Brenda Janowitz Likes Her Scot on the Rocks: Author Interview
SCOT ON THE ROCKS, which will be hitting shelves in April (you can pre-order now, here!), is your debut novel. Tell me how you found out about the deal and what your reaction was to it.
I was sitting in my office when my agent called me to tell me about it. The whole thing was incredibly surreal and exciting. You spend so much of your time writing and not knowing how the outside world will react to your work. When it finally happened for me, it was just this overwhelming feeling of elation and that Sally Field sentiment of: “They like it! They really like it!”
How does a lawyer (as you are) happen to decide to write chick lit?
I’ve always been a writer. In fact, that’s the reason why I became a lawyer in the first place—trying to find a career where I could write full time. But I’ve always had a real love for fiction, and I’d find myself practicing law and thinking about these fictional stories that I wanted to write. When I was invited to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding, my life slowly but surely began to resemble some of my favorite chick lit novels, and I said to myself, ‘I’ve just gotta start writing this stuff down…’
From the time you finished your novel, how long did it take you to get an agent and subsequently, the book deal?
Finding an agent is by far the most difficult part. Once you have an agent, she really does the heavy lifting for you in terms of getting a book deal. That having been said, it took about 3-4 months to get an agent. Once I found Mollie [Mollie Glick of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency], we worked on a second draft together. Once we were happy with the final manuscript, Mollie sent it out and it took about 3-4 weeks (hard to recall exactly how long it took—it was all a blur. A delicious, exciting, wonderful blur, to be sure, but a blur nonetheless!) to find out that we were offered a two book deal.
Do you have a standard process to your writing? Are you an outliner or a jump-right-in writer?
Both! When I wrote SCOT ON THE ROCKS, I had a general idea of where it was going, but by no means a real outline. I just let the story take me where it wanted and I did a lot of editing and re-writing to keep it tight and make it work the way I thought it should.
With the sequel to SCOT ON THE ROCKS, I created an outline first to show to my editor so that she’d have a sense of the type of story I wanted to tell. I’m finding it fun to work off of an outline since it gives you the opportunity to layer on the things like themes and symbols that I added to second and third drafts of SCOT ON THE ROCKS. I feel that it’s making for a much richer first draft.
What's your favorite thing about SCOT ON THE ROCKS?
It’s my baby! I couldn’t possibly pick just one part! Please don’t make me choose. Really. I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.
If you could only use 25 words to pitch SOTR, what would you say?
It’s a story about a woman who goes to her ex-boyfriend’s wedding. Hilarity ensues.
How do you spend your time when you're not writing?
What free time?!? J When I’m not writing, I teach writing at mediabistro.com. I teach seminars, workshops, and an eight-week class on How to Write Chick Lit. I also love to read, go to the theater, go to literary readings, spend time with friends and family (I have a six month old nephew who is absolutely delicious), and watch old movies.
What three adjectives best describe you?
What a tough question! I’d like to think that those three adjectives would be: sweet, funny and kind.
What three adjectives best describe SCOT ON THE ROCKS?
Smart, funny, and highly entertaining. And I hope that you’ll agree!
Word Association. What comes to mind when you see the following words:
EX-BOYFRIEND: that really depends on which ex you are talking about…
WEDDING: that really depends on whose wedding you are talking about…
WRITING: my love
LAW: my past
NEW YORK: home
What three pieces of advice would you offer aspiring-to-be-published authors?
Keep writing! It’s so easy to get discouraged or feel like you don’t have the time to write. But like anything else that is important in life, you have to work at it and make the time for it.
Edit! Editing your work is almost as important as the writing itself. Sure, you’re telling your story, but it’s also important to consider the way that you tell it. You want your writing to be tight, elegant and polished. It can only get to be that way through careful and thorough editing.
Develop a very thick skin. You’re putting yourself out there when you write and not everyone is going to love what you do. But that’s okay! You’re not writing to please everyone out there. You’re writing because you have a story that you want to tell. So start getting used to criticism and then see tip #1—keep writing!
What are you currently working on?
Right now, my main focus is the sequel to SCOT ON THE ROCKS, which Red Dress Ink is scheduled to release in April 2008. It follows the path of our three main characters, Brooke, Vanessa and Jack. Needless to say, more hilarity ensues.
A native New Yorker, Brenda Janowitz has had a flair for all things dramatic since she played the title role in her third grade production of Really Rosie. When asked by her grandmother if the experience made her want to be an actress when she grew up, Brenda responded, “An actress? No. A writer, maybe.”
Brenda attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Service Studies, with a Concentration in Race and Discrimination. After graduating from Cornell, she attended Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and won the Law Review Writing Competition. Upon graduation from Hofstra, she went to work for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, where she was an associate in the Intellectual Property group, handling cases in the areas of trademark, anti-trust, internet, and false advertising. Brenda left Kaye Scholer to pursue a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Since her clerkship, Brenda has worked as a career counselor at two New York City law schools, where she published a number of articles on career related issues in publications such as the National Law Journal and the New York Law Journal. She currently lives in Manhattan where she lectures on the publishing process and teaches creative writing at Mediabistro.
To learn more about Brenda and SCOT ON THE ROCKS, check out her website!