The GCC tour is zipping through the Blogosphere again, this week featuring the lovely Joanne Rendell and her first novel, The Professors' Wives' Club (NAL/Penguin). I've already had the pleasure of reading a few posts on this intriguing new book, as well as an excellent interview by The Book Lady just last week. (Check out Caryn's 9-2-08 Q&A with Joanne if your can!! :-)
The book's gotten a lot of buzz, including praise from New York Times bestselling author Kate Jacobs who said: "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."
Joanne knows what she's talking about when it comes to the wild world of academia. She was born and raised in the UK and, 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, which would--I imagine--provide a perfect atmosphere for observing some of the otherwise unseen antics of university life.
Thanks so much for touring me!
My pleasure! New readers want to know about your book...can you tell us the basic premise? Four professors’ wives’ do battle with a mean dean to save a faculty garden.
What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why? I particularly love the character Sofia in my book. She’s a real firecracker. It is Sofia who leads the fight against the ruthless dean. She’s feisty and witty, but also sensitive, smart, and intensely loyal. I love her blend of guts and passion, but also her kindness. If THE PROFESSORS' WIVES' CLUB is ever made into a movie, I imagine someone like Selma Hayek or perhaps Tina Fey playing her.
Who was the first person you told when you got The Call announcing you'd sold your novel? I got The Call when my family and I had just arrived back from a trip out of town. The only thing is my husband, who was the person I really wanted to tell, had to go and park our car – which in New York City is a long and arduous task. I was bursting with excitement and my son, who was three at the time, wasn’t really the perfect sounding board. In fact, he was watching my whooping and cartwheeling with a wide, slightly alarmed gaze! So I called my mum. She lives in Spain and the timing was off, so I woke her in the middle of the night. She didn’t care though. She whooped and cartwheeled too!
What's your Writer Fantasy (yes, I love this question :), i.e., to see your book make into a feature film, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.? All of the above, but perhaps 80 weeks on “the list” would be even better! Seriously though, my biggest writer’s fantasy is to be able to keep on writing and publishing books. It’s such a fun vocation, but in this day and age when books aren’t selling like they used to – and to be a bestseller is like winning the lottery – there are few guarantees.
Would your high school friends be surprised to discover you'd become a novelist? It’s funny, through the powers of Facebook and Google, some of my old school friends are now finding out that I’ve become a novelist. Some seem surprised, some not. I was always a studious kid and was often nicknamed a “swot” (which in Britain means a kind of egghead, goody two-shoes student). I don’t think it would surprise any of my classmates that I went onto to do a PhD in literature. But my more recent turn to fiction, with sexy legs on my book covers (!), might raise a few eyebrows.
What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication? Join a writer’s group, either on or offline. Other writers 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.
Thanks for being here, Joanne. I'm really looking forward to reading your novel! Any readers out there have behind-the-scenes experience with universities? If so, are any of those fiction-worthy tales? (Or shouldn't I ask?!)