As part of her June tour of the blogosphere with Pump Up Your Books Promotion, Wendy Wax, author of The Accidental Bestseller, took some time to answer our questions about her book and her reading habits.
Please check out our review of The Accidental Bestseller here.
Kendall, Mallory, Faye, and Tanya are all authors. In the novel you share and describe their different writing methods and problems they face when writing. Did you pull from your own experiences as a model to reflect these behaviors?
Wendy: Well, I do know what all the things these characters face feel like. I also have a lot of writer friends. I would say that I’ve used bits and pieces of myself and others in the creation of Kendall, Mallory, Faye and Tanya, but none of them are based on any one person. All characters are a composition of the real and the imaginary. To me, creating unique and believable characters is one of the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of writing. I suspect if you veered too close to reality, it would be difficult to make them behave in ways you couldn’t see that real person behaving, which would be a bit confining.
The quotes that start each chapter all tie into the publishing world, be it quotes about books, starting a career as a writer, or the publishing industry. Are these a collection of quotes that have helped you in your career? Or do you have a favorite individual quote?
Wendy: Initially I was searching for a single quote to use at the beginning of The Accidental Bestseller to set the tone, but I found so many that resonated with me that I decided to use a different quote at the beginning of each chapter. Although all of them had meaning for me there are several that stand out. One is by John Steinbeck who said, “The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” James Baldwin said, “Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck–but most of all, endurance.” My personal favorite is by an author named Tapani Bagge who said, “Everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And later you can use it in some story.” That’s exactly what I did in The Accidental Bestseller.
Are any of the characters modeled after yourself? If not are they all a combination of you? Who is your favorite character? Who do you most closely relate with?
Wendy: As I said, Kendall, Faye, Mallory and Tanya are composites of the real and the fictional and, ultimately, unique onto themselves. I probably relate most closely to Kendall. She’s the primary point of view character and has the most page time, so I was ‘in her head’ the most. She also lives where I do and experiences difficulty with a publisher she wants to leave as I did though the circumstances and end result were very different. But I loved and related to all of these characters and enjoyed getting to know them as I went along.
Did you find it difficult to write a book where all of the main characters shared the same profession as yourself or did you find it provided a more intimate look into their lives?
Wendy: The fact that they were all writers did make it even more important than usual to distinguish them from each other. I spent a lot of time and effort creating distinct personalities and very different lives and back stories. Writing about the act of writing, though, was much easier than trying to understand and describe careers that I know only through research. I knew these women and their struggles to put words on a page and survive the turbulence of publishing so well that writing them often felt effortless.
If any, what is your favorite writers conference to attend?
Wendy: I don’t attend a lot of conferences regularly, but I go to RWA whenever it’s possible and makes sense, and I always participate in Moonlight & Magnolias, which is put on by my local chapter. I’d love to attend the NINC conference, but given the ages and activities of my children I haven’t had the chance to do that yet.
Mallory sets a standard for herself to write 20 pages a day. Is this an achievable standard or does it merely reflect on Mallory’s powerful persona?
Wendy: I have heard of and know writers who do this regularly. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those writers! I come close at the end of a book when I know exactly where I’m going, but never at the beginning or during the middle. I used Mallory’s obsession with maintaining this daily page count to illustrate her determination and desperation. She’s afraid to let up for some very important reasons that are central to her character and motivation and she’s unwilling to even consider the words ‘writer’s block.’
What are your 3 favorite books?
Wendy:Gone With the Wind is at the top of my list. I’ve joked that I originally attended the University of Georgia because I’d read GWTW one-too-many times. Unfortunately, this was no joke! I recently had the opportunity to speak at The Margaret Mitchell House and it was an incredible thrill and honor.
I’ve read so many books that I’ve loved over the years that it’s hard to put them in any real order. More recently I’ve really enjoyed Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. I also just finished Michael Malone’s The Four Corners of the Sky, James Grippando’s Intent to Kill, and Claire Cook’s Life’s a Beach. As you can see I have somewhat eclectic taste.
What are you reading right now?
Wendy: I’ve just started Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, which is about screenwriting.