1. What sets this book apart from other Marilyn Monroe biographies?
The book describes the years 1954-1956, and explores how those years changed Marilyn’s life and in turn how she changed the lives of others. It is not a straight-forward biography (I wrote a full-scale biography entitled ‘Marilyn Monroe: Private and Confidential’), but instead it really concentrates on how Marilyn’s most rebellious and out-spoken years influenced the world both then and now
2. You describe Marilyn Monroe as an “unlikely feminist” in the title. Why was it important to highlight her in this way?
It was important because during Marilyn’s lifetime, she was never described as a feminist and she would never have described herself that way either. By 1950s standards she was not a likely feminist – she was rebellious and outspoken but the media and studios did not see that as a powerful thing. Instead they’d describe her as a silly girl purely because she spoke her mind! Nowadays, however, I believe Marilyn would have described herself as a feminist because she was not scared to fight for her rights and the rights of others.
The timeframe you’ve set begins after her acting career has already begun. Why did you choose to focus on this particular period of her life?
It was actually my publisher’s idea to do that. I was contacted by an editor at Running Press, who had an idea for me to write a book about The Seven Year Itch. We spoke on the phone and in numerous emails and decided that it would be a great idea to expand that idea and talk about Marilyn’s life from 1954 to 1956. We both felt that these were the most inspiring and life-changing years of her life. I also wanted to explore how Marilyn changed the lives of women and businesses. One of the most enjoyable parts for me was finding out how companies used Marilyn’s image and influence to sell their products. Everyone was inspired by her back in the 1950s! Doctors would use photos of her in their seminars; she was discussed in parliament and in universities; and a gas company even inserted a photo of her into their annual report, because they knew people would read it just to see Marilyn! Discovering things like that was really amazing to me. Marilyn had a lot of influence during her career. It was astounding to see in what specific ways her image was used.
4. What do you think women today can get out of looking up to Marilyn Monroe? What lessons can we learn from her example?
I think the main lesson to be learned is that it doesn’t matter where you come from, dreams really can come true. Of course you need to work hard and never give up, which is exactly what Marilyn did. Different people take away different lessons from Marilyn’s life, and I was so happy to talk about these in the book. She is such an inspiration for hope, ambition, hard work and joy.
5. Lastly, I know you are working on another Marilyn book. Would you mind telling us what it’s about?
The next book is called ‘The Little Book of Marilyn.’ It will be published by Running Press in Spring next year and I have just finished the first round of edits. The book is all about how to put a bit more Marilyn in your life, and there will be chapters on make-up, hair, outfits, etc. I don’t want to say too much because I want there to be some surprises, but I’m really excited about it and I’ll keep everyone up-to-date on my Instagram: @MMWriterGirl