Today, I’m happy to welcome Suzanne Jenkins, author of Pam of Babylon, to my notebook. She’s sharing today about the difficulties of writing about subjects that make some folks uncomfortable.
This Makes Me Uncomfortable
As I began writing in earnest two years ago, the inspiration to tell a story about an older woman whodiscovered her beloved husband’s infidelity after he died came from out of nowhere. Pam of Babylon simply appeared in my consciousness and I wrote it as I thought of it. Later, a quote by E.L. Doctorow would confirm my writing style was not unusual. He said, “Writing is like driving a car in the dark. You only see as far as the headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Those words validated me. An encounter with an editor who did not like my story line made me doubt the wisdom of spending another second writing. She asked me to do an outline before I began to write,which I found nearly impossible to do because of the way the book was coming to me as I went along. She referred to the story as triple-x rated because it contained a depiction of child abuse. Child abuse transcends the rating system.
Later, I learned from a fellow author that sometimes a writer/editor relationship may not be a good fit and it is acceptable to move elsewhere. Once I found the courage to move on, I found a new editor. She was a barracuda who demanded revisions and rewrites, but she also loved the story and wanted it to be the best I could make it. I felt totally comfortable deferring to all of her suggestions and to this day wish I had used her from the onset. However, once the story was published, I would encounter readers who felt the same way my former editor did. My books are not for everyone. I can’t say I enjoy writing about topics that many people find repugnant and some that are downright disgusting like the child abuse and marital infidelity. But it’s something that I find compelling for whatever reason and the stories wind through the tragedy and horror that normal people sometimes encounter.
After a book is finished, I suffer from insomnia for months. I’m in that mode right now. The Greeks of Beaubien Street will be released this summer, and although I love the story, there is a portion of the book that worries me because it depicts the seamier side of life in a most grotesque way. Even the perpetrator is disgusted with the crime. I know there will be those readers who are offended by it in spite of a warning. I almost didn’t write the book until my son, a filmmaker and writer told me not to censor myself. I have tried censoring in the past and once I began, I found I was putting up so many parameters I could no longer write. The question I had to ask myself over and over confirmed that the story line was important. What is my purpose in writing about this topic? It isn’t to titillate, or to be sensational. In The Greeks, the horror story is in contrast to the gentle Greek father who prepares his homicide detective daughter’s breakfast every morning.
Regarding Pam of Babylon’s adult content, I tried to write so that it would be the least offensive as possible. If a writer is going to have child abuse as a topic, there is little that can be done to clean it up. It’s deplorable, and the consequences are usually tragic. The Kirkus Review said about the third book in the series, Dream Lover; “A gritty, realistic portrait of the aftermath of deceit.” In order for the resolutions to take place, I must first describe the conflict.
My friend Dan Georgakas, author of My Detroit, Growing up Greek and American in Motor City (Pella Publishing Company, NY, NY, 2006) wrote when I confided my concerns, “….people are embarrassed by this [content] and want to project a perfect family image: a stereotype no one is going to believe anyway. I have always believed in showing warts whenever possible.” Some of character’s warts are painful to look at, but exist in real life.
The final book in the series may be finished this fall and has some of the characters achieving positive resolutions. Fans of Pam will be relieved that she is triumphant in the end.
About the Author
Suzanne Jenkins lives at the west Michigan lakeshore with her husband, two dogs and two sheep. Her latest books are Pam of Babylon, Don’t You Forget About Me and Dream Lover.
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About Pam of Babylon:
Pam Smith lives a 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, she finds out more than she ever wanted to know about Jack. Pam must confront a series of revelations that unmask a life she realizes she only thought she knew, and the losses and disappointments she discovers give color and understanding to a man markedly different than he appeared. Uncovering secrets and betrayals far worse than her most vivid nightmare, Pam retreats to their meticulous Babylon beach house, the one refuge she has to put the pieces of her life together and move toward ultimate forgiveness.
~ ~ ~ KINDLE FIRE GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~
Pump Up Your Book and Suzanne Jenkins are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire!
Here’s how it works:
Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form throughout the tour.
Giveaway open to the US and Canada only.
The Kindle Fire promotion will run from July 2 – September 27. Winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on September 28, 2012.
One lucky person who comments the most on Suzanne Jenkins’ blog stops will receive a $50 gift certificate. The blog host who receives the most comments through the tour will also receive a $50 gift certificate.
ENTER TO WIN!
Pam of Babylon Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule
Monday, July 2
Book Review & Interview at SOS Aloha (Pam of Babylon)
Tuesday, July 3
Guest Blogging at Hardcover Feedback (Pam of Babylon)
Friday, July 6
Book Review at Inside BJ’s Head (Pam of Babylon)
Monday, July 9
Interview at Blogcritics (Pam of Babylon)
Tuesday, July 10
Book Review at All Grown Up (Pam of Babylon)
Guest Blogging at Journey with Books (Pam of Babylon)
Wednesday, July 11
Guest Blogging at The Phantom Paragrapher (Pam of Babylon)
Thursday, July 12
Guest Blogging at Waiting on Sunday to Drown (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Friday, July 13
Interview at Examiner (Pam of Babylon)
Monday, July 16
Guest Blogging at Carol’s Notebook (Pam of Babylon)
Tuesday, July 17
Book Review & Intervie at Rainy Day Reviews (Pam of Babylon)
Wednesday, July 18
Guest Blogging at Literarily Speaking (Pam of Babylon)
Friday, July 20
Book Feature at The Bibliophilic Book Blog (Pam of Babylon)
Monday, July 23
Interview at The Writer’s Life (Pam of Babylon)
Wednesday, July 25
Interview at I Am a Reader Not a Writer (Pam of Babylon)
Thursday, July 26
Guest Blogging at My Reading Table (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Friday, July 27
Book Review at Cocktails and Books (Pam of Babylon)
Book Review at Reader Girls (Pam of Babylon)
Book Review at Musings by Maureen (Pam of Babylon)
Monday, August 6
Book Review at Bunny’s Reviews (Pam of Babylon)
Tuesday, August 7
Book Review at SOS Aloha (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Wednesday, August 8
Guest Blogging at Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf (Pam of Babylon)
Thursday, August 9
Book Review at Inside BJ’s Head (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Friday, August 10
Guest Blogging & Book Review at Jersey Girl Book Reviews (Pam of Babylon)
Monday, August 13
Interview at Between the Pages (Pam of Babylon)
Tuesday, August 14
Book Review at Books Books and More Books (Pam of Babylon)
Wednesday, August 15
Book Review at Bunny’s Reviews (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Thursday, August 16
Book Review at Musings by Maureen (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Friday, August 17
Book Review at Books Books and More Books (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Monday, August 20
Book Review, Interview & Guest Post at The Bookish Dame (Pam of Babylon)
Tuesday, August 21
Guest Blogging at Words by Webb (Pam of Babylon)
Wednesday, August 22
Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea (Pam of Babylon)
Thursday, August 23
Book Review at Rainy Day Reviews (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Friday, August 24
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Tuesday, September 4
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Bookish (Pam of Babylon)
Book Review at I’d Rather Be Reading at the Beach (Pam of Babylon)
Wednesday, September 5
Guest Blogging at Colloquium (Pam of Babylon)
Book Review at Reader Girls (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Thursday, September 6
Book Review at Colloquium (Pam of Babylon)
Friday, September 7
Book Feature at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem (Pam of Babylon)
Monday, September 10
Book Review at Maureen’s Musings (Dream Lover)
Book Review at I’d Rather Be Reading at the Beach (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Tuesday, September 11
Book Review at My Reading Table (Dream Lover)
Wednesday, September 12
Book Feature at Hardcover Feedback (Don’t You Forget About Me)
Thursday, September 13
Book Review at Inside BJ’s Head (Dream Lover)
Friday, September 14
Book Review at SOS Aloha (Dream Lover)
Book Review at I’d Rather Be Reading at the Beach (Dream Lover)
Monday, September 17
Book Review at Bunny’s Reviews (Dream Lover)
Tuesday, September 18
Book Review at Books Books and More Books (Dream Lover)
Wednesday, September 19
Guest Blogging at The Phantom Paragrapher (Dream Lover)
Book Review at Reader Girls (Dream Lover)
Thursday, September 20
Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea (Dream Lover)
Friday, September 21
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews (Dream Lover)
Book Review at Books Books and More Books (Dream Lover)
Monday, September 24
Book Review at The Bookish Dame (Dream Lover)
Great post 🙂 I’d sure be sweating too the months before my book was due
Great author interview, my thanks to you both and good luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.
Interesting post. I’ve often wondered how difficult it was to write about topics that make you cringe. If it’s uncomfortable to read it must be even harder to write.
I still cannot get the hang of your new blog layout, sorry. I thought I was visiting a recent post but it turns out this a month old, I need to call by more often.
Anyway I wanted to enter the give away but it seems I cannot do so. Never mind I have found yet another title to add to wishlist.
Did you log into the rafflecopter to enter? The giveaway’s still open.