Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Q&A with Joanne Rendell and a Giveaway of Crossing Washington Square

I am so pleased to welcome Joanne Rendell , author of Crossing Washington Square to Redlady's Reading Room today. I was fortunate to read and review Joanne's wonderful first book, The Professors' Wives Club last year. I was thrilled and honored that she asked me to read and review her second novel as well. Joanne is the kind of author that is very generous in reaching out and connecting with her readers. You can read my review from yesterday of Crossing Washington Square, here which is another wonderful book of contemporary women's fiction.

Joanne has kindly shared some of her thoughts about

How did you first get the idea for Crossing Washington

The idea for this book evolved over a few years. As someone who has lived the
academic life (I have a PhD in literature and now I’m married to a professor at
NYU), I’ve always loved books about the university – books like Kingsley Amis’
Lucky Jim and Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys. But what I noticed about such campus fiction was the lack of female professors in leading roles. Even the female
authors like Francine Prose and Zadie Smith, who’ve written campus novels, they
too focus on male professors. Furthermore, most of these male professors are
disillusioned drunks who quite often sleep with their students! I wanted to
write a novel with women professors taking the lead and I wanted these women to
be strong and smart and interesting – instead of drunk, disillusioned, and
preoccupied with questionable romantic liaisons!

What was the most fun scene in your book to write?

Crossing Washington Square is a story of two very different women and their very
different love of books. Rachel Grey and Diana Monroe are both literature
professors in the old boys club of Manhattan University. While this should
create a kinship between them, they are very much at odds. Rachel is young,
emotional, and impulsive. She wrote a book about women’s book groups which got
her a slot on Oprah and she uses “chick lit” in her classes. Diana is aloof,
icy, and controlled. She’s also a scholar of Sylvia Plath who thinks “beach”
fiction is an easy ride for students. But as is often the case, it’s a man that
truly divides the two women. Smooth-talking Carson McEvoy, a visiting Harvard
professor, has his sights on both Rachel and Diana and gets sparks truly

If your book were to become a movie, who would you cast?

Crossing Washington Square loosely echoes Austen’s Sense and Sensibilty –
with one professor being led by her sense, the other by her sensibility. I love
the Ang Lee adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate
Winslet playing the two very different Dashwood sisters. Therefore I’d love Emma
and Kate to play my professors!

Who’s your favorite character and why?
That’s a tough one! My knee jerk response is to say Professor Rachel Grey
because, out of the two female leads, I identify most with her. Rachel teaches
chick lit in her classes and has to defend her work and the genre to her stuffy
colleagues who think only the classics and literary fiction should be studied.
As a grad student, I would be reading classical literature and poetry by day,
but then secretly read popular women’s fiction at night (Bridget Jones’ Diary, I
have to say, is one of my all time favorite books!). Rachel is also flawed
and emotional, yet good and honest and brave. I like that about her.

Every time I revisit the book, however, I like Professor Diana Monroe
more too. She’s super smart and has great poise and grace as a teacher. She’s
the kind of uber-professor that every academic secretly wants to be. She’s also
pretty darn scary in her austerity and brilliance. But she has a vulnerability
too and her life started out pretty tough and therefore, every time I revisit
the book, I like her more.
Have you had a "rock star" moment regarding your writing career? If so,
what was it?

My first novel was The Professors’ Wives’ Club. A couple of months after its
release, a woman contacted me and said she’d read and enjoyed the book. She told
me she was a professor’s wife and after a few emails, she revealed that she was
the wife of a very distinguished professor of cultural studies whose work I’d
read, who I’d seen giving keynotes talks at conferences, and whose work greatly
influenced the writing of Crossing Washington Square. Not really a “rock star”
moment, but still exciting to know the wives of influential professors
(professors I really dig!) read my book.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have a six year old son who is homeschooled, so that’s what I’m mostly doing
when I’m not writing. Although, “homeschool” is somewhat a misnomer as we spend
a relatively small amount of time schooling at “home.” We live in New York 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 Met, 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. I’m so thankful he loves books like I do!

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on final edits for my third novel which was bought by Penguin last
fall. The novel tells the story of a woman who thinks she might be related to
the nineteenth century writer, Mary Shelley. On her journey to seek the truth
and to discover if there really is a link between her own family and the creator
of Frankenstein, Clara unearths surprising facts about people much closer to
home – including some shocking secrets about the ambitious scientist she is
engaged to. The book is told in alternating points of view between Clara and the
young Mary Shelley who is preparing to write Frankenstein.
Thank You Joanne!



Joanne has graciously offered to give away a copy of Crossing Washington Square to one lucky reader.

For each entry, please leave a seperate comment, this will make it easier to draw a winner as I won't be able to go back and count each entry. Also, make sure that you include your email or that your email is in your blog profile. If I have no way of contacting you by email, your entry will automatically be withdrawn.

  • For One Entry: Leave a comment and with a way to contact you.

  • For a Second Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Blog about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine).

  • For a Third Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Twitter about this giveaway add @Bonnieredlady and share a link, if you can.

This giveaway is ONLY open to US and Canada.

I'll use random.org to draw a winner and the contest will end on October 9th , 2009 at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!

********GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED*********


  1. Please enter me in this contest...sounds like a great book!
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  2. Bonnie, great interview. I'll watch for her next book. Please enter my name in the giveaway.

    meah56 at gmail dot com

  3. Please enter me in the contest! Thanks so much

    gaby317nyc at gmail dot com

  4. I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

  5. I am an email subscriber and would really like to win this book.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

  6. This books sounds wonderful! I loved the interview. Everybody has a different idea of what a rock star moment is.

    Please enter me.

  7. I've read some great things about this book and this interview was no exception! Throw my name in please!

    melacan at hotmail dot com

  8. Great interview! Don't enter me -- just posted about this on Win A Book.

  9. The book sounds great - please enter me.

  10. She sounds like someone that I would love to have lunch with...very down to earth!!! Great post!!

  11. This sounds really good. Please enter me.


  12. I'd love to win. :)


  13. Tweet:http://twitter.com/morbidromantic/statuses/4488167666.


  14. Count me in-it sounds like a wonderful read! cmcdermitt1@carolina.rr.com. Thanks!

  15. Thanks so much for the chance to win!

    tatamagouche AT netbundle DOT ca

  16. Please enter me in this one! Thanks.


  17. Posted this on my blog.


  18. I also tweeted:



  19. book sounds great; great interview:

    bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

  20. This book sounds fantastic, I especially love how she says it echoes Sense and Sensibility and references not only one of my favorite books, but also one of my favorite movies!

    My email address is laarlt(at)hotmail(dot)com.


  21. Please include me in the giveaway.

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

  22. Sounds like a book I'd really like to read. Please enter me. Thanks!


  23. This is a great interview with Joanne Rendell. I love the storylines of her first 2 books and her explanation of why she wrote Crossing Washington Square!

    Thank you for hosting this giveaway!


  24. I tweeted this giveaway here:

  25. pleeze enter me read a lot of great reviews from various bloggers on this book


  26. i tweeted the giveaway http://twitter.com/BoosPlace/status/4561051496

  27. This book sounds great...thanks for the opportunity!


  28. I'd like to enter, the book sounds great. Thanks!
    kristine7 at aol.com

  29. Nice interview! I would LOVE to read her new book -- thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  30. Here's my Tweet: http://twitter.com/ASeaOfBooks/status/4582572614

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  31. I've posted this giveaway on my sidebar. http://aseaofbooks.blogspot.com/

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  32. I would like to be entered!


  33. Great interview! You asked some great questions. I would love to read this, please enter me!

    thetometraveller *at* yahoo (dot) com

  34. I've read several good reviews of her novels, and I'd love to win! Thanks!

    nomadreaderblog (at) Gmail

  35. What a wonderful interview, Bonnie. I'd like to be included in the drawing.

  36. I put a link in my sidebar to your contest. Thanks for hosting!


  37. I blogged this giveaway:



  38. Please enter me. Thanks for the chance.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  39. I loved The Professors' Wives' Club, and I'd love to read this one, too!

    nnjmom at yahoo dot com

  40. I blogged about your giveaway here:


    nnjmom at yahoo dot com

  41. please count me in..this books sounds great


  42. It sounds like a great book, please include me in the giveaway!

  43. It was great to read the interview to learn a bit about how this book came together. I'd love to win a copy.

  44. so sorry i posted for this giveaway on the wrong post. I was looking at this book at B&N and would love to win a copy. Thanks. I follow your blog:

    bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

  45. Thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous book...

    karen k

  46. This looks like such a wonderful book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  47. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the chance to win!
    ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

  48. This sounds like a wonderful book Please enter me Thanks

  49. I would absolutely love to read this book. Thanks for the possibility.



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