By Alexandra Molnar, Contributing Writer
Grafton – Jennifer Wiza had a dream one night that she was on “The Bachelor” as herself, a 30-something-year-old mother with kids. Horrified, she woke up and thought that her dream sounded like a good story for a book. That was in 2004. Since then, she has published 10 books for teens and young adults, including “Bachelorette #1,” the novel based on her dream, and is currently writing two more.
Wiza, a Connecticut native and current resident of North Grafton, has always liked writing and reading. However, the road to becoming an author has not been straightforward in the least. After receiving a degree in government from Smith College, Wiza attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course with the aim of being an editor. She eventually moved to Chicago and received an MBA at the University of Chicago. She worked as a consultant and now owns her own consulting business.
“Growing up, I loved reading, and everything I read, I just devoured,” Wiza said. “It totally influenced who I am.”
She described her books as entertaining reads that are fun, humorous, and “don’t take themselves too seriously.”
Wiza’s main characters are always girls, as her favorite audience for which to write is teen girls. Her novels feature girls with strong personalities who are motivated and ambitious, traits that also lead to their downfalls.
Wiza’s career as a consultant requires writing, but of a different nature than that of an author.
“Writing is a really insular process,” Wiza said about writing books. Therefore, she is happy to balance her two very different careers because it makes her appreciate the writing process more.
“Unless you have a reason to look outside yourself, you get sick of thinking about yourself, talking about yourself. So it’s nice to have that other part of life that has nothing to do with this,” Wiza said.
On a good week, Wiza would like to spend 20 hours writing her novels.
Through the whole process, Wiza loves receiving unexpected emails from readers. Recently, a young girl from Ireland who had read all of Wiza’s young adult books, sent the author an email describing how she was inspired to spend the summer on Cape Cod from Wiza’s two books that take place on Nantucket.
Wiza has written four books for young adults, four adult fiction novels, and one adult nonfiction novel. She is currently writing two young adult novels, one being a sequel to one of her bestsellers, “The Book of Luke.” The amount of time it takes to write a novel varies for each story; Wiza finished her first book in three months and it was published seven months later. On the other hand, one of the books she is in the process of writing has been in the works for three years.
The author said that writing has become more challenging as she continues to write more books. There are constant changes in the reading market and publishing trends, and authors always have to reinvent how to describe scenes, people and objects. The way Wiza put it: “How many different ways can you describe somebody?”
Wiza’s characters, settings and plots are often inspired by her friends, quotations from people, and even articles she has read. The idea for “The Cake Whisperer,” her novel about a woman who owns a cake boutique and predicts relationships for her customers, was influenced by an article that Wiza read about a baker.
As for Wiza’s favorite genre, she loves to read young adult fiction.
“If you ever see me on an airplane or sitting by a pool or on a beach, I’m always reading teen books,” Wiza said.
For Wiza, the most fun parts of writing are inventing the beginning and end of a story. She begins with the ideas for how the story starts and ends, then writes the middle to connect them.
Wiza is a firm believer that a good reader makes a good writer.
She said, “The only way to write is to write. Sit down, start typing. You can always edit.”
In addition to writing, Wiza enjoys teaching students about the publishing process. She said that people tend not to understand the business of publishing and how a book ends up on shelf. So she likes “demystifying the process” and explaining everything from what an agent does to what they get paid.
One of Wiza’s career highlights was meeting Judy Blume at a Martha’s Vineyard book festival. As Blume is an influential author to Wiza, Wiza wrote an anthology, “Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume.” While Wiza was speaking to the audience about her anthology, Blume herself asked a question and then invited Wiza and her family to spend the afternoon with her.
Though being an author is a job, Wiza described it as “absolutely the purest joy ever. I’m so happy when I sit here and write.”