria, When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, and Euphoria by Lily King.
Now, let’s get our first peek at Wild Women and the Blues!
Here’s the official summary for Wild Women and the Blues:
Ordinary People meets Chicago the musical as played out in the city’s Black Belt, Wild Women and the Blues is a mainstream historical fiction novel that weaves the stories of a grieving film student in 2015 and an ambitious chorus girl in 1925 in a tale of history, love, and secrets that only family can define.
Jazz-age Chicago comes to vibrant life in Denny S. Bryce’s evocative novel that links the stories of an ambitious 1920’s chorus girl and a modern-day film student, both coming to grips with loss, forgiveness, and the limitations—and surprises—of love.
“Why would I talk to you about my life? I don’t know you, and even if I did, I don’t tell my story to just any boy with long hair, who probably smokes weed. You wanna hear about me. You gotta tell me something about you. To make this worth my while.”
1925: Chicago is the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper’s daughter, willing to work hard and dance every night on her way to the top. Dreamland offers a path to the good life, socializing with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But Chicago is also awash in bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. And a young woman driven by ambition might risk more than she can stand to lose.
2015: Film student Sawyer Hayes arrives at the bedside of 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour, still reeling from a devastating loss that has taken him right to the brink. Sawyer has rested all his hope on this frail but formidable woman, the only living link to the legendary Oscar Micheaux. If he’s right—if she can fill in the blanks in his research, perhaps he can complete his thesis and begin a new chapter in his life. But the links Honoree makes are not ones he’s expecting . . .
Piece by piece, Honoree reveals her past and her secrets, while Sawyer fights tooth and nail to keep his. It’s a story of courage and ambition, hot jazz, and illicit passions. And as past meets present, for Honoree, it’s a final chance to be truly heard and seen before it’s too late. No matter the cost . . .
Denny S. Bryce is an award-winning author and three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, including twice for Wild Women and the Blues. In addition to writing for NPR Books and FROLIC Media, the former professional dancer is a public relations professional who has spent over two decades running her own marketing and event management firm. A member of the Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Novelists, Inc., she is a frequent speaker at author events and lives in Northern Virginia. Visit her online at DennySBryce.com.