THE OFFICIAL CV:
Joni Rodgers is the author of five critically acclaimed novels and a bestselling memoir. As a ghostwriter, developmental editor, and manuscript surgeon, she's collaborated with celebrities and other extraordinary people on a wide range of high profile projects, including a string of bestselling books and an Oscar-nominated screenplay. Joni has been published by all six of the Big 5 plus a slew of national magazines and is known for top-drawer craft skills, dedication to deadline, and nurturing collaborative style.
I grew up on stage, performing in a family gospel/bluegrass band with my parents (aka The Dakota Ramblers) and five siblings. Between gigs, I was at the library, consuming books like a little wood chipper, and like many voracious readers, I dabbled in writing. I entered the publishing trade in 8th grade, selling vaguely off-color short stories (a la True Confessions Magazine) for a dollar in the girls' bathroom at a local rollerskating rink.
I majored in Theatre and English in college and became a DJ and voiceover artist. During my 14-year broadcasting career, my voice was heard on over 3,000 radio and TV commercials and special programs, many of which I also wrote and produced. All that changed in 1994. When I was 32 and my kids were 5 and 7, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a virulent blood cancer with a stinko prognosis and permanently scarring effect on my voice.
Silver Lining Alert:
I used the chemo downtime to finish my first two novels, both of which were published to critical acclaim, much to everyone's surprise, including my own. Another unexpected turn of events: I lived! Becoming a writer isn't a super common side effect of chemo, and chemo is definitely not the easiest way to become a bestselling author, but hey, whatever works, right?
Bald in the Land of Big Hair, my memoir about my cancer experience, was published by HarperCollins in 2001. A lot of people read it, and a few amazing individuals asked me to help them tell their own stories, which is how I became a ghostwriter, specializing in high profile memoirs. I love the collaborative process. Over the past 20 years and 20+ books, I've had my feet held to the fire by a host of brutally fantastic editors, which has been a stellar education and overwhelmingly good time.
BETWEEN THE LINES:
I've been married for 35+ years to artist Gary Rodgers. We live on the blustery beach in Washington State, where I shepherd small group and solo writing retreats at Westport Lighthouse Writers Retreat. (Yes, there is an actual lighthouse, and yes, you may climb up in it.) I spend my spare time reading, tracking the movement of my driftwood menagerie, and texting ukulele videos to my little granddaughter. Life is good, and I am profoundly grateful.