Thank you Pam for taking the time to answer the below questions!
1. Who or what inspires your writing?
My writing is largely inspired by my years living in Europe. I spent a few years working for the State Department in Poland on Holocaust issues, and that period inspires my books set during the Second World War, like The Kommandant’s Girl. The Ambassador’s Daughter, which is a prequel to The Kommandant’s Girl, was inspired by the master’s thesis I wrote at Cambridge on events related to the Paris Peace Conference.
2. How long did it take you to write your first novel?
I honestly don’t remember. I started writing in late 2001 and it was on the shelves in March 2007. Definitely several years and then there was the process of trying to find an agent, the 39 publisher rejections, and all of the editing. It felt like a long road (though short, I know, compared to some!)
3. Do you have any writing rituals?
One writing ritual I find tremendously helpful is reading something inspiring, either a research book or something on writing craft, and taking notes in the evening. They serve as writing prompts the next morning. So when I am bleary eyed at five a.m., I don’t have to work about jumpstarting my creativity or generating ideas – I just go.
Another ritual is that every time I am about to finish writing a book, I go away for the weekend to this tiny beachside motel. It is offseason, usually May, and I am alone with the manuscript, which I attempt to beat into submission.
4. Who are your favorite authors?
This is tough! I adore Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) Anita Shreve (The Pilot’s Wife), Laura Lippman (What the Dead Know), and Kate Atkinson (Case Histories). And since I’ve only listed four authors, I’m going to step out of line for the fifth and mention some single titles I love: Air and Angels by Susan Hill (some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read); A Soldier of The Great War by Mark Helperin (I remember being stuck during a rail strike in a train station in Lille, France, completely oblivious because I was lost in this wonderful tale); Away by Amy Bloom (incredibly moving); and People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (it is the thinking Jewish woman’s Da Vinci Code.) For recent books, I’m evangelical about Anna Funder’s All That I Am and The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.
5. What is the hardest part about writing for you?
I am not great at scenic detail and internal monologue. I write a lot of dialogue and plot up front and my agent and editor then push me to deepen it. Also I have a tendency to overuse the word “suddenly.”
Thanks again Pam for taking the time to talk with us! Many of the books and authors you listed are favorites of mine as well!
To get a chance to speak with Pam Jenoff yourself, be sure to tune into the Booktrib.com live chat with Pam Jenoff on February 5 at 3:30PM ET. And be sure to check back on this blog later today for my review of The Ambassador's Daughter!