Besmann, Wendy Lowe 1954–

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BESMANN, Wendy Lowe 1954–

(Wendy Lowe)

PERSONAL: Born February 11, 1954, in Houston, TX; daughter of James (a pilot) and Evelyn (a journalist) Lowe; married Theodore Besmann (an engineer), October 24, 1982; children: Anna, David. Ethnicity: "Caucasian/Jewish." Education: San Francisco State University, B.A.; also attended Hastings College of Law. Politics: "Independent." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Meditation, philosophy and mythology, Torah studies, walking, yoga.

ADDRESSES: Home—9119 Solway Ferry Rd., Oak Ridge, TN 37830. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: 13-30 Corp., Knoxville, TN, assistant editor, group editor, 1976–83; freelance writer and marketing consultant, 1983–. Also works as facilitator of focus groups. Active in local organizations, including Knoxville Jewish Alliance.

MEMBER: Insight Meditation Society, Hadassah.

AWARDS, HONORS: Milton D. Green Award, Hastings College of Law; Award of Distinction, East Tennessee Historical Society.


(Under name Wendy Lowe) America's Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns: Western Region, Congdon & Weed (New York, NY), fifth edition, with Barbara Crossette, 1985.

A Separate Circle: Jewish Life in Knoxville, Tennessee, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 2001.

Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Better Homes and Gardens, Esquire, Outside, Self, Travel and Leisure, and USA Today.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel about "one woman's journey from madness to sanity by means of creating a personal mythology"; a nonfiction book for caregivers of mentally ill children.

SIDELIGHTS: Wendy Lowe Besmann told CA: "At this point in my life, my primary motivation for writing is to explain myself to myself. I want to understand the ethnic group in which I was raised, the experiences that formed me and those around me, the proud and painful journey of our country, and most especially how the human mind (including my own) operates in all its endless variety. I hope to capture the imagination and engage my reader in that same learning process.

"I have often been influenced by 'non-literary' writers (Dorothy Sayers, Mary Stewart, Ann Tyler) for their intensive research into a culture or subject and their marvelous use of language. Annie Dillard and Barbara Tuchman, for research and careful observation as well as flowing narrative, were big influences on my historical and cultural writing (particularly in the freelance travel-essay writing that began my career).

"Another major influence on my work is the situation in which my husband Ted and I have found ourselves for the past decade: raising two children with inherited mental disorders. The youngest, my son, has bipolar disorder and Asperger's syndrome (high functioning autism). Dealing with the complexity, grief, and eventual acceptance of the experience has given me a wide factual and emotional knowledge base which is the subject of my upcoming book. I hope it will be the most comprehensive and helpful work I have accomplished.

"History—with emphasis on the story in it—is my first passion. Next is research of all kinds. My writing method starts with research—oral and written. Next comes synthesis, my own experience mixed in; more research, writing, and rewriting. I work rather slowly but don't let it go (or be seen by others) until I'm satisfied.

"Buddhist meditation, a serious interest for the past ten years, has opened a vista of new ways to understand what I wish to communicate to myself and others. On its heels comes a fascination with how we create our personal myths—the topic of my recently completed novel. Poetry by Rumi, Mary Oliver, T. S. Eliot, and others makes me want to write language that sings. I hope I do this from time to time."