Author Guest Post
This Makes Me Uncomfortable
by Suzanne Jenkins
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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Pam of Babylon Book Trailer
Pam of Babylon by Suzanne Jenkins
Published By: CreateSpace
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Format: Paperback - 332 pages / Kindle - 439 KB
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Pam of Babylon
BUY THE TRILOGY: Pam of Babylon, Don't You Forget About Me and Dream Lover
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.
My Book Review:
One man ... three women ... a tangled web of secrets, lies and deceit revealed by the man's death ... a tale of recovery, forgiveness and starting over.
Pam Smith is a fifty-five year old woman who has lived a charmed life: the perfect husband; two grown children; a house in Babylon, a beach town on Long Island; and a comfortable lifestyle.
Pam's world is turned upside down when she receives a call that her husband Jack had a fatal heart attack on the train. Jack's death opens up a pandora's box of secrets, lies and deceits ... Jack had been living a triple life. Pam's eyes open to the realization that she never really knew the man that she had loved, and that her marriage was not as solid as she thought it had been.
This is a story of one woman's attempt to deal with the aftermath of her husband's death and the revelation of his secret lives that he shared with his mistress and sister-in-law. This is the story of how she picks up the pieces of her life and works through the stages of anger and grief to reach forgiveness.
Pam of Babylon is a spellbinding and intensely poignant story that will pull at your heartstrings. The author weaves a powerful tale told in the third person narrative, focusing on the different perspectives of the husband and the three women in his life. It is a fascinating look into the complexities of a marriage wrought with secrets, lies and deceptions that had devastating consequences for the spouse and the two women who were left to pick up the pieces from the mess that was their lives.
The author has created a fascinating cast of characters that are realistic, complex, have flaws and emotions that are easy to relate to. The dynamic of the three women's personalities is palpable, the reader is drawn into their individual stories and goes along for the journey on the emotional roller coaster ride that is their lives. You can't help but feel the full gamut of emotions towards the characters' reactions to Jack's death and the aftermath when the revelations of his web of deceit come to light. At times I found myself at odds with Pam's reactions, but as I read further into the story I came to see the strength and self-preservation that she drew upon to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. I couldn't commiserate as much with Sandra the mistress or with Pam's sister Marie, while I understand that they were duped by Jack just like Pam was, I found myself gravitating more towards Pam, and I admired her dignity and ability to forgive and forge a bond with them, she is a stronger woman than I would be if I had been in her shoes.
Pam of Babylon is the first book in a trilogy of the Pam of Babylon series. The stories of Pam, Jack, Sandra and Marie continue in Don't You Forget About Me and Dream Lover. This is an amazing story that will resonate with you long after the last words are read.
RATING: 5 STARS *****