L.A. Woman

by Cathy Yardley

Published by Red Dress Ink

285 pages, 2002

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After the success of Bridget Jones's Diary an explosion of women's stories, a.k.a. Chick Lit, hit the market with colorful covers and catchy titles. Although the tale of the single woman may not be an entirely new genre, it has certainly caught the attention of readers, writers and publishers. One such writer is Cathy Yardley. Known for her success as a romance writer, Yardley jumped at the chance to write L.A. Woman, the story of three women who dig for meaning in the Los Angeles club scene.

"I sold my first romance when I was 26 years old, and I think that my romances had the seeds of my chick lit writing -- they have the same sort of sensibility," Yardley says. "I had the idea for L.A. Woman shortly after that first sale, actually, and before my second romance. I had no idea where I could sell it! Then, chick lit exploded on this side of the pond, Red Dress Ink got started, and they recognized that I had a voice that would work for it."

It is the voice behind the genre that has caused so much attention. Like Bridget Jones and the Shopaholic series, the characters tend to have a great deal of spunk, their attitudes shine through with every turn of the page, and the stories themselves attract the younger crowd with realistic settings. Today's young, modern woman can easily identify with the main characters of chick lit as they deal with personal lives, aim to climb high on the corporate ladder, and struggle through recognizable conflicts.

"The toughest part is keeping it funny, keeping that voice intact, and still being emotionally honest with your characters. It's too easy to slip into caricatures with such a stylistic genre," comments Yardley. "I wanted to show three different women -- one who seemed to have her life completely together, one who didn't care about her life past the present moment, and one who was trying to figure out which approach to take."  
"I enjoyed writing all three characters, because they were so different, and they helped balance each other out. I think that there's a little bit of all of those characters in every reader... we've all gotten into ruts like Judith, questioned what we were doing with our lives like Sarah. And, if we're lucky, we've actually told people we don't give a shit, like Martika."

In L.A. Woman, Sarah Walker follows her fiancé to the big city only to find that he has no plans of making a permanent life with her. Struggling to make ends meet in a chaotic environment, she is taken under the wings of local "glamazon" Martika. With little more than a blink of an eye, Martika and friends mold Sarah into a secure and self-sufficient woman who is capable of making it on her own. While each character has her strengths, we see the inner world of their lives and their dealings with job losses, drinking binges, and one night stands.

"When I moved to Los Angeles," Yardley relates, "I had a fantastic group of friends that took me to clubs, and I managed to work a lot of that experience in. I still love clubs. As far as the rest -- I think when I was in my early 20s I was just as insecure as Sarah. I was trying desperately to get on the right path and get on with my life. If somebody who is in a similar situation reads my book and says, 'you know, she's right. I don't have to figure it out. It's going to be fine,' then I will be thrilled. I wish someone had helped me see that sooner."

But with the genre's explosion, will an overload of Chick Lit occur? Only if women tire of reading about themselves. As Yardley puts it, "… today's woman, especially the younger woman, is a voracious reader who is looking for stories that more accurately reflect her personality and attitude. I think that Chick Lit is on the right track with that, and as it evolves, I think it will not only stay but thrive." | January 2003


Lori A. May has been freelancing for magazines, newspapers and periodicals for more than a decade. Over 1000 of her articles have appeared in publications such as Metro Seven, Scene Magazine and The Interrobang, to name a few. When not interviewing authors or covering the arts scene, Lori also writes fiction. In the past she has published short stories and poetry, but Lori's real passion lies in writing novels. After moving to London, Ontario in 1996 with a temporary plan, Lori now calls the forest city her permanent home.