Wendy has lived in Atlanta for fifteen years and hadn't been to Miami for some time before she began researching OCEAN BEACH. Her first memories of the famous resort city are from childhood. "When I was little, we stayed at the Fontainebleau Hotel and ate at Wolfie's," she says, admitting a bit of nostalgia for the now closed landmark deli.
She remembers her cousins had a well–known Italian restaurant, Gino's, on Collins Avenue, just south of Wolfie's, and that her father, who traveled the state, always brought home "real" bagels from Miami and stopped for a meal at the legendary Joe's Stone Crab. The restaurant is famous for serving not only Ken Wax, but Will Rogers, Amelia Earhart, Gloria Swanson, Walter Winchell and Al Capone, who dined under the name Al Brown.
"Certainly, I remember my big brother getting married at the Diplomat Country Club, but most of my memories are of things like swimming in a salt water pool for the first time." She, of course, remembers working on her first feature film there, Night in Heaven. The family dog, a Greyhound named "Blue Boy" was retired from a Miami dog track, Wendy notes, adding "None of us could beat him to the front door. Or catch up with him when he made a break for it."
Today, she knows much more about the city, especially South Beach's legendary Art Deco structures. One home in particular caught her eye and, despite its need for extensive repair, inspired the creation of The Millicent, the fictional house at the heart of OCEAN BEACH, an Art Deco Streamline Moderne "credited" to revered Miami Beach architect Henry Hohauser.
There's another slice of Wendy's Florida past that complements her research for OCEAN BEACH. That's her on air and behind the scenes work at Tampa television station WEDU, where she produced and hosted the program The Home Front, which aired on PBS stations across the United States. In her new book, her protagonists film the first season of their reality show, Do Over.
More important to Wendy, however, is the collective past she explored—learning more about South Beach's amazing architecture and the way the area developed, how the city played host and home to the rich and famous as far back as the early days of television, and the stories behind many of Miami's restaurants and hotels, such as the Fontainebleau where she stayed as a child, unaware of its rich history of celebrity guests and ties to Hollywood.
"I have no trouble imagining Max and Millie Golden there," says Wendy of the fictional comedy team who bought The Millicent shortly after they married. "I'm sure they would have hobnobbed à la George and Gracie with friends like Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, and Ann–Margaret." Wendy read voraciously as a child and her love affairs with language and storytelling paid off beginning with her first shift at the campus radio station while studying journalism at the University of Georgia. She studied in Italy through Florida State University, returned home, graduated from the University of South Florida, and later worked at WEDU and at Tampa's WDAE–Radio.
Wendy's writing has been highly praised. The Atlanta Journal–Constitution says she "writes with breezy wit and keen insight into family relations." Her books have been featured in national publications such as USA Today and Women's World, and at online book blogs and sites such as On A Clear Day You Can Read Forever, Luxury Reading, Night Owl Reviews and Fresh Fiction. In 2011 she was honored by the City of St. Pete Beach, which declared May 12 "Wendy Wax Day."
The mother of a toddler and an infant when she decided to change careers, Wendy admits it may not have been the best timing in terms of productivity. "I'm still not certain why I felt so compelled to write my first novel at that particular time," she says, "but that first book took forever." Since then she's written seven others, including TEN BEACH ROAD, MAGNOLIA WEDNESDAYS, the Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER, LEAVE IT TO CLEAVAGE and SINGLE IN SUBURBIA. Her novel 7 DAYS AND 7 NIGHTS was honored with the Virginia Romance Writers Holt Medallion Award. Her work has been sold to publishers in ten countries and to the Rhapsody Book Club, and her novel, HOSTILE MAKEOVER, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine.
Wendy is currently at work on her next novel. When not writing, she spends much of her time speaking to writer's groups and book clubs, enjoying time with her family, visiting relatives in St. Pete, and devouring books.