Monday, September 8, 2008

Writers in their own words-GCC

Today I'm excited to be touring my fellow GCC writer friend, Joanne Rendell, author of The Professors' Wives Club.

Here's a short description to whet your appetite . . .

With its iron gate and high fence laced with honeysuckle, Manhattan University’s garden offers faculty wives Mary, Sofia, Ashleigh, and Hannah a much needed refuge. Each of them carries a scandalous secret that could upset their lives, destroy their families, and rock the prestigious university to its very core.

When a ruthless Dean tries to demolish the garden, the four women are thrown together in a fight which enrages and unites them. The wives are an indomitable force. While doing battle with the ambitious dean, they expose the dark underbelly of academia – and find the courage to stand up for their own dreams, passions, and lives.

And here are a few glowing recommendations . . .

"As an NYU alum, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes escapades at the fictional Manhattan U. in THE PROFESSORS’ WIVES’ CLUB. Joanne Rendell has created a quick, fun read about a wonderful group of friends."
Kate Jacobs, NYT’s bestselling author of THE FRIDAY NIGHT KNITTING CLUB

"The four women in THE PROFESSORS’ WIVES' CLUB who risk it all in pursuit of life, love, and green space in New York City are smart, funny and real -- friends you'd want for life. Rendell doesn't shy away from tough issues, but her light touch and readable prose make this charming first novel a delight."
Christina Baker Kline, author of THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE

Finally, here's Joanne in her own words . . .

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?

The initial inspiration for the book came amid a rather giggly, wine-soaked evening with one of my girlfriends who, like me, is a professor’s wife. After our usual catch-up, the cabernet began to flow and we found ourselves gossiping about other faculty wives. We talked about a wife planning a boob job; another pregnant with her fifth child. The best piece of gossip came last, however: a professor’s wife who’d just run off with one of her husband’s grad students.

The next morning I started to hammer out my first ideas for the novel. As I typed, the more I realized what intriguing characters professors’ wives would make. Even if they aren’t professors themselves (which many are), most professors’ wives are deeply connected and invested in the university where their husband or partner works. Like my friend and me, they live in faculty housing, they go to the campus gym, often their kids go to the same daycare. Yet these women often have little power when it comes to university decisions.

I liked the idea of pitting these seemingly powerless women against a dean who in his little kingdom of the university has so much power.

2.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

Probably Sofia. Sofia is a real firecracker. She speaks her mind, she stands up for her friends, and she let’s no one get in her way. Yet, as well as being fearless, she’s fun and loving too. I think she’s a friend most every woman would want.

3.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?

I write while my four year old son sleeps. He stays up late at night and goes to bed when my husband and I do. I know some parents wouldn’t be able to do this because they need their evenings to themselves. However, this routine works for us and means I get a deliciously long morning in which I go the gym, come home, make my cup of Tetley tea, and then sit down to write. I always try and write at least 500 words a day. I started doing this in grad school when I was writing my PhD dissertation. 500 words might not seem a lot but it definitely adds up and keeps you moving forward.

4.) What's your favorite part of writing?

Just writing itself. Nothing feels as good as when you sit down, open your laptop, and the ideas and words start flowing. After a good morning’s writing, when a scene has gone well and dialogue has come easily, I always feel refreshed and fulfilled. Of course, after a writing session which hasn’t gone so well, when I’ve been lost for ideas or decided what I’ve just written isn’t working, I don’t feel quite so good. But those “off days” are made worth it by the “on” ones!

5.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

”Join a writer’s group.” There is so so much to learn from other writers. Not just about the craft itself, but also useful information about the publishing business. I started off writing fiction without joining a group and I made mistakes which I think I just wouldn’t have made if I had had other writer’s advising me.

Sounds like a great read for back-to-school time!

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