The Inspiration for The Black Velvet Coat
Contributor
Written by
Jill G. Hall
October 2015
Contributor
Written by
Jill G. Hall
October 2015

It’s been a long journey but my first novel, The Black Velvet Coat, was just published by She Writes Press. After a twenty-plus year career as a public school educator, I turned to writing. With my background, I thought I’d compose a children’s book or a classroom memoir, but that’s not what happened at all. To learn how to write I began to attend a weekly prompt based drop-in writing group. Writing in community helped keep my pen to the page and continue going even when I wanted to stop.

Months later I tried on a coat at a yard sale, loved it, but thinking it was too fancy, passed on it. That night I dreamt about it and early the next morning I knocked on the neighbor’s door; then it was mine. Shortly thereafter, the coat showed up on my writing practice pages with Anne, a San Francisco artist, in search of collage fodder, buying it at a thrift shop. The Black Velvet Coat was born. I’m also an artist, and carouse resale boutiques to find found objects and old magazines to use for my work.

I continued to intuitively write, and Sylvia, a beautiful blonde heiress from an earlier San Francisco era, appeared visiting Tiffany’s looking for something special to wear on her own black coat. She found a sparkly snowflake pin “…about the size of a silver dollar, it was almost as light as a real snowflake might be, but this one certainly wouldn’t melt. She squeezed it in her palm, the permanence comforting.” I then rushed out to antique malls and hunted until I found a snowflake pin to add to the collar of my own coat.

Both of these female characters from different generations kept showing up week after week, time and again, as if they were haunting me to tell their stories. Soon I was hooked. I kept attending the drop-in group, but at home I worked to develop my daily writing practice. I then spent over ten years on it, rewriting many drafts with the guidance of expert novelists who led read and critique groups and professional editors.

For a long time I knew exactly what my dream cover for the novel would look like. My original yard sale coat with a snowflake pin on its collar would float on it. Brooke Warner, She Writes publisher, liked the idea of using the original coat and had me ship it to Julie Metz, the cover designer on the East Coast. A week later I received a draft attached to an email and a chill went up my spine. It was exactly what I had dreamed of!  Julie had hung the coat on a wooden hanger and put it on an old door with peeling paint, complete with an old brass knob. Just how I had imagined Anne’s run-down San Francisco studio apartment looked. The stars at the top could have been right out of the Northern Arizona desert sky that Sylvia had gazed at during her redemptive journey. And at the bottom, clouds reminiscent of an angry sea reminded me of the “scene of the crime.” The cover exactly captured the magical feeling of the novel. They say you can’t tell a book by its cover, but if one could this certainly was it. And now that my novel is out I’m excited to make presentations and visit book clubs wearing the coat!

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

Featured Members (8)

12 articles
39 articles
107 articles
326 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • [The Art of Submission] Why We Submit
  • For the Love of Labyrinths
  • 10 Things Authors MUST Be Doing on Social Media in 2018
  • God Does Not Forgive Our Excuses, He Forgives Our Sins
  • The Politics of Art: Should Writers Keep Their...
  • The Four Parameters of Blogging: Brand, Audience,...

Comments
  • Jill G. Hall

    Thanks Michelle - I hope you enjoy it!

  • Michelle Cox

    What a cool story, Jill! I love the cover, and I look forward to reading the book!

  • Mary Langer Thompson

    Jill, I'll pass that info on to the current president of the California Writers Club, High Desert Branch. I think we have a branch down by you, however. There are 20 branches all up and down the California coast, founded by Jack London 100 years ago. Our branch is one of the largest with over 100 members. See www.calwriters.org.

  • Jill G. Hall

    Mary,

    I don't have plans now to go up to that beautiful part of California but I am available to do events on Skype.

  • Mary Langer Thompson

    Jill, Apple Valley is near Victorville on the way to Las Vegas from San Diego.

  • Jill G. Hall

    Karen, You are right, there are so many fabulous SheWrites authors. Thank you so much for wanting to read my novel. I'd love to do an event for you, but I don't have plans to come to the east right now. What town are you in? Perhaps you could Skype me in.    

  • Jill G. Hall

    Mary, I'm glad you like my story and title. Where in the high desert are you? I live in San Diego.

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Congratulations, Jill!  I am excited for a chance to read your novel.  There are so many novels written by SheWrites authors that I'd love to read!  Let me know if you ever have a chance to stop by Central Massachusetts. Perhaps I can set up an event for you, even if it's in our co-housing community's common-house with a warm fire glowing.

  • Mary Langer Thompson

    Love the story and title. And having been a teacher myself, I'm so happy when one is a writer as well. Congratulations. Let me know if you're ever in the area of the high desert of California. Our California Writers Club has over 100 members and meets monthly. 

  • Jill G. Hall

    That's very cool! Great title. I'll check it out.

  • Nino Gugunishvili

    I've just published my debut novel "Friday Evening, Eight O'Clock" not so long ago, actually a month ago, so it's all very new and exciting for me as well. :))

  • Jill G. Hall

    Oh, yes! It felt great. What have you had published?

  • Nino Gugunishvili

    Thanks for sharing Jill!

    Isn't it the best feeling when you finally hold Your book in hands? For me personally, it was one of the most thrilling experiences ever.

     

  • Jill G. Hall

    Thanks, Nino! I still so amazed that my novel is finally out there now.

  • Nino Gugunishvili

    Loved your  story! It's beautiful, magical and so touching! I wish you all the best with your book!

  • Jill G. Hall

    Dylan, I hope you enjoy it!

  • J. Dylan Yates

    Cannot wait to open and devour your beautiful book. Thanks for sharing your inspiration, Jill!