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Slightly storied: Wendy Corsi Staub on her alter ego (Q&A w/ audiobook giveaway)

Wendy Markham's 'Slightly' series is now available on audiobook from Audible.com.
Wendy Markham's 'Slightly' series is now available on audiobook from Audible.com.www.audible.com

Wendy Corsi Staub and Audible.com will be offering one lucky reader their choice of a free audiobook from Wendy Markham’s Slightly series, now available from Audible.com. For your chance to win, simply email HBE at HartfordBooksExaminer@aol.com by no later than Friday, April 25th, at 11:59 PM EST and include “Giveaway” in the subject line. A recipient will be chosen at random and provided with instructions and a promotional code for redemption. Note: You must create an Audible.com account for redemption. (You can use your Amazon account to do this.)

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Today, Hartford Books Examiner is joined by the prolific Wendy Corsi Staub.

Staub, who sometimes operates under the alias (aka pen name) Wendy Markham, is the author of more than eighty novels in a career spanning more two-plus decades. Best known for the New York Times bestselling suspense titles that she writes under her own name (including 2013’s The Good Sister), she has also published twenty books under the USA Today bestselling pseudonym Markham—including Slightly Single, which was named one of Waldenbooks’ 100 Best Fiction titles of 2002, and Slightly Suburban, which was nominated for an RT Reviewers Choice award.

The Slightly series encompasses five titles—Slightly Single, Slightly Settled, Slightly Engaged, Slightly Married, and Slightly Suburban—that were published between 2002 and 2008 and follow the evolution of Tracey Spadolini from single twenty-something city girl to suburbanite. The series recently made its debut on Audible, with the audiobooks narrated by Erin Moon.

Now, Wendy offers readers a glimpse inside her multiple writing personalities …

1) Tell us about the origin of the SLIGHTLY series – and how you hope that the new Audible editions might (re)introduce readers to “Wendy Markham” …

Back in 2000, my agent called to say that my publisher was about to launch a new line of books in a similar vein to Bridget Jones Diary and Sex and the City, neither of which I’d read, and had invited me to write one of their launch titles. To be honest, I dragged my heels a bit. I wasn’t sure the concept would be successful. At the time, I was just breaking out as an adult suspense author and didn’t want to dilute my brand so I opted to use a pseudonym (my husband’s name is Mark)—in part so that my own author name wouldn’t be associated with what I thought had the potential to be a marketing failure. Boy, was I wrong—much to my pleasant surprise. The imprint, Red Dress Ink, was a smash success and my first title SLIGHTLY SINGLE did so well that I went on to write four sequels: SLIGHTLY SETTLED, SLIGHTLY ENGAGED, SLIGHTLY MARRIED, and SLIGHTLY SUBURBAN, along with another chick lit standalone (and my personal favorite) MIKE, MIKE AND ME. Part of the appeal for readers, I believe, was my heroine, Tracey’s, distinct first person voice. I think it lends itself particularly well to audiobook format and I’m excited to have a new generation of readers get to know her and follow her journey.

2) What do you see as the conveniences of the audiobook? Also, how might listening to the stories enhance the overall experience for those who have already read the books?

Personally, I’ve recently become enamored of audiobooks because like many people, between working and being a mom and running a household, my daily To Do List doesn’t allow me much—if any—reading time. Audiobooks allow me to “read” while I’m cooking, weeding my garden, driving, exercising, etc. Some of us avid bookworms never tire of rereading our favorite old books and this infuses that experience with something new: actually hearing the characters come to life through dialogue.

3) How do you think that these books serve as a counterbalance to your suspense novels, both for you and the reader?

When I’m researching and writing my suspense novels, I tend to immerse myself in the “dark side,” which inevitably makes for some depressing days (not to mention sleepless nights). Comic relief is good for the soul—and the SLIGHTLY books are nothing if not amusing. I’m a firm believer that most readers are versatile enough to cross genres and embrace new formats for authors they enjoy. Mine certainly have, and I’m most appreciative.

4) Speaking of suspense, what do you find to be the key(s) to creating immediacy in your writing – and how does that process differ between thriller and romantic comedy?

I’ve published eighty novels across various genres and have chosen to write nearly all of them in present tense narrative. I think it pulls the reader into my fictional world and creates the sense that the action is unfolding as pages are turned and has yet to be resolved. The key to engaging readers in fiction is having them wonder what’s going to happen next. When a story unfolds in present tense, there’s a sense of--Who knows? It hasn’t happened yet!

5) Leave us with a teaser: what comes next?

I haven’t released a new Wendy Markham novel since I published THE BEST GIFT five years ago. But that’s going to change in 2014—so stay tuned!

Thanks, as always, John! It’s been a pleasure!

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With thanks to Wendy Corsi Staub and Audible for generously offering the Slightly audiobook giveaway.

Don’t forget: For your chance to win your choice of one Slightly audiobook from Audible, simply email HBE at HartfordBooksExaminer@aol.com by no later than Friday, April 25th, at 11:59 PM EST and include “Giveaway” in the subject line. One recipient will be chosen at random and provided with instructions and a promotional code for redemption. Note: You must create an Audible.com account for redemption. (You can use your Amazon account to do this.)