Whether one is born with a silver spoon in her mouth or marries into a family with an expansive set of heirloom cutlery, it has to be said that wealth, social status and privilege are no guarantee of a happy-ever-after life. Author Marlene Wagman-Geller explores this theme in her new release, Women of Means: Fascinating Biographies of Royals, Heiresses, Eccentrics and Other Poor Little Rich Girls.
Interviewer; Christina Hamlett
Q: Let’s start with your journey as an author. Who (or what) had the greatest influence on your passion to put words to paper and/or fingers to keyboard?
A: My love of reading segued into my writing career. Books have always been a large part of my life and my dream of dreams was to become an author.
Q: What was your break-out moment into the world of publishing and how did it make you feel?
A: My first publication occurred in 2008 with my book Once Again to Zelda: The Stories Behind Literature’s Most intriguing Dedications. I love words but do not have adequate ones to express such a feeling of elation.
Q: Have you had other careers along the way? If so, what did they teach you about the craft of becoming a disciplined wordsmith?
A: I am a long-term high school English teacher. I do not feel it enhanced my career as an author…unless I write an updated Up the Down Staircase.
Q: What gave you the idea for Women of Means?
A: The idea for Women of Means was the oft-repeated comment, “If I only had money…”
Q: How did you go about deciding which women to include in the line-up?
A: The criteria for inclusion: extraordinary wealth coupled with an extra-ordinary story.
Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned in the course of your research?
A: The most surprising thing I learned was wealth often comes with a high price.
Q: Which chapter resonated the most with you?
A: The chapter that resonated most was Christina Onassis, a tragic, poor little rich girl.
Q: If you could invite three of these famous femmes to dinner at your house, which trio would make the guest list, what would you serve, and what would you most like to ask them?
A: I would invite Huguette Clark to ask why she bought priceless pleasure dome estates and never lived in them; Leona Helmsley to ask the Queen of Mean why she was so mean; Ruth Madoff to ask if she knew how her husband was funding their lavish lifestyle. I would serve Uber Eats as I don’t cook.
Q: Did the book alter your personal perspectives on wealth?
A: My research showed great wealth is not always commensurate with great happiness.
Q: Finish the sentence “If I had a million dollars, I’d…”
A: Travel and buy a dream house. Maybe a lovely kitchen would inspire me to cook…
Q: Our society has sadly moved in a direction where even the offspring of not-so-rich parents embrace an attitude of entitlement, lack of ambition and zero accountability. Is it a fixable problem or are we stuck with this trend for the foreseeable future?
A: I think history is cyclical. The post war parents-baby-boomers worked hard; their offspring traded suburban homes for hippie communes.
Q: What do you want the takeaway message to be for your readers?
A: As the Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy you love.”
Q: Did you allow anyone to read the book while it was a work in progress or did you make everyone wait until THE END?
A: My friend was with me from the beginning, the one who I mentioned in the Acknowledgement Section.
Q: What direction do you see the publishing industry taking in the next 10/20/50 years?
A: More e-books till they outnumber physical books. I think the trend of taking chances on new writers, ethnic, and non-traditional books will continue.
Q: Tell us about some of your prior publications.
A: Women of Means is my seventh book. All prior publications are non-fiction. My next book, Fabulous Female Firsts, will arrive on March 17, 2020.
Q: What’s next on your plate?
A: I am working on a dual biography of two fascinating women who slipped through the sands of time. Fingers are crossed! This would be a departure from my earlier books; I hope the publishing gods look kindly upon it.
Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?
A: I am originally from Toronto, Canada; my parents were Polish, Jewish immigrants.
Q: Where can they learn more about upcoming releases, book signings, etc.?
A: Website at https://marlenewagmangeller.com/
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I want to share my belief that dreams don’t just have to be for sleeping. The power of persistence makes goals attainable. I would also like to thank Ms. Christina Hamlett for arranging this interview, for all her sisterly solidarity.
I enjoy connecting with fellow bibliophiles. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org