Interview with Susan McBride about her latest novel, ‘Little Black Dress’:

Last week I got to interview American author, Susan McBride about her latest novel, ‘Little Black Dress’ and for my first interview, it was brilliant! Susan couldn’t have been more lovely or more obliging when answering my questions. Despite conducting the interview via long distance call, all the way to the USA, it was more like chatting to a friend over a mug of tea!

The questions are mainly focused around the topic of LBDs as it was for the Little Black Dress blog that I write for.

I am currently in the process of properly reading the book and will let you know what I think when I’m done! It is centred around two sisters, Anna and Evie, whose lives are torn apart after that enchanted little black dress gives them a glimpse into their unexpected but totally unavoidable futures. 

  • First off (after much trouble trying to figure out how to get the office phone to dial an America number!) I asked Susan to describe a day in the life of Susan McBride:

It’s pretty boring… I sent my husband, Ed off to work then spend the morning answering emails and updating my site, promoting my books – I feel like I’m in the post office!  I spent afternoons writing and when I’m running deadlines, I get totally obsessed with the writing and spend the day in my PJs, writing until my hands cramp! I also try to read as much as I can as I feel this is essential for a writer.

  •  I then asked her to explain the significance of the LBD in her book. What inspires you so much about the LBD, enough to write a novel about it?

Something my mother always said to me: “every girls should have an LBD in her closet for all of life’s events – it’s just one of those things you’re supposed to have” and it’s totally true. Also, a little black dress is that one item that binds all women no matter what their differences. It just wouldn’t have worked with any other garment.

  •  The LBD in your novels seems to have a life of it’s own – why do you think an LBD is such an important thing in a woman’s wardrobe and life?

The little black dress is just magical in itself and has something inherently special about it when you put it on with your stockings…your pumps, pearls, you know? It’s that quote from Chanel, which I put at the beginning of my book: “a woman without an LBD has no future”.

  • Your novel contains magical undertones – do you think putting on an LBD is a form of escapism for women?

Yes, most definitely! A lot like with reading, it gives women a couple of hours to escape the chaos of their reality and take time to consider and appreciate the small moments in their own lives.

  •  How did you envisage the LBD in your novel? If your novel were to be made into a film, how would you brief the design/costume team?

I didn’t want to give too much description; I wanted the readers to use their own imaginations. That’s why I loved how they didn’t reveal much of the dress on the front cover. I love that classic, simple, A line dress with no embellishments; well cut and tailored – simple is good. I actually had a picture of Audrey Hepburn on my computer the whole time I was writing the novel as I love the dresses she wore.

  •  Tell us about the LBDs you own:

Until recently I actually only owned one little black dress which I must have had for about ten years. It was a classic that buttoned up the back but the button kept opening by themselves and I had to have a friend stand really close behind me! Since I finished writing Little Black Dress, I have bought about three new ones. I am drawn to the classic cut, simple, A line, sleeveless with a scoop neck. I feel like I’m letting people down if I don’t wear one now!

  •  Describe your perfect LBD moment:

I would be out for romantic dinner with my husband, wearing that LBD that makes me feel magical and special, with my hair and make up done, sitting under that dim candlelight which makes everyone look beautiful. Ed loves me wearing little black dresses – he loves that I am obliged to wear them since this writing this novel!

  •  Do you have any personal experiences that have happened as a result of an LBD, like the characters in your book?

About sixteen years ago, before I was a published writer, I was writing so many manuscripts and all getting rejected. I was at my Grandma’s funeral and somebody else who was there asked me if I was still writing in a tone of voice that suggested I should give up. It was in that moment I realised that I would never give up writing and one year later I got my very first conctract for ‘And Then She Was Gone’. I was wearing this little black dress at the time.

…maybe your LBD is magic too!


Little Black Dress, HarperCollins, 2011

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