Author: Amy Stilgenbauer
Release Date: August 25th 2016
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Lesbian Romance
Abby Amaro wants to sing at La Scala Opera House, but she’s a good girl, and in 1957 good girls get married. Still, when she receives her first marriage proposal, she freezes, knowing the way her suitor makes her feel bodes trouble. When he won’t take no for an answer, she flees, joining up with a traveling carnival.
Thanks to a burlesque trapeze artist and the world’s saddest clown, Abby bides her time and fits in until she can rejoin the world she knows. She doesn’t expect a sideshow strongwoman named Suprema, who captures her imagination. As the carnival makes its way across the Midwest, Abby learns much more than she had ever imagined—about herself, about her identity, and, most importantly, about love.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Amy Stilgenbauer author of Sideshow.
Hi Amy, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Happy to be here! I am a writer and coffee devotee who lives in Michigan and studies history while she’s there. It’s actually a pretty great place for all three of those things. My novel, Sideshow, is a work of historical fiction set in the late 1950s and it follows the adventures of Abby Amaro as she joins a traveling carnival and finds herself and love along the road.
Q: What is the biggest thing people think they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
A: One of the more common misconceptions about historical fiction as a genre is that it’s new. I was once actually told that people write historical fiction now because we have nothing of substance in our own lives. This is definitely not true. Historical fiction has been used throughout time to talk about the now by talking about the past. Some great examples of historical historical fiction writers include Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy, and Sir Walter Scott.
Q: What are some references you used while writing this book?
A: How much time do you have? I think it comes from my training as an archivist and a lifelong love of libraries, but I research to the point where it’s almost detrimental. I have so many notes, it’s not even funny. Some of my best sources, though, were:
–Secrets of the Sideshow by Joe Nickell
–Side show : my life with geeks, freaks & vagabonds in the carny trade by Howard Bone, one of the historical carnival greats.
–Pretty things : the last generation of American burlesque queens by Liz Goldwyn
Also, the Western Reserve Historical Society’s archives were an incredible resource for Cleveland history and the history of Italian-Americans and LGBT individuals in Cleveland.
Q: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
A: I’ve always been interested in storytelling. Even when I was very young, I was interested in spinning yarns. Sometimes they got me in trouble, but it was always more about telling a good story to me. The idea that maybe I could actually grow up to “be a writer” one day was the fault of my 5th grade teacher whose never-ceasing encouragement, even to this day, is to blame for setting my life on this path. Love you, Mrs. Samsa!
Q: What do your plans for future projects include?
A: I have too many future projects rattling around in my head at the moment. It’s a problem. There are a couple of different directions I may want to go with continuing the world of Sideshow and there’s this thing about a girl obsessed with Big Band music that is in the very early stages in my mind, but I’m really into it.
Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers
A: You are all amazing! Every last one of you. You all deserve the very best things in life. You deserve beauty and joy and everything in between. I don’t only say that because I would be nowhere without you. I say that because I genuinely believe it. Keep fighting to read the diverse and interesting content that you deserve!
Abby couldn’t remember falling asleep. She only remembered the dark night and how, outside the window of Della’s trailer, the rolling slopes of Eastern Ohio slowly flattened into the farmland of the western side of the state and faded into darkness. She didn’t say much during the trip, but her mind was spinning, unable to process what she had done.
Once, when she had been a little girl, barely older than Annette was now, her mother had taken her and Natale to visit their aunt in Chicago for a week. It had been a nice visit. They had embarked on the train with a great deal of ceremony, and Za Teresa had spoiled the pair rotten, loading them up with peach-shaped marzipan and pizzelle until they were both sick. She hadn’t left Cleveland for any extended period of time since. Oh, sure, she’d talked and dreamt about it. Nonna often wistfully mentioned taking a trip back to her girlhood home one more time now that the war was over and taking Abby along to look after her, and then, if her opera career took off as she had once hoped, she would be visiting all the great cities. In her scrapbook, clippings of Palais Garnier, La Scala, and The Met were decorated with carefully drawn hearts and hopeful stars and the scrawled word: someday. Still, she had never imagined that when she departed the Coventry neighborhood again, it would be in a burlesque dancer’s trailer.
About the Author
Amy Stilgenbauer is a writer and aspiring archivist currently based in southeast Michigan. She is the author of the novelette series, Season of the Witch, as well as the Young Adult novel, The Legend of League Park. Her short story, The Fire-Eater’s Daughter, was included in Summer Love, an LGBTQ Young Adult collection published by Duet, an imprint of Interlude Press. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys all things bergamot and tries to keep her cats away from her knitting.
Tour Dates & Stops:
25-Aug: The Novel Approach, Unquietly Me, Velvet Panic, Bayou Book Junkie
26-Aug: Oh My Shelves, Book Lovers 4Ever, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, A.M. Leibowitz
29-Aug: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Love Bytes
30-Aug: Butterfly-O-Meter, Kirsty Loves Books, MM Good Book Reviews
31-Aug: My Fiction Nook, BFD Book Blog
1-Sep: Prism Book Alliance, Open Skye Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter
2-Sep: Foxylutely Book Reviews, Bonkers About Books
5-Sep: Divine Magazine, Havan Fellows
6-Sep: Alpha Book Club, Molly Lolly
7-Sep: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Charley Descoteaux