Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Don't You Forget About Me by Suzanne Jenkins (Author Interview / Book Review / Kindle Fire Giveaway)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes back Suzanne Jenkins, author of the Pam of Babylon Series - Don't You Forget About Me (Book 2)!

Author Interview

Welcome back to Jersey Girl Book Reviews Suzanne! 

How long have you been a writer?

I've always wanted to write, but didn't really start seriously until 1987. And that was sporadically. When we moved to Michigan in October 2010 I began writing full time.

Do you have a "day job," or is being an author your career?

It's a career now, but I was an RN until 2004.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

As a child, I had the desire to write down stories. I was compelled to write after a trip to New Orleans with my husband in 1986. But I struggled with the story for twenty years.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Don't You Forget About Me.

As a reviewer from Kirkus says, "A man's infidelity rocks the lives of many New York women five months after his death, as former lovers discover that he was infected with more than just an electric personality." I don't want to say ore than that or I might give away too much! It's a continuation of Pam of Babylon.

What was the inspiration for this story?

Two years ago, I started thinking about what would happen if a woman ran into her husband's mistress as she was going to view his body in the morgue. My own marriage and the struggles my husband of almost forty-four ye ars and I have had added to the mystique. I wanted to explore what would happen if the woman responded in an opposite manner than you would expect. Pam did not act the way I would!

How did it feel to have your first book published?

It was thrilling. I'm still thrilled when the UPS guy brings the first physical proof of a new book. 

Do you write books for a specific genre?

Not really. The reviewers who got the ARC of my latest book say that it is a combination of chick lit, police drama, mystery and thriller. Probably contemporary women's fiction says it in a nutshell. 

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

I do love mysteries. All PD James books and anything by Paul Theroux. His books are sort of travel guide thrillers.

Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?

I do! I write on an old farm table that belonged to my late mother. It's positioned in front of a window that overlooks our sheep pasture. I have birdfeeders right outside the window and they amuse me when I am stumped or just need a break. 

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

The stroylines just come to me. And the stories don't come all at once. It is a journey and I have to be patient and listen. I'm easily distracted, so I have to discipline myself.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I try to adhere to a strict schedule, but I do so much marketing that I may go for a week without doing any new writing. In April, two new books went to publishers and they both came back with revisions at the same time. I also reedited my first book, Pam of Babylon for typos and mistakes. It was what I called 'old writing' for two solid months.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

I like having more than one storyline going at a time. I love writing about marriage. My biggest struggle is with censoring myself. I tend to like the dark aspects of the human condition. My biggest achievement this week was writing my newest book and so far there's no abuse, rape, brutal murder, torture or sodomy in it. I think that is a real coup for me.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

I am a textile artist, too. I raise sheep, take the wool and dye it, process it, spin the wool into yarn and knit lovely lace shawls with it. (at least they are lovely to me!)

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

The best is from novelist EL Doctorow; "Writing a novel is like driving a car in the dark. You can only see as far as the lights are shining, but you can make the whole trip that way." I'd been advised to outline my work; it's not the way I write. When I found the Doctorow quote, I immediately relaxed and learned to accept my writing style. It makes the storyline flow and there is nothing forced about it. 

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

Having a fan base that love the work and want to read more. Of course, accepting that not everyone is going to like it is especially difficult. 

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

I blog and have a Facebook page that is very interactive. Two readers are starting book clubs in the west Michigan area and that will be wonderful to hear opinions face to face. ( I hope. ;) )

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

In The Greeks of Beaubien Street which will be out in September, many of the happy things I write about were from my childhood. In the Pam series, the places in Manhattan are all familiar to me. My daughter lived in Sandra's apartment when she was in college, and in the final book of the series which may be out next December; Natalie's apartment was where my son lived when he was at NYU. 

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

Definitely Pearl Buck. I love her stories of families. No one is perfect, and there is often sadness and regret. Letter From Peking infuriated me! But now I understand why women don't like Pam. It was for the same reason. 

What is your definition of success as a writer?

I'm self-published. The question's a tough one because on one hand, I need to make enough money to justify the cost of self-publishing which is pricey. But it really transcends financial success. I think it is having people I respect come back to me with positive reviews about the work. If I entertained a reader, then I think I was successful with that book.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

I am! I'm working on a sequel to The Greeks of Beaubien Street. The experience is thrilling because it is really falling into place. How about a few chapters of The Greeks?

Thank you so much for your interest!

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 ForgeAbout Me and Dream Lover.

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

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Pam of Babylon Trilogy Book Trailer

Book Review

Don't You Forget About Me by Suzanne Jenkins
Published By: CreateSpace
Release Date: December 29, 2011
Format: Paperback - 346 pages / Kindle - 729 KB
ISBN: 1466219009
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Don't You Forget About Me

BUY THE TRILOGY: Pam of Babylon, Don't You Forget About Me & 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.

Book Description:

When charming, seemingly devoted Jack Smith dies, his wife and his two girlfriends are astonished to learn that they were not the only love of his life, and that, in fact, Jack was a rogue who was carrying on secret affairs with other women. Shattered by grief and stunned by Jack’s betrayals, these three women, Pam Smith, Marie Fabian, and Sandra Benson, find themselves suddenly thrown together. They could have despised one another, jealously guarding their private memories of their time with Jack and hating those they perceived to be their rivals, but instead, the women begin to realize there might be strength in numbers and in shared pain. Slowly, they begin to open their hearts to one another. They bind together to try to make sense of their lives and to try to heal the terrible shock.

Book Excerpt:

I hope this guy doesn’t turn out to be a jerk,Marie Fabian thought as she drove upstate to spend the weekend at Jeff Babcock’s.She had met him on the beach in front of her sister Pam’s house back in June.So far they had coffee together twice, lunch three times, and dinner every weekend for the past six weeks.When Jeff invited her to visit him for the weekend at his house in Rhinebeck, it seemed like a great idea to get out of the city and not go to Pam’s for a change.But now, as she navigated the Taconic Parkway in weekend traffic, she wasn’t so sure.Doubts floating through her mind eroded the excitement she had felt when she locked her apartment door that morning.Walking toward the garage to get her car, dragging her suitcase behind her, she caught herself whistling a little.

Now she was questioning her wisdom. What was I thinking?She barely knew the guy.He had lived down the beach from Pam and her late husband Jack for twenty years, and she had never seen him before.Or hadn’t noticed him.Someone else was taking all her attention.Now she was faced with the possibility that Jeff would want to sleep with her that weekend.They hadn’t discussed the sleeping arrangements; Marie assumed she would sleep alone.Do I want to sleep alone?she thought.

For a forty-five-year-old woman, Marie had little experience with dating in general and men in particular. Or, more accurately, more than one man. She was simply allowing “things” to happen with Jeff, not putting up too many boundaries, but not getting overly involved too quickly, either. She was having difficulty figuring out his intensions. Although he pursued her, once they were finally together, he wasn’t acting very interested.

She turned the radio on to keep her mind thinking about something else.An old Don Henley song came on, and she belted out the chorus to “Boys of Summer”: I can tell youmy love for you will still be strong After the boys of summer have gone

It had only been weeks since Jack Smith died, and she was already going away for the weekend with another man while singing the songs Jack used to sing to her.Could it be possible that she was over Jack already?She thought back to the first time she met Jeff.She had fled the city that day, feigning illness or family emergency at work (she couldn’t remember which now), getting into her car, and heading toward her sister’s house in Babylon.She went over the speed limit all the way, keeping up with traffic.As soon as she got there, she put on her bathing suit, grabbed a beach chair and a paperback, and went out to sit in the sun. It was a perfect beach day, and the sand was packed with other sunbathers.The area in front of Pam’s was already crowded, so she had to walk south a few yards to find an empty spot. She ended up in front of Jeff’s fabulous house. The oceanfront facade and landscaping appeared in the Sunday home section of the paper just about every summer.

Most all the sunbathers followed the sun’s path, moving their towels and chairs every thirty minutes or so as it traveled toward the west.But Marie liked facing the ocean.She would look up from her book periodically to stare at the water, hopefully spotting dolphins or boats, way, way out there.When Jack was alive, he always remembered to bring binoculars, and they would take turns examining the horizon for interesting finds.

Jack liked looking at people, too. He’d find lovers kissing under their umbrellas or suspicious movements underneath carefully placed towels.He was really a pervert, she thought to herself.Creepy. She relished being alone for the first time in her memory.She could nap without worrying if she drooled or snored, or mindlessly snack while she read her novel.

Jack could also be a tyrant.She remembered, on one of their beach days together when she was just twenty years old, falling asleep on a beach towel and waking up to find Jack staring at her body with his lips slightly pursed.She sat up self-consciously, hoping she hadn’t farted in her sleep.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him, quickly pulling her towel around her.

He was sitting next to her, scrutinizing her face and looking along the length of her.

“You’re thin, but you’re not in shape.You need to work out.”He said, nodding his head yes at her, and turned to look out at the ocean again.

Eager to please him in every way, she agreed, saying she would start going to the fitness center at school as soon she as she got back to the city.

“Yeah right,” he said sarcastically.Then more kindly, “You should ask your sister to give you some advice about a workout.Ask Pam. She’s in great shape,” he said with a devious smile. It was the first time Jack had ever held his wife, her sister Pam, up to Marie as an example.It would be the beginning of years of humiliation and criticism that he would pile on, playing the sisters against each other in a battle that Pam knew nothing about.

Worried that he may be plotting to end their relationship, Marie would have done anything he asked to keep him happy and near her.“Okay, I’ll ask her. Maybe she’ll take me to the gym with her.”

But he ignored her, lying back down on the towel and closing his eyes, his forearm draped over his face, ensuring that he didn’t have to see her.She held her stomach in and stood up straighter the rest of the day, regretful that she had worn a two-piece suit. That evening she would find one of the provocative underwear catalogues Pam shopped from and buy a suit with a push-up bra and tummy control panel. And that night, Jack would come to her bed, and she welcomed him, the insults at the beach already forgotten.

My Book Review:

In Don't You Forget About Me, the story continues about the late Jack Smith and the three women he left behind: Pam Smith, his wife; Marie Fabian, his sister-in-law and mistress; and Sandra Benson, his employee and pregnant mistress. We first met Jack and the ladies in Pam of Babylon, the first book in the Pam of Babylon trilogy series.

In this book, the story picks up where book one left off: the three ladies are each grieving and trying to learn how to cope with Jack's death, and are finding it difficult to move forward with their own lives. The nice part about this series is that while each book can stand alone, the author recaps the storyline from the previous book throughout the current book, so that the storylines merge effortlessly and moves forward into the next chapter of the women's lives. Not only does the author provide the reader with a recap from Pam of Babylon, but she also delves deeper into Jack's life and the events leading up to his death in Don't You Forget About Me.

Don't You Forget About Me delves deeper into Jack's dual lifestyle, and how the ramifications from the depth of his betrayals and aftermath of his death adversely affects not only the three ladies but his entire family. The three women each try to grapple with their grief as well as move forward with new men in their lives, but for each of them it is not an easy transition as Jack's hold on them continues with new deceptions and secrets that come to the surface. And Jack's mother Bernice, younger brother Bill, and sister-in-law Anne are also trapped in the web of deceit. Just when you think you read it all, the author draws the reader deeper into the storyline with more twists and turns that will keep them guessing, while leaving the closing of this book open-ended so that book three, Dream Lover, can once again pickup the story with new developments that are sure to captivate the readers once again.

While I loved Pam of Babylon, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading Don't You Forget About Me more, because the author intriguingly develops the characters more in this book She brings out the characters' complexities and provides richly detailed descriptions of the situations that they find themselves in, and the decisions that they have to make in order for them to move forward in their lives. The author continues to weave a fascinating story that is complicated and not an easy read, its harsh reality of social issues like infidelity and abuse, coupled with the complex dynamics of relationships (family, friends, and intimate) make this series one that provides much food for thought and leaves the reader wanting more!

The Pam of Babylon trilogy series consists of the following books: Pam of Babylon, Don't You Forget About Me and Dream Lover. 


*My Book Review of Pam of Babylon


  1. Looks a great book. Do you need to read Pam of Babylon first before you read this one or can you start off with this one?

    I can't enter comp (as usual)as I'm from the UK :(

    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you for stopping by. While each book can stand alone and does makes references to the storyline from the previous book, I personally would start from the beginning, because each book builds upon the storyline and delves further into the characters. :)