On My Bookshelf
I wish I had more time in my day to sit and read. I have so many books sitting here begging to be opened and read. But I am only one person with a tired set of eyes and I'm getting through them one fabulous novel at a time albeit slowly. You know I must get my reading done in between waxing sessions and colonics and parties and shopping. oh the life of a diva!
I have upcoming interviews with Emily Giffin
who wrote Something Borrowed
and Something Blue
. Both of these books were so awesome, I didn't want either to end. I highly recommend ordering them right this minute! RIGHT NOW. Do it.
On my shelf right now is Goodnight Nobody
by Jennifer Weiner
, Everyone Worth Knowing
by Lauren (Devil Wears Prada) Weisburger
, Angelina Jolie's
memoir, Notes from My Travels
(as if I would get an interview with her!), Conversations With A Fat Girl
by Liza Palmer
who was mentioned in this weeks People magazine- way to go Liza!!She's Got Issues
by Stephanie Lessing
, all of Laurie Notaro's hilarious books
, including We Thought You Would be Prettier- True Tales from the Dorkiest Girl Alive
(how can it not be funny with that title?) Shaking Her Assets
by Robin Epstein and Renee Kaplan
by Adriana Trigiani
, Mim Warner's Lost Her Cool
by Lynn (Fashionista's) Messina
. All of these amazing novels to read! This is why I don't watch much television. I started and am almost done with The Journal of Mortifying Moments
by Robyn Harding
and I am enjoying it immensly.
Recently I read Lorna Landvik's
book, Oh My Stars
which is a must read. And if you have not read The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls
, I insist you buy it right this minute because it is required reading. Books by Wendy French
such as Going Coastal
are funny and fast reads, I'm talking laugh out loud funny here.
If you are a Jane Austen fan, pick up a copy of Flirting With Pride & Prejudice
, edited by Jennifer Crusie
and including "flirtatious interludes" by the talented Lauren Baratz-Logsted
, Michelle Cunnah
, Karen Joy Fowler
and many more wonderful writers.
If you are a novelist who would like to give your book more exposure, contact me for an interview. And if you have a reading/writing/ literary blog, please send an email so we can trade links. Or maybe you have read a wonderful book and want to let me know. Feel free to contact me.
Check back soon...interviews with Gigi Levangie Grazer, Alison Pace, Emily Giffin coming up in the near future.
And lastly, Michael Lee West
has sent me three signed copies of Mad Girls In Love-Contact me if you would like to win a copy. The first three readers to email me will be sent a copy of this terrific novel. Thank you Michael Lee!!
Sheila Curran: Diana Lively Is Falling Down
It seems like if you mention a book about a woman written by a woman, the book will get placed in the "chick-lit" category.
What happens then is certain people will refuse to read it no matter how wonderful it is and your high-brow friends will scoff, "Oh...you're reading chick-lit
?" imagining that every book published after the year 2000 about a woman under the age of fifty is really about a big city career girl looking for love in dark bars while drinking martinis and wearing Prada and sleeping around.
I highly suggest you banish the thought of reading "chick-lit" and read this very well written novel called Diana Lively Is Falling Down
by Sheila Curran.
And as you are reading it, imagine Jude Law in the role of horrible Ted and Diane Lane as Diana. How delicious!Diana is British- Why did you make her from England as opposed to creating a character right out of Flushing Meadows or Hackensack?
Ah, you make it sound like I actually had a plan! Some writers may decide where their characters come from, mine come knocking. Of course, we were living in England at the time, so she didn’t have far to travel, but she was born of my experience there
.You have moved many, many times. You could write a one woman guide to packing up and heading in a new direction. What was your favorite / least favorite place? I want details. Tell me about the food, the people, the weather.
For me, travel is an opportunity to be reacquainted with my dearest anxieties: flying, packing, shipwreck, public toilets, nameless indigenous insects and being stranded without lunch by the thief in the American Express commercial. My least favorite trip was an unfortunate experiment in camping. Nebraska, no tree cover, those horrible chemical latrines and a twenty-four hour stomach flu in which I got into very close touch with my inner claustraphobe.
Best trip was a last minute weekend in Benidorm, Spain, after five months in England, starved of sunlight.
We were very poor, coping with the pound/dollar divide, and blew our wad on a holiday on the Costa Blanca. Spanish beaches are the best in Europe, the paella was divine, wine was $2 a bottle. Twenty minutes from the sea are spectacular mountain towns, all white stucco with blue and yellow tile around the doors. They overlook aquamarine river gorges and are surrounded by higher peaks that grow purple and pink at dusk.And where is a place you would like to visit?
The countryside of Wales, where Ted Lively will be imprisoned on his new family estate in the middle of nowhere. The house will be very cold, the servants colder still, and the library stocked with nothing but religious tracts on the virtues of abstinence from liquor and sex, and the vanities of intellectual pride.
When you aren't writing, do you like to shop online or hit the hot clubs in town?
In Tallahassee, the hot clubs are literally the ones where the air-conditioners are on their last legs. My vices are well-lubricated dinner parties, furtive trips to the housewares section at T.J. Maxx, and an inability to keep my mouth shut when a guest compliments me on something. “Five dollars!” I’ll crow. “T.J. Maxx!” Though I cannot remember dentist appointments or meetings with my children’s teachers, I will never forget the price of those adorable martini glasses from Target I found in 1997.Do you get weekly manicures?
I have just recently begun to appreciate the weekly manicure, but unless I figure out a day job, I’m afraid I’ll have to go back to biting my nails.Are you a high-maintenence woman?
Yes and no. I don’t need expensive clothes, but do not even think of asking me to skip a meal, drink generic beer, and please, do not ever even mention the word “camping” in my presence.What is the last film you saw in a theater and did you order a large popcorn drizzled with butter?
The last film I saw, which I loved, was OFF THE MAP, with Joan Allen and Sam Elliott. (It just came out on video.) I don’t get popcorn unless I’ve got PMS, am getting over PMS, expecting PMS, or having my period, in which case, butter is the least of my problems. But on the day or two each month where one of these previous conditions doesn’t apply, I am quite your virtuous ascetic type.What is your taste in movies?
I’m pretty much a movie slut. I like everything, but don’t allow myself to watch anything with intruders, zombies, vampires or any other thing that will give me nightmares, like camping in Nebraska.Who would be cast as Diana
? (Diane Lane)
sweet metrosexual Humphrey
? (Johnny Depp as an eighteen-year-old)
horrible, cheating Ted
? (Jude Law) and huggable, lovable Wally
? (James Gandolfini or Clive Owen, which would be a great twist, to cast an upper crust Shakepearean Brit in the role of a brash American entrepreneur)
Would Dakota Fanning play Elly
? What a good idea! Or Kara/Shelby Hoffman, who played the biting infant, Sunny Baudelaire in A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS.
Do you ever imagine the movie version of the book?
Not ever, except when breathing, awake or sleeping. But only then.How long did it take you to find a literary agent?
For-freaking-ever.I've heard about people who find an agent from the first query they send out, and it takes others (like me) years and years to find an agent who falls in love with their novel. What is your story?
I had my first agent in 1987, and after he tried and failed to sell my book, I assumed there was something wrong with me, and with the book, and finally we parted ways. I had several agents turn me down over the years, but say, “Please, send me your next book, because I really like the way you write.” This kept me going but it also kept me from looking for the one person who would LOVE what I wrote. (I kept thinking that if they turned me down, I’d better improve as a writer before sending out the next set of queries.)
When I did find my perfect agent -- through my husband -- I was terrified to have her read the manuscript, because I knew she’d been born and raised in England, and I wasn’t sure my dialect would pass muster. When it took her a month to read the book, I decided there was no way she’d take me as a client. Just after I’d given up completely, I got an email saying she’d loved the book and wanted to talk on the phone the next day.I like the idea of the Vile Husband contest. What's the worst thing your husband has ever done?
Take me camping in Nebraska. My husband (thank you, Jesus) is a combination of Johnny, Diana’s late husband, and Wally, who is generous and open-minded to a fault.Have you received many entries?
Not as many vile husband stories as imaginative ways to kill Ted slowly and with exquisite timing.What is next for you?
I’m writing a novel set in a small southern town, but am also plotting a sequel to DIANA LIVELY IS FALLING DOWN.
Pounding the Pavement, Jennifer van der Kwast
Jennifer Van der Kwast's novel, Pounding the Pavement
is for those of us who have ever lost a job, is looking for a job or basically for anyone that enjoys a good book. I had not heard of this novel so it was a very pleasant surprise to find it and really like it.
As Anne Hathaway is playing the title role in the movie "Devil Wears Prada" I think I would make an excellent Sarah Pelletier in Pounding the Pavement
. Well, like maybe me or Charlize Theron. We are so much alike.
Jennifer just got married so I'm sending her big Congratulations!!!
as well as a years supply of Cristal champagne, Beluga caviar and my manuscript. Cheers!In the book Sarah is quite the film buff. In real life, what are your favorite films and who would direct Pounding the Pavement in the movie version of your novel?
Not too surprisingly, my personal taste in film doesn’t differ all that drastically from Sarah Pelletier’s. I know many cinephiles hate to point to one film as their all-time favorite, but for me the answer is obvious: The Graduate. I will add a disclaimer, though: I’ve made the mistake of coercing friends who’ve never seen the film before to give it a chance and their reactions have been (shockingly!) mixed. There’s definitely only a small window of opportunity. Once you’ve already graduated from college and fallen victim to the world-weariness of adulthood, the love story in “The Graduate” may seem a little far-fetched.
Ask me what my top three or five favorite films are, and the question gets a little trickier because the list is in a constant state of revision. My most recent additions have been “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Punch Drunk Love” and “About Schmidt.” That said, there will always been a special place in my heart for “Raising Arizona” and, believe it or not, “Basic Instinct.”
I’ve never really given much thought to which director I’d most want attached to the movie version of the book. I think it’s because my favorite filmmakers are all writer/director auteurs and a little part of me has always secretly hoped that I’d get to take first stab at the screenplay. But now that you mention it, it would be a dream come true to have Alexander Payne at the helm. In general, I think adapted screenplays that stay too faithful to books do a disservice to the material. Payne always does an incredible job and has such a unique approach to his adaptations.Tell me something about yourself that no one knows. I'll go first: I brush my teeth with a Spongebob Squarepants toothbrush. Your turn.
My fiancé’s father is a dentist, so unfortunately, I don’t get to experiment with fun toothbrushes or toothpaste. I get all my doctor-recommended tools of dental hygiene sent to me in a monthly care package.
I’m pretty much an open book (almost to a fault), so there is very little that people don’t know about me. But I will tell you this: I have an imaginary dog. After years of living in small, cramped New York apartments with No Pet Policies, I’ve had to invent a puggle – that’s half pug, half beagel – named “Dutch” to keep me company. A couple of years ago, I even bought the book “The Art of Raising a Puppy” by the Monks of New Skete to teach me how to train him. Sometimes when my fiancé comes home from work and asks how my day was, I complain that Dutch peed on the rug. Again.
I also have an unhealthy obsession with real estate. I don’t own any, but I can send you links to some of my favorite waterfront properties currently on the market.I’m an Aquarius so I’m creative, have a quick intellect and a keen mind. I’m also independent and a rebel. What is your sign and do you read your horoscope?
Here’s another unknown fact about me: I LIE about my sign. I always tell people I’m on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, but the truth is I’m two days away, fairly secured in Cancer territory (My birthday is July 21st. The cusp is July 23rd). Although Cancers, supposedly, make good writers, I’d much prefer to think of myself as a fiery, gregarious, fun-loving Leo. Cancers are also shy, introverted and make for happy homemakers. Ick!
I don’t read my horoscope, but I do know an awful lot about astrology. In the fourth grade, I was invited to participate in my first Science Fair, and I picked “Astrology” as the topic of my science project. Needless to say, I was disqualified.Do you like to shop? Do you love clothes? I wish there was an H&M out here on the west coast. Can you believe there isn’t? I mean, cheap, trendy clothes should be available to everyone!
I have recently learned to love clothes and shopping. When I turned in a rough draft of “Pounding the Pavement
,” my agent was the one who suggested I throw in a few fashion references, maybe spruce it up with some high-end label name-dropping. I mean, of course, who wouldn’t want to jump on “The Devil Wears Prada” bandwagon? At first I was appalled for one very specific reason - I knew next to nothing about fashion. (I believe, at that time, I was still wearing platform sneakers.) But, like any writer would, I agreed to do my “research”. Three pairs of designer jeans (Citizens of Humanity, mostly), two Diane von Furstenberg dresses and one Coach handbag later, I was officially a Fashion Convert – and maybe just a little bit of a Label Whore.
That said, I own PLENTY of H&M items. My very first purchase was in 1997, when I spent the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college working in Amsterdam. It’s a fleece, zip-up hoodie I still wear to this day. I also used to work at an office in Soho, one block away from the downtown H&M (one of TWO locations within a three-block radius). I loved being able to pop in during lunch to buy an “emergency” beaded belt or hoop earrings for last-minute plans after work.Can you tell me what your next book is about and will you be naming a character Cindy? I think you should. Maybe even if it’s just a ferret. At least I would know you’re thinking of me.
Unfortunately, I’m still in the hodge-podge stage of Book Two, so the plot is still a little unfocused. The only thing I’ve decided on for certain is the title. It’s called “Cindy.”
No, seriously, for my next book, I am toying with the idea of having a character (“Cindy?” Why not?) who is going through a quarter-life crisis at age 27. Even though I am 28 now, age 27 fascinates me. I may even consider calling the book, “The 27 Club”.
If you aren’t familiar with the reference, “The 27 Club” refers to the group of music legends who all died when they were 27 years old – Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, among others. So, for music or pop culture enthusiasts, 27 can feel like quite a landmark year. Age 27 is also a mythical year for Astrology buffs, because it signals the “Return of Saturn” – the first time Saturn completes its cycle and returns to the place it occupied the day you were born. It marks the end of one life cycle, but also the beginning of another.
Who says you don’t learn anything in the Fourth Grade?What did you want to be when you were growing up? And did the experience of being published transcend your dreams? What do you think when you look at the book with your name on it?
When I look at a book with my name on it, the first thing I hear is my mother’s voice in my head:
“Honey, can’t you at least ask if they’ll make your name just a little bit bigger?”
Having a book published feels incredibly unreal. Most of my friends think it’s amusing that I am so nonchalant about it – but I think it’s partly because I still don’t really believe it. Every time I walk past a bookstore, I can never resist the urge to pop in to make sure that it’s still there, that I didn’t just imagine the whole thing.
But I also think that you have to make a conscious decision to distance yourself emotionally from your book, otherwise you’d go crazy. I was really excited and enthusiastic while writing the book – I loved the characters, I loved the material, I loved the whole damn writing process. But at some point, once the book is finished, you have to stop thinking about it as a “book” and start thinking about it as a “product.” It’s just easier that way. Because somewhere down the line, no matter how good it is, you WILL get a rejection, you will get a bad review or a customer on Amazon will have something nasty to say about you. And don’t kid yourself: it’s impossible to get excited about good reviews and not care about the bad ones.
But when all is said and done, I still haven’t given up the dream of being a dancer. Not a prima ballerina – no, my lofty childhood goal was to be a hoofer on Broadway (like Catherine Zeta Jones!) If you want specifics, I really, really wanted to be Cassie from “A Chorus Line.” You know, the one whose kicks were just a little higher than everyone else’s? A few months ago, I was in New Orleans with a couple of girlfriends. We were staying at a hotel in the French Quarter and we just got onto the elevator when a man came running after us. Apparently they were shooting a hip hop video in the hotel ballroom and they needed extra back-up dancers. Would we be interested in helping out? I have to admit, if those elevator doors had stayed open just a little bit longer, I might have taken him up on the offer.What do you think of this Brad Pitt- Angelina Jolie kerfluffle? Are you on Jen’s side?
How much do we actually know of the kerfluffle, really? I just hope that, years from now, Angelina decides to sit down and write her memoirs, because I bet that’ll be a fascinating read. But I could also just as happily settle for the “Unauthorized Biography”.
From what I gather about the romance, it really does have the stuff of Hollywood legend – right up there with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. In my version (which, let’s face it, is the only version I can discuss with any authority), Brad meets Angelina on set and there’s immediate friction. She’s young, wild and brash and he’s part of the Hollywood elite, concerned that she might be in over her head. But over time, he can’t help it – he realizes he’s falling for her. And he’s tortured, of course, because he really loves his beautiful, talented wife, too, and in no way would he ever want to hurt her.
So, he doesn’t act on any of his lustful impulses, even though it’s killing him. Jen, however, is no dummy. She knows her husband is in love with another woman and she can’t accept it. So she breaks off the marriage. Brad is miserable, but also partly relieved. He doesn’t walk, he runs into Angelina’s arms, finally free to consummate his forbidden love. It’s heartbreaking! It’s beautiful! There are victims, but no real villains. Just the pain and misery caused by falling in love. See? Wouldn’t it just make an AWESOME book?I just finished your book early this morning. I’m onto something fabulous but I can’t say what it is. What are you reading right now?
I am so glad you asked that question, because I am reading a book right now that I just can’t put down. It’s “Valley of the Dolls,” which is just so trashy and so addictive it’s like popping uppers (the red dolls, maybe?) But even beyond that, the book really does read like a historical document. It’s fascinating to be given such an intimate glimpse into the lives of the women of the 1950s and to realize how similar they are to our own. I know cultural context shouldn’t make a reader enjoy a book any better.
But even today, it’s impossible not to be shocked by the subject matter. It’s so racy and so scandalous… and it was written FIFTY years ago. Amazing.
I’d love to tackle “Hollywood Wives” next, but I’m going to give myself a break. I like to juggle my genres – romance, mystery, sci-fi, nonfiction. Before “Valley of the Dolls,” I borrowed a friend’s copy “Disco Bloodbath,” which was the source material for the movie “Party Monster.” True Crime told through the eyes of a Club Kid/Disco Queen – what’s not to love?What was your major in college? And how did your life experiences prepare you for writing a novel?
In college, I majored in Film and fancied myself an aspiring writer/director. It didn’t take long for me to realize, however, that I have no talent for filmmaking whatsoever.
I loved taking screenwriting courses, though. I never bothered taking a creative writing course because I was naïve enough at the time to think it wasn’t necessary. Kind of like when my mother made me take those awful ballet classes when I was younger because I needed the “foundation” before I could take tap or jazz. Man, I hated ballet. But maybe Mom had a point.
I like to think that screenwriting was a very helpful background tool. It’s definitely more structured than any other writing – except for maybe haikus. Or sonnets in iambic pentameter. There’s a page limit (120 pages, tops), so it teaches you to be concise. You also learn how to develop an ear for dialogue. But perhaps most importantly, you have to learn to rely on the “show and not tell” rule. No matter how much background information you provide in a screenplay, if you can’t show it on a screen, it’s useless. So you do end up kicking the urge to over-explain.
When I graduated from college, I immediately landed a dream job working in development at a film company. The bulk of my workload involved reading screenplays and book manuscripts and deciding which ones would be worth pursuing as film projects. Critical reading, I believe, is really the best way to learn how to write. And when you read as much as I had to – quite literally, several books a week – you start instinctively picking up on what works and what doesn’t.
The only problem I encountered while working in film development was the sheer volume of my workload. Carving out time for my own writing was practically impossible. So thank God, I was finally laid off! It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for quite a number of reasons.
Johanna Edwards loves gossip and reality television. How cool is she?
Sometimes things are just cosmic. I had been wanting to read The Next Big Thing
forever. Well not forever
exactly, but ever since it came out and garnered awesome reviews. Imagine my surprise when I found an email in my inbox from the very author of the book I had been wanting to get my manicured hands on! It was meant to be. I love it when things like this happen. I was very excited to find out that Johanna Edwards
blog. It is so flattering when authors read my words and then tell me how they enjoy it.
Johanna sent me a copies of the book (I have a few extra to give away if you email me!)
and from page one I knew I was going to enjoy it. It reminded me of sitting down with my best friend and talking over lattes and paging through magazines. Johanna Edward's has a conversational, fun writing style and in real life she is funny and kind and a big lover of reality television and celebrity gossip.The Next Big Thing
is humorous and fast paced, it's a quick read that left me wondering ...is a sequel in the works?
I liked the behind the scenes look at reality television: microphones hidden in every room, a camera crew following every move, terrible surprises...The Next Big Thing
gives us a glance into what really goes on during a reality show. And its not pretty!
Johanna and I sat down over scones and coffee to discuss the book, weight and reality television.Johanna, I know you are a huge fan of reality television like I am. Have you checked out Kill Reality on the E! channel? Tonya is sleeping with Johnny Fairplay! How much money would someone have to pay you to do that? Very Indecent Proposal-ish. Unless you harbor a secret crush on the bunny toothed wrestler.
You caught me! I’ve totally been watching Kill Reality. And there’s no amount of money in the world that could get me to bed down the grandma-hatin’ Johnny Fairplay. With that said, I’d entertain offers to sleep with Reichen. Although they’d probably want me to get a sex change first, which would spoil the whole thing….Admit it, Johanna, you watched Rob and Amber Get Married didn't you? And how about the curly haired cherub, Bob Guiney? What was he doing as The Bachelor?
I did not watch Romber’s wedding. I hate, hate, hate those two. So annoying. And the popularity of curly haired cherub Bob Guiney just confounds me. What is this man doing on television? Does anyone in America honestly find him sexy?Obviously, you and I are really long lost sisters. I read your favorite tv shows are Seinfeld and Sex and the City- we could hole up in my house and drink wine and watch dvds all weekend. What else could we do? Some things you should know: I mix a mean margarita and can brew a very strong pot of coffee. And I dare anyone to play Cranium against me.
In between dishing celeb gossip, we’d down lemon drop martinis and play Balderdash. Oh, and we could order in Mexican food to go along with those mean margaritas you’d make.Tell me why you chose a overweight character in The Next Big Thing. Why is weight such an issue with women? Would the book have worked if a plus-sized Kat dieted down to a size 6?
I wanted to write about weight since I’m totally obsessed with the topic. I probably spend 90% of the day thinking about what I’ve eaten, what I weigh, what I want to weigh, how badly I need to go to the gym, etc. And I know I’m not alone. Weight hits home with so many women. Just pick up any magazine and you’ll likely find a host of articles about diets and weight. I think women, particularly in America, are conditioned to think that our self worth is related to our weight.
I’ve traveled to other countries and it seems like people over there are more forgiving of women’s “body flaws.” You can have a pudgy tummy or thick thighs and people don’t think as much of it. In America, it gets hammered down our throats that women are supposed to be stick skinny. It’s ironic, because America is the fattest country in the world yet we have the strictest standards of what’s beautiful. Actresses in Britain and Canada don’t face anywhere near the same pressures to be thin. That’s part of why I didn’t want to make Kat diet down to a size 6. I felt it was important to show that her increase in confidence wasn’t directly related to her waistline.Because Kat Larson is overweight, do you think the readers will have trouble identifying with her?
I worried about that at first. I thought the only people who would want to read my book were plus-sized women. However, I’ve found that women (and a few men!) from all walks of life have related to Kat. Most people are insecure about something – their hair, their ass, their job, their boyfriend. I think Kat’s insecurity and her desire to reinvent herself was what won people over.The theme of looking for love and finding it in a least likely place was an interesting subplot. Who doesn't want to find their soul mate and who hasn't had their heart broken at least once?
Thanks! I think everyone has at least one horrific heartbreak (or 4 or 5). The whole Internet dating thing is so strange to me. There’s going to be this generation of kids whose parents all met online. Strange, huh?Fast forward three years, where would Kat be right now? Would she still duck into Lane Bryant to shop for her clothes or would she boldly march in and not care who sees her? Because Kat Larson is overweight, do you think the readers will have trouble identifying with her?
I worried about that at first. I thought the only people who would want to read my book were plus-sized women. However, I’ve found that women (and a few men!) from all walks of life have related to Kat. Most people are insecure about something – their hair, their ass, their job, their boyfriend. I think Kat’s insecurity and her desire to reinvent herself was what won people over.If you were on a reality show, what television personalities would you chose to be with you? And how would you spend a million dollar prize?
From Big Brother I’d take Kaysar and Will Kirby. From Survivor I’d grab Ethan, Rob Cesternino and Stephenie. I’d also like Mike “the Miz,” AI’s Constantine, and Kahlen from America’s Next Top Model. An interesting group, don’t you think? And if I won the million bucks, I’d buy a kick ass beach house (although after taxes and all that, I might only be able to afford a teeny weeny cabana).
Check out Johanna's blog
and buy the book