Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joy Fielding takes readers' questions

From The Globe and Mail (Toronto) --

Joy Fielding takes readers' questions --

Apr. 06, 2009 --

Joy Fielding has a story familiar to every writer who's ever made it: The first work she ever submitted was rejected.

Only in her case, she was eight years old and the editor who rejected her story worked at a children's magazine called Jack and Jill . She also felt the bitter sting of rejection at the age of 12, when a TV script about a 12-year-old girl who murders her parents was also turned down, according to the mini autobiography on her website.

Fielding has of course since gone on to become one of Canada's most successful authors, writing dozens of bestselling novels centred around the lives of women in jeopardy, often because they're involved with a bad man.

Her books, which are part thriller, part psychological drama, are never nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize or a Governor-General's award, but they sell around the world by the millions and have a huge following.

Fielding's latest novel, Still Life , is about a successful interior designer whose every bone is broken in a car accident, and who discovers in the hospital that, while she can't see or talk, she can hear everything being said around her. “She quickly discovers that her friends aren't necessarily the people she thought them to be – and that her accident might not have been an accident at all,” says the blurb on the jacket flap.

Fielding was born Joy Tepperman in Toronto in 1945. She had a brief career as an actress, appearing in one film and an episode of Gunsmoke , before moving onto full-time writing. She changed her name to Joy Fielding as an homage to the English writer Henry Fielding (author of Tom Jones ).

Her first novel, The Best of Friends , was published in 1972, was well received, and the New York Times called her 1981 novel Kiss Mommy Goodbye “a knockout.” But it wasn't until the release of See Jane Run in 1991 that Fielding hit the big time and made it onto the New York Times bestseller list.

“Probably my favourite book to date is See Jane Run ,” Fielding says on her website. “I'm not sure why it is so special to me. Maybe because it accomplished everything I wanted it to do. I felt it was an important story, one that existed on many levels, and I was very proud of both the writing itself and the story line.”

Fielding says she gets her ideas from news articles or takes them from the experiences of people she knows. And she still brings a bit of the actress to her writing.

“My main characters are all aspects of my own personality, although their stories are very different from my own,” she writes on her website. “Still, I find that I approach the heroines as if I were a Method actress. I think, how would I react if this were happening to me, what would I say if someone spoke this way to me? Sometimes, I try to take the easy way out by neglecting the characters and concentrating on the plot. This never works and I have to start again.”

Fielding lives in Toronto and Palm Springs, Fla., and also lived for three years in Los Angeles. “I think I have a fairly American sensibility, although this is very much tempered by my Canadian upbringing,” she says. “Generally, I set my books in big American cities.... The American landscape seems best for my themes of urban alienation and loss of identity. I am much more interested in the landscape of the soul.”

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