Q&A With Noelle Salazar

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Q&A With Noelle Salazar

I have the honor of doing my latest Q&A with USA Today Bestselling author of historical fiction Noelle Salazar. Noelle is the author of The Flight Girls, Angels Of The Resistance, & The Roaring Days Of Zora Lily which came out today! I was very lucky to read an early copy of the novel this summer and as my first time reading anything by Noelle Salazar I had a fun time reading it!


Q: For the readers of the blog who haven’t read The Roaring Days Of Zora Lily, would you care to tell the readers a little bit about the book? 

A: In 2023, a conservator at the Smithsonian is mending a dress from a film in the 1920s for an upcoming exhibit. The label on the dress boasts a famous designer’s name. When it comes loose, she finds that beneath it is another name sewn into the lining of the gown. Zora Lily. From there we go back in time to see who this Zora Lily is, a seamstress working side-by-side with her mother mending clothes for clients to bring in a little extra money for their large family. They are poverty-stricken and life is about to deliver a tragic blow. What follows is Zora stepping out of the comfort zone of the shabby little house she grew up in. She finds herself in another world, one of wealth and speakeasies, jazz music, musicians, dancers, and a handsome man who is intrigued by the young seamstress. Through it all, Zora is trying to figure out where she belongs, but never losing sight of the thing she wants most in the world – to own a boutique selling her own designs. It’s a story of family bonds, friendship, romance, and determination. 

Q: Was Zora Lily a real person, or was she loosely based off of an actual designer who tried to make it in Hollywood but something stopped her? 

A: Zora Lily was a real person. She was my great-great grandmother – who was not a designer but a mother of eight and the wife of a man who worked in a logging camp in the early 1900s. I didn’t learn her name until several years ago and I thought it was so fantastic and glamorous, I decided it needed a story. And so I took bits of what I knew of my family’s history and created a world for the fictional Zora to live in.

Q: What is the research and writing process like when you choose a topic to write about for your historical fiction books? 

A: CHAOS, in the beginning. I usually start off with a notebook by my side and searching Google for anything I can think of to do with the subject matter, each one of those things leading to many other tidbits and stories. I write it all down, page after page after page of facts I find interesting, putting stars next to things I absolutely think should make it into the book. After that first bout of research, I will do a loose outline and then start writing; trying to get a feel for the character and the world they’re in. From there I consult my notes, which I always find lacking. I begin buying books on the subject matter. It’s great if I can find a book of true accounts. For the book I have coming out next year, I found just that. The information was incredible. I highlight paragraphs and pages, dog-earing, scribbling things down in my notebook… I do that until I get to the end of the story. And then usually go back through my notes and books and see what I left out that can somehow crammed in if it’s a fact I found fun or funny or terrible in a great storytelling way. 

Q: How long does it take you to normally write a book? 

A: Anywhere from three to six months. If I’m on a tight deadline, three months is the minimum. If I’m working on a book that isn’t contracted yet, I take more time with that first draft. 

Q: Where is your favorite place to plot, research, write and edit your work?

A: It changes every few months. My couch, my office, my other couch, and armchair… Sometimes a space starts to feel stale and so I have to move. Sometimes I need to sit in my office chair because it makes me feel like I’m VERY professional. But most days I am sitting cross-legged (like I am now) on the couch (the first one I mentioned above – it’s near the kitchen, where the snacks are), my laptop on its cozy little lap desk on my lap.

Q: What made you choose writing in the historical fiction genre? 

A: I have always loved history. I find the stories of strength and resilience fascinating. Tales of women fighting for their rights, persevering, standing up… it’s empowering. Writing in the genre is an honor. Sharing these stories in fictional form is exciting. And it makes me feel grateful, appreciating those who came before me.

Q: If you are currently writing your next book, can you spoil some details about it?

A: My next book is about a young flight nurse during WWII. I didn’t know until I started researching flight nurses that they did not exist before the second war. Reading about what it took to do the job, the frightening circumstances, sometimes sketchy living arrangements, friendships formed, and injuries seen and tended to be incredible. The story is a dual timeline as well, the present day parts told from the point of view of a WWII veteran. I fell in love with this story the more I worked on it, and it’s the first one I was sad to finish. I wasn’t ready to leave the characters behind. 

Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to your work? The entertainment industry needs original content again. 

A: No. But I agree. There are so many new stories to be told on the screen. I’d love to see any one of my stories be made into a film or series. Not just because of how fun that would be, but because of the history within the pages that so few people know, amazing women who did amazing things. We need to see how women have always fought and strived for more and better. And keep their legacy going.

Q: What lessons do you hope readers take away from reading The Roaring Days Of Zora Lily? 

A: This is a story about belonging. Not necessarily finding where you belong, but creating where you belong. Believe in yourself. Not looking to others, but staying on the path meant for you. I hope readers take that in, looking at their own lives, and honoring who they are and what they want in life, and going for it.