JoAnn Hornak, a lifelong Milwaukeean who moved to California in 2007, has published her second novel, called "A Delicate Bond."
It’s available as an e-book on Amazon.com and will be out in paperback in August.
The book, according to Hornak, is a "women’s fiction book about friendship and forgiveness." It’s told from the alternating viewpoints of the two main characters, Natalie and Lisa. After years of friendship, Natalie and Lisa have a falling out and just 17 days before Natalie’s wedding, Lisa sends her an email saying she will not be attending the wedding.
Hornak’s first novel, the more auto-biographical, romantic comedy "Adventure of a Salsa Goddess," was published in 2005 by Berkley Books, a division of Penguin Publishing.
Hornak’s essays have been published in Newsweek magazine, the The Washington Post and the anthology "Sand in My Bra: Funny Women Write from the Road."
Prior to becoming a professional writer, Hornak was an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee. "I can’t believe how many former lawyers are novelists," says Hornak.
OnMilwaukee.com recently caught up with Hornak and asked about her new novel, her mid-life career switch and the world of self publishing.
OnMilwaukee.com: When did you start writing the book?
JoAnn Hornak: I started writing the book in 2007 and finished in 2008. With revisions it took about a year, in total. I sent query letters to probably 50 or so literary agents with no luck. Back then, self-publishing wasn’t as easy or as prevalent as it is today, so I gave up on the book and assumed it would never see the light of day.
OMC: Why do you think "A Delicate Bond" will appeal to women?
JH: I believe the book will resonate with any woman who has ever suffered a "break-up" with a close female friend, which is just about every woman I know. The book begins with a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: "Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn’t seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces." I think this is so true.
In many ways, women’s friendships strike me as much more fragile and delicate than men’s friendships – hence the title – because women tend to have all these expectations of their female friends and are often more concerned with making sure they are being nice, rather than truthful.
OMC: This sounds like a good Book Club read.
JH: Absolutely. It’s the perfect book club read because book clubs are made up of women, and this is a story that will generate interesting discussions about the nature of friendship. I wrote a Book Club Discussion Guide for "A Delicate Bond," which is available on my website.
OMC: So are either of the main characters you?
JH: There is a saying that a writer’s first novel is autobiographical and that is true in my case. "Adventures of a Salsa Goddess" includes several humorous stories from my past dating history and highlights my passion for salsa dancing. "A Delicate Bond" is pure fiction.
OMC: What are you working on now?
JH: I am polishing up a mystery novel set in the Napa Valley that I plan to publish in early 2014. I’m also writing a sequel to a humorous novel that takes place on the night of a wedding rehearsal dinner.
OMC: When did you live in Milwaukee?
JH: I was born and raised in Milwaukee and spent most of my life there. I’ve also lived, for a year or two each, in Minneapolis, Chicago, Japan and Tanzania. I moved to Napa, California in 2007 where I live with my husband Russ.
OMC: What do you miss about Milwaukee?
JH: I miss Kopp’s custard, snow (in very small doses) and thunderstorms. I also miss swimming in lakes. The lakes in California are either alpine lakes, which are way too cold to swim in, or they are actually reservoirs that are mysteriously called lakes and are off-limits for swimming.
OMC: Prior to being a professional writer, you were an attorney, right?
JH: Yes. I was an assistant district attorney in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office for almost 10 years.
OMC: What led you to make the career switch?
JH: I took a one year leave of absence during that decade to volunteer in Tanzania where I kept a journal. I sent excerpts from the journal to family and friends and received so much positive feedback and encouragement to be a writer that I decided I had to do it.
I think the desire to be a writer was percolating under the surface for a long time and when I saw the opportunity to do it, I took it. I’ve always loved books and have been a voracious reader since childhood. I tried to write my first mystery novel at the age of 11, but it sounded suspiciously like a Nancy Drew novel with just the setting – Milwaukee, of course – and the names changed. I’m amazed at how many novelists are former lawyers.
OMC: What are your thoughts on self publishing?
JH: To anyone who is thinking of self-publishing, I say go for it. I was very fortunate to have my first novel published by a major publishing company. I learned a lot from that experience, in particular, two things that have strongly influenced my decision to self-publish: one, not all literary agents care about furthering an author’s career, and, two, publishing companies do very little to help promote an author, unless you are someone like John Grisham or J.K. Rowling.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.