Today is International Women’s Day! I’m incredibly happy and proud to be a woman and if you have followed my career, you’ll know that women truly dominate my work! In all my years of writing biography and non-fiction, I’ve never written a full book about a man, because – so far at least – I’ve always preferred to bring to light, stories about strong women overcoming obstacles to achieve success. The four main women I’ve written about are Marilyn Monroe, Thelma Todd, Carole Lombard and of course, Madonna. However, in my next two books – The Battered Body and The Girl – there are stories of many other women, too.
In The Battered Body, there are dozens of tales that explore the lives of women (but don’t worry, there are many men involved too!). Some stories are sad, many are tragic and some are strange and creepy, but at the centre of each is a woman who lived and breathed, just as you and I do – albeit over one hundred years ago.
Perhaps my biggest women-empowering work to date is The Girl. When my editor first asked me to write the book, the emphasis was very much on Marilyn’s triumphant two years in the mid-1950s and how she inspired or changed the lives of women then and now. The subject intrigued me and the more I researched and wrote, the more involved I became with the lives of women in the 1950s and just how many fought to make their voices heard. In that regard, The Girl explores what it was like for actresses and everyday women (including Marilyn of course), during this era: the sexual harassment, the misogyny, the ‘know your place’ attitude, and the laughter from men when any woman attempted to step outside the norm.
There are stories of women who encouraged Marilyn to succeed in her dreams, and another hell-bent on destroying everything she had worked so hard to achieve. In short, The Girl is aptly titled, because it really is a celebration of the female spirit and Marilyn’s in particular. I actually discovered today that it is the most requested Running Press title on Netgalley at the moment and I think that says a lot about shifting attitudes, especially in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.
I am so proud to share stories of women with the world, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I hope that wherever you are today, you take a moment to celebrate the female spirit and give thanks to those women from history who changed the world in so many different ways.
Before I go, I’d just like to draw your attention to the beautiful photograph at the top of this page. It is Marilyn of course, and she gave this picture to her boyfriend Bill Pursel, in the late 1940s. (The story behind it is recalled in Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed.) This particular copy was given to me by Bill himself and the original is now in the collection of Scott Fortner, who runs the amazing Marilyn Monroe Collection page. Please take a look at Scott’s page. His collection is phenomenal!
Until next time,