In Lindsey Leavitt’s novel Going Vintage, Mallory’s boyfriend cheats on her with an online girlfriend, so she swears off boys and all modern technology – no cell phone, no computer. Inspired by a list of goals that her grandmother made in 1962, the teen opts to live and dress as though it’s that era. Leavitt and Bloomsbury, which will release the YA novel on March 26, decided to mesh a vintage vibe with modern technology to spread pre-pub word of Going Vintage. The author and Bloomsbury staffers solicited friends and colleagues to send photos of their grandparents, parents, or themselves dressed in vintage garb, along with a paragraph identifying the individual and the setting, and posted them on Tumblr.
The idea for the Tumblr fashion photo blog came out of a brainstorming session between Leavitt and Erica Barmash, Bloomsbury’s associate marketing director. “Lindsey came up with the idea of asking people to post vintage fashion photos,” says Barmash. “It spiraled from there, and I thought the best platform for this would be Tumblr, since there are tons of teens on Tumblr and it’s so visual.”
The publisher has been promoting the campaign via Facebook and Twitter, and Leavitt and other YA authors and bloggers have also been tweeting about the site. The call for photos, which are still being submitted, has brought in an array of images featuring various fashion styles and eras. Among the contributors are YA bloggers, publishing industry professionals, and authors, including Marissa Meyer, Lisa Schroeder, Cynthia Jaynes, Irene Latham, and Martha Brockenbrough.
Bloomsbury editor Caroline Abbey, who edited Going Vintage, notes that the sharing of photos on Tumblr “really gets to the heart of the novel, which is a wonderful mix of humor, romance, and family.” Abbey contributed two photos from her family archives: one of her great-aunt dressed in a stylish coat and hat for her 12th birthday outing in 1942; and one of her mother as a teenager, all dolled up in a paisley dress for a debutante party in 1971. “My mother and her friends were supposed to wear white to the party, but they decided to break with tradition and show their own unique style,” says Abbey. “I thought this was the perfect image, since Mallory is kind of doing the same thing in the novel – trying to find out who she really is.”
Leavitt was inspired to write Going Vintage after reading a Wall Street Journal article several years ago about a man who had both an online wife and a real-life wife. “I then began thinking about how much time we spend online,” she says. “And at about the same time, my Grandpa passed away, and we found some old photos and other things he left behind. I wanted to know the stories behind them.”
The author, who gave up using technology for a week while writing the novel (though she admits to cheating a few times), is pleased with the response to the Tumblr campaign. “I’m excited to see the feedback, and to see the different photos as they come in,” she says. “One I particularly love is a photo of Irene Latham’s mother at her prom in 1963, wearing a dress she sewed herself. One of Mallory’s grandmother’s goals was to sew her own homecoming dress. It was a serendipitous moment when Irene sent in the photo, since it was taken the same year that Mallory’s grandmother would have sewn her own dress. I think this is a very cool way to bridge the generational gap.”
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt. Bloomsbury, $16.99 Mar. ISBN 978-1-59990-787-1
For PW’s review, click here.