March 2010


Wendy Wax is the author of six novels, including her latest release Magnolia Wednesdays. She has worked in radio and now lives in Atlanta.(Interview by Leah Eggleston Krygowski)

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  1. 1. Was your own background as a dancer the impetus for Magnolia Wednesdays?

    I’ve always loved dance, had eight years of ballet when I was growing up, and I DO like to watch Dancing with the Stars now and then! But I was initially attracted to a ballroom dance studio because I thought it would provide a great opportunity to bring a diverse group of women together on a regular basis. When I began I didn’t realize I’d end up stepping on other people’s toes (literally!) in the name of research.

  2. 2. How much of you is there in Vivien Armstrong Grey?

    I’m sure authors tell you this all the time but there’s a little bit of me in all of my characters. Like Vivi, I worked in broadcasting in my single days and my work was extremely important to me, but overall she’s a very different person than I am. There’s a good bit of me in her sister Melanie, too. Like her, I’m the suburban mother of two and have logged a lot of hours sitting on bleachers and behind the wheel of an SUV. Since I have teenage boys, I’m a very experienced grocery shopper —yet still manage to end up in the slowest checkout line on occasion!

  3. 3. Do you feel your background in television journalism helped with the development and writing of Vivien's career?

    Yes, to a degree, but in this case I also did research into both Vivi and her long-time boyfriend Stone, who is an international correspondent; something I knew nothing about. A friend at one of the news networks answered a lot of my questions about their lifestyles, the technology and what was and wasn’t possible. She also did a read-through for me to makes sure I’d gotten things right.

  4. 4. In the book, Vivien, her brother Hamilton and her sister Melanie are all named after various characters associated with Gone with the Wind. Is naming children after Margaret Mitchell’s work something commonly done in the south, specifically Atlanta, or is this a favorite of yours that you wanted to pay homage to in your book?

    If I answered yes to this, I’m sure I’d be booted right out of the south. I don’t actually know anyone who’s done this to their children in real life, although there must be some poor Scarlett or Pitty Pat walking around cursing her name. I’m just a huge fan of GWTW and given Vivi and Melanie’s backgrounds it was fun to play with.

  5. 5. Your books tend to revolve around the tight friendships women have with each other. Do you have a close group of girlfriends with whom you share everything? If so, are they from various periods of your life or from one particular time, such as college friends?

    I have women friends whom I really care about from different periods in my life from middle school on, and women I know and really like here in Atlanta. I do find myself drawn especially to my writer friends because we’re on the same journey and understand what each other are going through. As I point out in The Accidental Bestseller, publishing isn’t an easy business and often calls for friends to commiserate with and shoulders to cry on. Since having children, it takes a lot more effort to spend time with friends than it did ‘back in the day’. I miss that sense of not caring what you do as long as you have a best friend to do it with. I write women discovering who they are and what they’re made of. In my mind it’s important to have friends to cheer you on and help pull you through as you complete this journey of self-discovery.

  6. 6. In The Accidental Bestseller I found myself drawn to the character of Lacy, the editorial assistant who challenges her boss to do the right thing. Do you have any plans to expand Lacy's storyline in another book?

    I’d love to do this but there are no immediate plans for a sequel. When I first conceived Lacy, she was really only meant as an insult to Kendall, but as I wrote she became much more. In fact, she turned into the ‘fairy godmother’ of the story, the person who still believed in the power of books and the ‘noble’ role of publishing.

  7. 7. How do you think your writing style has developed since your earlier novels?

    Well, of course, I like to believe it’s getting better with each book! I don’t think my ‘voice’ has changed significantly, but I think I have been tackling weightier stories and more intricate points of view. It’s such a challenge to go for depth of character and heartfelt emotion while still holding on to the humor.

  8. 8. What are you reading now?

    At the moment I’m reading an ARC of Josie Brown’s Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, which comes out in June. I just finished reading my critique partner Karen White’s On Folly Beach, which is a wonderful book. I’ve also recently read and enjoyed Stephanie Bond’s Body Movers series, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Help, Sarah’s Key and a bunch of books by Michael Connelly, whose work I love even though I accidentally started reading the Harry Bosch series out of order. I’ve been thinking about writing him a letter and asking him to stop writing for a while so that I can get my own book finished.

  9. 9. Who are your favorite chick lit authors?

    I hate to wuss out, but I’m not answering because I’m afraid of leaving anyone out!

  10. 10. You are originally from Florida. What drew you to the Atlanta area enough to make your home there?

    We originally made the move 13 years ago for my husband’s business and really love it here. But I’m back in St Pete regularly to spend time with family, and I do sometimes have a real craving for sun, sand, and the beach I grew up on. My current manuscript is set on Pass-a-Grille, at the southernmost tip of St Pete Beach, which is my favorite beach in the whole world.

  11. 11. Tell us about your next book The Sand Castle.

    Oops - I jumped the gun with number 10! The Sand Castle is about three women who lose everything in a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme and end up with only a third ownership in a derelict beachfront mansion.

  12. 12. One last question ... Have you yourself ever taken a belly dancing class?

    I took an introduction to Latin dance class at Atlanta Dance, a local ballroom dance studio where I did research. When I decided I’d like the protagonists in a class where they’d have more one-on-one time, I decided to put them in a belly dance class at the Magnolia Ballroom, my fictional ballroom dance studio, which one of the characters owns. I only observed those classes - I’d learned the hard way that I wasn’t the dancer I thought I was. I was also pretty certain that my stomach muscles weren’t up to the task.

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