Friday, September 09, 2005

Q&A with SSE author Wendy Warren

Today I am thrilled to present a Q&A with best selling SSE author Wendy Warren, whose book, Undercover Nanny is out this month. And as a special bonus, Wendy's editor, Susan Litman, will be joining us tomorrow for a Q&A, so be sure to stop in for a Bonus Saturday!

1.) The heroine of Undercover Nanny is a private investigator turned nanny, which is a very cool concept: a woman can carry a gun but still be domestic and maternal. How did you come up with that idea? What kind of research did you have to do for a PI heroine?

Uh oh...was she supposed to be domestic and maternal? STOP THE PRESSES!!!! :-D. Actually, when the book opens, D.J. is not at all maternal or domestic. She grew up as a foster kid who was shuffled from home to home, due in part to her own impossible behavior. Given her background, she has a wee bit of trouble bonding. (Though I fell quite short of giving her Reactive Attachment Disorder, which is a very serious, terribly difficult condition experienced by some adopted or fostered children who are deprived in their early years of the opportunity to bond with significant adults, and who later find intimate connections hard to achieve. Okay, now I really want to go off on a tangent about this, because issues relating to foster kids and adoption are a particular passion...but I will responsibly steer myself back on course :-D) So, D.J. doesn't have any vision of herself as a mommy--or a babysitter. She's hip, sassy, loves clothes and shoes that exceed her budget (because you *have* to develop a fashion sense when your real name is Daisy June), and sitting in a stakeout comes more naturally to her than rocking little people to sleep. Answering emotional demands is not D.J's forte, so I liked the idea of plunking her in a family that's starving for affection. Romantic Times said Max is "a hero to die for"; he's got all the smooshy, cuddly capacity D.J. lacks when the book opens. He and the kids need a woman with heart, which challenges D.J. to find hers. The more discoveries a heroine has to make about herself in order to claim her happiness, the better I like it.

As for the research, I had a friend in college who started her own PI agency...with her mother

2.) You are an amazingly successful author, with two Rita wins, multiple Waldenbooks bestsellers and more than a dozen books under your belt. What has been the most exciting high point of your career?

The rush I'm getting re-reading that question. I think you ignited a hot flash, but I'm enjoying it. Let's see, the high point...I suppose that's not a hard question, really, but there were two high points. Around the time my fourth book came out, both of my parents had cancer. When the book was nominated for a RITA, neither of my parents was doing well. A local TV station interviewed me about the book. At that time, it was very difficult for my dad to stand; he was so weak, he stayed most of the day and evening in an easy chair. The night the interview aired, my mother called to tell me that my father pushed himself up, stood unaided and gave me and my book a standing ovation. Best applause I'll ever receive.

The second high point was the night I heard OH, BABY won the RITA. My dad had passed on and my mom was really struggling with her health. I didn't go to the national conference, but my agent called around midnight to tell me the news. My mom was the first person I told. I sat on her bed with her, and we remembered the times we'd read romances together and dreamed that I'd write one someday. She was so much a part of my career.

In fact, she gave me the opening scene for OH, BABY, so it was really "our" RITA. My mother read everything I wrote--more times than I ever do! My parents have been gone a long time now--too long--but in my mind, they're still my audience. I still write for that standing ovation and for the look of awe on my mother's face when I told her, "We won the
RITA." Now I have a daughter and I hope that whatever she does in life,
she'll know, like I knew, that she ALWAYS has a fan.

3.) Conversely, were there ever any times before you were published when you felt like you'd never make it? If so, how did you find the willpower to keep believing in yourself and not give up?

I sold my first book right away, and I think back then I believed I'd make it. I was so blissfully naive! I struggle more now with self-doubt--wondering if I will find an agent and a publishing home for the single title work I want to do, or whether my Silhouettes are selling.

4) When I looked you up on Amazon, I noticed that you've also published an acupuncture handbook. Can you tell us a little about this background of yours? And if it's not you, have you ever received any hate mail from people who bought your book hoping to get some acupuncture tips?

I so want to make something up about how I went to China, practiced Qi Gong every day, fasted on lotus seeds and studied Chinese Medicine. Since my most exotic trip to date has been to Disney World, however, I'll control myself. There are actually lots of Wendy Warrens out there.
Must be a Peter Pan thing. Do you think I should change my name? Or start practicing acupuncture? There's another Wendy Warren who writes sex education stuff. Maybe I'll say I'm her. But then my husband will choke on his own laughter.

5) Because writers sit all day, it is notoriously challenging to maintain a good level of fitness. At the recent RWA convention in Reno, there was A LOT of talk about your lovely figure. I believe someone at the pool mentioned you have six-pack abs. How do you do it?

I'm blushing. Really, that's just so sweet! ...All right, all right, *I* wrote that question. But I gained four pounds in the last two weeks and started having hot flashes; I need a compliment. Seriously, though, it's a real issue, isn't it? (The challenge of staying fit in a sedentary job, that is; not my six pack abs, which are about as real as the tooth fairy). Stephanie, you're young and darling. How do you manage to write so many books without spreading across your ergonomically correct desk chair?

[Editor's Note: Wendy is completely gorgeous with an awesome figure. Don't let her fool you!]

6) You're one of the many amazing authors who manages to write with a toddler in the house. Do you have any stories to exemplify how she supports mommy's career?

Well, when I told her I was going to be on the NYT list someday, she pooped on me. Could have been a coincidence. You know, I'm more prolific now than I was before she came home (my wonderful, love-of-my-life, amazing daughter was adopted from Guatemala in 2003).
Maybe I'm more organized now (though again, my husband would snort orange juice through his nose if he read that). Libbi knows I work at home, and she loves to help me by bringing imaginary cups of "nice hot tea.` Funny...she just woke up cranky from her nap, so now I'm typing this one-handed while I hold her. There's no easy was to be a working mommy, is there? But it's sooooooo worth it. I try to remember to err on the side of motherhood. Sigh.

7) Can we get a sneak peek at your next release?

It's part of a six-book continuity for Silhouette Special Edition and will be out in Feb. 2006. I penned book two and am delighted that it's sandwiched between Susan Mallery's and Victoria Pade's books. It was great fun to swap info and brainstorm with them. My very cool editor, Susan Litman, and equally cool senior editor, Gail Chasen, allowed me to play with the elements in this story. There's a Jewish bubby (grandma), lots of references to Jewish tradition...and Jewish food, mmmmm :-D...and a single-mom family I really love. I hope the book will give people a lot of laughs.


At 7:46 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Great interview. Very touching stories about your parents, Wendy. I'm glad they were able to see your success.

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Su said...

Hi...I'm one of Wendy's CP's (critique partners) and I just wanted to say, she's just as hilarious and genuine in real life as she is in this interview. Her books are fabulous reads. She gives her writing buddies...and readers, lots of inspriation.

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous ginger said...

If you enjoyed Wendy's humor in this Q&A, you'll LOVE her books! They're full of hearth, home and family and so funny you'll find yourself laughing out loud. She's also a great friend and writing buddy, and let me tell you, the girl loves to eat. Steph is right, Wen has a gorgeous body and if I didn't already love her, I'd hate her for that alone. But do read her books. This gal is going to be on the NYT's list one day and we can all say we knew her when.


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