The Little Book of Marilyn: An Interview with author Michelle Morgan
The Little Book of Marilyn is big on inspiration. Michelle Morgan has created a veritable treasure trove of all things “Monroe.” The book encompasses the ideals that are purely Marilyn’s. Running from style, beauty and what she continued to strive for with her own life skills. The photos included are phenomenal and as refreshing as Michelle Morgan’s passionate and informative writing. As Monroe said in The S even Year Itch standing over the subway grate…”Oh! Do you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?” Well, The Little Book of Marilyn surely is.
Showbiss: Congratulations as The Little Book of Marilyn is out! What inspired you to write your latest book on Monroe?
Michelle Morgan: Running Press was in the process of publishing a book called The Little Book of Bettie Page, and looking to expand the Little Book series. It was my editor’s idea to do a Marilyn version and she asked if I had any ideas for what I might put into it. Did I?!! I could have filled an encyclopedia with ideas! I put together a little proposal for her and we brainstormed back and forth and then the project was eventually commissioned. I was ecstatic to be able to write the book because it is very different to anything I’ve written about Marilyn before. My other books have all been serious insights into Marilyn’s life and career, whereas this book enabled me to be creative and do things I’d never done before – like think about what Marilyn-related items we could create, for instance!
Showbiss: I was taken aback by the amount of photos in your “little book.” They sure pack a wallop. Running Press did a beautiful job. Did you have a photo editor there who matched what you were creating when you wrote this book? Or how did this work?
MM: I was incredibly pleased with the amount of photos that Running Press wanted to put into the book! I chose all of them myself, from three sources that were provided to me by the publisher. I tried my hardest to include some that were rarely seen and of course some fantastic, colorful classics! In addition to the Marilyn photos, we also have fan pictures and then photos to accompany the tutorials, too. I organized the shoots for the tutorials and then fans sent me photos of their collections etc. It was a huge amount of paperwork to keep everything organized and moving forward, but it was so much fun, too. The designer did a fabulous job, I must say. I love everything she did – from the background colors to the fonts, layouts and everything in-between.
Showbiss: The back of the book is geared towards, as it says, “today’s woman.” Regardless of sex or identity I think Marilyn fans across the board can enjoy it. What are your thoughts on this?
MM: Oh I completely agree! I’ve heard from several gentlemen who say they have been very much inspired by the book – especially the life skills section – and I’m terribly excited about that. I do believe there is something for everyone in this book… For instance, my teenage daughter never reads my books, but she read every word of the make-up and hair tutorial!
Showbiss: The “Life Skills” chapter is one I keep going back to. Please share the process of writing this chapter. I think it’s some of your most thoughtful and informative writing on her.
MM: Thank you so much! I really do appreciate your kind words and I’m thrilled that you think so. When I first wrote that chapter, it was much smaller because I had a word limit for the project and I needed to think about distributing it all evenly. However, when my editor read the first draft, she suggested we make much more of this particular chapter and add different skills to the mix. I completely agreed and once I had permission to add the extra words, I was happy to expand it. I took inspiration from Marilyn’s life and also the things that people had told me about her. For instance, in the Be Kind to Animals and Children section, I wrote that Marilyn used to throw stranded fish back into the water and then about her determination to scare a hawk away from a family of swallows. Both of those incidents were told to me by people who witnessed them and I think it showed just how caring and sympathetic she was to the lives of other living beings. I hope that the Life Skills chapter can inspire others to care more about the world around them and to take strength from Marilyn’s perspective on life.
Showbiss: Another aspect of your book is the Marilyn Remembered Facebook Group who are mentioned. Was this a part of your plan for the book initially?
MM: Oh yes, definitely. I wanted to show just how much Marilyn is loved all around the world, by people just like me. I have known Greg Schreiner since the early 1990s, when we used to exchange letters occasionally. I was always so thrilled to hear from Greg – he’s a superstar in the Marilyn community – so to be able to feature his words and photos in the book was just wonderful. I loved being able to talk to people who have been inspired by Marilyn either as a fan, a tribute artist or both. When I was 15 years old, it felt as though I was the only Marilyn fan in the world. Now of course the Internet has brought people closer, but I wanted to highlight specific fans so that maybe those young teenage fans who don’t have access to Facebook yet, can see that they’re not alone and that there is actually a whole world of people who feel the same way about Marilyn as they do. It was also lovely to include the fans’ stories, thoughts and photos because I knew it would mean a lot to them to be able to express themselves in print, just as it means a lot to me as well.
Showbiss: Finally, please share your favorite Marilyn Monroe quote. I know there are many but just pick one.
MM: Oh that’s a great question!! I do have a lot of favorite quotes, but I’ll choose this one: “I’d like to be known as a real actress and human being.” I think this expresses Marilyn perfectly and it is something that is still relevant today, since some people still don’t see her as either a real actress or a human being! I hope that by writing about Marilyn and continuing to educate people, that attitude will change. If my books change the mind of even one person, then I’m doing my job.
Showbiss: Congrats again Michelle. A really enjoyable read.
Michelle Morgan: Thanks so much Bill! I loved answering the questions!