Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bookshelf: Interview with Wendy Toliver

Wendy Toliver lives in the Utah mountains with her husband, three little boys, and a variety of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and reading. Visit her online at,,, and

INN: What inspired you to write The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren?

WT: I was reading about Greek mythology, and became intrigued by the sirens. They're so mysterious, tragic, and memorable--I just had to learn more! So I hit the library and researched online, knowing that somehow, I was going to work this into a book.

I did discover that in one take on the myth, the body of one of the three sirens was found washed up on a southern Italian shore. It got me thinking: What if at least one of the other sirens somehow survived, and 2,800 years later, a band girl from the Denver suburbs becomes a siren on her 16th birthday?

INN: If Roxy was in the classics section of the library, which classic author or book would make her shudder?

WT: Where the Red Fern Grows ... Roxy loves dogs but this one is way too sad

INN: What's the oddest thing that's happened to you since you became a writer?
WT: My friend and I started a nonprofit organization, Eden Writers, Inc ( and put on a writers' conference. We had a lot of help, financially and from our friends and families, but essentially, it was just two ladies with a crazy idea to bring a big city-quality conference to our small, picturesque town.

It was amazing, and we're hoping to have another one next fall. So I guess this isn't something odd that HAPPENED to me, but something odd I did to myself, haha.

INN: How did you break into publication?
WT: I've always loved reading, and one day I just decided to sit down a write a chick lit novel. Though that first book earned the attention of a literary agent, none of the publishing houses he sent it to loved it. Then I got the idea about the teenage siren (See question 1 above) and tried my hand at writing a YA novel. I partnered up with a new agent and an editor at Simon Pulse loved The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren.

Then I wrote another YA novel, and entered it in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest and to my delight, it was a 2007 finalist. Simon Pulse liked that book too, and Miss Match is coming out in February 2009. I feel very lucky to not only have a book published, but to be working with such a great agent and publishing house.

INN: What's your favorite modern invention (iPod, cell phone, toaster,electric flyswatter, etc.) and why?
WT: Though this answer isn't nearly as creative as the question, I love my laptop. Because I'm a stay-at-home mom, I can bring it with me and get some writing done while the kids are playing sports, at the park, etc.

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

WT: Yes! In fact, I just thought of this this weekend. Not to sound pessimistic, but most published authors are beyond their teen years. My advice, especially if you see yourself writing teen fiction, is to keep a diary or journal.

Record your experiences, how they made you feel, etc., so you can look back someday and remember. That way, you can combine the wisdom you've accumulated through the years with the raw emotions of being a teen, and viola!, a YA masterpiece!
Thank you so much, Wendy!

You can buy The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren here

1 comment:

Anna R said...

Thanks for interviewing my BGFF Wendy. She is so awesome and is an incredible daugter, wife, mother and best friend- and to top it all off she is a brilliant writer. And she is so terminally cute-alicious.