September 2009


Wendy Walker is the author of Four Wives and Social Lives. The former lawyer and financial analyst has also edited some Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She lives in Connecticut with her three sons. Social Lives is released this month.

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  1. Tell us about the women of Social Lives.

    The women of Social Lives are wives and mothers (and one daughter) living in one of the most elite communities in the country - the CT suburbs to Manhattan. Jacks Halstead has just learned that her husband is being investigated for embezzlement and has likely led them to financial ruin. Rosalyn Barlow is trying to save her daughter, Caitlin's, reputation after the 14-year-old was discovered in a "friends with benefits" situation at school. Caitlin is caught in a social life that leaves her reeling. And newcomer Sara Livingston finds herself lost in a culture she cannot comprehend. They are each, in their own way, clever, caring, flawed and at the core, profoundly human.

  2. Were you pleased to find you had tapped into the theme of the year - the effects of the economic downturn?

    It's hard to feel pleased about anything related to the economy. That said, it has been interesting to see life playing out in ways that I had imagined a couple of years ago when I came up with the plot for Social Lives. The wives of the elite still leave paying jobs in large numbers to care for their homes and families. This division of labor is almost necessary given the 24/7 demands of the nation's highest-paying jobs. These wives spend years, decades, honing skills and adding invaluably to their families. And yet none of these skills hold any economic value outside of their marriages. This dilemma has always been there. The recent economic downturn has simply brought it to the public eye.

  3. Do you think there is still more life left in recession lit?

    Absolutely! The impact of the recession will be felt for many years to come and has reached into every corner of the world. People are just now living this impact, so having the recession as the backdrop for literature and other forms of entertainment will continue to be of interest.

  4. What universal lessons can women draw from stories about American women from the wealthy 'burbs?

    I don't know that there are lessons, only understanding and, perhaps, empathy. Women have and always will face difficult decisions about how to structure their lives when they have families. To say that women should take from recent events a lesson to never stop working is not particularly helpful. I stayed home with my kids for over a decade and I am still only working part-time when all is said and done. I wouldn't change that. Often times, it is the only logical choice given the job of the husband and other factors, such as the cost of child care. What I find interesting, however, is how our society values (undervalues?) the unpaid work that is mostly performed by women.

  5. How did you get into writing?

    I had left my job as a lawyer to stay home with my first child, and I was going a little bit crazy! I really needed an intellectual outlet that was, at the very least, on some path to a paid career that could be done from home. Writing novels was what I came up with when I asked myself the question - "what would be your dream job?" That it came true still amazes me!

  6. Which other authors have inspired you?

    I love people who can engage a wide audience, from Dan Brown to Janet Evanovich. I tend to enjoy writing that lets me get lost in the story rather than impressing me with clever word crafting.

  7. What is book No. 3 about?

    Book three is more of a love story. It is set in suburban CT, because I am nowhere done exploring this culture I inhabit, but it brings in a west coast twist. When I think about Four Wives, and now Social Lives, I think about the issues as much as the characters. The third novel will be much more about these two people than the broader social issues their story may bring to light. I'm having a fabulous time writing it, so hopefully people will enjoy reading it just as much!

  8. What inspired your debut Four Wives?

    My life at the time and the world I was living and breathing. I was 36 with three small children. I had given up my career to be a stay-home mother and although I was filled with love for my children, something was missing in my life. All around me, women talked about this missing something and we all plotted ways to get it back. The issue was so pervasive within me and my peers that I decided to write about it.

  9. Which of the four wives did you most relate to?

    Love was the first character I created and in many ways she represents this dilemma of the "missing thing". But as I created the other characters - Marie, Gayle and Janie - I definitely found other pieces of myself pouring into them. I find it difficult to completely separate myself from any of my characters. To write what they are thinking and feeling, I have to imagine being in their shoes and being them. But what comes forth is still originating from me and everything and everyone I have experienced in my own life. In that way, I relate to all of them.

  10. And which character was represented by the pale pink lipstick on the paperback cover?

    You would have to ask my publisher. The cover was all their doing!

  11. Which came first - the characters or the issues they were dealing with?

    The issues for sure. In both of my novels, I started with issues and then constructed characters to give life to those issues. Of course, as I write the pages, blanks need to be filled and characters become real people in my head and take on a life of their own.

  12. What aspects of being a lawyer helped you deal with raising children and running a household?

    Being a lawyer forces you to think analytically. This has helped me tremendously in problem solving with my kids. I have three very different boys. Navigating their moods and behavior can be challenging because not every form of discipline or guidance works with all three. It is a wonderful tool to be able to map out cause and effect with kids and accumulate an arsenal of techniques for everyday parenting.

  13. What do you think about the rivalry between stay-at-home and working mums?

    I don't know that I see it as a rivalry. If it is one, it shouldn't be. One thing I learned from editing Chicken Soup for the Soul - Power Moms, is that every woman faces her own set of circumstances when making this decision. It is never easy and never clear cut, and most women second guess their choice every day. I have friends who work and friends who don't and they all have great kids. At the end of the day, we live one life and no one gets to or has to live it for us.

  14. What is a Power Mom?

    A Power Mom seems to be something different for every woman. For me, it's about powering through every tough day raising kids full time. Being at home with children is a job, and not an easy one. Of all the work I have done in my life, this is by far the most challenging. It is a 24/7, physically demanding, intellectually depleting and unpredictable endeavor. I have had countless conversations with friends about daily struggles and we always end by saying - just power through it until bedtime!

  15. You used to train competitively for figure skating. Do you ever get out on the ice rink now?

    Almost never! I will go out when my kids skate, but they do hockey now so I stand in the cold and watch like everyone else. I am still very involved with skating, however, through a non-profit organization called Figure Skating in Harlem. Being on the board since its inception has been very rewarding.

  16. How important are book trailers in getting the marketing message out?

    We'll see! This was my first movie-like trailer and I have had wonderful feedback. My brother, who is a young musician and techie, filmed and edited this one, which I came up with while on a run one day. I love the finished product and hope it sparks interest in the book.

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