Monday, April 10, 2017

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes
Apart from the Crowd, Book 1
Jen Turano
(Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0764217944
April 2017/352 pages/$15.99

After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, Miss Permilia Griswold has finally figured out a way to pass the time at all the New York high-society events she attends. Under the pseudonym "Miss Quill," she is the author of society gossip columns filled with tidbits only an insider in society--albeit one on the fringes--would know.

When she overhears a threat against Mr. Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of the most up-and-coming department stores in the city, she's determined to warn him. But the irritatingly handsome man doesn't believe her, leaving her no choice but to take matters into her own hands. What she doesn't anticipate is that she'll end up putting herself at risk in the process--or that she and Mr. Rutherford, a man with secrets of his own, just might end up joining forces after all.

Read an excerpt.


Jen Turano, author of eight books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at


Jen Turano writes the best books! Her original, clever plots and fresh, creative articulation make reading a delight. What a fun idea to create a series focusing on the overlooked wallflowers of society. (It fascinates me that these young women were essentially ignored by their peers yet still received invitations to such notable events as the Vanderbilt Ball.) I was transfixed from the opening pages until the final paragraph. Turano manages to inject humor into even the most nerve-wracking moments with her inimitable character depictions that would seem over the top in any other novel but which fit perfectly in this setting. And what's not to love about the excesses of an upper-crust ball in 1883 New York, where the most outlandish costume might entail hats fashioned from taxidermied animals and where dances bear names such as The Go-As-You-Please Quadrille (That dance scene ranks among the best in the entire novel and is worth the purchase price on its own!) Trust me: you do not want to be the one standing Apart from the Crowd when everyone is talking about this book. Grab your copy of Behind the Scenes (as well as the free prequel novella) today!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Baker/Bethany House Publishing. I was not required to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


At Your Request (free prequel novella!)
Behind the Scenes
Out of the Ordinary - coming in November 2017!


1. Why did you decide to open this story during Alva Vanderbilt’s famed costume ball of 1883?
I’ve been fascinated with Alva Vanderbilt’s ball ever since I stumbled on photographs from that event taken by the famed photographer Jose Maria Mora. Some of those pictures can still be viewed in the digital archives at the Museum of the City of New York, and after I saw a guest wearing a stuffed cat on her head, I knew this was a ball I needed to research. Once I realized the Vanderbilt event was a catalyst in changing New York High Society, since this was when new money began getting a foot in society doors, I decided I needed to include this ball in one of my stories, and Behind the Scenes worked well because I’d planned to set it toward the beginning of 1883.

2. Miss Permilia Griswold has an unusual occupation. How did you come up with that idea?
When I decided to write a series about wallflowers, I wanted to write them, not as victims, but as unseen ladies possessing talents no one seemed to notice. Because wallflowers are known to fade into the walls they languish against, I decided it would be a hoot to have one of my characters offered an opportunity to use her status as a wallflower to gather information for a society column. Then, to add additional mystery to the storyline, I made a list of What Ifs. Halfway down that list, a most intriguing thought sprang to mind: What if an anonymous society columnist was collecting information for her column and overheard a plot surrounding murder?

Well, after that idea, the book just seemed to take on a life of its own, and months later I can present Miss Permilia’s story to the world.

3. Mr. Asher Rutherford owns a department store. Was there a reason you gave him that occupation?
I got my very first job in a department store the day I turned 16. It was at L.S. Good & Company, based in Wheeling, West Virgina, although the store I took a job at was located in the Ohio Valley Mall. From that first day, which was Black Friday in case anyone was wondering, I’ve had a love of department stores, especially those located in the heart of downtowns throughout the eastern states. There’s just something delightful about old-fashioned tea rooms, elevators with grated doors, and gilded mirrors hanging on the walls that makes me sigh in delight. There’s also a scent I’ve only experienced in these old stores, a mix of lemon polish, old wood, and new fabric. Because of the love I have for department stores, I wanted to create a character who opened his own store, adding innovations for the day such as tea rooms and bargain basements. I also have a love of old amusements parks, which means, well, one of those might show up in a book someday.

4. What was the most interesting historical tidbit you uncovered in your research for this book?
The photo album of the actual guests and their costumes was astonishing, but some of those pictures directed me to investigate the quadrille dances that were to be performed during the ball, and that’s when I learned I never understood what the quadrille dances during the Gilded Age entailed. I didn’t know that these dances were danced by only a select few—young ladies and gentlemen who’d been specifically chosen for each dance. They’d then practice at places like Family Circle Dancing Class—founded by Mr. Ward McAllister—or at Allen Dodworth’s Dancing Academy. On the night of the Vanderbilt ball, there were six quadrilles performed: The Hobby Horse
Quadrille, The Mother Goose Quadrille, The Opera Quadrille, The Star Quadrille, The Dresden Quadrille, and then, my favorite, The Go-As-You-Please Quadrille. Now, all the quadrilles except for this last one demanded the
participants dress in specific costumes and perform specific steps, my favorite being the ivory costumes and powdered white wigs the dancers in The Dresden Quadrille wore white, chosen to allow them to resemble pieces of
porcelain. I took the liberty of adding a little drama to The Go-As-You-Please Quadrille, but you’ll have to read the book to see exactly what type of liberty I took.

5. Where did you come up with the unusual names of your characters?
I peruse a lot of old census data, as well as obituaries. I found Permilia in an old obituary, but I got the name Gertrude from a hamster my sister used to have years ago. She was a weird hamster, or maybe she was a guinea pig, but she could escape her cage no matter how well secured she was, and when she was on the loose, she would chew up electrical cords. One can’t help but notice that Miss Gertrude Cadwalader is a little odd, although I did refrain from giving her an unusual habit, such as munching on anything electric. As for Miss Temperance Flowerdew, I got her name from a high school friend of mine who was working on her family tree and uncovered an honest-to-goodness Temperance Flowerdew. As soon as I heard that name, I had to use it, because who wouldn’t want to use a name like Temperance Flowerdew?

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and Jen Turano for providing the fascinating information above!


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