Q&A with Pam Jenoff
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Q&A With Pam Jenoff
Today I’m doing a Q&A with New York Times Bestselling author Pam Jenoff. Pam has written many historical fiction novels some of which are, “The Kommandants Girl,” “The Orphans Tale,” “The Lost Girls of Paris,” and an upcoming novel coming in 2023 named “Codename Sapphire”.
Q: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be an author?
A: I always wanted to be a writer, but throughout my many years abroad and in school, when I had plenty of time to write, I could never quite get started. After I returned from working as a diplomat in Poland, I went to law school and started working at a large Philadelphia law firm – my first day was September 4, 2001. Exactly one week later, when 9/11 happened I had a life epiphany: being a lawyer was a fine career, but I had always held a deeper dream of becoming a novelist. If I had been one of the 9/11 victims, I never would have realized my dream; I didn’t have forever and I needed to get started right away. I took a night course called “Write Your Novel This Year” and started working on what would become my first novel, The Kommandant’s Girl.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to be a writer, especially a historical fiction writer like you?
A: Protect your writing time (no one will give it to you!); be tenacious (it took me five years and 39 rejections to get my first publication offer); and develop the ability to revise (take others’ feedback and incorporate in your work in a way that remains true to you.)
Q: What advice do you have for anyone struggling with writers block?
A: I don’t believe it writer’s block! When I was an attorney, if I had said, “I’m just not inspired to write a brief today” I would have lost my job. There is always a way to move the ball forward. Sometimes I read a research book or book on craft the night before writing and take notes so that if I’m flat the next morning, the notes serve as writing prompts.
Q: What is your favorite part of writing historical fiction? What is your least favorite?
A: I love taking a piece of little known history and illuminating it to educate readers (and myself.). The hardest part is research (a whole other job!) and accuracy and deciding when and how the history needs to bend to the needs of story and plot while still remaining authentic.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: Holly wood has rights for THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS, and that’s all I can say right now, so please stay tuned.
Q: If you had to choose, out of all the books you wrote, which one was your favorite and why?
A: That’s like choosing between your kids. THE KOMMANDANT’S GIRL was my first born, THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR is the baby. THE ORPHAN’S TALE was my breakout book and THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS my most successful to date. I have a soft spot for some you may not have heard of, like THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH, which ahs a lot of family history in it. And right now I’m super excited about CODE NAME SAPPHIRE.
Q: Can you spoil a little bit about your upcoming novel, “Code Name Sapphire”? The title is very catchy I think.
A: When Hannah’s ship is forced to turn back to Europe, she finds refuge with her cousin Lily in Brussels. There Hannah connects with Micheline, the leader of an escape line ferrying downed Allied airmen out of occupied Europe, who agrees to help Hannah leave for America in exchange for working with her. But when Hannah’s work results in the arrest of Lily and her family, Hannah is forced to risk everything to save those she loves. CODE NAME SAPPHIRE was inspired by the true story of the attempt to sabotage a train that was headed to Auschwitz, as well as by the courageous women who helped evacuate downed Allied airmen from occupied Europe.
Q: What were your favorite novels you read this year so far?
A: I read constantly, so this is difficult to answer. I’ve had the chance to preview some amazing books that will be out this fall, including THE WAYS WE HIDE by Kristina McMorris, THE MOST LIKELY CLUB by Elyssa Friedland and THE THREAD COLLECTORS by Alyson Richman and Shaunna J. Edwards. I also really liked WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza.
Q: Can you spoil about books you are working on writing in the future?
A: Too soon to say anything yet!