May 1, 2007


Welcome to another edition of, Guthmantics!, a new little feature I'm doing here on Bigmouth Indeed Strikes Again. Last time, we met up with David Gianatasio to kick things off and this time, it is my pleasure to introduce all of you to Jennifer Paddock.

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Tennessee William/New Orleans Literary Festival when we sat on a panel together. She, let me tell you folks, is an absolute doll. Really. She's one of those people you're just glad you know, so easy-going and funny.

She's also the author of two novels, both from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, A Secret Word (2004) and Point Clear(2006). I haven't gotten to Secret Word just yet (keyword: yet), but I have read Point Clear, and as I blogged about at the time, I really enjoyed it. It was, as I wrote in that post, calm, touching, sentimental and seemed familiar, like hanging out with an old friend.

These days, Jennifer Paddock lives in Point Clear, Alabama (I wonder if this place is as beautiful as it sounds in her book? Anyone?) with her hubby, author Sidney Thompson and is writing all sorts of things, such as a piece about Mobile she just wrapped up for the new magazine with a gorgeous website, Garden & Gun.

Güth: Tell us what you write, what you have written and how you do it?

Paddock: I’ve written two novels. My first is A Secret Word—it follows three Arkansas girls’ lives from age fifteen to thirty, two of whom end up in New York. It’s told from alternating points of view, so you get overlapping versions of the same story or one character gives new insights into the other characters that they couldn’t give themselves.

My second is Point Clear, which follows Caroline, who lives in New York but takes a vacation to Point Clear, Alabama, wanting to get away and possibly do some writing, but happens to be there during Hurricane Ivan.

(Guth again, just wanted to point out a section in Point Clear I really liked. I mean, there were several that I really loved, like preparing to hide in the hotel during the hurricane evacuation-- that cracked me up because I was thinking that's exactly as I'd do... and there are sections about living in New York City that were so perfect and I thought were such perfect ways to describe a day when you feel like New York City is too much, too something, ("...that the city didn't only wear you down every day but could uplift you and save you.") but these little sections about writing I had to share because they both made me say, aloud on public transportation, "Tell it, girl!":

"...that you had to give up things if you wanted to write. If someone asked you to a movie or for a drink, you would have to learn to say no, and not feel bad. To write you needed time, uninterrupted time."

"Listen to me," he said. "You'll have to disappear... months at a time and churn out words. It'll be like a word factory inside your head... You have to go inside your own world. People just don't get it. They'll think you're a weirdo...but you have to have your mind clear, and it's a state of mind-- almost like having a Holy Communion with yourself on a daily basis."

So true. So true. Anyway, back to Jennifer!)

As far as rituals, I like to write at home in my pajamas at about any time of the day. Probably I do best at night or just before sunrise, if I can’t sleep. I mostly write on a computer. I like to make outlines or character notes by hand. My favorite part of writing is rewriting. I’m very happy obsessing over a sentence and then finding a better rhythm. Mostly this happens by cutting. I love music, but I can’t write to it. My husband always writes to music, but I think it just gets in the way for me.

Güth: What grand things are next for you? What would you, we're talking dream gigs and adventures here, love to be next for you?

Paddock: I’m working on a new novel. I’m just in the beginning stages, and I’m learning that I fall into the camp of writers who shouldn’t talk about what they’re writing. I feel like I’ve been talking the story away.

My dream gig would be being on the set for the fantastic movie made from one of my books. Maybe as a consultant.

I also have this dream job of writing about tennis. I’m a huge tennis fan, especially clay court tennis, probably because I can’t slide on clay and really have it as a goal in life to learn. So I have this dream of being with all the other sportswriters at the French Open at a press conference with Rafael Nadal.

Güth: What Smiths or Morrissey song or lyric sums it up for you right now?

Paddock: Everyday is like Sunday

(I, of course, think this is an excellent song choice.)

Many thanks to Jennifer Paddock for swingin' by (...and letting me quote from her book. What? You thought I didn't get permission first?)! As for the rest of you, you know what to do. Scroll up, click the link and buy that book. I'd lend you my copy of Point Clear but what she wrote inside the cover is too funny to ever part ways with. So, getcher own. Support the woman, will ya? Then, you know the drill by now, right? After you've read it, add it to your LibraryThing and Shelfari collections. Go on, go on. Ohh! And everyone go be her friend on MySpace, too and stay in-the-know with her goings-on.

Want to be a featured author/writer type for Guthmantics? Well, just send an email to me at and I'll tell you everything you need to know.