Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Wine and Chocolates with Sally Jenkins

It’s Wine and Chocolate time again! This time I’m talking to my long-time writing friend, Sally Jenkins, about her new book. Welcome Sally and do help yourself to some wine. And a chocolate or two, of course. First of all, tell me,

How did you first come to write?
 I feel I should say that I’ve always wanted to write but in fact I didn’t catch the bug until I was in my mid-thirties. At that point I realised magazines paid for readers’ letters and I thought, I can do that! And so I did.

From there I took a correspondence course with The Writers’ Bureau and started having articles published. Then I tried my hand at short stories for women’s magazines and competitions, with some success. In the background I had a few novel writing attempts that dried up after three to four chapters. Eventually, I managed to complete a whole novel and sent it off the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) – and got a big thumbs down! I realised romance wasn’t my ‘thing’ and switched genres to grip-lit (psychological thriller meets commercial women’s fiction). It was the right thing to do because my next novel won the Ian Govan Award and was published on Kindle and in paperback. At that point I felt like a real novelist!

What genre do you write in?
 I am intrigued about how our past impacts our present and future lives. In my fiction I like to make this impact chilling. In my first novel, Bedsit Three, the upbringing of one of the characters drives his destructive behaviour and in The Promise there are serious repercussions for something the heroine did three decades earlier. I also write straight commercial women’s fiction.

What are you currently working on?
 I’m juggling a couple of strands of my writing life at the moment. The Promise has just been published and I’m deep into online and real life promotion. It’s been described as a ‘web of intrigue’ and a ‘fast-paced psychological thriller’ and I’m devising an author talk that, among other things, teaches the audience how to make money out of murder! (That sounds a fascinating talk, Sally! Would love to be in your audience when you do it.)

I’m also working on the first draft of my third grip-lit novel and I have a commercial women’s fiction novel on submission to agents.

Do you have a dedicated working space?
Yes and no. I have taken over our smallest bedroom, so I can leave papers, notebooks, boxes of books etc. strewn everywhere but it is not a dedicated writing space. Three days a week I work from home for a multinational IT consultancy and so I have to have my work-supplied laptop on my desk alongside my own PC. But once my IT working day is done I close the laptop and jump back into my preferred role of writer! The room and desk are usually a mess and I did consider tidying up before I took the photo – but then decided that would be dishonest and time-wasting, so you see it warts and all!

What sort of books do you read for pleasure? Do you have favourite author?
 I read lots of different things. I coordinate a library book group once a month and that often pushes me out of my comfort zone. There are thirteen of us and the library struggles to find books which have sufficient copies, so we don’t choose our books – they are thrust upon us! (When I was a member of a book club, finding the right quantity of books was always a problem for our library too .) This year we have struggled through The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists which was written a hundred years ago and focusses on the life of the poor before socialism, the NHS and the welfare state. We have grazed on Agatha Christie and also tried the more literary Anne Enright with The Green Road. Outside of the group I read a lot of psychological thrillers. I still meet up with the romance authors I met during my time with the RNA NWS and I enjoy reading their work too.

Favourite author? That’s a tough question but if pushed I would name two – P.D. James and Mo Hayder.

Besides writing, what is your other passion?
 I have three other passions – public speaking, bell ringing and walking. I joined a Speakers’ Club around four years ago to give me the skills to promote myself as a writer. I’m still not a great orator but have bags more confidence and no longer run a mile at the thought of addressing an audience. And I’m vice president of the Speakers’ Club now!

I started ringing church bells at the age of 14 and have continued ever since. It’s a great hobby involving physical and mental effort as well as team work. Bell ringers are generally a friendly bunch and always make newcomers welcome.

I find walking (especially long walks in the countryside) relaxing. My mind wanders and sometimes great plot ideas pop into my head. Then I have to make my husband stop walking for a minute so I can make a note – many of my best ideas have been lost in the ether because I didn’t write them down!

Find out more about Sally and follow her blog at or follow her on Facebook ,Twitter @sallyjenkinsuk or on Amazon
A man has been stabbed. A woman is bloodstained. The nightmares from her teenage years have begun again for Olivia Field just as she is preparing to marry. Ex-convict, Tina is terminally ill. Before she dies, the care of her younger, psychologically unwell brother, Wayne must be ensured. So Tina calls in a promise made to her thirty years ago in a prison cell. A promise that was written down and placed with crucial evidence illustrating a miscarriage of justice in a murder case. Tina believes Olivia is perfectly placed to provide the care Wayne needs, but to do so, Olivia must be forced to cancel her own wedding and wreck the lives of those close to her. Tina's terrible blackmail demands put Olivia's entire future and, ultimately, her freedom under threat. The Promise is a fast-paced psychological thriller told from several third person viewpoints. The novel explores the lengths to which people are prepared go in order to protect those they love and the impossibility of ever fully escaping our past actions.

It sounds fascinating, Sally, and I’m sure it will do well as this kind of thriller is enormously popular. Thanks for your time and do have another chocolate before you go!