The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman @goddessfish @outaprintwriter
Good Morning and Welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions so we can find out more about you and your work! Tell us about your current release. The Replacement Wife is about Luisa, who falls in love with another man, so she tries to find a wife for her husband. She has an 8-year-old son and she wants to ensure he doesn’t end up with a really wicked stepmother. However, Luisa discovers that it’s a tricky mission trying to set her husband up with another woman.
Who are your books published with?
I’m really lucky that this novel has been picked up by HarperCollins Australia’s digital first imprint Impulse.
Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask? I’ve been posting chapters of some of my stories on Wattpad for almost two years now. Wattpad is the world’s largest reading and writing website and has revolutionized publishing by providing a forum for readers and writers to interact. Serialised fiction does well on Wattpad, so I’ve been posting a chapter a week of my Young Adult novels. It’s a totally different experience to writing a book and then waiting two years for it to be published. The feedback is instant and it fuels a writer’s energy to keep on going and creating for this engaged audience.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
If I’m writing in a café I always put my headphones in and listen to music, as it’s always my luck that some noisy people sit down and start talking at the top of their voices! At the moment, I often listen to Sigur Rós – they’re an Icelandic group and because I can’t understand the lyrics, I don’t get distracted. Their music is magical and otherworldly and puts me in a good place when I’m writing.
What books have most influenced your life?
Raymond Carver’s short stories, I love his pared-back dirty realism, Tatyana Tolstaya’s lyrical writing style in her short stories and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
My best advice would be learn how to touch type! It’s one of the greatest lessons I learnt at school from a nun who would make us type under a white sheet of paper sticky taped to the keyboard, so we couldn’t see the letters! I love that my typing can (mostly) keep up with my thoughts!
Also, experiment with writing different genres and styles. I’ve written children’s books, young adult and adult fiction and I love the way writing for different audiences challenges me. One of my favourite forms at the moment is writing micro-fiction. I like that I can write a couple of hundred words in one sitting. Also I tend to be more particular when editing my micro-fiction because it’s so short there’s greater importance to get every word right. It’s great training for longer form pieces.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
I appreciate every person who reviews my work. If someone has read my story and finished it, I’m thankful. If they’re passionate enough about it to actually write a review I’m blessed! Even if it’s a 1-star review, I learn so much from my readers. People have had really complex feelings about The Replacement Wife and I love that. Good art moves people, and it succeeds whether it moves them to hate or love. The more disappointing reviews are the middle of the road ones, where the reader wasn’t moved one way or another!
My blog Out of print writing [www.outofprintwriting.blogspot.com] is about writing and publishing in the digital revolution. I feature posts on other writers, write about my own journey and give tips on everything from using social media to recipes for good brain food! A couple of years ago the National Library of Australia contacted me to ask if they could archive it in their digital archive program PANDORA – it was a great vote of confidence that I was doing something right with my blog!
ABOUT THE BOOK
by Rowena Wiseman
Luisa has fallen madly in love with sculptor Jarvis, so she comes up with a plan to find a new wife for her husband Luke so she can exit stage left. She wants to screen potential stepmothers for her 8-year-old son Max and has strict criteria: the woman must be a single mother; have no more than two children; she can't be authoritarian; she must be creative, nurturing and not much prettier than Luisa.
After a few carefully orchestrated meetings with different women that fail to raise a spark, Luke finally connects with a potential replacement wife. However, Luisa isn't prepared for the fact that Luke's interest in the other woman makes him a better man and a more attractive husband. After suffering for years in a half-dead marriage, Luisa starts to remember what it was about Luke that she originally fell in love with. But is it too late?
Hattie was the only person I could tell, apart from my therapist. She was going through her own crisis, having recently broken up with her fiancé, Brad, and discovered she had a thing for women instead. We were on the same page, both realising that our lives had somehow become frauds.
Even so, Hattie was shocked when I first told her that I was falling in love with another man. ‘Jarvis?!’ she said, slamming her coffee cup down on its saucer. ‘Your brother’s friend?’
‘Yes. I’ve always had a thing for him.’
I hadn’t expected I’d be able to shock her, given her own situation.
Hattie leaned forward. ‘Have you done anything about it?’
‘No, we haven’t done anything. We just got talking at Chris’s fortieth. Jarvis is a sculptor now. I said I could edit an artist’s statement he was writing for an award submission. It started off professionally, but then I guess it crossed a line. Before long we were emailing each other every day. Then he said he woke up one day drenched in feelings for me. And I told him I was feeling it, too. He says he’ll wait his whole life for me. You’ve never heard such passion.’
‘But what about Luke?’
I sighed. ‘We’re stale. It’s like every interaction we have together leaves me feeling disappointed. He hardly even notices me, and when he does it’s because we’re debating whether to order an extra green waste bin or something. I can hardly remember what it was that we liked about each other.’
‘Really? I thought you two were solid.’
I leaned back in my French bistro chair. We were sitting in Degraves Street, having seen a film in town. It was a mild autumn night, and the laneway was full of people drinking red wine or coffee under the warm glow of outdoor heaters. I was feeling uncomfortable: while I wanted to tell Hattie what was going on, I was scared of being judged.
‘And what about Max? What will this mean for him?’
Aaah, the very thing I didn’t want to talk about.
‘I’m not running out on Luke tomorrow; I’m not that heartless. And I’m not going to have a tacky love affair. In fact, I’ve got a fabulous idea. I’m going to find someone for Luke, too — a lover — and maybe she’ll turn into his new wife one day.’
‘What?’ Now Hattie was shocked. She was looking at me as though I was completely mad.
‘No, Hattie, listen . . . If Luke has an affair, he’ll be more likely to be reasonable during a divorce. He’ll be kinder to us financially, because he’ll feel like he owes us. Plus, I want some say in the type of woman who’s going to play a role in my son’s life. There are too many nutcases out there. I don’t want to leave anything to chance. Or to desperation.’
Hattie screwed up her eyes and rearranged her hair off her face. I had the feeling I wasn’t winning her over to my great idea.
‘This is what’s really bugging me. Max is a sensitive boy and he’s only eight, he’s still got his teens to go through. So if we’re going to have some blended, extended, Brady Bunch-type of family, I want to help create it. The new woman can’t have more than two children — Max will get lost in a bigger family — and she can’t be too authoritarian or a know-it-all. She has to be creative and cultured, and she mustn’t be needy or selfish and view him as competition.’
‘Wow, you have thought about this. I mean, of course you’ve thought about it — you’re an organised kind of person.’ Hattie began scooping out the remaining froth from her latte glass with a silver spoon. ‘But are you sure you can’t make it work with Luke?’
‘I’ve tried, really I’ve tried. But it’s like you having discovered a taste for women — it’s hard to go back, isn’t it?’
She thought for a moment. ‘I guess so.’
‘I can’t just switch it on again for Luke. He’s lost his shine. It’s not his fault, but he’s not Jarvis, and he never will be.’ I sat there with a lovelorn expression on my face to rival Juliet Capulet’s. ‘So, what do you think? Could my idea work?’
‘I guess so,’ said Hattie.
Her enthusiasm for my plan was underwhelming. I’d come up with it a week before, and I thought it was the most obvious thing in the world. It was hard to believe other people weren’t doing this!
‘And Jarvis says he’s going to wait for you?’ Hattie asked with a frown.
‘For as long as it takes. He says he’s my Florentino — you know, from Love in the Time of Cholera? He says he’ll wait until he’s eighty if he has to.’
Hattie sighed and put her hand to her chest. Finally it appeared as though I’d stroked a heartstring.
‘He reads García Márquez? No wonder you’ve fallen for him.’
‘He reads everything: Calvino, Carver, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, even Nietzsche. Last week he was reading the memoirs of Casanova. It’s like we’re soulmates.’
That warm feeling surged through me again, like a wave crashing over rocks, washing away my doubts. I felt sure it was going to be okay. I was moving towards my oasis, the joy that was waiting on the horizon, so close I could almost touch it.
‘You’ve got it bad,’ Hattie said light-heartedly, rising from the chair and placing a black velvet cocktail hat on her head. ‘I thought I was having a midlife crisis.’
We walked to Flinders Street Station arm-in-arm. The city was buzzing. Horses trotted down Swanston Street, wearing feathered caps — a little like one of Hattie’s creations — pulling carriages of tourists or new lovers. How I wished I was a young lover with nothing at stake.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Rowena Wiseman writes contemporary fiction, young adult and children's stories. She was recently named as one of the 30 most influential writers on Wattpad.
Rowena's blog Out of Print Writing, about writing and publishing in the digital revolution, has been selected for the National Library of Australia's archive program PANDORA http://www.outofprintwriting.blogspot.com.au/.
She works in the visual arts sector and lives on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.