It’s been three years since The Time-Traveling Fashionista made her debut on bookshelves—and the Titanic. Since then, author Bianca Turetsky has traveled with heroine Louise Lambert to Versailles in time for the French Revolution and most recently to ancient Egypt to sail the Nile with Cleopatra. We’re nuts about the series, so we chatted up the authoress herself to get the inside scoop.
Survey Says with Bianca Turetsky, author of The Time-Traveling Fashionista series:
My best friends call me… B
I had a love/hate relationship with high school
And back then, I was…a swimmer
My favorite color is… purple
I got my first kiss when I was…16 (always a late bloomer)
And he was…worth the wait
Never have I ever…gone scuba diving
And I really, really want to…travel to Bali
I am seriously crushing on…vintage Chanel purses
I wish…I had more closet space
My favorite book is…Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
The best book I read in school was…Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, although that may have been because of my amazing teacher Mrs. Giamatti (the mom of actor Paul Giamatti :)
And right now, I can’t wait to read…Grace Coddington’s memoir
The author whose work I read religiously is…Joan Didion
I absolutely could not write without…my Moleskin notebook
If I wasn’t a writer, I would…be working in the film or art world
But I knew I was going to write great things when…my agent took a chance on me
My favorite punctuation mark is… … the ellipsis!
The grammar rule I always mess up is…I have some issues with semicolons
One word I love is…fashionista
One word that makes me cringe is…diet
The best thing about writing is…the freedom
And the worst thing, sigh, is...the freedom
Let’s talk shop! Below, Bianca tells all about her writing process…
Q: Fashion has to have had a huge influence on you. What’s one of your own favorite pieces that could tell an incredible story?
I save everything. I feel as though my closet is like a journal is some ways, helping me to remember important events in my life. I still have my junior and senior prom dresses (which were vintage of course!) as well as the yellow Fendi dress I wore to my first book party.
Q: If you could travel back in time, where would you go, when and why?
There are so many eras I’d love to visit, but I think first I’d go back to the roaring ‘20s. I adore the bobbed haircuts, shift dresses and T-strap heels. There is a scene at the beginning of the first book where Louise is imagining that she’s wearing a flapper dress and dancing in a speakeasy. That’s pretty much my fantasy.
Q: You’ve worked in the film industry. How do you think your work there has influenced your writing?
Sometimes when I’m writing it’s like I’m watching a movie in my mind and I just have to write down everything I see as fast as possible. A lot of the scenes in my books were so cinematic to me. And my ultimate dream is to see the books turned into a movie. That would be beyond!
Q: If you could write like any author, whose style would you borrow? What do you most admire about it?
I would love to write like Judy Blume. I feel like she has a voice that is both really personal and universal at the same time. Girls from all over the world can relate to her books, and I hope that I connect with my readers in the same way. The Time-Traveling Fashionista series is now translated into nine languages, and the idea that a girl in China or Spain will be reading my books is so exciting for me.
Q: What is your writing process like, from start to finish? What’s your favorite part, and what do you dread?
I wrote these books when I had a full time job, so my process was very structured. I woke up early and wrote before going to work. I only had a small window to write. There are days when everything flows and it feels easy. That happens once in a blue moon, but it’s wonderful. I am worried now that I have a full day to write I will actually be less productive!
Q: How did you plan out the series, plot- and character-wise? What was tricky, and what was easier than you expected?
I had an overall idea of where I wanted the series to go, but at the time my publisher had only bought 2 books, so I had to make sure if it ended after 2, it was okay and my readers wouldn’t be frustrated with the ending. But I have a long term plan as well, that I hope I get to see through! There are so many eras Louise could travel to. I have endless ideas for this series.
Q: Since you write historical fiction, what is your research process like? What resources could teens and tweens use to get started?
I take the research aspect of the books very seriously. I want to make sure that the historic information is as accurate as possible for the storyline. For the Marie Antoinette book I traveled to Versailles, and to research Cleopatra I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum and met with an archaeologist who had been on digs in Egypt. I read a lot of biographies and history books. I find it surprisingly fun, so it’s a pleasure. I’m learning along with the reader. Check out your local libraries and museums. There is so much information online these days, but I think it’s important to get out in the world and talk to the experts.
Q: What’s the best advice about writing, editing or publishing that you’ve ever been given?
Read and write as much as possible. Like with everything, you need to practice, whether it’s the piano, soccer, French, whatever. I write every day, and am very disciplined about my schedule. No one else will make you do it; you have to be accountable to yourself.
Q: What advice can you give other writers who are hoping to get their work published?
Finish your book without worrying about getting published. You have to be doing the work because you love it, not thinking about the end result too much. I wrote my entire first book without even having an agent, but I knew that I LOVED what I was writing, and that just getting to the end of the story would be satisfying. The rest has been icing on the cake.
Q: Like all writers, I’m sure you’ve had your share of tough reviews and criticism. What advice would you give to young writers facing the same thing?
UGH I’m so sensitive, it’s still really hard. The best thing is to not take anything too personally. It’s hard to create; it’s easy to criticize. There are a few people who are my first readers who I trust completely, the rest I try and take what is helpful and move on without getting my feelings hurt!
Q: When you’re stuck and have no idea what to write or how to solve a problem, what do you do?
I actually go swimming! It’s like meditation for me. The pool is the one place where I’m really relaxed and focused—and can’t check my Instagram. I’ve worked through many plot points by getting my head underwater and swimming laps. Although that method is definitely not for everyone.
Thanks, Bianca! Learn more about The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Bianca herself right here.