Thursday, August 8, 2013

Showcase: Recipe for a Happy Life by Brenda Janowitz

Recipe for a Happy Life

There’s more than one recipe for a happy life.

Hannah Goodman doesn't grow up like most kids on the Upper East side. Her mother, Gray, is an award-winning photojournalist with little time for the banalities of child-rearing, and when she's not jetting off to follow the latest scoop, she's camped out at the Hotel Chelsea. The closest thing Hannah's got to a traditional matriarch is her grandmother—a glamorous widow six times over with a sprawling Hampton’s estate. But Gray is determined that her daughter resist the siren song of the trust fund set, and make her own way in the world. So Hannah does just that—becoming a successful lawyer in New York City, and dating a handsome musician. Hannah has it all, or so it seems, until one hot June day the carefully constructed pieces of her life break apart. When she throws it all in and seeks solace at her grandmother's estate, she discovers that where happiness is concerned, you don’t have to stick to the recipe.

From Brenda Janowitz, the author of Jack with a Twist and Scot on the Rocks, comes a charming, clever, and romantic novel about three generations of women with a culture all their own.

Brenda Janowitz

A native New Yorker, Brenda Janowitz has had a flair for all things dramatic since she played the title role in her third grade production of Really Rosie. When asked by her grandmother if the experience made her want to be an actress when she grew up, Brenda responded, “An actress? No. A writer, maybe.”

Brenda attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Service Studies, with a Concentration in Race and Discrimination. After graduating from Cornell, she attended Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and won the Law Review Writing Competition. Upon graduation from Hofstra, she went to work for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, where she was an associate in the Intellectual Property group, handling cases in the areas of trademark, anti-trust, internet, and false advertising. Brenda later left Kaye Scholer to pursue a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Since her clerkship, Brenda has worked as a career counselor at two New York City law schools, where she published a number of articles on career related issues in publications such as the National Law Journal and the New York Law Journal. She currently lives in Manhattan where she lectures on the publishing process and teaches creative writing at Mediabistro.

Brenda is the author of JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) and SCOT ON THE ROCKS (How I survived my ex-boyfriend's wedding with my dignity ever so slightly intact). You can learn more about Brenda at and

Q. What inspires your writing?

A. I think the better question is: what doesn’t inspire me to write?! I find inspiration in everything. A comment here, a story I hear about, something I see on the news.
It’s how I process the world– writing about it. So most times, I don’t even know what I’m writing about until I finish the book. I need to take a step back, and it’s then that I see the way the world has influenced me.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

A. Writing for me isn’t something I like to do—it’s something I need to do.

About a year ago, I was talking about some personal problems I was having to an old friend of mine (you know that sort of friend you’ve known since you were 18 years old?) and she listened and then asked: have you been writing?  And I had to admit it to myself and to her—I had not.  I told her so, and she looked back at me, no judgments, and simply nodded her head.
Writers need to write.  And when you’re nurturing yourself, allowing yourself to do the thing that you need to do, that always makes you happy.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an writer?

A.  The business end of writing is tough for me.  I think I’m like most writers in that I just want to write.  I don’t want to self-promote, or think about marketing.  Though I must admit, it is a lot of fun meeting new people through Twitter and Facebook, so maybe it’s not all bad!

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?

A. Well, I used to be a lawyer, so I guess I’d still be doing that!

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  Actually, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE would be pretty close!  I think a lot about happiness, and how we can achieve it.  It’s the reason I wrote this book.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A. Oh my goodness, there are so many!  Don’t make me narrow it down to just one!  I’m obsessed with THE GREAT GATSBY, THE INN AT LAKE DEVINE by Elinor Lipman, and more recently, GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn and BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter.

Q.  What character from all of your books are you most like?

A.  I’m like all of the characters!  There’s a little piece of me in each and every one of my characters.  Some of it good, some of it bad, but all of it me, or something I’ve experienced.

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?

A.  Jill Smolinski’s FLIP FLOPPED.  It takes place in Hawaii—need I say more?!

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A.  I love the fall.  The cool crisp air, the leaves changing colors, there’s just something about it that makes me feel like anything’s possible.  And my favorite holiday, Halloween, is part of it, too!

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?

A.  The wonderful art department at St. Martin’s came up with my gorgeous cover!  I wish I could take credit for it—that’s how much I love it.  I think it really evokes a feeling of summer, which represents the book so very well.

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A. I’m working on my fourth novel—I’m about 2/3 of the way done with a first draft, but the truth is, I never really know what the book is about until I’ve finished it. 

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  Thank you so much for having me!  The best part, by far, of having a book come out is meeting new people who love books and reading as much I do.


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