Kwitney, Alisa 1964-
KWITNEY, Alisa 1964-
Born in December 1, 1964, in New York, NY; married; children: Matthew, Elinor. Education: Wesleyan University, B.A.; Columbia University, M.F.A. Hobbies and other interests: Scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking and rudimentary guitar playing.
Writer. Has worked as a veterinarian's assistant, a Hebrew teacher, and an editor at Vertigo/DC Comics.
Till the Fat Lady Sings (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
Destiny: A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold (graphic novel), DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Terry LaBan and Peter Hogan) The Dreaming: Beyond the Shores of Night (graphic novel), DC Comics (New York, NY), 1998.
Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics (nonfiction), Watson-Guptill Publications (New York, NY), 2000, published as Vertigo Visions: 10 Years of Artwork on the Edge (nonfiction), Watson-Guptill (New York, NY), 2003.
The Dominant Blonde (novel), Avon (New York, NY), 2002.
Does She or Doesn't She? (novel), Avon (New York, NY), 2003.
The Sandman: King of Dreams (nonfiction), Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
On the Couch (novel), Avon Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Sex As a Second Language (novel), Atria Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Flirting in Cars (novel), Washington Square Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Alisa Kwitney has distinguished herself as the author of fast-paced, funny, romantic novels. Her first novel, Till the Fat Lady Sings, is a comedy set on a university campus. It focuses on women and their perspectives on food, body image, and love. Although it was favorably reviewed, the book did not sell well, and Kwitney's second novel failed to find a publisher. For several years she worked as an editor at Vertigo, a division of DC Comics. Vertigo specializes in dark fantasy stories that frequently have mature themes. Kwitney enjoyed her job, and also did some writing in the genre. She published Destiny: A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold and collaborated on The Dreaming: Beyond the Shores of Night.
After the birth of her two children, Kwitney left her editorial position. She began working on the type of novel she liked to read—full of action, romance, and humor. Drawing on her own experiences as a scuba diver, she concocted a tale of a hair stylist, Lydia Gold, who travels to a Caribbean island with her boyfriend, Abe. Lydia expects Abe to propose marriage to her on their trip, but before he can, he disappears during a diving expedition. Lydia then confronts her attraction to her diving instructor, Liam. The romance is "delightfully witty and well written," according to a reviewer at Romance Reader.
Kwitney featured a different sort of story in Does She or Doesn't She, a lighthearted novel about a scatterbrained mother and her mysterious plumber. "The novel's pacing is uneven, and its plot is full of holes, but you'll keep reading to find out what twist Alisa Kwitney will toss in next," stated a writer for Romance Reader. On the Couch, Kwitney's next offering, is "dark and complex.… [An] exploration of the intersection between fantasy and reality," according to a Romance Reader contributor. The central character is Marlowe, a well-to-do young woman who practices as a psychologist in Manhattan. Marlowe crosses paths with Joe, a police detective, and their ensuing relationship is "fitful, playful and exciting, then cold and hostile," reported a Kirkus Reviews writer.
Kwitney continued her string of successful novels with Sex As a Second Language. The author again built her story around a single woman living in Manhattan. In this case, the main character is Kat Miner, an actress who was once a hot property in the soap-opera world. Aging and forced to take work teaching English as a second language, Kat also faces the challenges of living too close to her bossy mother, and coping with her ex-husband, who is a successful actor but a poor father to their son. In addition to these everyday matters, Kat becomes involved in a CIA plot. "This is an engaging and intelligently written comedy," praised a Publishers Weekly writer. Booklist reviewer Danise Hoover described Sex As a Second Language as a "pleasant, undemanding read."
Kwitney has also written nonfiction. Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics takes a look at the artists and writers who have contributed to contemporary, avant-garde comics. "Kwitney's selection of 185 lavishly weird covers is so gratifying that one prays for a sequel—or two," stated Ray Olson in a Booklist review. In The Sandman: King of Dreams, Kwitney provides history and commentary about Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series, one of the earliest of graphic-novel series, and one on which Kwitney served as editor. "Kwitney briskly brings you up to speed," stated a reviewer for the Seattle Weekly Online.
Kwitney told CA: "As the daughter of two writers (my mother, Ziva Kwitney, worked as a journalist for many years, and my father, Robert Sheckley, was a well-known science fiction writer) I grew up in a family that valued reading and writing the way other families value music or religion or sports. I was also a nerdy kid who had no other visible talents and my mother assured me that this meant that I was guaranteed a successful career in writing.
"I've always been an omnivorous reader, and on my bookshelf an ancient copy of Thorne Smith's Topper sits alongside Suzanne Brockmann's Hot Target, Thomas L. Friedman's Longitudes and Attitudes, and Zadie Smith's On Beauty. I have a special fondness for romance spiked with social satire, or social satire spiked with romance. Fay Weldon was a big early influence, as anyone who has read my first novel, Till the Fat Lady Sings, can tell.
"In the case of Flirting in Cars, I started with something a woman said over dinner about how she had worked all over the world as a journalist, but had found the biggest adjustment for her was moving from Manhattan to Rhinebeck. Since I was wanting to use my own experiences moving from city to country, I was intrigued by the idea that the divide between Manhattan and a small town two hours away could be greater than the divide between Manhattan and London or Paris or even Tel Aviv.
"From an idea, I move to character. I pretty much just call for an open casting call, and all the people in my head file past until I have my hero and heroine. Plotting for me is like planning a long car trip, with key stops flagged ahead of time, but a lot of room left for me to say, 'Hey, look, the world's biggest stuffed owl collection, let's do a little detour and check it out.'
"Once I get my outline and beginning, I attempt to do at least three or four pages a day, until the end, when I know where I'm going and my deadline is looming. Then anything is possible—twenty pages a day, cats eating cheese sandwiches, kids staring in disbelief because I've put tins of tuna medley on their plates."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2000, Ray Olson, review of Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics, p. 1530; April 15, 2006, Danise Hoover, review of Sex As a Second Language, p. 27.
Creative Review, June, 2000, review of Vertigo Visions, p. 86.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of On the Couch, p. 461; February 15, 2006, review of Sex As a Second Language, p. 151.
Library Journal, January, 2004, Steve Raiteri, review of The Sandman: King of Dreams, p. 82; March 1, 2006, Nanette Donohue, review of Sex As a Second Language, p. 78.
Publishers Weekly, March 6, 2006, review of Sex As a Second Language, p. 48.
Alisa Kwitney Home Page,http://www.alisakwitney.com (October 2, 2006).
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (October 2, 2006), review of Does She or Doesn't She?
Bookloons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (October 2, 2006), Rashmi Srinivas, review of Does She or Doesn't She?
Green Man Review,http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (October 2, 2006), Rachel Manija Brown, review of The Sandman.
Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (October 2, 2006), reviews of On the Couch, The Dominant Blonde, and Does She or Doesn't She?
Romance Review,http://www.aromancereview.com/ (October 2, 2006), Kris Alice, review of On the Couch.
Seattle Weekly Online,http://www.seattleweekly.com/ (December 31, 2003), review of The Sandman.