Saturday, February 2, 2013

Q&A: The Ambassador's Daughter by Pam Jenoff

The Ambassador's Daughter by Pam Jenoff

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.”

About the Book

     When Margot Rosenthal’s diplomat father is summoned to Paris in 1919 as a German delegate to help rebuild a new world from the ashes of the Great War, Margot is eager to accompany him and delay her return to Berlin and her wounded fiancé, Stefan, who now feels like a stranger to her.

     Although Margot spends her days frustrated by the overcrowded streets of Paris and her nights bored at her father’s dreary political functions, she nevertheless relishes what little freedom she has left before her impending marriage. But Margot’s entire world is suddenly turned upside down when she strikes up new alliances with two separate people, each as different as night and day, but to both of whom Margot is drawn as strongly as a moth to a flame.

     As Margot fights to suppress her burgeoning new desires, dark forces are at play, seeking to manipulate her for their own nefarious purposes. With the fate of the world looming, Margot finds herself being used as a pawn in a political chess match played by people who are willing to sacrifice the lives of everyone she holds dear to achieve their goals. For a girl who has never had freedom of choice before, suddenly Margot has too many choices to make, each more harrowing than the last.

About the Author

     Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including The Kommandant's Girl, which received widespread acclaim, earned her a nomination for a Quill Award and became an international bestseller. She previously served as a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. State Department in Europe, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and as a practicing attorney. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania, her master’s degree in history from Cambridge University and her bachelor’s degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. Pam Jenoff lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Review Coming Soon!!!

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