Last week I attended a booktrib live chat with best-selling author Wendy Corsi Staub. And I’ll save the suspense… it was awesome! It felt like we were having a one-on-one conversation in a little cafe over two warm cups of tea. I mean, she is just that cool and down to earth. So if you’re dying to know what our group discussed then look no further. Here’s the down and dirty…
First off, she has this new book out called THE GOOD SISTER. It’s set in Buffalo, New York (woo go WNY my hometown too) and centers around social media. Wendy said it’s based partially from her experience and thoughts on Facebook. Anyhoo, the protagonist’s daughter is bullied to no end, so she turns to social media where she makes a friend called Angel. Angel becomes her only friend, but appearances may be deceiving and not in a good way. Check it out! I’m going to real soon.
Okay, on to the meat and potatoes. I’m going to do a Q&A format, but just so you know this isn’t verbatim. I’m not that good.
Q: When did you want to be a writer and when did you fist call yourself a writer?
A: In third grade is the answer to both questions. And it all stemmed from an Abraham Lincoln essay she wrote and a little encouragement from the teacher. An essay she still has to this day. Also, her first submitted essay too. Hey, if you want to be a writer you gotta submit your goods. And Wendy wasn’t afraid of doing just that. Her mom held onto the rejection letters, while always remaining supportive of her daughter’s dreams. Dream she did; by age 27 Wendy sold her first book.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about being a bestselling novelist?
A: Everyday she gets to create stories and everyday she gets to live her passion. Something’s she’s always wanted to do in a world where many of us don’t get the opportunity.
Q: Why did you switch from young adult to adult novels?
A: The young adult market died not long after she entered it, so her editor suggested she give adult novels a try. Her books took off, but she still dabbles in the YA genre from time to time. Oh AND she did hint that she may continue her Lily Dale series in the near future. Fingers crossed!
Q: What is your favorite genre to read and what are you currently reading?
A: Her favorite genre is thriller with lots of non-fiction when she’s writing. Currently, she’s reading, well re-reading, The Cases That Haunt Us by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. But wait, there’s more! Her favorite books growing up were the Little House (on the prairie) books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She always keeps a box set close to her desk (even showed us them) and says they’re never far from her. Just like the memory of her mother is never far from her in her favorite book she’s written If Only In My Dreams.
Q: What is your daily routine like and do you have any writing rituals?
A: Get up, go to desk, check email/Facebook, read the news… then get down to business. First, she starts off with re-reading what she wrote the day before. Then editing that, which takes most of the morning. She’ll break for lunch followed by a short work-out then it’s back to the desk where she starts putting pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard. An unofficial daily quota is always in the back of her mind as she chains herself to her desk refusing to move until she reaches it. Usually, by 7/8pm she’s done for the day. But don’t be fooled, she pulls some long days. Often putting in 14 hours writing every day (yes, that’s 7 days a week) with 6 month deadlines looming overhead. Unfortunately, she prefers to write on her desktop (I hear ya!), which complicates things when she’s also doing travel promotions at the same time.
Q: Do you prefer to write a series or stand-alone novels?
Stand-alones win hands down because a series involves creating a whole world. And, often you have to go back to what you wrote before to fact check or just remember the storyline; it’s just too time consuming.
Q: What are some occupational hazards?
A: Sitting! Big time! It’s a very sedentary occupation made worse by the fact that she likes to sit like a pretzel (me too!) while writing. Her back isn’t the best, which she tries to help by doing some laps down at the local pool when she can. Oh and if you’re shy like her then public speaking can count too. Sometimes she even breaks out in hives before giving a speech. But speaking to the public comes with the territory. She’s cool with online stuff though, doesn’t bother her. (I’m with Wendy, let’s push for more online interaction.)
Q: Do you pay attention to bad reviews and criticisms?
Yes! All the time! In fact, she sometimes uses them to fix things in her future books. Like how one reader pointed out that all her heroine women had dark hair and brown eyes. She never even realized she did that until someone said something. But, she warns, you must have a thick skin and not spend all day reading them. It can become very addicting!
Q: If you could no longer write, what would you do?
A: Well… no longer writing is one of her worst nightmares, but if it were to happen she would do something involving travel like a travel agent. Her and her husband love to travel, so it would be very fitting. However, she also threw out the idea of being a caterer, so you never know!
Q: What are some of your favorite tv shows?
A: Wendy is a big fan of Criminal Minds (great show!). Along with Sleepy Hollow, Hostages, and The Blacklist (another good one!). Oh, if you’re wondering what her guilty pleasure show is it’s How I Met Your Mother.
Q: Any advice on how to get kids into reading?
A: She feels you gotta find the right books. If the books interest them they’ll gravitate towards reading. She knows too, she has a reluctant reader in her house. Also, book groups could help and even writing to authors. She loves to hear from kids and tries her best to answer everyone, so don’t be afraid to write!
Q: Any advice for future writers out there?
A: Read your genre and learn the business (research it online). She was an editor before being a writer, so she could learn about the behind the scenes and understand what it takes to make it. If you’re curious, she highly recommends having a polished professional looking manuscript. The more professional the better your odds.
Well readers, I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. Hopefully I’ll be invited to more in the future and can report my experience back to you. In the meantime, check out Wendy’s new book THE GOOD SISTER and happy reading!