Edwards, Johanna 1978–
Edwards, Johanna 1978–
PERSONAL: Born 1978, in Memphis, TN. Education: University of Memphis, B.A. (with honors), 2001. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, movies, television, reading.
CAREER: Radio and television producer, journalist, and freelance writer. Daily Helmsman, Memphis, TN, arts and entertainment editor, c. 1999–2001; Blockbuster Video, staff member in London, England, 2002; WYPL, Memphis, producer of radio program Book Talk, 2003–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Hearst Award, for story published in the Daily Helmsman.
The Next Big Thing (novel), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Your Big Break (novel), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2006.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Love Undercover, for Simon Pulse, expected 2007.
SIDELIGHTS: Describing herself as a "chick lit" writer, Johanna Edwards burst onto the scene in 2005 with her debut novel, The Next Big Thing. Edwards, a Memphis radio show producer, wrote her first novel quickly and, after shopping it around to about two dozen agents, sold the manuscript in 2003 for a reported six-figure royalty advance. The Next Big Thing draws on the author's knowledge of the media to spoof the reality television show craze, while Edwards also created what critics considered to be a very realistic and enjoyable heroine. Kat Larson is a twenty-seven-year-old woman who works at a public relations firm. She hates her boss, but this is balanced by her good relationship with loving parents and her best friend. She is unhappy with her weight and has been telling her online boyfriend, whom she has yet to meet, that she is actually a size four. Believing that she can only gain true happiness by shedding pounds, Kat agrees to go on the television show From Fat to Fabulous, where she is forced to perform embarrassing acts that will supposedly make her lose weight as she entertains the audience. One of the stunts she goes through is a blind date who turns out to be her online boyfriend; he shows his true colors by breaking up with her when he sees that she weighs over two hundred pounds.
Describing the novel as "better-than-average chick lit," Diane White went on to write in her review for Boston.com that "Edwards is good where it counts. She's written a pointed comedy about a woman learning to accept herself, flaws and all." Many reviewers were even more positive in their assessments. USA Today critic Deirdre Donahue asserted that The Next Big Thing is "a light-hearted, well-plotted debut with a surprise romantic ending and over-the-top charm." "Edwards," concluded Aleksandra Kostovski in Booklist, "addresses image issues with wit and candor."
In her follow-up novel, Your Big Break, Edwards tells the story of a woman who works for an agency that specializes in helping women break up with their boyfriends. During one assignment, however, she finds herself falling in love with the man her client is breaking up with. Consequently, her entire perspective shifts and she ends up working for a match-making company in what reviewer Jason Anthony described in Publishers Weekly as a "down-the-middle romantic comedy."
Edwards plans to continue writing novels in the "chick lit" genre. "What I love most about chick lit is that it's so REAL," the author told an interviewer for Chick Lit Books online. "Finally, we have lead characters who we can relate to! It's great to read these books and realize that you're not the only one who has lousy dates, or bad break-ups, or self-confidence issues. Plus, the genre is really evolving and growing, which is great!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Aleksandra Kostovski, review of The Next Big Thing, p. 1136.
Publishers Weekly, June 27, 2005, Jason Anthony, "Boy Meets Girl," review of Your Big Break, p.10.
School Library Journal, November, 2005, Mary R. Hoffman, review of The Next Big Thing, p. 59.
USA Today, June 1, 2005, Deirdre Donahue, "Female Writers Bare Their Souls about Being Fat," review of The Next Big Thing, p. D11.
Us Weekly, March 21, 2005, Eugena Pilek, "Hot Book Picks: Showbiz Satires!," review of The Next Big Thing, p. 89.
Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (March 5, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of The Next Big Thing.
Boston.com, http://www.boston.com/ (March 13, 2005), Diane White, "Shedding Ties, and Those Pesky Extra 100 lbs.," review of The Next Big Thing.
Chick Lit Books, http://www.chicklitbooks.com/ (January 23, 2006), interview with Johanna Edwards.
Johanna Edwards Home Page, http://www.johannaedwards.com (January 22, 2006).
Memphis Magazine, http://www.memphis.edu/magazine/ (January 23, 2006), Jamie Peters, "Novel Ambitions."