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Interview: Wendy Toliver

December 26th, 2007 (07:56 pm)
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Whether it's performing in front of a camera, sharing a book with her young sons, or writing a tale of her own, Wendy Toliver likes being a part of a good story. Her debut teen novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN, has been released as part of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies.  Wendy and I recently talked about playacting, playing the flute, and playing the freelance game.

Congratulations on your SECRET.

Thank you, Little Willow! I am extremely excited and honored to be a Simon Pulse Rom Com author.

I love mythology. For readers who aren't familiar with the myth of the siren, care to explain, and share the basic premise of your novel?

According to Greek mythology, three Sirens lived on an island. They played beautiful music for passing sailors, luring them closer, right into a wall of deadly rocks. But when Odysseus heard their song and lived to tell about it, the Sirens threw themselves into the sea and drowned.
When I read that one of their bodies had been found washed up on a southern Italy shore, it got me thinking. What if one or two of the Sirens didn't drown after all? What if at least one had lived long enough to pass her Sea Nymph gene down to a daughter? What if that gene, after over 2,800 years, had somehow found its way into the chromosomes of Roxy Zimmerman, a plain Jane, fun-loving, 16 year-old band girl? And that is the premise of THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN.

The book cover, designed by Amy Saidens, reveals that Roxy plays the flute. Do you play any instruments?

I’m very pleased with the artwork on the cover. Thank you, Amy! I played the flute ages ago, as well as the piano. I still play the piano whenever I get the chance, but please don’t ask me to perform in front of anybody with ears. On the other hand, I’m a natural at the kazoo.

Did you write the book before or after you landed the book deal? Did the publisher approach you to be a part of this line?

First came the book, then came the deal.

Did you title your book before, after, or while writing it?

The title came while I was writing it. After Simon Pulse bought it, we thought about changing its title but in the end, everybody agreed to keep it THE SECRET LIFE OF A TEENAGE SIREN. I’m glad because I think it’s a perfect title.

You've also written non-fiction. Tell us a little more about your freelance work.

Let’s see … I wrote two books for Chapelle/Sterling’s Little Giant Encyclopedia series, one on wedding etiquette and one on inspirational quotes. I also helped write a number of how-to and decorating books for the same publisher. I’m a freelance cover copy writer for Hachette Book Group USA (formerly Warner Books) which is a blast. And from time to time I write magazine and newspaper articles and do advertising-type projects for local companies.

It sounds as if you have quite a menagerie of pets in your household, as well as some munchkins. Do your husband and little boys ever act as proofreaders?

Yes, we have a whole zoo here. No, they don’t proofread, but they’re very good about giving me a little writing time now and then. They’re my biggest fans (next to my mom). One of my favorite “author” days so far was talking to my first grader’s school about my job.

Rumor has it that you, like me, are a singer and an actress. (We have to make sure we don't make sailors crash on the rocks, though.) What has been your most rewarding experience or performance to date? Are you still pursuing either path?

Oooh! I bet you have more exciting stories than I do, but I admit it’s been a fun little hobby.

My most rewarding performance was probably acting in an episode of Touched by an Angel, which was produced right here in Utah. The audition, call backs, costume fitting, hair and makeup, private trailer room, reserved parking place, craft services, voice-overs, paychecks … all of this made me feel like a real star! Along with the regulars of the show (Valerie Bertinelli, Roma Downey, Della Reese, John Dye), I got to rub elbows with Jennifer Morrison who’s now starring on House.

I want to get back into acting someday, but with my young family and my writing, I’ve put it on the back burner. I’m sure Hollywood can wait a few more years. Ha ha!

Finally, what are your ten favorite books of all time?

Good question. I think we’re so lucky these days. Not only do we have all the classics, there are amazing new books hitting bookshelves every day. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

1. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
3. Emma by Jane Austen
4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
5. Kissing Coyotes by Marcia Vaughan, illustrated by Kenneth J. Spengler
6. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
9. Where the Wild Things Are written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
10. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Visit the author's brand spankin' new pretty purple website at WendyToliver.com - then swing by the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies blog.

Comments

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Great title--Sirens are so cool

We saw them recently in the cartoon version of Sinbad. My son was quite impressed. Another excellent interview--thanks!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:06 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Thank you!

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:14 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Sure--I was just reading the outpouring of support on the brotherhood 2.0 site on this censorship matter--it's amazing--got goosebumps (the good kind).

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Maureen's fantastic. Have you read her novels?

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Sadly, know. But she must be pretty cool if she's friends w/ JG. Which one do you recommend?

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

oops, I mean sadly NO--it's getting late--GIRL AT SEA looks really cool though (and now I'd like to read B. Triangle)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Read them all.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:29 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Try THE KEY TO THE GOLDEN FIREBIRD. I think it is her strongest overall story.

My favorite of her supporting characters is Parker, who appears in THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE.

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 05:40 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Thanks--I'll look for them.

Posted by: stephhale (stephhale)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Wow, I just realized I didn't really know much about Wendy! How cool that she's done an episode of Touched by an Angel! I've always been fascinated by sirens and can't wait for Wendy's adorable novel. Hurry up, December! Awesome interview, LW!

Steph~

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Thanks, Steph. Wendy is very kind and complimentary, and the book sounds adorable.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 01:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Make May the Month of Maureen. You can finish all of her backlist titles before GIRL AT SEA comes out - and GIRL rocks the boat. It's fab.

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Sounds good--you must read all the time to prepare for your reviews! I have a stack of books piling up--my friend, who is a reviewer, gave me Holly Black's new one yesterday--so I have that too. I still need to finish Rachel Cohn's CUPCAKE as well. I'm going to her workshop at NYMBC this Sunday in S.F. to workshop the new 80's novel!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

Yes, I read a great deal.

Cupcake is outstanding.

I am looking forward to Ironside. I enjoyed Holly Black's novels Tithe and Valiant, as well as The Spiderwick Chronicles for younger audiences, co-written with fantastic illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi.

Best wishes with the workshop. Have fun!

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
Re: Great title--Sirens are so cool

--just reading maureen johnson's update. so exciting over there! power to the authors! read her LOL author/brawl post in the recent link if you haven't already. so funny. yes, i adored gingerbread and shrimp and love cupcake so far too. that character is such a hoot--it's so nice to keep up w/ her.

thanks for the other tips too!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)

Maureen is ten kinds of awesome.
Just to let you know.

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
she must be--

--because the support she is getting is AWESOME. great time to be an author in America (internet, savy teens etc.)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)
Re: she must be--

Go read TBT now.

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 02:28 am (UTC)
Re: she must be--

I gotta buy it this weekend at Book Inc.!! Was just reading ALL the back-up blogs, apparently my lj just clicked in w/ my friend request and I have dozens of M's past blogs. She is so hilarious! I'm lovin' it--ok--I'm REALLY going to put boy (who's watching Curious George w/ Dad) to bed now. Nighty, night.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
Re: she must be--

:)

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)

did you check out my blog today? a new writer wrote me--i don't know her book (it's in gallies still), but she seems really cool. check it out. alex something is her name. got to put the boy to bed. ciao!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)

Miss Alex Richards is quite kind. I have her book here *taps the cover gently* and will be reading it and interviewing her later this month!

Posted by: Heidi R. Kling, Author of SEA, June 10, 2010 (seaheidi)
Posted at: May 4th, 2007 03:40 pm (UTC)
oh good!

she seems so sweet! i can't believe how many new authors there are--it's crazy! what a fun job you have. :)

Posted by: micolz (micolz)
Posted at: May 6th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)

Oooh, yay, Wendy! Wendy was also recently inaugurated into the Simon Pulse ro com blogosphere:
simonpulseromanticcomedies.blogspot.com.
Check it out!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 6th, 2007 04:24 am (UTC)
happy

You posted right as I was editing this post! Now that her website is live, I changed the verbage of the end portion and added a link to the book cover and to the SPRC blog. :)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: May 8th, 2007 04:51 am (UTC)
Awwww!

Micol and Steph, thanks so much for the kind comments! And LW, you're gushing with talent and I've really enjoyed getting to know you and learn a little about all the amazing things you do. Thanks so much for interviewing me and making me feel so important, haha! I really appreciate the support and friendship.

xoxo
Wendy

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 8th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
Re: Awwww!

You are welcome, Wendy. :)

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