Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Writing Porch Author Q&A with Jenny Gardiner, 'Sleeping With Ward Cleaver'

Jenny Gardiner is the author of 'Sleeping With Ward Cleaver.'

Her work has been found in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post and on NPR’s Day to Day. She likes to say she honed her fiction writing skills while working as a publicist for a U.S. senator. Other jobs have included: an orthodontic assistant (learning quite readily that she was not cut out for a career in polyester), a waitress (probably her highest-paying job), a TV reporter, a pre-obituary writer, and a photographer (claim to fame: being hired to shoot Prince Charles--with a camera, silly!). She lives in Virginia with her husband, three kids, two dogs, one cat and a gregarious parrot. In her free time she studies Italian, dreams of traveling to exotic locales, and feels very guilty for rarely attempting to clean the house. Her humorous memoir, 'Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Demented Bird Determined to Kill Me' (think David Sedaris meets 'Marley & Me' with a really sharp beak) will be published by Simon Spotlight in spring 2010.

Tell us a bit about your book, 'Sleeping With Ward Cleaver' (Dorchester, 2008)

It's the funny yet poignant story of a woman at a crossroads in life, who years earlier married a man who swept her off her feet, but now finds that her Mr. Right has evolved into Mr. Always Right, and the only sweeping going on in her life involves a broom and a dustpan. As her dreams collide with reality and the one that got away shows up trying to worm his way back into her heart, she must decide if her once charmed marriage is salvageable, and if so, how she's going to go about saving it.

"A fun, sassy read! A cross between Erma Bombeck and Candace Bushnell, reading Jenny Gardiner is like sinking your teeth into a big frosted chocolate just want more." -New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot

How did you get your start in writing?

I probably started writing because I was so bad at math. By fourth grade I realized the only way I was going to pass math was by writing extra credit reports so I fine-tuned my writing skills by avoiding D's and F's ;-)

What does your writing routine look like?

Slightly schizophrenic. Actually I feel most productive in the morning but it doesn't always lend itself to writing. I've got 3 kids and so often times I have to work my schedule around getting them to and from places.Over the past two months when I was working on a tight deadline, I actually dropped my kids off at school and made my way to one of a number of favorite coffee shops in town, where I would hunker down with my headphones blocking out chatter with iTunes cranked, and write until it was time to pick up my daughter at soccer practice at 6 pm. But that intensive writing schedule becomes exhausting after a while, and more realistically I'd say I try to focus in the morning for a few hours when my brain feels fresh.

Tell us some writers whose work you admire and why.

Wow, so many. I think I got my love of writing first person POV from reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Also with Jean Shepherd ('In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash' --LOVE this memoir). I tend to love strong voices, and also prefer smart alecky ones. Even my new recent find, Victoria Dahl, is that; Jaquie D'Alessandro as well. I love Meg Cabot's voice and I love her crazy pop culture sensibility--I relate to this a lot, being a child of the Brady Bunch generation. I really enjoy Jonathan Tropper's writing ('Everything Changes' is a great book).

What are you working on next?

I have a humorous memoir coming out in March titled 'Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me.' It's sort of Jen Weiner meets Marley & Me with a deadly beak. LOL. My agent is also shopping a novel I've written called 'Slim to None' about the nation's premier food critic, who is outed on Page Six of the NY Post and everyone now knows she is fat, thus cannot hide herself to remain incognito to continue reviewing restaurants. Her editor gives her six months to slim down or ship out. I love this book so hope we find a house for it soon.

What made you decide to write this book?

I love to explore relationships and the evolution (or devolution) of marriages in particular. I've probably always been like that because my parents' marriage crashed and burned in a big way so I hyper-analyze these things. But I wanted to make it funny as well as serious, which is sort of tricky.

What challenges did you face with this book?

It's a bit smart alecky--my protagonist is a strong personality and she was a hard sell to editors. I feel so fortunate that Chris Keeslar at Dorchester happened upon my manuscript for the American Title III contest because he finally "got" it, and without his championing it, it might never have made it into the competition, eventually winning.

What advice would you have for other writers/would-be writers?

Believe in yourself, and don't let the rejections get you down. It's a tough business and the last writer standing gets the publishing contract!

Favorite Links:

EDITOR'S NOTE: J. Louise Larson, blogmistress for The Writing Porch, interviews published authors. To be considered, email her at jackielarsonwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. Larson's work has been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Dallas Morning News and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the managing editor of the Ennis Journal and a contributor at the Waxahachie Daily Light, and she has received the top award for series writing in Texas, the Texas APME, as well as a silver from the Parenting Publications of America. She co-authored a nonfiction career guide for FabJob Publishing in 2006, and is seeking representation for her new novel, 'At High Tide.'

No comments: