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Brenda Webster was born in New York City, educated at Swarthmore, Barnard, Columbia, and Berkeley, where she earned her Ph.D. A top-rated author on Redroom.com, she is a novelist, freelance writer, playwright, critic and translator who splits her time between Berkeley and Rome. Webster has written two controversial and oft-anthologized critical studies, Yeats: A Psychoanalytic Study (Stanford) and Blake's Prophetic Psychology (Macmillan), and translated poetry from the Italian for The Other Voice (Norton) and The Penguin Book of Women Poets. She is co-editor of the journals of the abstract expressionist painter (and Webster's mother) Ethel Schwabacher, Hungry for Light: The Journal of Ethel Schwabacher (Indiana 1993). She is the author of four previous novels, Sins of the Mothers (Baskerville 1993), Paradise Farm (SUNY, 1999), The Beheading Game (Wings Press, 2006), which was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award, and Vienna Triangle (Wings Press, 2009). Her memoir, The Last Good Freudian (Holmes and Meier, 2000) received considerable critical praise. The Modern Language Association published Webster's translation of Edith Bruck's Holocaust novel, Lettera alla Madre, in 2007.


Women's National Book Association April Spotlight on Brenda Webster: An Interview from the San Francisco Chapter newsletter, Bookworm

Brenda Webster is a freelance writer, critic, and translator and the current president of PEN West. Webster has written two controversial and oft-anthologized critical studies, Yeats: A Psychoanalytic Study (Stanford), Blake's Prophetic Psychology (Macmillan) and edited the journals of the abstract expressionist painter (and Webster's mother) Ethel Schwabacher, Hungry for Light: The Journal of Ethel Schwabacher (Indiana). She is the author of three previous novels, Sins of the Mothers (Baskerville, 1993) and Paradise Farm (SUNY, 1999), The Beheading Game (Wings Press, 2007) and a memoir, The Last Good Freudian (Holmes and Meier, 2000). Webster's translation of Edith Bruck's Holocaust novel Lettera alla Madre came out in 2007. Her new novel, Vienna Triangle (Wings Press, 2009) explores Freud's role in the death of his brilliant disciple, Viktor Tausk.

Webster has been nominated for two 26th Annual 2007 Northern California Book Awards. Fiction: The Beheading Game and Translation: Letter to My Mother by Edith Bruck

1) When did you start writing?

I started writing in 6th grade. Up 'till then I wanted to be a painter like my mother. I was entranced by the bulls, lilies, peacocks and fruit trees that seemed to burst effortlessly from the tip of her brush. But in 6th grade. I realized that I wasn't getting any better. I turned to words and began to paint with them, describing natural scenes or horsesmy passion at the time. By high school I knew I wanted to be a writer and was chosen editor of our literary magazine. My mother drew my portrait for the first issue.

2) Why did you choose your particular genre?

I think my genre chose me. I soon tired of writing brief descriptions of sunsets and began to write stories. Then in Freshman year high school my father died and for the next four years I wrote nothing but poetry. I didn't get back to fiction until I married and wrote an autobiographical novel.

3) What inspired you to choose your subject matter?

I wanted to describe the effects of my father's death on my life and I planned to give it to my new husband as a gift. A rather strange idea in retrospect.

4) How difficult/easy has your experience been as a published writer?

Well, the first two novels were never published despite some very positive feed back from editors at major houses, including one from Christopher Lehman-Haupt, saying that my book had great humanity but was too quiet to sell. I think my problem was that I hadn't learned that re-writing is crucial and not even my agent wanted to tell me. So I was discouraged and turned to writing psychoanalytic literary criticism for many years. Finally after three children and a divorce and re-marriage, I turned back to fiction and worked my way up to Xeroxed magazines to excellent literary journals. Getting a commercial press is always difficult for literary fiction and I think I have had a different publisher for every book but I've always found one and I'm very very happy with Wings for my new novel, Vienna Triangle.

5) What advice would you give other aspiring authors?

It depends what they want. But I guess the main thing is to read as much as they can of things they admire and then to write and re-write until your book or story is as perfect as you can make it. And don't let rejections get you down.

6) Anything else you would like to share with the WNBA?

Talent is crucial but persistence is half of the battle.

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Website: http://www.redroom.com/author/brenda-webster

Titles Published by Wings Press: