Is there a story behind your book Edna In The Desert?
I’ve spent a lot of time in the Mojave Desert and the idea for Edna In The Desert started out as a short story. I kept seeing this family of four in a car on a desert highway. Cars can be pressure cookers for intense situations (I’m working on a collection of micro-stories that take place in cars). In this story, a spoiled, Los Angeles thirteen year-old finds out she’s going to be left in the desert with her grandparents for the summer. Her grandparents are like people I had interviewed for a local magazine. They had no cell phone service or Internet, and they lived in the middle of nowhere. It was so remote, I wondered how a modern, city kid could stand it. Eventually I read Edna In The Desert at a spoken word event in Joshua Tree, CA, called Desert Stories. Afterward, the short story version was published in The Sun Runner, a magazine about California deserts. So many people wanted to know what was going to happen to Edna, it inspired me to write the book!
Love it when that happens! What started you on your writing journey?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved getting lost in great stories, but what started writing for me was an assignment to make up an ending for The Lady or The Tiger in fourth grade. I had a great time with that. I wish I could find it. I wrote it on yellow, lined paper.
Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?
Yes, the Mojave Desert! There is something about its open sky and mysterious landscape that has a calming and centering effect. I wanted to share this feeling with my readers.
I understand. The southwestern states are special to me likewise. What distracts you from writing the easiest?
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I like romance, family relationships, social satire, survival, dystopia/science fiction and comedy. I really love a story that has them all! I like to think Edna In The Desert does, except for the sci-fi component (although being without a cell phone, Internet or TV is like being stuck on another planet for Edna).
Who are your favorite writers?
Here’s an incomplete list of writers I love, not necessesarily in this order, but this is the order I thought of them in, so it might be significant: Jane Austen, Dorothy Parker, Kurt Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Charlotte Brontë, Ernest Hemmingway, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Douglas Adams, Suzanne Collins, Tina Fey.
Some great choices. Which character in Edna In The Desert most interested you while you wrote? Why?
I should say. Haven't read the book yet, but she sounds fascinating and real. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’ve done many quirky things, a lot of them in the desert! I took a “sound bath” at The Integratron. I hiked up a mountain in 110 degrees on a first date and eventually married the guy. My job in film and TV creates endless quirky opportunities, for example, covering Adam West, TV’s Batman, in creamed corn. We met years later in Palm Springs and laughed about it.
What makes you smile?
Any kitten will do it. Giving me chocolate also works.
Thanks, Maddy, for joining us!
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Edna In The Desert is Maddy Lederman’s first novel, and she’s working on its sequel. Other writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Sun Runner, a magazine about California deserts. Maddy has an M.F.A. in Theater from Brooklyn College. She works in the art department for films and TV shows, recently on Darren Aronofsky's Noah and The Amazing Spiderman 2. She’s a native New Yorker who loves to travel, hike, drive, go out to eat and be in the desert.
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Maddy is giving away a copy of Edna in the Desert. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
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