Tuesday, September 1, 2009

GCC Author interview and book giveaway: Joanne Rendell

Have you missed the Girlfriends as much as I have lately? Well, never fear, because we've got a member of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit here today to chat! Joanne Rendell's Crossing Washington Square can be found in bookstores today (yes, today!) and we're lucky enough to have her here today in honor of the big launch! And the news only gets better from there: Joanne's been kind enough to offer to give away a signed copy of her latest novel! Deets on how to enter below.

So, let's dive in to the questions!

Tell us about your most recent novel in 25 words or less.

Sparks fly when two very different female professors meet head to heart at a prestigious university.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

My life! Crossing Washington Square was completely inspired by own experiences. I have a PhD in English literature and my past academic life is everywhere in this book. Like one of my characters, Professor Diana Monroe, I once taught Sylvia Plath to undergraduates. Like Professor Rachel Grey, my other lead character, I sometimes struggled to ignite a discussion in a room full of tired students. I’ve also seen first hand how vicious, snobbish, and competitive academics can be with each other. Moreover, I know a lot of juicy ivory tower gossip!

Themes within the book are also inspired by discussions I had in grad school. I always loved the debate about “high culture” and “popular culture” – in other words, whether it is more important to study Shakespeare or whether popular writers like Stephen King and Nora Roberts are worthy of study too. This debate is important in the novel. Rachel is a scholar of popular women’s fiction (think Bridget Jones’ Diary), while Diana is a rigorous Plath scholar who thinks that popular fiction is an easy ride for students and worries that the study of the classics and “high” literature

might get pushed aside. Rachel thinks studying popular fiction is vital because, as she says in the book, “popular culture influences who we are, what we think, and what’s going to happen in our world and in our lives.” It was so fun bringing this debate alive in fiction.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on final edits for my third novel which was bought by Penguin last fall. The novel tells the story of a woman who thinks she might be related to the nineteenth century writer, Mary Shelley. On her journey to seek the truth and to discover if there really is a link between her own family and the creator of Frankenstein, Clara unearths surprising facts about people much closer to home – including some shocking secrets about the ambitious scientist she is engaged to. The book is told in alternating points of view between Clara and the young Mary Shelley who is preparing to write Frankenstein.

If your book were to become a movie, who would you cast?

Crossing Washington Square loosely echoes Austen’s Sense and Sensibilty – with one professor being led by her sense, the other by her sensibility. I love the Ang Lee adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet playing the two very different Dashwood sisters. Therefore I’d love Emma and Kate to play my professors.

What tips would you offer to aspiring writers?

Join a writer’s group – either on or off line – right away! You can learn so so much from other writers. Not just about the craft itself, but also so much useful stuff about the business. I started off writing fiction without joining a group and I made mistakes which I think I just wouldn’t have made if I had had other writer’s advising me.

Try and write a set amount of words per day. When I was in grad school, I vowed to myself that I had to write 500 words a day. I kept to this pretty religiously and now, even though I write novels instead of academic papers, I do the same. It really works!

Keep reading. Writers must be readers. By reading other people’s books, we see and learn how words can be spun and stories can be told. There is nothing more vital to a writer’s diet!

Thanks so much, Joanne! I totally agree with that advice for writers. And the new book sounds absolutely amazing. (As does book number three!!)

Want to win a signed copy of Joanne's latest? Just leave a comment below and you're entered!

The winner will be announced on September 15th.


drey said...

I would so love to win!! Pick me! =)

Linda said...

The college professor aspect of this books sounds intriguing. Please add my name to the drawing.

trishalynn0708 said...

Please enter me


Wanda said...

I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Pam said...

Pick me! Pick me!

melacan at hotmail dot com

holdenj said...

I would love to win Crossing Washington Sqaure, it sounds great. As does her new work, about Clara and Mary Shelley! Thanks for a nice interview and intro to an author I'm not familiar with yet.

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com

DarcyO said...

Crossing Washington Square sounds wonderful! Please pick me!

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

etirv said...

Nice to meet Joanne Rendell here! Congrats on the new book and please count me in!


Janel said...

I know several people who are college professor's. I'd love to get an idea of what their world is like.


gaby317 said...

This sounds like such a fun read and a great title!

Please count me in.

Tom and Dorothy Hoobler did an interesting nonfiction book on Mary Shelley that you might enjoy.

gaby317nyc at gmail dot com

Jennifer said...

Awesome interview! I had not head of this book before, now I defintely must read it. Please enter me for the giveaway. Thanks!

Sue said...

I'd love a chance! Thanks for sharing.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Amanda said...

I have yet to read a Joanne novel and would love for this one to my first.

EdgellACE (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Please put me in for the drawing! I can't wait to read it. Joanne Rendell's first book was great!

Thanks! :)
Jackie073 (at) juno (dot) com

Anonymous said...

I'd love to win! Thanks! marisapavlik /@/ yahoo dot com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hello, ladies! Joanne asked me to post this over at my Win a Book blog, so I did. Brenda, if you've ever got anything you'd like us to post about, drop us a line.

M. said...

The cover is very nice, and I totally think Emma and Kate could pull off those professor roles! Also I'm intrigued with the Mary Shelley premise.

and now for something completely different: looking at the sidebar, I'm fascinated by how the art and titles get changed so, so much from one country to another.

mayamissani AT yahoo DOT ca

MoziEsmé said...

I'd love to read this!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Kristen said...

This sounds great and I'd love to win it!

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

need a good end of summer read..thx for the contest..

heatherzilla said...

Sounds like an interesting read. Please include me in the giveaway.

avalonne83 said...

Sounds really great.
Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

joão said...

I would like to read this book!


Rosa said...

Please enter me!


Luís said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to enter.


Joana Dias said...

This book looks soooo good! I really want it! :)


Tânia said...

I've been wanting to read this book.


manuel said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to enter.


Bev said...

Sounds like a fun book - count me in: D


augusto said...

Great contest!

Patricia said...

Oh please pick me!

maria said...

I would love to win this book.


filipe said...

I want this book! Please enter me in!


Miguel said...

Thank you for the giveaway!


alexandra said...

Please enter me in this amazing contest!

Ruth said...

Can I be entered too, please? :)

traveler said...

COngratulations on the new release. What a wonderful book which is so appealing and special. I enjoyed the great interview. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Marie said...

This sounds like a great book, I'd love to read it!