Saturday, September 11, 2010

Q&A with Joanne Rendell author of Out of the Shadows & GIVEAWAY

I'm thrilled to welcome Joanne Rendell today to talk about her newest novel Out of the Shadows. I've been honored to read and review all of Joanne's novels and knew that I had to share her newest novel with everyone. You can read my reviews for Joanne's other novels by clicking on these links for The Professors' Wives Club and Crossing Washington Square .

Here is a description for Out of the Shadows:

Clara Fitzgerald’s recent losses have set her adrift, personally and professionally. Her mother has passed away, and her career seems stalled while her fiancé's scientific research is poised to take off in an exciting new direction. As great as the potential is for his future, Clara can't help - or ignore - that her emotional connection to him has slowly been slipping away.

But when Clara stumbles on an old copy of Frankenstein and remembers her mother’s claim that they are related to the nineteenth-century author, Mary Shelley, everything changes. With her sister in tow and the help of Kay, a retired Shelley scholar, Clara embarks on a search for the author's long lost journals and letters. As a bond among the three women grows, and as the profound connection between the past and present deepens, Clara comes closer to realizing where her heart truly belongs.

I am looking forward to reading Out of the Shadows, especially with the main character having the same name as my grandmother Clara who recently passed away as well as an amazing older women with great character. I've discussed this with Joanne by email and this novel already has drawn me in from the description. I have not read Frankenstein or much about Mary Shelley and the connections in the description of Out of the Shadows have made me interested in reading this classic novel and adding it to my reading list.

Joanne has kindly answered some questions about Out of the Shadows and a bit about herself as well , to  share with you today:

Why did you decide to write a book about Mary Shelley?

I’ve always loved Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s a wonderful gothic novel, but it’s very thoughtful, daring, and extremely prescient too – even now, two hundred years after it was written. In the novel, Shelley dared to ask “what if?” She looked around at the emerging technologies of her time and she considered their darker sides and how they could turn monstrous (and even make monsters!). I still find it amazing that she wrote such a daring and thoughtful, poignant and provocative novel when she was just nineteen. Not only that, she was living in early nineteenth century Europe when young girls weren’t supposed to think about monsters and science, let alone write about them!
Anyway, I knew I wanted to write a book with Mary Shelley as a primary focus and as I began to undertake biographical research, I fell in love with Shelley more and more. She was fiery and smart, outspoken and thoughtful, a non-conformist and a caring mother. I kept reminding myself, though, that I wasn’t going to write a Shelley biography. Out of the Shadows explores the echoes and links between the past, our current moment, and our possible future. I wanted the book to be both about Mary Shelley, but also about how her amazing imagination and insights still resonate today. I wanted Mary Shelley’s story to sit side by side with the story of a modern woman who, although living in a very different world to Shelley, still faces some of the same challenges, fears, and possibilities.
How did you research OUT OF THE SHADOWS and how was it different from your other two novels?
For a long time, I lost myself in some wonderful biographies of Mary Shelley. I fell in love with Shelley in the process! She was such a fiery and smart woman: outspoken and thoughtful, a non-conformist and a caring mother. She was fun to spend a lot of time with. I also had to read a lot about aging genetics and biomedical research in order to write the character Anthony, Clara’s fiancé, who is an ambitious geneticist and Principle Investigator in a university lab. My books always require a certain amount of research because I like to include literary themes. In The Professors’ Wives’ Club it was Edgar Allen Poe. In Crossing Washington Square it was Sylvia Plath. For Out of the Shadows, however, I spent a good five or six months researching before even writing a word.
In Out of the Shadows, you alternate between the Mary and Clara’s stories. Why did you decide to narrate the book like this?
In many ways, Clara and Mary’s stories are so different. Mary is a young girl growing up in early nineteenth-century London, while Clara is a thirty-something professor who lives in modern day New York City. But there are many similarities and echoes too. Mary and Clara are both on the cusp of finding themselves. They are searching for a way out of the shadows of those around them. For Mary, it is the shadow of her mother’s death, her father’s protection, and the life that doesn’t yet fulfill her. For Clara, she must find a way to live for herself, to pursue her own dreams, and not just follow her fiancé’s career.

If you had to pick a favorite character from Out of the Shadows, which would you pick and why?

Mary Shelley was my favorite character, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned already. But Kay, the elderly Shelley scholar who Clara befriends in the story, was a close second. When I wrote Kay’s character, I was thinking of an amazing older woman I knew when I still lived in the UK who was also called Kay. She was the grandmother of my then-boyfriend and she was such a smart, funny, and interesting woman. She’d traveled all over the world, lost her husband when she was just a young mother, and had a successful career as a university professor. She had so many funny and interesting stories to tell. The Kay character in Out of the Shadows is a similar kind of woman: feisty, smart, a long-term widow. She also finds peace with her life and her aging and her mortality. She offers a great counterpoint to Clara’s fiancé, Anthony, who is striving to extend life and stave off death through his scientific research (rather like Victor Frankenstein, of course).

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have a seven year old son who I’m homeschooling – although “homeschool” is somewhat a misnomer as we spend a relatively small amount of time schooling at “home.” We live in New York City so are lucky enough to have an amazing array of fun and educational places on our doorstep. Benny and I, together with his homeschooled friends, are always out on trips to the Metropolitan Museum, the Natural History Museum, aquariums, zoos, galleries, libraries, and parks. When we’re not out and about, Benny and I love to read – either together or separately. Benny is now a voracious reader and I’m so thankful he loves books as much as I do.

About the Author, Joanne Rendell (From Joanne Rendell's Website):

Joanne grew up in England yet when Joanne was young she had a crush on the Big Apple. When she was ten years old, in fact, she wrote a series of stories about a couple of kids who find a magic footpath in New York’s Central Park. After leaving school, Joanne went to the University of Leeds in Yorkshire where she completed a degree in English Literature and Philosophy. The student life was too much fun for Joanne, so she went on to do a Masters at King’s College London and then a PhD in English Literature at the University of Sheffield. She met a professor from the U.S. named Brad Lewis.

Joanne and Brad started to write papers together, organize conference panels, email furiously, and eventually they fell hopelessly in love. After Joanne was done with her PhD, she upped sticks and moved to New York to be with Brad, who teaches at NYU. Not long after they got married, and not too much longer after that, their son Benny arrived on the scene.

Over the past seven years, Joanne has juggled life as a homeschooling mum with writing novels. She hasn’t left academia completely behind. She and Brad are faculty in residence in one of NYU dorms and they run events, book groups, and programs for the students who live in their building. Also, Joanne’s novels are all set at Manhattan U – a university in downtown New York which looks, she does admit, a little like NYU.


Joanne has graciously offered to give away
2 copies of her novel Out of the Shadows!

All you have to do is leave a comment, make sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you are a winner. Otherwise, I won't be able to include your name in the drawing. Open to US & Canada only. Books will ship directly to the winners from the author.

Enter by September 26, 2010


  1. I really liked Crossing Washington Square, in fact, it was your review of it that made me check it out from my library! This new one sounds pretty amazing!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

  2. I've added Ms. Rendell to my list of authors to read thanks to your post about Washington Square (which is on my TBR pile). I'd love to have a copy of this one.
    Thanks. Carol

  3. I would love to win this!! I tried to win this on Free Book Friday but didn't.

    Thanks Bonnie for hosting this giveaway!

  4. This is why I love the blogging world, I get to see a new to me author and intriguing premise to a book.
    Big add to the WWBL to look for Joanne Rendell's books.

    VWinship at aol dot com

  5. Ms Rendell is a new to me author.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    Love & Hugs,

  6. Sounds really good. Thanks for sharing!

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  7. Mary Shelley is a fascinating author to write about. I would really love to read this book. Thnak you for the giveaway.


  8. This sounds like a great premise for a story. Who wouldn't want to be related to Mary Shelley?! Sounds fantastic!


  9. I'd so love to read this. Please count me in.


  10. I've never read this and would love to start with this book. It sounds good!

  11. would love to read joanne's latest novel...thanks for the chance :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  12. Love the interview! Please enter me for a copy of what sounds like a really interesting book!
    Email subscriber

  13. No need to enter me, Bonnie. I've got a copy on its way to me already.

    I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a book for you.

  14. I'd like to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity!

  15. I would love to read Joanne Rendell's latest book. Please enter me into the giveaway for a copy of Out of the Shadows.

    Thank you,


  16. Please count me in.

    simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

  17. would love to give it a try


  18. NYC would be such a fantastic place to be homeschooled! I want to go on the trips with the kids :)

  19. Thank you for the giveaway. In college I wrote a thesis that Frankenstein was an allegory of Shelley troubled relationship with her father. Ever since I have been fascinated by her life. Please enter me.


  20. Thanks for sharing this interview & please enter me in the contest.

  21. I would love to be entered in your draw for this wonderful book. Thanks.

  22. This book looks soooo interesting. Please include my name in your draw. Thanks.

  23. That sounds interesting-- please enter me!

    i dash comment at deLeons dot com

  24. I still haven't gotten a copy of Crossing Washington Square but have had it on the wish list forever. This book sounds equally as good! I would love to enter the giveaway!


  25. Sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks for the chance

  26. I haven't read any books by this author yet. But this book sounds really good, and I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


  27. This sounds interesting. Would love the chance to read it. :0)

    librarygrinch at gmail dot com

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