As I began writing in earnest two years ago, the
inspiration to tell a story about an older woman who discovered 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.
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.
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.
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.