Interview with Terry Baldwin Author of
Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara
I'll be reviewing Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara tomorrow, but today I have a really interesting story from Terry Baldwin, the author of Tess.
I've been writing books since the 6th grade, so maybe that's why I'm still writing for teens. Since then I've learned to do technical writing which has helped pay the bills while I wrote TESS. I'm married, and my two passions are my wife and my fiction writing. My dog comes further down on the list.
First, I'd like to thank Heather for inviting me to post on her blog. This is a completely different world for me. I've been checking out book blogs for a while and I'm blown away by the care and effort so many people put into great blogs such as Buried in Books.
My novel, Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara, starts with the climax of a beauty pageant. I didn't go into too much detail describing the contest since I think most everybody knows what a beauty pageant is and have probably seen, at least part of one, on TV. The first pageants were held in the U.S., but they are pretty worldwide now, but maybe not quite as widespread as the promoters of the Miss Universe pageant would like to claim.
I'm not positive that the winners of these contests are really the most beautiful women in the world, let alone the entire universe.
If I had written Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara two hundred years ago, though, I would have had a lot of explaining to do. There were no such things as beauty contests in 1812. In fact, I've got a pretty good guess that, here in the U.S. at least, the public wouldn't have put up with one.
Look at what happened to the very first beauty pageant in 1854: A fellow named Phineas, who was an outspoken abolitionist and a future state legislator, held a beauty pageant that had to be closed down because of public outrage. He had to settle for a pale substitute, a contest for which contestants submitted photographs of themselves. Not only was that not nearly as exciting, but the quality of photographs in 1854 left a lot to be desired. Most people in pictures from those days had to pose for several long minutes at a time without moving, so they all look as if they were waiting for a laxative to take effective.
Eventually, though, the idea caught on at seaside resorts where ladies were already in their bathing suits in public anyway. Wikipedia says that the biggest ones were held in Galveston, Texas, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the Miss America pageant is still held.
Something that many people who watch beauty pageants aren't familiar with are “flippers.” Flippers are things that contestants slip over their teeth to make them look better. When I heard about them, I couldn't help imagine a situation where an elegant contestant gets crowned the queen and starts crying (which most of them do), when her “flipper” slips off and the whole world gets to see she's missing every other tooth in her mouth.
That video would definitely go viral.
By the way, that guy Phineas who held the first beauty pageant. His full name was Phineas Taylor Barnum, otherwise known at P.T. Barnum, the founder of the world's most famous circus.
I won't go any further.
That's really interesting! I never even wondered what the P.T. stood for in P.T. Barnum and never knew a thing about early Beauty Pagents. I never even thought about them. Great story!
Here's a trailer for the book: