Brenda Janowitz, author of Recipe for a Happy Life, stopped by to answer questions about the writing process, who would be perfect for a movie version of Recipe for a Happy Life, and much more. Read on for Brenda’s fun and interesting interview!
Interview with Brenda Janowitz
Brenda, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview. Recipe for a Happy Life sounds like a fun read!
-Thanks so much! I’m so delighted to be here!!
What was the inspiration for Recipe for a Happy Life?
-One summer, when I was single, my Grandma Dorothy informed me that she would be renting a house in the Hamptons. No more of these silly share houses I was doing with my friends each summer. They were getting me nowhere (read: still single and over thirty). Instead, I was to stay with her and she would help me meet someone. The only problem with this scenario was that I was sure she’d meet a man before I did. She had sparkling crystal blue eyes and a killer figure. My own hazel eyes and good birthing hips were no match for her easy glamour and style.
When she found out that a Hamptons summer rental costs more than the gross national product of some countries, the idea sort of fell apart. But it gave me an idea—what if a young woman spent the summer out in the glamorous Hamptons with her even more glamorous grandmother?
Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life or created from your imagination?
-See above: my grandma Dorothy! But becoming a mother also inspired me, as did my own mom, who is my best friend.
Both of my own grandmothers really inspired me to come up with the character of Vivienne, the glamorous widow six times over. Neither was a widow six times over, but both of my grandmothers were very glamorous ladies. When I think of my childhood memories, I’m not likely to picture them in aprons baking cookies. I picture them in evening gowns.
This (Recipe for a Happy Life) is your 3rd book. Does the writing process get easier with each book?
-I don’t think that it does. Every time I finish a book, I feel like everything I know about the world—everything I ever knew—is wrapped up in those pages. It feels like I don’t have anything more to say. I’m amazed each time I come up with something new.
If Recipe for a Happy Life was made into a movie- do you have an idea of a dream cast?
-Oooh, this one’s tough, because one of the main characters in the book is a 76 year old grandmother. There’s not too many 76 year old grandmothers running around Hollywood.
I think Joan Collins would be perfect to play the part of Hannah’s grandmother, but my editor likes Shirley Maclaine. (Joan, Shirley, call me!)
For the granddaughter, there are so many talented actresses I love: Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Garner, Drew Barrymore. The list could go on….
Brenda, can you describe Recipe for a Happy Life in 15 words or less?
-Oh God, no. I definitely cannot. I can’t even do it in less than 30!! But here’s as short and sweet as I can get it:
When Hannah finds herself spending the summer with her glamorous grandmother, a widow six times over, at her sprawling beach-front Hamptons estate, she learns that there’s more than one recipe for happiness.
How long from beginning to end did Recipe for a Happy Life take to write?
-Years and years!! I began work on this novel back in 2006, before my first novel was even published. But I don’t think I was ready to write this story just yet.
I picked it back up after finishing my second novel, which was published in 2008, and then worked on RECIPE for years after that. In the time since I began this novel, I met my husband, got married, bought a house, bought a car, and had two children. Shortly after getting my book deal, I lost my Grandma Dorothy, who gave me the initial idea for the book.
So, yeah, I guess you could say it took a long time.
When describing your books, would you use the term “chick lit”?
–My first two novels would be classified as “chick lit,” which is to say they’re smart, funny novels with heart about a single girl living in the city. And that’s exactly what I was at the time. But just as I’ve grown up, my writing has grown up, too. But that doesn’t mean that I mind the “chick lit” label.
I’d consider this novel commercial women’s fiction, but you can call it anything you like. I think that any label that helps readers find authors and books that they love is a good thing!
Are there any book signing/book tours in place for Recipe for a Happy Life?
-My publicist is working on it as we speak! I’m hoping to have a few readings set up soon.
Brenda, what are you working on next? Do you have an idea or are you just gathering ideas?
-I’m about 2/3 of the way done with my fourth novel! But don’t ask me what it’s about. I never really know what a book is about until I’ve completed a first draft. Up until it’s finished, it’s just a bunch of ideas on paper. It’s the re-draft that really turns it into something.
* Special thanks to Brenda Janowitz for agreeing to this interview.
Brenda Janowitz, author of Recipe for a Happy Life, is working hard on her fourth novel. If you read and enjoy Recipe for a Happy Life- consider checking out her earlier works- Scot on the Rocks or Jack with a Twist. For more information on Brenda, check out her website, Twitter, and Facebook page.
** Giveaway! A lucky person will win a copy of Recipe for a Happy Life! To enter, comment with your recipe for a happy life! Please include your email address (you may use the AT and DOT). Contest is open to US only (sorry!) Giveaway runs from Monday, July 8th- till Sunday, July 14th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be announced July 15th!