Interview with Suzanne Jenkins - Author of the Women's Fiction Series: Pam of Babylon
Suzanne Jenkins, a former operating room nurse, lives in the west Michigan lakeshore area with her husband of forty-three years and two dogs: Nicky, an elderly Boston terrier, and Oscar, a six-year-old mixed shepherd-type doggie. They have also two aged sheep, Spot and Slick, cousins from New Jersey.
Pam of Babylon is Suzanne's first published book, followed by Don’t You Forget About Me, Dream Lover, Prayers for the Dying, and the final in the series, Family Dynamics to be released in Winter 2012/13.
Interview with Author Suzanne Jenkins
Suzanne Jenkins: Writing has always been part of my life. I wrote little stories when I was a small child. In 1987 on a trip to New Orleans, I knew I would write a novel when we arrived back home. It took twenty years and is still not ready for publication, but I learned a lot.
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I love Pearl Buck, Paul Theroux, Dorothy Gillman. I love Ira Levin and Betty Smith. As far as writing influences, I think I influence myself. My imagination runs rampant and I must get to the computer. My first book was written out longhand for the first year until my husband bought me a computer. I have lots of journals and notebooks full of writing. Occasionally, I go through to read and tear out sheets to burn.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Besides the childish writings, I was certain about four years ago that I would write full time.
"I probably write at least six hours a day, and market the rest of the time. "
Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I do have a routine. My space is important; my desk is set up almost like an altar. Things started to accumulate, and before long I realized that the mementos surrounding me were just that; things that meant a lot to me. My computer is a mess; I have a brand new lap top, but choose to use a Dell that has no keys left and the screen hinges are broken so its cockeyed. But I love the feel of it. I’m going to be in big trouble when it dies. I am constantly backing it up, by the way. I probably write at least six hours a day, and market the rest of the time.
What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
Writing stories and forming plots comes to me easily. The most difficult is finding that place in my schedule where I am able to separate myself from the rest of the world in order to concentrate. I don’t do well with a lot of distractions. Last month, I finished a screenwriting course at Gotham Writer’s Workshop. Oh my God! it was so difficult. I tried to do an adaptation of Pam of Babylon and had no idea that the viewpoint is completely different. I doubt if I will finish it.
Suzanne, please tell us a little about your debut novel 'Pam of Babylon' and 'Pam of Babylon - The Series'.
One day two years ago, I imagined a woman who had a fabulously comfortable and enviable life; everything perfect, wealthy husband, great kids. And I started to think about what could destroy that perfection. I think I succeeded in writing a compelling drama of almost unbelievable betrayal. But I know that it is not as preposterous as it seems. It just kept growing. I guess the most challenging part for me is knowing when to stop. I keep adding characters and then their lives blossom, so it is easy to continue writing. But I think I have said all there is to say about the family. The last in the series, the fifth book called Family Dynamics, is at the publisher now.
|Click to Read an Excerpt|
What inspired you to write the book?
I am intrigued with relationships. I’ve been married a long time, almost 44 years, and as my husband once said, “we’ve been on the verge of divorce the whole time.” So we have a very passionate relationship. Nothing I’ve written about is autobiographical, but my imagination is definitely prompted by being married. My husband is probably the antithesis of Jack, the adulterer Pam was married to. Currently I’m writing a sequel to a book which is being published soon, The Greeks of Beaubien Street. One of the characters husband’s is referred to as “Saint Bastard.” That’s my husband. Patient, long suffering, and sarcastic. What a combo.
Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
I always thought the target was people my age, approaching retirement. But my stats on Facebook and Goodreads are testing that; much younger women and surprisingly, men are reading. I’m on Amazon, of course, and a few Barnes and Noble stores across the nation. Some independents order for customers and you might find the book in your local book shop because of that.
"My Kirkus reviews are good."
How would you describe the success of your book so far?
Reviews have been great; I found quickly that a few people hate the characters and call Pam a wimp, and that’s understandable. But mostly positive reviews for all the books so far. My Kirkus reviews are good. I’ve heard the key to an indie’s success is to get New York Review of Books to consider reviewing, but I’m not sure how that happens. I spend a small fortune on marketing and have narrowed down what is really helpful and what’s not. My sales are supposedly good for an indie author, but when I consider what is cost to publish each book and the marketing involved, they need to be better.
How long did it take it to write the book?
Pam of Babylon took about six months, and then the sequels flew by quickly because I already had the character development. The Greeks of Beaubien Street took a little longer because I needed to do more research. A book I am working on currently, about a Native American family living in west Michigan, is taking longer than any book because I really need to get that one right. I feel like there is a lot at stake when you start writing about a specific group of people.
Please, tell us where you self-published the book.
Createspace.com I love them.
"I think my biggest challenge is editing. "
How smooth went the self-publishing process? Any issues? What are things to look for when self-publishing a book?
I think my biggest challenge is editing. Although I had professional editing services for Pam, I needed to go back recently and redo the book because the proofreading was unacceptable. I think the first book is a huge learning experience. The responsibility to get it right in on the shoulders of the author. Your readers will let you know where you slipped up! Also, you have to be able to sell your book at a competitive price. If a publisher is telling you your paperback has to be priced over twenty dollars in order for you to get a $1 royalty, you need to move on and keep asking questions.
Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your book?
I did. I love my covers and am indebted to the designers who created them. In one instance I bought the stock photos and had them incorporated into the cover because I had an idea that I just had to see through to the end. the book isn’t out yet, but I think it is the best cover.
Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?
Truly, take your time. Ask around. I made one major error that was very costly at first; the lesson learned was if you aren’t comfortable, don’t proceed. Not every editor/publishing company will be a good fit. I am sticking with createspace because I trust them. That is key.
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am as I mentioned earlier; I have two books in the publishing process right now that will be released before Christmas, and am writing two books as we speak. And of course, my original manuscript which I started twenty five years ago is still on my desk. It’s about a brain surgeon with a twist. Title: The Savant of Chelsea….don’t look for it any time soon!
"I love the independence of self-publishing..."
Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
I am working with Writer’s Relief Submission Service right now submitting to find an agent, but as long as my money holds out, I’ll keep self-publishing. I can’t imagine not writing. I love the independence of self-publishing, and also, having most of the control. So it’s not a negative to me in anyway.
Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I hope not. I hope we can always hold a book in our hands. But I’m frightened for the indie market; there are those publishers out there who would take advantage of the author and charge such high prices per book, no one but your grandmother would buy it. The key is salability.
Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
I write full time! I know it sounds lucky, but trust me, I paid my dues. I worked in the OR nights in center city Philadelphia for years assisting in trauma surgery. I can’t help but to sneak some of my experiences from that time into a story or two.
How can readers connect with you? I love to hear from readers! I have a contact site on each page of my website, suzannejenkins.net [See Link below].
Thank you very much for the Interview, Suzanne.
About the Book Pam of Babylon
When he suffers a fatal heart attack on the train home from Manhattan, Pam's exquisitely arranged life is catapulted into turmoil as she is forced to face the realization that her marriage is nothing more than a black hole plagued with cruel infidelity, abuse, and sexual deviance.
Witness Pam as she graciously and gracefully accepts the foul world her husband's "other life" forces on her previously immaculate existence.
Come along for the ride of your life as you ask yourself this one question:
How well do I know my husband?
- "An intriguing first novel that revolves around a husband's death and hidden secrets.
Pam Smith lives an apparently charmed life as a well-to-do Babylon, N.Y., homemaker in a large house by the water. In her 50s with her children grown, Pam is happy with her exemplary husband Jack. After he has a heart attack on the subway, however, the protagonist finds out more than she ever wanted to know about Jack... consistently interesting, this psychological novel contains some mystery and moves along quickly for a non-thriller. While Pam is the novel's protagonist, Jack's mistress Sandra and Marie also play key roles. The three women all feel betrayed by Jack, and the plot focuses on their reactions to his deception. Pam, though, feels drawn to Sandra in empathy while Marie is angry and jealous. Jenkins is skilled in her presentation of the characters' inner thoughts, particularly at Jack's funeral, where Pam's emotions are decidedly mixed as various facts about her late spouse come to light...the novel is convincing during moments between the main female characters, Themes of sisterhood and abuse run through the book, and the three women shift between rivalry and friendship before becoming empowered by Jack's demise. Women's fiction with a touch of noir." - Kirkus Review (Critic's Pick)
Links to the Author and the Book
Link to Suzanne Jenkins's Website
Connect with Suzanne Jenkins on Twitter: @suzannejenkins3
Link to the eBook Pam of Babylon on Amazon with Excerpt
Link to the Suzanne Jenkins's Authorpage on Amazon
|Pam of Babylon - The Series|