“The names have been changed to
protect the innocent,” jokes novelist Wendy Wax about her new book The
Accidental Bestseller. “It’s not a roman a clef, but I admit that parts of
it are somewhat autobiographical. A few people may think they recognize
themselves, but the real life experiences at its core are actually compilations
of my own and other authors’ agonies, ecstasies and observations.”
The novel centers on a writer who, with her editor gone and her sales in a slump, discovers how merciless the business of book publishing can be. With the help of three writer friends, whose own successes range from modest sales to international renown, she faces daunting personal and professional setbacks as she struggles to pursue her dream. Wendy notes “I’ve intensified the difficulties, thrown in an empty nest, a cheating husband and taken a whole boatload of liberties, but I still see the story as a realistic look at the challenges confronting many published authors.”
We interviewed Wendy to find out more about her new book, The Accidental Bestseller, and her life as a published author.
Thank you for this interview, Wendy. Your book is classified as a women’s fiction. Can you tell us why you chose this particular genre?
Wendy: I think it's actually less about choosing a genre than telling the story you set out to tell. I'm drawn to writing stories about women who face adversity and in the process discover who they really are and what they're made of. Of course, the fact that all four main characters are women makes this of special interest to female readers.
The Accidental Bestseller explores the depth of women’s friendships and the emotional bonds that tie people to their families. Is there a little of you in any of your characters?
Wendy: I think a writer always puts bits and pieces of herself into anything she writes. Sometimes it's intentional and sometimes it's not. We imbue characters with our own hopes and fears, bad and good habits, likes and dislikes; other times we just make everything up! Fiction is a wonderful thing!
Like your protagonist, you at one time contended with the emotions and stress with switching publishers. Can you tell us more about this?
Wendy: It's not unusual for a writer to leave one publisher for another, or for editors to switch publishing houses; it happens all the time. My current publisher is my third, and I know other writers who've written for numerous houses as well. Sometimes the parting is pleasant, but sometimes the move is unplanned or unwelcome. Even under the best of circumstances switching publishers can be stressful.
In THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER, Kendall Aims's editor leaves to have a baby and she's left in the hands of an editor who doesn't like her and can barely feign interest in her work. For any writer this is way up there on the stress-o-meter! Then her publisher drops her completely, but she still owes them one last book. OH, and did I mention that her children have left for college and her husband is having an affair? Thank goodness she has good friends to see her through!
You chose Atlanta, Georgia, for your setting. Can you tell us why you chose that particular city?
Wendy: I actually got to use four different settings in this story, which was a lot of fun. Kendall Aims, who writes women's fiction, lives in the Atlanta suburbs where I've lived for the last twelve years. Mallory St. James, the most successful writer of the group, lives in New York City. Faye Truett, who is the wife of a famous televangelist and writes inspirational romances, lives in the Chicago area. Tanya Mason, a struggling single mother who juggles two children, two jobs and a difficult mother and writes series romance, lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where I grew up.
In this case, I used two locations I know well and two I've visited. Luckily, I found people in both New York and Chicago who were willing to help me with details that were important to my characters.
You have done on air work, voiceovers and produced a variety of commercial projects and several feature films. Can you tell us more about this?
Wendy: I was a broadcast journalism major in college and worked in radio, TV and film for many years. I was with a PBS-TV affiliate in Tampa and left there to do freelance voice over and on camera work for commercial and corporate projects. I also worked on a number of feature films.
The most memorable of these experiences, and the most fun, was my stint as the host of a live radio call in show at WDAE Radio in Tampa called, Desperate & Dateless. (Which I was at the time!)
Finally, what do you feel is the biggest challenge to authors today?
Wendy: Aspiring authors tend to think that selling the first book is the most difficult hurdle and that once that happens everything else just falls into place. But publishing can be a brutal business, as I illustrate in THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER, which is as true a depiction of what it is to be a writer in today's publishing environment as I was able to write without straying into non-fiction. (This is something the characters in THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER have a bit of a problem with.)
Markets change, publishing houses merge, editors leave--there are all kinds of things beyond a writer's control-- and many have nothing to do with the writing itself. One of the 45 quotes about writing that I use as epigraphs in the book is from James Baldwin who said, "Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck--but most of all, endurance." That, I think is the key to meeting the challenge: endurance.
Thank you for this interview, Wendy. Can you tell us what your future plans are and how people can find out more about you on the web?
Wendy: Thanks for having me! I'm just finishing up revisions on my next book, MAGNOLIA WEDNESDAYS, which will be out next spring. In the meantime, I hope you'll pick up a copy of THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER and stop by www.authorwendywax.com to tell me what you think.
While you're on my site, please tune into Accidental Radio to hear a host of bestselling authors sharing the accidental moments that changed their lives. Then send me your own favorite accidental moment. I'm going to post some of the most unusual!