Josef Woodard writes ‘Ladies Who Lunch’
It was back in the 1990s that Josef Woodard first became fascinated by the glitz and glam of Los Angeles.
Mr. Woodard, then a young freelancer for the Los Angeles Times, lived with his sister, Katrina Leffler, from time to time when working in the city. While watching his sister run around in celebrity circles with her friends, Mr. Woodard became enthralled by the unique lifestyle of people living in the city.
“(Katrina) kind of trafficked in similar circles, and she would tell me about the exploits of her friends and their lunching adventures … so I was kind of immersed as a tourist in this, and I was fascinated by it,” Mr. Woodard told the News-Press.
His interest in the culture of L.A. socialites led Mr. Woodard to begin a novel loosely based on the adventures of his sister and her friends.
That novel came to fruition this year, marking Mr. Woodard’s entrance into the fiction realm with his debut novel “Ladies Who Lunch” (Household Ink, $17.95).
Mr. Woodard will be discussing his new book in a virtual debut event with Chaucer’s Books at 7 p.m. April 20. He also will be present at the Mesa Bookstore Fourth Anniversary Book Sale and Mini-Fest from noon to 6 p.m. April 25.
The novel follows the story of Danielle Wiffard, a newly divorced woman living in the 1990s in Los Angeles. As a new single, Danielle navigates romantic encounters with celebrities and stars while gossiping with her friends over lunch.
Mr. Woodard calls the book a “satirical romance,” and he said readers will notice the plot advances through Danielle’s various affairs and encounters with L.A. socialites.
“That’s her process of going through this sort of self-discovery after getting divorced and feeling this new freedom where she can go out with a famous country-western star or someone is suspiciously similar to David Cassidy,” Mr. Woodard said. “I think it’s a feminist book because she’s very much restless and in control of what she allows to happen and who she wants to pursue and who she wants to keep away.”
He added, “It’s basically like a long self-discovery trek with a lot of strange adventures along the way and romantic little episodes that come and go.”
Like so many others, Mr. Woodard, who is now based in Santa Barbara, utilized the free time he had during the COVID-19 pandemic to finish up the project that he started almost 30 years ago. While juggling his freelance career with various magazines and publications, including the News-Press for 18 years, Mr. Woodard put the book on hold for a while.
But when the pandemic started, fewer freelance assignments afforded him time to circle back and fine-tune his novel before ultimately pushing to publish.
This process included starting his own publishing company, Household Ink, which is the publisher of his debut fiction novel. The company was given the same name as his long-standing record label, from which he has produced multiple albums with musicians from the West Coast since the 1980s.
“Ladies Who Lunch” is set to release this month with both hard copy and audiobook editions. The audiobook is actually read by Ms. Leffler, Mr. Woodard’s sister, whose support for the piece pushed him to pursue the project back in the 1990s.