Buckhead author Wendy Wax champions strong female characters in her literary works
Long before #MeToo was grabbing headlines and blowing up the internet, Wendy Wax was championing women in her own right, proving the pen mightier than the sword as she readied a full battalion of female protagonists. While the leading ladies of the bestselling author are purely fictitious, their virtues are anything but. Channeling real-life people and the challenges they face, her contemporary heroines rise to the occasion with resounding girl power and universal sisterhood.
“I think women are the strongest beings on the planet. We are often the bedrock of our families and the glue that holds others together,” says Wax, from the 37th floor of the Buckhead high-rise she calls home. “It’s when things fall down around us or the people we love are threatened that we discover how strong we are.”
With a decades-long writing career that’s spawned 15 novels and two novellas and a 33-year marriage that’s produced two children (both sons, now grown and forging careers of their own in NYC and DC), Wax has graduated from working mother but continues to write full-time. The hours grow longer, she notes, as deadlines loom closer.
Her most recently published novel, My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding, spins a spellbinding tale of family, friendship and forgiveness around a heavenly heirloom: an ivory satin bridal gown with a Chantilly lace mantilla. Referenced as “THE DRESS,” it’s the embodiment of matrimonial magic yet lays no claim to fairy-tale endings for the women who wear it. “I was inspired by a wedding dress that’s been in my family for generations,” says Wax, who dedicated the book to her aunt Lois, complete with a bridal portrait of her in the exquisite fabrication.
While the gown sparked the story in much the same way Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme gave her a launching point for the popular Ten Beach Road series, she says it’s the characters who count. “I interweave journeys of self discovery— people figuring out who they are and what they’re made of during the tough times. I’m fascinated by the inner strength that comes from adversity and the difference friendship can make in our lives.”
She tackles serious matters with a healthy dose of humor. “I think Mary Poppins had it right—a spoonful of sugar helps the harsh realities go down. So while I’m always trying to dig as deeply as I can, I take an intentionally light tone. One reviewer described my novels as ‘beach reads with substance.’ I’m good with that.”
A Florida native, Wax turned to fiction after a 20-year career in broadcasting, which notably included being the voice of the Publix Teller machines (“If I’d gotten a dime for every withdrawal, I’d be a billionaire!” she quips) and hosting a live radio show called Desperate & Dateless. At the time, she was both.
She met her husband, by chance, at JFK Airport in New York, and the couple relocated to East Cobb in 1997. Wax began her first novel with a toddler and newborn underfoot. “I chalk this decision up to post-pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep. I had no idea what I was doing or how hard it would be,” she says. “Because of their ages, it took me years to write that first novel, but I did manage to finish and sell it. This is when I discovered that a first sale is only a small step on what can be a very long and winding road. Publishing is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.”
Wax is currently plotting the course of The Break-Up Book Club, set in Atlanta with a whole new crew of empowered women. Meanwhile, she has some impressive role models of her own. Her BFF, Dana Barrett, is running for election to the U.S. House to represent Georgia’s 11th Congressional District. You go, girl!
Contributing Writer, Simply Buckhead; journalist and graphic designer