Tuesday 8 January 2013


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Wendy Lawless. I was born in Kansas City, Missouri but now reside in Los Angeles, California.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
No, I wanted to be an actress. I worked as one for over twenty-five years before turning to writing.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
Maybe seven years ago I sold a short essay to a local paper here, and got paid fifty dollars. That seemed like a start.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
It took me longer to write it, really, than to get it published. I spent six years writing and rewriting, before beginning to send it to agents and editors. From the time I found my wonderful agent and my memoir was bought was about a year and a half.

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I occasionally act in television commercials. I stopped working in the theater when my son was born (he is now seventeen), and quit doing television sitcoms and such when my daughter came along twelve years ago. Commercials are a great job for a mom because you only work a few days and they send the check in the mail!

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
"Chanel Bonfire" is the title of my memoir. It's the story of a girl and her younger sister, trying to survive their mother's myriad nervous breakdowns without a map or a how-to book. It has a happy ending.

Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
My book is being published on January 8th, 2013 by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
Not really. Although I did buy a Daruma, which is a traditional, hollow, Japanese doll, when I began to write "Chanel Bonfire". The Daruma is a symbol of perseverance and good luck. The eyes are left blank, and you paint one in when you set a goal, (mine being to have my book published) and then paint the other eye when the goal is achieved. I am planning to paint in the second eye the day I hold my hardcover book in my hands.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre? Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
There is some talk of a follow-up memoir to "Chanel". It would be the story of a young actress living in the gritty New York of the 1980's, looking for identity, Mr. Right, a job, and maybe a free meal. Oh, and she has a crazy mother! I also am working on an idea for a novel I'd like to write.

How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I've been writing for about ten or eleven years, maybe. I started when my daughter was three, and she's about to be fourteen. I was inspired to start my memoir after telling many of the stories in the book to people, for entertainment, or to pay them back for a lovely meal they were buying me. Many of them encouraged me to write about them, and one day I started to. It started as little essays I wrote on being a mom, being a mom in Hollywood, and being a mom who was raised by a mom who was crazy - one of those essays became basically the foundation for the book.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I listened to a lot of music when writing "Chanel" - the music my mother listened to like Frank Sinatra, and then the music of my teen years, like David Bowie and Madness. For me, music can really stir up memories so it's a useful tool.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
My husband, David Kidd, is a screenwriter and has read every draft of the manuscript and given me very valuable feedback all through the process of crafting the book. I couldn't have written it without his help and support.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
The cover of my book was designed by Lisa Litwak at Gallery Books. I think it's gorgeous and that she did a fantastic job. She also incorporated an actual portrait of my mother into the image.

How do you market/promote your books?
I am very lucky to have Gallery Books working hard to market and promote my book. I am setting up readings at local independent bookstores around town. I created a "Chanel Bonfire" Facebook page, and am trying to master Twitter - still trying to figure that one out!

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
I think that a really good book needs to connect and resonate with readers. Getting the name of the book out there, getting it reviewed is all great but ultimately the book has to draw the reader in and, hopefully, strike a chord that will stay with them for awhile. It has to move you.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I go to the gym and take spin classes or just do some time on the treadmill. I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two kids. I like to cook and knit, read and go to the movies. 

Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I would say Harper Lee, David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs. 

Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
I like books you can hold in your hand! I tried to read a book on my son's Kindle and it drove me nuts. I had to go get it at the library because I found it so unsettling. I guess I'm old fashioned that way.

What is your favourite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?
"To Kill a Mockingbird" is my favorite book. I reread it every few years. I'm also very fond of Edith Wharton, George Eliot, John Irving and Dawn Powell to name just a few.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst  book to movie transfer?
I think it depends on how good the screenplay is. The film of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was written by Horten Foote, and is brilliant I think. I just saw the movie of "Cloud Atlas" which I thought was amazing. 

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
 I am currently reading "The Lifeboat" by Charlotte Rogan. I've only just started but it promises to be an exciting read!

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
No, I don't. Everyone likes to say that but when I walk into a bookstore, it's filled with books and people. Nothing could ever replace that. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I think people still want to connect with each other and with actual books.

Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
That depends on the school, doesn't it - how valued reading and writing are. My kids go to a school where they are assigned books to read, and have to also have a book they are reading independently.  And they have creative writing classes. So they seem to be doing a lot of that. 

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I read voraciously as a child, to escape I think. I did write stories in high school and college but that sort of tapered off when I decided to become an actress. I guess I got sidetracked.

Did you have a favourite author as a child?
It's funny because I'd sort of forgotten this but, as a kid, I devoured all of Jean Plaidy's books. I just loved them, and couldn't get enough. I was obsessed with the Tudors, Mary Queen of Scots, Catherine de Medici. They were historical fiction with loads of romance and suspense. 

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
That would be "Eloise" by Kay Thompson. It's the story of a little girl who lives with her nanny at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, while her mother travels around the world, and her father is also nowhere to be seen. She's sort of naughty, and always up to something. She doesn't seem to have any friends her own age, so she makes her own fun playing elaborate make-believe games, and she hangs around with the waiters, and the bellhops. It's very funny and charming.

Do you have a favourite genre of book?
No, I enjoy novels, and non-fiction. I don't read mystery novels, having sort of burned through Agatha Christie and Robert Parker, I decided to hang that genre up.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
"The Life of Pi"!! I tried twice to read it but couldn't get through it. Luckily, now I can just go see the movie!

Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
I've really been too busy - I have a lot of catching up to do in that department.

What do you think about book trailers? 
I think it's a great way to get the word out, especially now with YouTube and all the other social media out there. I made a book trailer in May when I was visiting Simon & Schuster. It's a commercial for my book, which I think is a terrific way to connect with potential readers.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
You have to believe in yourself, and never stop. There are always going to be people who reject your work, or don't understand what you are trying to say, or tell you what they think you need to change.When I was in acting school, one of my teachers told me that, in the most immediate sense, you are acting for you, and in fact you have very little control over what the audience will think of you. I thought that was terrific advice. You have to listen to yourself, and stay focused on the course. Oh, and never give up, and be patient.

If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Let's see, Truman Capote, Edith Wharton and William Shakespeare. How's that? 

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