How my first novel saved me from Hoarders

bookmarkfileIf I had not written my debut novel, you’d probably see me on the TV show Hoarders instead of here at the Debutante Ball and on the jacket flap of my book.

VINTAGE is the story of a secondhand boutique called Hourglass Vintage, the women who work and shop there, and the garments that come through the door. My idea for the book grew from many, many hours spent at consignment shops, estate sales, swap parties, and thrift stores. In short, from an obsession with all things vintage.

Over the last five years or so, I’ve amassed a collection of secondhand treasures. I’ve kept some of the items for myself–an amber-colored Bakelite cocktail ring, a Chanel scarf found at a garage sale. Others, I’ve sold online in my Etsy store– a 50’s Dior evening bag with the tags still on it, a hand-knit baby cardigan from the 1940’s.

My inventory grew and my closet space diminished, as did as my husband’s tolerance for yet another piece of midcentury modern furniture. But I’ve always had a hard time passing up a good story and, for me, that’s what vintage items are–chapters from other people’s lives.

When I realized I’d never know the histories of all my found objects, I began to make them up. VINTAGE was inspired by the idea that there’s beauty in what may appear at first glance to be flawed and frayed. The novel alternates points of view among three women of different generations, all with less than perfect pasts, whose stories become inextricably stitched together among the aisles of Hourglass Vintage.

People sometimes ask me if its hard to sell certain items in my online shop. I answer that it isn’t. Because the items were never mine, not really. When I found them, they already had a story.

My Etsy shop is not a huge money maker. Most of the time it brings in just enough profit to cover the cost of my next vintage find. But being the link between a beautiful item’s past and its future–that’s where the real rewards lie. It’s that link that inspired my debut novel as well.

Plus, selling and writing about some of the stuff I find keeps me off Hoarders. If you ever tune in and happen to see a lady trapped under a a pile of crinoline party dresses from various decades, it will probably be me, your Wednesday deb.

Photo credit: Nick Wilkes Photography

 

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Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

15 thoughts on “How my first novel saved me from Hoarders

  1. I love the idea of a story behind an object, Susan. It’s a big part of why I write historical fiction. The very idea that not only a story, but perhaps a slight essence of soul left behind on a well-loved or well-used item, or even in a building of some sort, is so fun to think about, to treasure. Your novel sounds like a fun read! I can’t wait until it releases. 🙂

  2. Ok I’m ready to go check out what cool vintage things you’re selling!! Even more I look forward to your book. Great first Deb post!

  3. I don’t want to contribute to marital discord, but I would love to go thrifting with you sometime! Your taste is impeccable. Thanks for leading me over here, too. Lots of good things to read. 😀

  4. I bet you have a collection of books hiding in a corner as well!

    I think it’s great the way you integrated your own obsession interest into your book. The best books are personal and I can’t wait for VINTAGE!

    • I do have a whole lot of books lying around in various places. And now that I have a young son, our collection keeps growing! So much fun to read old favorites with him.

  5. Some people seem to have the magic touch when they shop vintage–and you obviously do! I’m looking forward to meeting your characters and learning their stories.

  6. I love how you see each object as a chapter of other people’s lives; I couldn’t agree more! I think this is why I’ve always had a hard time letting go of my own things…I would totally be a hoarder if it weren’t for small apartment spaces.

    I can’t wait to read VINTAGE, Susan. I love how each character is like the vintage finds in the store; full of stories and imperfect pasts, but beautiful because of it.

  7. Love this! (It doesn’t hurt that I just returned from a morning of thrifting.) I too imagine what an item has seen before, who has loved it, and why that person decided to pass it along. Vintage treasures aren’t lonely rejects, they are new friends with a mysterious past.

    Nice to “meet” you and can’t wait to pick up your book!

  8. Very cool story! I love that you turned your passion for vintage items into a novel – I did much the same with my love of Japanese history. I think that kind of passion makes the best stories, because the author’s internal fire shows through in the writing.

    I can’t wait to learn more about you and VINTAGE!

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