Tuesday, 9 April 2013

#OBSpringFling - Author Interview – Suzanne Jenkins



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#OBSpringFling



Tell us a bit about your family. I was brought up in a Greek/American household in the Detroit suburbs. My mother came from a family of English origin, and my dad was born in the United States to Greek immigrants. My Greek great-grandfather was a published poet and lived here in west Michigan where I now live. I might have inherited my interest in writing from him. Both of my children are a combination of artist and techy, like their parents. Both write.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? Definitely, my favorite quote about writing is by E.L. Doctorow. “Writing is like driving a car at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” It validated me when I was a new writer and a well-meaning editor told me I should have an outline of my book before I started to write. I often sit down at my desk without knowing what the next chapter will be until I begin to write it. I’m finding the more I write, the more I am able to foresee some of the action in a story.

How did you come up with the title of your book? Titles are so important and I am a little regretful of title for The Greeks of Beaubien Street. It doesn’t tell you anything about Jill and what an intriguing woman she is; a Detroit homicide detective who is a rarity in her field because she is Greek and city raised. I liked the idea of using the main street in Greektown in the title, but then discovered no one knows what it means unless they are from Detroit. So the title might be too regional.

Can you tell us about your main character? Jill Zannos is a strong, somewhat independent woman. She is smart, fearless and self-confident. But she is also a loner; her police officer partner is her only friend. Jill stayed in a dysfunctional love relationship until her aunt exposed a family secret. Knowing the truth about her family gave Jill the courage to leave her lover when she discovered more about him. She is also a mystic but her gifts don’t seem to work in her personal life. I wanted to include more about how she used her intuition to solve crimes and will do so in the third book.

Why did you choose to write this particular book? Greektown represented what was Greek about me. We didn’t go to the Greek Church or socialize with other Greeks after my grandmother died and most of my family left Michigan for California. After that, going to Greektown to shop with my father and then preparing the food we bought was all that was Greek about my life. I wanted to extend my memories in a way that would make them more interesting to the reader, so the fiction drama was developed. But I was compelled to include some of my own memories in the story; the vignette about the roasting lamb’s heads is a true experience of mine as a child. It used to scare me to death! And there are a few other true incidents but I’ll let the reader try to guess what is real and what is fictional. I realize so much backstory is not for everyone.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? Wow, that bathtub scene. I was creeped out that I could think up something like that, but it was a perfect foible in contrast to their white picket fence life. It was shocking. I almost took it out because of its perversity, but ARC readers said to keep it.

How do you promote this book? I am a serial promoter! It’s a constant. I love the virtual tour genre like the Orangeberry Spring Fling. It gives me something to tweet about, and to promote on my website and Facebook page. When I’m asked to write for another blog, I jump at the chance. Anything that will link back to my books on Amazon, I do. It’s the responsibility of the self-published author because no one else will do it for you.

Have you started another book yet? I have. The sequel to The Greeks of Beaubien Street; The Princess of Greektown, should be ready this summer 2013. I’m also writing a book about a woman who is going in search of her late mother’s birth parents; no title for that one yet.

What are your current writing projects now? I’m writing a series of short “how to” booklets teaching dyeing. I’ve been a textile artist since the 1970’s and decided to share how I do it. The first is on natural dyeing with plants and weeds from the yard.
I’m also working on short stories. They are very satisfying; you can take an idea that might not be meaty enough to make a complete novel and develop it quickly.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? My kids, of course!  Personal achievement; probably going to nursing school. And it is both a positive and a negative. I always wanted to be a nurse, and I finally did it at age forty-two.
Everyday when I sit at my desk in my office with a cup of coffee and turn my computer on, all I can do is say how grateful I am that I get to write full time and don’t have to worry about killing anyone anymore.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? My house. I love my office, too. I write at an old farm table that belonged to my late mother. It’s positioned at a window, and I gaze out at my sheep in the pasture when I take a break.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I think my life experiences; moving around the country with my husband, being Greek and the sibling of a mentally retarded sister have given me a broader view.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I started writing little stories when I was a small child. I took creative writing in high school, but was awful at it. Finally, at age 45 I had an idea for a book that I had to investigate further.

When and why did you begin writing? My husband invited me to go on a business trip with him to New Orleans in 1985. I was both intrigued and worried about the horses that pull the buggies around the French Quarter. I set out to write a children’s book, but it reminded me too much of Mr. Ed, the talking TV horse. So I switched it around to an adult mystery and over a twenty-five year period, wrote a very dark book about New Orleans. I doubt if I’ll ever publish it.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? I like contemporary women’s fiction, because I like writing about emotions and the deepest feelings and those are things many women are comfortable with.  I never thought I’d write anything else, but then I started writing a science fiction story and now I’m working on a historical romance, sort of. I really like it.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? The most difficult part about writing for me is keeping my time sequence in order. It’s a real struggle. A reviewer once said that I “didn’t miss a beat, everything was so smooth” in Prayers for the Dying, a story which covers a lot of territory. So my efforts in that regard are working.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I did recently have what I now think was writer’s block. I just couldn’t think of one thing to write about. So while I was in the slump, I marketed my books and tried to blog, although I didn’t like anything I wrote. Finally, I had to write a few guest blog posts. I was assigned a topic which was very helpful. Once I started to write, it just flowed again.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? Just keep writing. Try not to place too much importance on the critics. You aren’t writing for them. Once you find your voice, the audience will follow. That’s key.

Buy at Amazon
Genre - Police Procedural, Women's Fiction (R)
Connect with Suzanne Jenkins on Facebook and Twitter

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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom

SherbetBlossom

Blog-A-Licious

Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife

Blog-A-Licious

My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo

tbaoo

Blog-A-Licious

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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun

Greatfun4kids

Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max


Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry

BlogNostics

My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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