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Don’t Buy That, You Clueless Wonder! How to Raise Your Man’s Gift Giving IQ

10 Questions with author Susan Vanderburg-Fentie
Real Women Canada Magazine, Nov. 2008 - Wanda Lynne Young

Susan Vanderburg-Fentie is the author of the just-released Don’t Buy That, You Clueless Wonder! How to Raise Your Man’s Gift Giving IQ. She’s a registered nurse, co-founder of the Ontario Autism Coalition and mother to four sons, two of whom have autism. Susan has numerous media credits and has contributed to, produced and researched for various television and film projects. She took some time to sit down with Real Women writer Wanda Lynne Young and talk about her new book.

How would you describe your book?
Don’t Buy That, You Clueless Wonder! How to Raise Your Man’s Gift Giving IQ is a practical yet entertaining handbook for men and women alike. Ladies can identify with the gift giving horror stories and guys can hone their gift giving abilities by utilizing the helpful how-to tips. You’ll laugh, cringe, and rejoice at the examples and information in this handy and humorous read.

What inspired you to write about the gift-giving dilemma?
I received a gag gift one Christmas. I’m a nurse and all I wanted was a plain gold wedding band to wear at work so my diamonds wouldn’t get wrecked. Instead, I got a $400 snowmobile helmet. It was addressed to me but clearly meant for him! He thought it would be funny. It wasn’t. I never did get that gold band, either!

How long did it take to research and write the book?
It took almost four years. I was on-call for work and was in the staff lounge at the hospital. I got a pen and paper, and the book was born! I came up with the title that night and it stuck. I’ve been working at it diligently in the middle of a life with four sons. Finally, I get to see it in print! 

How did you go about getting published?
I have a literary agent in Toronto, and after much discussion, I decided to self-publish this book. My publishing company is Puzzle Piece Publications and I look forward to this being the first of many books to be published by them.

What kind of feedback have you received surrounding your book’s topic? 
Every person I’ve discussed the book with, both male and female, thinks it’s a great idea. When I conducted my research, even perfect strangers had the same reaction. Women say, “It’s about time!” while a lot of men say, “I could use a book like that.” There’s really something for everyone in it. Many people will see themselves in the book. It’s intended to help both genders.

What advice would you give a woman who knows she has a clueless wonder for a mate?
Well, my first piece of advice is to buy my book! I have many tips on how to get through to a clueless wonder. While the stories are constructed with humor, there are some constructive tips to use as a way of getting the message across. I’ve also included examples of rather dastardly deeds that have been utilized, complete with a disclaimer. Truly, women can be very resourceful.

What advice do you have for a man who thinks he might be a clueless wonder? 
 Did I mention I know of a great book about shopping for women? The book has a chapter that speaks straight to the men. It’s the straight-to-the-point tips they’re looking for in order to be a success. There are stories about the guys who get it right, so they can also learn by example. My friend has already transformed from a clueless wonder to a genuine gift guru after adhering to the advice in my book. He’s reported tremendous success with his last gift purchase for his girlfriend. That’s why I wrote this book in the first place.

Where will the book be available for purchase? 
It will be in stores throughout southwestern Ontario this holiday season, as well as some retailers and boutiques in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Check your local bookstores, or visit my website to order a copy today. It’s out just in time for the holidays, too. Ladies, I suggest you buy the book and then pass it along to your mate.

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue to research and write about the male/female shopping dynamic and I’m eager for feedback from readers. They can visit my website and share their views and comments about the book. I’m also working with a couple of TV producers out of Toronto to produce a reality show version of the book, so be sure to keep a lookout for that.

Do you have any final words for those who might feel it’s just a hopeless situation? 

I want people to know that it’s not hopeless if you can’t seem to get on the same page with your partner about gift giving. I saw very common themes in the way that men and women go about gift giving and purchasing, which is why I put all the information into a handy guide. It has tools to help and is presented in a really fun medium. Also, lame gifts aren’t an indication that men don’t care. They do care but they’re just “clueless wonders!” Help has arrived in the form of my book so you don’t have to suffer needlessly.

Wanda Lynne Young's interview with author Susan Vanderburg-Fentie was published in the November 2008 issue of Real Women Canada Magazine.