San Francisco Bay Area novelist, editor and writing teacher Wendy Tokunaga's Official Blog. Mostly writing and editing tips and tricks, plus commentary on publishing, but also posts on Japan, music, TV, film, social media, cats, the writer's life and anything else I feel like talking about.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
THE PROFESSORS’ WIVES’ CLUB - by Joanne Rendell
Joanne Rendell is my guest today on the Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit Lit Blog Tour. Behind four professors, there are four great women…the only thing is, Manhattan University doesn’t know it yet. But it’s about to find out.
In her new novel THE PROFESSORS’ WIVES’ CLUB (NAL/Penguin; 2nd September 2008), NYU faculty wife Joanne Rendell tells of four professors’ wives who risk everything to save a beloved faculty garden.
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.
Advance Praise for THE PROFESSORS’ WIVES’ CLUB:
"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
Joanne Rendell was born and raised in the UK. After completing her PhD in English Literature, she moved to the States to be with her husband, a professor at NYU. She now lives in a student dorm in New York City with her family. The Professors’ Wives’ Club is her first novel. Joanne’s second novel will be released by NAL/Penguin next summer (’09).
Joanne took the time to answer some questions. I was just in New York and sure wish I knew about Benny's Burritos before I left!
What was the inspiration behind the writing of The Professors’ Wives' Club?
I found my inspiration for my book at the bottom of a large glass of wine! I was out with one of my girlfriends who, like me, is a professor’s wife, and 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 very 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.
What is one thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry since getting your first book deal?
I never knew that those tables at the big bookstores like Barnes and Noble were so darn important! Apparently those tables are officially called “coop space” and the bookstores charge publishing houses a lot of money to stack books there. If your book gets to sit on one of those tables, it is like it’s been awarded a three bed apartment on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park. It’s prime real estate.
What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel published?
Join a writer’s group – either on or offline. Other writer’s can be fonts of infinite wisdom, not only about the craft of writing, but also about the publishing industry. Plus, writing can be pretty isolating sometimes and finding a community of like-minded souls can really help. I have a small group of writer friends who live in New York, like I do, and we exchange drafts and emails regularly. I’m also a member of Backspace (a wonderful online forum for writers), as well as various writer’s listservs.
Also, keep reading. Whichever genre you intend to write in – whether its mystery or literary fiction – make sure you know it inside out.
And keep writing. I really treat writing as a job. I sit down at my desk and tell myself I must write 500 words a day. I then get going. Often I trash a lot of what I write the next day, but at least I have words on a page to work with.
Keep learning about the craft. Even now, with one book published and another on the way, I continually go back to my books about writing. It is always good to remind myself what makes good dialogue, or how to transition well into a flashback seen, or how to pepper exposition into a chapter.
What and where is your favorite restaurant and why is it your favorite?
Benny’s Burritos in the East Village, NYC. My husband and I love the place so much we named our son after it. No kidding!
Posted by Wendy Tokunaga at 8:41 PM
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