Interview: Wendy Wax

The following Q & A is an excerpt from materials provided by the publicist.
TEN BEACH ROAD goes on sale today. More information can be found at

You grew up in St. Pete Beach and on Pass-a-Grille Beach, yet this is the first time you’ve set a book there? Why TEN BEACH ROAD and not one of your earlier ones?

Actually, Tanya in The Accidental Bestseller got to live in St. Petersburg and on the very last page there are these movie-like blurbs at the end laying out the friends’ futures. Tanya’s rewarded with a home on St. Pete Beach and a sixty foot houseboat. So I guess even two books ago I was nostalgic about life on the water and back on the beach. In Ten Beach Road I put a derelict beachfront mansion at the heart of the story and, frankly, I rarely think ‘beach’ without the words St. Pete or Pass-a-Grille in front of it.

Do you believe that setting plays a more important role in this novel than in other of your books?

Definitely. I could have put Madeline, Avery and Nicole’s sole remaining ‘asset’ anywhere, but I think this particular setting contributes a lot to the story and the protagonists’ friendship and growth. Another setting would have demanded a very different kind of house and a very different experience for the main characters. And, of course, you can’t conjure up a threatening hurricane just anywhere. As much as I believe in the importance of setting, I still tend to be spare in my descriptions of places and people. That’s mostly because, as a reader, I don’t enjoy tons of information about setting or character appearance. I only want the bare bones so that I can envision things myself.

You’re known for exploring the importance of women’s friendships in your work. In Magnolia Wednesdays, Vivi seemed to have to learn how to be a friend. In The Accidental Bestseller, four women may have been guilty of taking the strength of their friendship for granted. In TEN BEACH ROAD you seem to be taking a closer look at issues such as trust, risk taking, honesty, and mother/daughter relationships. Do you agree? Did you start out in this direction? Or did the characters take you there?

I don’t start out with ‘themes’ in mind, but I seem to have some issues that I keep coming back to. In fact, I’ve had a number of interviewers point out that I seem to keep writing about ‘secrets.’ When asked why, I didn’t have an answer, so I now say “that’s a secret.” The mother-daughter relationships in Ten Beach Road were intentional, but I didn’t know how they’d play out until I began writing. Watching a story and characters evolve in unexpected ways is one of my favorite parts of the process. There are a lot of things you simply can’t know or imagine about characters until you’ve spent time with them.

Did your past life as host of the Tampa radio program Desperate and Dateless have anything to do with you choosing matchmaking as Nicole’s high-profile career?

Well, I’d like to say yes but the truth is I was a radio person who ended up hosting Desperate & Dateless back when I was both of those things. Nicole was inspired by an article or two I saw, which led me to a book about a real dating guru/matchmaker. I was kind of fascinated with the idea of making a living that way. I made her a matchmaker to the affluent, because I wanted her rise from poverty to be marked, and the loss of her fortune deeply emotional.

Can you tell us anything about your next book? Setting? Situations? When it may be published?

My next book, currently titled Reality Check, is scheduled for release in June 2012. Two estranged friends living very different lives are about to mix it up in ways they never could have imagined—but I did!

♦ ♦ ♦

Please stop by tomorrow for my review of TEN BEACH ROAD

Jessica James – Blog Tour Guest Post

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Jessica James. I read Shades of Gray last summer and knew it would be on my 2009 Favorite Books list. For more about the book, click on the cover. Here’s some background information about Jessica and then her guest post about what a reader can learn from historical fiction.

Author bio and awards

Jessica James is the award-winning author of the historical fiction novel Shades of Gray, an epic Civil War love story that has twice overtaken Gone with the Wind on the Amazon Best-Seller list in the romance/historical/U.S. category. A former newspaper editor, she spent 18 years in a newsroom before turning her attention to fiction writing. She holds a master’s degree in communications and a bachelor’s degree in public relations/journalism.

This multi-award winning novel has been widely praised by historians for its balanced portrayal of the War Between the States, and by romance readers for its emotional description of the love that develops between the two main characters.

The novel chronicles the clash of a Confederate cavalry officer with a Union spy as they defend their beliefs, their country and their honor. The rolling hills of northern Virginia provide the backdrop for this page-turning tale of courage and devotion.

Shades of Gray Awards and Accolades:

2009 HOLT Medallion Finalist for Best Southern Theme

2008 Indie Next Generation Award for Best Regional Fiction

2008 Indie Next Generation Finalist for Best Historical Fiction

2008 IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction

2008 ForeWord Magazine Finalist for Book of the Year in Romance category

2008 Favorite Book of the Year by The Book Connection

2008 Favorite Book of the Year by BookWorm’s Dinner

2008 Top Ten Favorite Book of the Year by The Printed Page

Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia

Learning something from historical fiction

When Mary was kind enough to review my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray last July, she noted that war novels are really not her preferred genre. I’m not sure she could have said anything more gratifying – I wrote Shades of Gray for precisely that type of reader.

Authors realize time is precious for everyone and that finding a few hours to sit down with a book is becoming a luxury. Though I definitely want to reflect my passion for the Civil War in my writing, my goal is to write books that appeal to readers of any genre and, more importantly, have them not regret the time they spent reading it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t want readers to come away with a new appreciation, or even better, an actual interest in the war. I believe historical fiction can be a great teaching tool, and love it when readers say they’ve actually learned something about our nation’s history. Mary noted that she gained new insight into the Southern perspective by reading Shades, and found the plotline of a woman dressing as a man during the war one of the more captivating aspects of the book.

O.K., so you don’t remember reading about women soldiers in your history books? Me either. In fact, I’ve had a few readers say this “fictional” premise is too far-fetched. Yet in reality, there are hundreds of wartime records verifying that women fought beside their male counterparts, sometimes even achieving rank as officers. For the most part, their sex was only revealed after being wounded, or being found by a burial party when they were killed in action. (Two dead females were found on the battlefield right here in my hometown of Gettysburg).

While I’m on the subject, at least six soldiers are known to have performed their military duties while pregnant, and two Confederate prisoners of war gave birth while incarcerated. I don’t have any pregnant soldiers in Shades of Gray, but my female heroine does get sentenced to prison. I was a little leery about that plotline as well, thinking that if a woman were caught in male attire, surely she would announce her sex and simply be sent back across the lines – as some were. But records show a number of women who were not discovered in prison until becoming ill, dying – or, amazingly, delivering a baby.

Some people read historical fiction, I suppose, to learn interesting facts such as these, while others perhaps turn away from it for precisely the same reason. Some want to be educated – and others merely entertained. I think historical fiction, done correctly, can accomplish both. By properly weaving facts with fiction, and creating characters with real feelings and emotions, readers can become so engaged with a book that they begin to care about what happens – and in doing so, learn something.

When readers tell me they smiled over my main characters’ triumphs and cried over their heartaches – I take it as a testament to the emotional connection they formed to Andrea and Hunter. It is that connection that gives them the feeling they’ve read an epic love story – not a Civil War story at all. And yet surely all those readers who have told me they silently wept upon the pages of Shades of Gray, have also come away with an additional knowledge of history and a new understanding of the sacrifices that helped shape our country.

Learning about the past doesn’t have to be a dull and tedious proposition – it can be entertaining and thought provoking in a way that may surprise you.

* * * * * * *

My review of Shades of Gray can be found here.

* * * * * * *

Tomorrow Jessica James will stop at as part of her Holiday Blog Tour and Civil War Basket Giveaway.

Visit for more information on the tour.

Bill Walker – Blog Tour Guest Post

Brian Weller is a haunted man. It’s been two years since the tragic accident that left his three-year-old son dead and his wife in an irreversible coma. A popular author of mega-selling thrillers, Brian’s life has reached a crossroads: his new book is stalled, his wife’s prognosis is dire, and he teeters on the brink of despair.

Everything changes the morning an e-mail arrives from Boston artist Joanna Richman. Her heartfelt note brings back all the poignant memories: the night their eyes met, the fiery passion of their short-lived affair, and the agonizing moment he was forced to leave Joanna forever. Now, fifteen years later, the guilt and anger threaten to overwhelm him. Vowing to make things right, Brian arranges a book-signing tour that will take him back to Boston. He is eager to see Joanna again, but remains unsure where their reunion will lead. One thing is certain: the forces that tore their love asunder will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

Filled with tender romance and taut suspense, A Note from an Old Acquaintance is an unforgettable story about fate, honor, and the power of true love.

Author information:

He’s a graphic designer specializing in book and dust jacket design, and has worked on projects by Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. Between his design work and his writing, he spends his spare time reading voraciously and playing very loud guitar, much to the chagrin of his lovely wife and two sons. Bill makes his home in Los Angeles and can be reached through his web site:

* * * * * * *
Today I’m very pleased to welcome Bill Walker, author of A Note from an Old Acquaintance

* * * * * * *

You can find A Note from an Old Acquaintance here or here.

Guest Post by Michelle Moran

Today I’m very pleased to offer a guest post by Michelle Moran, author of Cleopatra’s Daughter.

Life and Libraries in the Classical Age

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by readers is what life was like two thousand years ago when Julius Caesar walked the corridors of the Senate house and Cleopatra visited Rome. Surprisingly, life for the ancient Romans was not unbelievably different from today. The Romans had many of the little luxuries that we often associate exclusively with the modern world. For example, baths were to be found in every city, and public toilets were viewed as a necessity. The toilets depicted in HBO’s Rome Series are copies of those discovered in Pompeii, where those caught short could find a long stretch of latrines (much like a long bench with different sized holes) and relieve themselves next to their neighbor. Shops sold a variety of wigs, and women could buy irons to put curls their hair. For the rain, there were umbrellas, and for the sun, parasols. Houses for the wealthy were equipped with running water and were often decorated quite lavishly, with elaborate mosaics, painted ceilings, and plush carpets.

In the markets, the eager shopper could find a rich array of silks, along with linen and wool. You could also find slaves, and in this, Roman times certainly differ from our own. While some men spoke out against it, one in three people were enslaved. Most of these slaves came from Greece, or Gaul (an area roughly comprising modern France). Abuse was rampant, and the misery caused by this led desperate men like Spartacus to risk death for freedom.

For those few who were free and wealthy, however, life in Rome provided nearly endless entertainments. As a child, there were dolls and board games to be played with, and as an adult, there was every kind of amusement to be had, from the theatre to the chariot races. Even the poor could afford “bread and circuses,” which, according to Juvenal, was all the Romans were really interested in.

For those more academic minded, however, there were libraries. Although I don’t portray this in Cleopatra’s Daughter, libraries were incredibly noisy places. The male scholars and patrons read aloud to themselves and each other, for nothing was ever read silently (the Romans believed it was impossible!). Other cities were renowned for their learning, too: Pergamum (or Pergamon) was the largest and grandest library in the world. Built by the Greeks, Pergamum became Roman property when Greece was captured and many of its people enslaved. The library was said to be home to more than 200,000 volumes, and it is was in Pergamum that the history of writing was forever changed.

Built by Eumenes II, Pergamum inspired great jealousy in the Egyptian Ptolemies, who believed that their Library of Alexandria was superior. In order to cripple this Greek rival (and also because of crop shortages), Egypt ceased exporting papyrus, on which all manuscripts were written. Looking for an alternative solution, the Library of Pergamum began using parchment, or charta pergamena. For the first time, manuscripts were now being written on thin sheets of calf, sheep or goat’s skin. The result of this change from papyrus to parchment was significant. Now, knowledge could be saved by anyone with access to animal hide. Manuscripts (although still quite rare) were now available to more people. Alas, so impressive was this vast Pergamese library of parchment that Cleopatra asked Marc Antony to ship its entire contents to her as a wedding gift. This transfer marked the end of Pergamum’s scholarly dominance, and is the reason why, today, we remember Alexandria as possessing the ancient world’s greatest library.

The death of Cleopatra was only the beginning…

Check out Michelle’s blog at

* * * * * * *

Thanks, Michelle. I really enjoyed this post and the links to your photos.