Q and A with Author Pam Jenoff

Please help me welcome Pam to Serendipitous Readings!

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Besides Writing? My one year old son, Benjamin.


What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty.  Sounds cliché but I only have a very small circle of family and close friends.  I call them “The Kidney Club” because those are the people to whom I would donate a kidney or vice versa, and to me the world is divided into them and everyone else.

A close second is non-judgment.  I have a friend, and she knows who she is, who I could call and say “I want to rappel off of the Empire State building.” She would say “What time should I be there and how much rope should I bring?” instead of trying to talk me out of it.  Now that’s a friend.

What is it that you most dislike?

That’s such a broad question; I’m not sure how to answer.  I don’t think I’m terribly fussy (though some who know me would surely disagree) or that there’s much I dislike.  Least favorite chore is vacuuming, if that counts.  I once picked up a fairly new vacuum and it broke into a half-dozen pieces.  I decided then and there I wasn’t meant to vacuum, and I don’t think I have since.

What is your greatest fear? I don’t know; I have so many.  Bad things happening to a loved one tops the list.  But beyond that I’m afraid of flying, fire, lightning, drowning, etc., etc.  Kind of a wimp that way.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Pretentiousness.  I think it’s a sign of insecurity to have to show off wealth or prestige or accomplishment.  I also dislike narrow-mindedness, and I love thinking there’s more out there in the world than what I know.

What is the conclusion about past events coming to haunt us in present-day, do you think that the people who made those decisions making such choices would have guessed at how they will change the future?

I think very few people except for the greatest of leaders really think in terms of implications for the distant future, and even fewer have the courage to make decisions based on those long-term effects.
Who are your favourite writers living or dead, and who out of all of the would you want to meet and why?

There are so many! But to name a few: Tracy Chevalier (Girl With A Pearl Earring), Anita Shreve (The Pilot’s Wife), Pat Conroy (Beach Music), Anne Tyler (The Amateur Marriage), Laura Lippman (What the Dead Know), Kate Atkinson (Case Histories),and Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible).  Children’s books are still my favorites and I think that children’s authors – Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, Beverly Cleary and the like – are deities! But one series – the Betsy/Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace (about a young girl in Minnesota at the turn of the 20th century) stands out. I also read a lot of children’s Holocaust literature – I Am Rosemarie by Marietta Moskin and The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig were memorable.

And if I can pick a character instead of an author, I’d like to meet Jo from Little Women.  I want to shake her and ask why she didn’t stay with Laurie when she had the chance!

Who is your favourite hero of fiction? Okay, I’m going to be really obnoxious here and say it’s a tie between two of my own characters:  Emma from The Kommandant’s Girl and Marta, her best friend and heroine of The Diplomat’s Wife.  Emma was so brave when faced with harrowing circumstances during the Holocaust; I know I never could have been so strong in her position.  And Marta, who seemed so immature and judgmental in The Kommandant’s Girl, really came into her own when faced with her own dangerous Cold War circumstances.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I’m not sure there’s one in particular, but recently I read Girl in Hyacinth Blue and it portrayed how the painter Vermeer felt a tension between doing the work he wanted creatively and pressure to work at a faster speed in order to earn a living.  The theme, at time, has resonated with me.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d be taller or maybe able to sing.

Such great answers ! Thank you so much Jen for doing this, I enjoyed it, I hope the readers do as well.

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