The Accidental Bestseller Wendy Wax 419 pages; published 2009
There is an unwritten rule of writing that the number of trips to the refrigerator is in inverse proportion to how well a manuscript is going. When the fingers are flying over the keyboard and the brain is fully immersed in the scene being created, food is completely unimportant. But when the fingers slow and the focus blurs, or worse, when the writer sees nothing but the blank screen and the hypnotic blink of the cursor, food beckons. As does, oddly enough, a load of laundry, the flossing of one’s teeth, and the complete rearrangement of a kitchen pantry or walk-in closet. (70)
One day, four aspiring writers met at a writer’s conference. Coming from four very different worlds, these women form the unlikeliest of alliances in the dog-eat-dog world of publishing. Ten years later, Mallory St. James is a workaholic sophisticate, Tanya Mason a single mother working three jobs to support her two children, Faye Truett the wife of well-known televangelist ‘Pastor Steve’, and Kendall Aims a struggling mid-list author with a rocky marriage and empty-nest syndrome. But more than any of this, they are best friends.
When Kendall’s life starts to careen out of control (missing out on what could be a career-saving award, being informed that her publishing contract will not be renewed after she completes the last book she owes, and finally, finding out that her husband is having an affair), it is her friends who barge through her defences to help put her back together again. The four decide to write Kendall’s last book together, writing what they know – the behind-the-scene world of publishing. The base the story in their own lives, each writing the voice and life of one of four aspiring writers. It’s unlikely the book of a dropped author will garner much attention, so what’s the harm, right?
However, Sticks and Stones turns out to be a huge success, an ‘accidental’ bestseller in fact. But now these women must face what they have written – not only as separate writers secretly writing under Kendall’s name, but the secrets they have revealed in composing their ‘fictional’ characters. Perhaps these best friends don’t know each other as well as they think they do.
Once I picked this book up, I didn’t put it back down. The Accidental Bestseller was a fascinating look into the world of publishing, where author Wendy Wax has cleverly shown a realistic – yet ever humorous – presentation of the creative process, from the author’s first scribbled notes right through to a bookseller putting it on the shelves.
But more than all of this, it was the story of four amazing women and the friendship they shared – the ups, the downs, the lies and the laughs. These are four women who were so real, so believable, as they put their lives’ stories down on the page. I felt sympathy for them, I laughed with them, and I cheered them on whenever I could; these were women I would want to be friends with. 4/5