Today I have the pleasure to introduce a very talented and versatile author: Suzanne Jenkins. Some of you might remember her from our collaboration on the joint multi-author box set “At Odds With Destiny“. Welcome Suzanne. Please tell us, how did you come to writing?
I’ve told this story before and I have to work hard to not embellish it every time it’s repeated. I wrote my first story at about age seven, whenever it is that a small child is able to write down thoughts on paper. My grandmother took me along to visit her aging father, a Greek poet of some renown in the small resort town on Lake Michigan where I now spend summers. My family was struggling. This was post Korean War, my father was home from the Marine Corp after serving overseas. Vivid memories of running out of fuel oil in the winter and crowding around the gas oven to stay warm, or hearing my parents talk about money in the middle of the night added to the atmosphere of my mother saying out loud that we didn’t have food in the house. Let me preface this by saying I was a chubby little kid.
I wrote a little story about my family being poor and the impact it had on me. I was a very insecure kid. My grandmother read it and showed it to her father, who gave it back to her and in Greek said, “She doesn’t look like they don’t have enough to eat.” Lol! I didn’t show anyone else my stories until about six years ago when I published Pam of Babylon. I had to reach age sixty to get to the place where I didn’t really care what anyone’s opinion of me was J ME, not my books. I’m like a vicious tiger mother about my books.
How did you come up with your stories?
You have created great characters. Which one is your favourite?
Wow, that’s tough. I love them all. Probably Pam, because she helps pay the bills which affords me the luxury of writing about everything else.
Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?
In the Greektown books, I always said I wanted Robin Williams to play Gus, the Greek grocery store owner, father of the detective, Jill. In the Pam books, Frances Dormand, although she’s not considered a striking beauty and Pam is. An older Kate Blanchett would be perfect.
Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?
I’m the complete opposite of Pam in Pam of Babylon. I wish I was Jill in The Greeks of Beaubien Street. There’s probably a little of me in some of my characters. I’m more like Ravenna, I think.
Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?
I often must go back and revise plots because suddenly I don’t like the direction the action is taking. Readers say the books have a lot of twists and turns and they do for me, as well.
What is your main reason for writing?
There is nothing else I’d rather do. My husband says I should take a day off; that’s torture. In sixty-six years I’ve spent a good portion of my life dreading going to work everyday, especially the four years prior to writing everyday. Besides being Jim’s wife and the mother to my children, this is my passion.
I ‘ve only read one of the books so far. What is the idea behind your series?
The main idea is that it’s not over till it’s over. Pam is on a mission to figure out why she’s failed in the past and to try to overcome the mistakes she’s made, but unfortunately, she backslides frequently.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
The best is writing stories I love, the worst is justifying it. For instance, going back to Pam again, she doesn’t stay in a relationship for long. I try to have drama and action in the other character’s lives because truly, how much can one woman suffer? Critics don’t understand that time marches on with these characters and I can’t spend an entire book having them wake up each morning, eat, go to work and then to sleep at night. Something has to happen.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
It’s a constant concern. I try to do marketing in the morning and at night when I’m cross-eyed, and write when I’m at my best. I also have chronic insomnia and love to write in the middle of the night when my guard is down. Less censoring, more from the heart.
What do you do when you don’t write?
Spend time with my kids and grandkids. I last about two hours. I’m an unnatural grandmother.
Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.
The oddest is probably that I’m a hermit, truly. Not agoraphobia, but almost. I don’t want to leave the house. The mundane is that in a former life I was a textile artist and still have most of my tools and supplies.
What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?
I love writing. LOVE it. I can’t get the words out fast enough.
What is your advice to new writers?
Who are your favourite independent writers?
You, Uvi Poznansky’s poetry, Patrick H. Moore, Hugh Howey, Joan Donaldson’s farm stories, lots of others
Who are your favourite authors?
Joyce Carol Oates, PD James, Maeve Binchy, Paul Theroux, Daphne Du Maurier, Pearl Buck lots of others
What is your favourite book?
Probably Rebecca and The Good Earth
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Olive Kitteridge, ebook
What makes you laugh?
My son and daughter telling me inappropriate jokes, and the cute animal videos on Bored Panda.
What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?
Word processor Lol!
Who would you like to invite for dinner?
How do you handle criticism of your work?
I try not to over dramatize, but it’s not pretty. I FINALLY don’t read reviews! I love the cartoonist, Roz Chast. She said when she reads negative reviews of her work, her response is, “YOU try to write a book.”