Episode 407: Public vs. Private Personas: Crafting a Novel Based on Historical Figures – Interview with Leslie Johansen Nack

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Leslie Johansen Nack. We’ll be discussing The Blue Butterfly, A Novel of Marion Davies, a historical fiction novel about Marion Davies and the burgeoning Hollywood scene in the 1920s.

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In this episode Leslie Johansen Nack and I discuss:

  • Why she leaned into fiction for this project as opposed to writing a biography.
  • Her research process and how she chose which scenes to fictionalize.
  • How she balanced writing about the public and private personas of her characters.

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Leslie Johansen Nack

Leslie Johansen Nack’s debut, Fourteen, A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival received five indie awards, including the 2016 Finalist in Memoir at the Next Generation Indie Book Award. She lives in San Diego and enjoys sailing, hiking, and reading. 

Before she started writing, she raised two children, ran a mechanical engineering business with her husband, took care of her aging mother, and dreamed of retirement when she could write full-time. She did everything late in life, including getting her degree in English Literature from UCLA at age thirty-one.

You can find her on her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Blue Butterfly, A Novel of Marion Davies

New York 1915, Marion Davies is a shy eighteen-year-old beauty dancing on the Broadway stage when she meets William Randolph Hearst and finds herself captivated by his riches, passion, and desire to make her a movie star. Following a whirlwind courtship, she learns through trial and error to live as Hearst’s mistress when a divorce from his wife proves impossible. A baby girl is born in secret in 1919 and they agree to never acknowledge her publicly as their own. In a burgeoning Hollywood scene, she works hard making movies while living a lavish partying life that includes a secret love affair with Charlie Chaplin. In late 1937, at the height of the depression, Hearst wrestles with his debtors and failing health, when Marion loans him $1M when nobody else will. Together, they must confront the movie that threatens to invalidate all of Marion’s successes in the movie industry: Citizen Kane.

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Link to Episode 407

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