Ask Five with....JENNY GARDINER!!!

I've been following Jenny's career since before she became famous of the winner of RT's Amercian Title contest last year. Now her winning book is out! Get to meet Jenny Gardiner!

What is the title of your latest release and what’s it about?

SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER is the title of my debut novel, and here's what I call Ward in a nutshell (along with a lovely blurb from the wonderful Meg Cabot):
SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, Dorchester, 2008. The funny yet poignant story of a woman at a crossroads in life, who years earlier married a man who swept her off her feet, but now finds that her Mr. Right has evolved into Mr. Always Right, and the only sweeping going on in her life involves a broom and a dustpan. As her dreams collide with reality and the one that got away shows up trying to worm his way back into her heart, she must decide if her once charmed marriage is salvageable, and if so, how she's going to go about saving it.
A fun, sassy read! A cross between Erma Bombeck and Candace Bushnell, reading Jenny Gardiner is like sinking your teeth into a big frosted chocolate just want more.
-author Meg Cabot

What inspired you to write it?

I suppose a number of things. I've always liked to watch people, I love to observe, pay attention to what is going on in their lives and what motivates them. And I couldn't help but notice that so many women who I remember from their wedding days, so full of hope and optimism, had settled into more of a daily grind in their marriages--life, work, kids all get in the way of sustaining that level of positive emotions you experience when you first get married. We were starting to see marriages fail, which is always so sad.
And at the same time I was really interested to see how so many women became empowered as they approached middle-age. All of a sudden their kids are getting older and more self-sufficient. Many had left jobs behind to raise their kids, so found themselves in the position of having to reinvent themselves. Sometimes being forced to reinvent yourself is a really awesome gift, really. It forces you to explore what it is you want out of life, what it is you think is missing.
And at the same time I started noticing this difference with women and men at that point in life--while women seemed to be blossoming, men seemed to become more set in their ways. It's ripe for conflict, in that regard.
It made me think that many men really do become Ward Cleaver-like. And I don't know about you, but the idea of sleeping with Ward Cleaver isn't really so appealing LOL. Hence the title came to me, and with all of these musings swimming about my head, I started working on this idea, and the next thing you know I had a book!

What advice can you give aspiring writers?

The two things I think are so very important are to read as much as you can get your hands on. Try all sorts of genres, really try to expand your horizons. By reading other writing I think you become a better writer, you start to know what you prefer, the voice in which you'd be most comfortable writing.
The other thing that is so essential is to believe in yourself. It's a business that is fraught with rejection and unless you can have that driving reminder in your gut that you're worth it and your writing is worth it, it'll be awfully hard to stay in the game. I always remind myself of the many successful writers who met with loads of rejection before ever being published. Reading is so very subjective that it's not always easy to find an agent or editor who falls in love with your writing. It's kind of like falling in love with a person. You never think about how many men you passed by or who passed you by before you got married, but it's the same thing--it's all subjective.
So it's really important to remind yourself of why you're doing it --and you should be doing it because you love to write and because you believe in yourself.

Which authors or friends have influenced you over the years, whether for their writing or for their friendship?

I stumbled upon author Suzanne MacPherson a few years ago (I love her voice--her books are campy fun, sort of written in the style of a fun Cary Grant movie from the 40's) when I was first attempting to get my book published. Wow, was she a godsend. She asked to read my query, then wanted to read my partial, then emailed me in the middle of the night b/c she'd finished it and wanted more and I needed to send it to her ASAP! That was so awesome. From then on, she really helped to encourage me, was the person I could go to to moan and gripe when things felt so impossible. And she always reminded me that "the last woman standing wins the publishing contract!" Ironically that actually was the case with me, as this book won the Dorchester Publishing/RT American Title III contest!

Aside from Suz's fabulous help, I have forged wonderful friendships with the 5 women with whom I share a blog, The Debutante Ball. I was so lucky that the founder of this blog, Kristy Kiernan, chose me as one of the "debs" to take over the blog from the authors who launched it last year with their debut novels. With this group I am amongst five very talented, very bright, fun women with whom it's been an honor to share a blog--I urge you to check out their upcoming debuts. (and Kristy Kiernan is a terrific author, by the way).

Other authors to whom I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude include Meg Cabot, Jane Porter, Bev Katz Rosenbaum, Lauren Baratz Logsted, all successful authors who didn't need to do diddly squat for me but did because they are all class acts.

And as far as writers who influence my writing, there are so many it's hard to pick. I love Meg Cabot's voice, I love Lolly Winston, Sandra Kring, Rick Marin, Bob Flaherty, Edward Docx. There are loads of romance writers whose books I adore as well--far too many to list, but I know I will love whatever Jill Shalvis puts out. Julia London is terrific at building sexual tension, same with Sylvia Day. Many of the authors on Lori Foster's Yahoo loop and the Scamps & Vamps loop as well. I really need to start keeping a list of my favorite authors because I always forget the names off the top of my head!

Finally, what's coming up next for you?

I just finished a novel called MARY KATE GOES OVER THE FALLS, about a woman trapped in an abusive marriage who goes out to pick up her dry cleaning and instead picks up a handsome hitchhiker on the side of the highway. The lure of him reminds her of the lip of Niagara Falls, said to tempt people to jump into the falls. They embark on a road trip of self-discovery, destination: Niagara Falls. My agent should be shopping it pretty soon ;-)

Thank you so much Patti for having me here!

You can learn more about Jenny Gardiner by visiting her website at


Jennifer Y. said…
This book sounds great! I can't wait to read it! Congrats on the release!
bevrosenbaum said…
Aw, thanks for the shoutout, Jenny! This is a great book, everybody! Jenny, enjoy the ride!
Jenny Gardiner said…
Thanks so much Patti for inviting me over!
Jenny, you are super talented, and thank you for the kudos. I knew the minute I read Ward you would be kicking book butt eventually!!

And of course I'm loving the next story, because I LOVE the Mary Kate character. You Go Girl!!! Suzanne Macpherson

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