Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Professors' Wives' Club

Joanne Rendell is a fellow member of the GCC and a terrific author! Her book The Professors' Wives' Club comes out this week and I am thrilled she stopped by to answer some questions.

Is that a great cover or what!

Tell us about your latest book.

The Professors’ Wives’ Club tells the story of four women who do battle with a ruthless dean at Manhattan U – a university which looks a lot like NYU where my own husband is a professor! The power hungry dean is set to bulldoze a faculty garden which may be hiding a secret about Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven.” What he hasn’t bargained for, however, is the guts and will of four professors’ wives who are determined to halt the demolition plans and save the garden which has become their meeting place and their refuge. Through their fight with the dean, the women expose the dark underbelly of academia and find the courage to stand up for their lives and their dreams.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or are you more organic?

A little bit of both, I’d say. I always have a good idea where the book is going and usually draw up a loose chapter outline, but then while writing things change and I allow myself to go with the flow.

Do you have a vice that you’ve given up, but long to continue?

I’ve just recently given up Diet Coke. It’s a shocker, as I was seriously hooked and I often needed my “fix” to get any writing done. I definitely yearn for it still, but then I remind myself of what those Skinny Bitch authors say about Aspartame (the artificial sweetener in diet sodas) and I resist.

For you, what is the most difficult part of being an author?

Procrastination. It’s always so hard for me to start a scene, or a chapter, or to pick up where I left off the day before, and that’s when procrastination rears its mean and ugly head. Usually, because I’m sitting at my computer attempting to write, the easiest form of procrastination is the internet. Checking today’s top videos on You Tube, or looking at my friends photo albums on Facebook, or seeing what people are Twittering about, always becomes endlessly fascinating at the same moment when I intend to start writing! And after a hour or more of such procrastination, I’m always filled with regret that I wasted precious writing time.

What do you love about being an author?

Getting all those people, stories, and ideas that live in my head out onto paper. If I wasn’t a writer, my poor brain would get a little crowded!

Also, I love the writing communities I have found myself a part of. I am in writer’s groups on and offline and, I have to say, I have never experienced the isolated-writer syndrome that so many people speak of. The exact opposite, in fact. Since I started writing fiction, I’ve never felt like I have so many like minded and supportive friends. Some of these I’ve never even met face-to-face. We correspond only through email or online forums. But it doesn’t matter, because if I’m struggling with a scene, I can shoot an email off to a friend and say, “argh, don’t you hate it when…?” And usually, because they are a writer like me who constantly checks email like I do, they’ll email right back and say, “Yes, I hate that too.”

What’s next for you?

My second novel is also being published by Penguin and comes out next year. The novel tells the story of two women, professors this time, who work an English Department. One of the women, Diana, is older, very serious, and extremely established in the academic world. She’s only interested in very serious literature and has written books about Sylvia Plath. The other professor, Rachel, is new to the department. She’s young, bubbly, and enthusiastic and her scholarship looks at popular women’s fiction. Her research ruffles a lot of feathers in the academy, in fact, because people see the books Rachel looks at as throwaway and trash. Diana is particularly adamant on this point and really doesn’t like it when the young professor comes to the department.

The novel basically looks at the tensions between these two very different women and shows all the repercussions in their department and in their lives when they are pitted next to each other. A handsome visiting professor from Harvard and some high-profile misbehaving students only serves to make sparks fly even more between the two women!


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