I am so very happy to have Wendy Wax join us as this week’s featured author for my Summer Reading series on my blog.
Some of you ‘met’ Wendy last year when she was a guest author on my blog, and you wrote to me to tell me how much you loved Ten Beach Road last summer, so its really special to have Wendy back this summer to talk about her new release, Ocean Beach. If you haven’t read Ocean Beach yet, you should. It’s wonderful. And Wendy is wonderful. Now please help me welcome Wendy back to the JaneBlog and let’s learn more about Ocean Beach!
Like most writers I know, I didn’t set out to write a particular kind of fiction. I just set out to write. What I found is that I keep coming back to stories about women banding together as they face and overcome adversity. In real life, I’m so often impressed by the strength women have and by how much we can handle, especially when we support each other. My female friends and family members lift me up and keep me going when the going gets tough and I try to do the same for them. What I love about writing women’s fiction is the response from readers. There’s nothing like having a reader tell me that she sees herself in a character or that one of my books helped her through a difficult time. Besides, if I wrote books about men, I’d have to include a lot more grunting and scratching. (I know this because I live with a husband and two teenage sons!)
I loved reading OCEAN BEACH! What was your inspiration for the story?
OCEAN BEACH is my first sequel. I sat down to write it because I wanted to spend more time with Maddie, Nicole, Avery, Deirdre and Kyra (who first meet as victims of a major Ponzi scheme in TEN BEACH ROAD), and because I wanted to further explore who they are and what they’re made of. But as with all my books inspiration also comes from the headlines and from what I see going on in the world. In OCEAN BEACH I wanted to dig deeper into our country’s fascination with misbehaving and self-obsessed celebrities. I touched on the subject in Ten Beach Road with multi-child adopting and generally badly behaving movie star couple Daniel Deranian and Tonja Kay, but then the idea of contrasting them with an “old school” celebrity who was a true gentleman and class act began to take shape.
I was also inspired by the obsession we have in our culture right now with reality TV. While most reality stars seem to want nothing more than to be in the spotlight 24/7, I found myself wondering what it would feel like to be under that kind of scrutiny if it was the last thing you wanted. So I turned the reality TV cameras on the women of OCEAN BEACH while they renovate a house for a Vaudeville star with a dark past, and try to protect one of their own from some overbearing celebs and the paparazzi that inevitably follow them.
What’s your favorite aspect of OCEAN BEACH?
That’s a little bit like asking which of my children I love the best, isn’t it? (Of course I love them both exactly equally, unless one is talking back and the other is doing the dishes…) So, I can’t say I have a favorite aspect of OCEAN BEACH, but with all my books I like to have a little fun in the midst of the drama. In this book there were two running jokes that I really enjoyed playing with. One was Maddie’s inability to send a coherent text message. Coming up with her garbled versions of where she was and what to serve for dinner actually had me laughing out loud in my office. The other was Daniel Deranian’s attempts to disguise himself so the paparazzi wouldn’t catch him visiting Kyra and his son. Coming up with crazier and crazier disguises for him was a blast, and I think even though he’s not the most likeable guy, his determination to see his son allowed readers to relate to him a little more.
Do you consider yourself a pantser (go with the flow writer) or do you prefer to outline and plot extensively before you sit down to write?
In all aspects of my life aside from my writing, I am so not a pantser. In fact, I’m a planner. One hundred percent. But in my writing, I have to admit I’m a bit of both. I don’t really outline in the traditional sense (I tried once and it shut me down completely), but I do generally have a synopsis and character sketches ready when I sit down to write. I know basically where everyone is headed, what the major challenges will be, and where everyone will end up. But I don’t necessarily know all of the turns in the road between the start and the finish. I don’t have every scene and conversation pre-planned and I don’t always know how characters are going to relate to each other or feel about what is happening. That’s what happens in pantser mode and sometimes what happens along the way is big enough that I have to course correct a bit. But that’s the magic, I think. When the planning and plotting lead to characters and scenes and moments that have a life of their own.
What sort of research did you have to do for OCEAN BEACH while writing and how did it impact the book?
While I know it’s possible to write a book that takes place somewhere you’ve never been, I much prefer visiting a location first. I think being able to actually walk around in the places my characters will makes everything more real and my writing more authentic. That’s why many of my books take place in the greater Atlanta area (where I currently live) and others, like TEN BEACH ROAD and OCEAN BEACH take place in beautiful places in Florida like Pass-a-Grille on the west coast where I grew up and South Beach in Miami where I visited often as a child and spent time in before starting on OCEAN BEACH. It’s a struggle to research the kinds of sunsets and sunrises my characters will see and to taste the fresh seafood, and fruity cocktails they’ll consume… but it’s my job, so I just have to grin and bear it.
Aside from location, both TEN BEACH ROAD and OCEAN BEACH required me to learn a lot about architecture and renovation. I became an HGTV addict in the process and mercilessly grilled anyone and everyone I knew who had a background in architecture, construction, or interior design. (Some of them learned to run when they saw me coming!)
I’m still kind of amazed that I chose to write two novels in which tools play such a major role. My family isn’t allowed to own tools because we almost always require medical attention after we use them. I learned a lot about restoring light fixtures and floors, ripping out kitchens, installing new air conditioners and replacing old plumbing. Even though I created characters that know their way around a drill and power sander, I still remain happily tool free.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Wendy! I’m so grateful you were able to squeeze in this blog when I know you’re on deadline!!
Readers and friends, to learn more about Wendy, her events, and her books, check out her website at http://www.authorwendywax.com and then for a chance to win a set of Wendy’s novels, along with a fun beach tote of goodies, including a Ty Gurney Surf School water bottle, and Starbucks card, please leave a comment below. You can talk about anything, just chat and you’re entered.
And as a reminder, if you are new to my blog, please put your comment in the comment section below for the chance to win. Contest runs through Friday night and the winner will be announced on Saturday in the comment section below, too! So be sure to check back to see if you won!
Good luck, happy reading, and here’s to a gorgeous weekend!