Wednesday, May 30, 2007


A. M. Jenkins's favorite deadly sins are Sloth and Gluttony. The others are also enjoyed in moderation. The award-winning author of Damage, Breaking Boxes, and Beating Heart: A Ghost Story, Jenkins lives in Benbrook, Texas, with three sons, two cats, and two dogs . . . and has never been possessed by a demon, so far as anyone can tell.

Her latest book is REPOSSESSED, and HarperCollins says, "In this devilishly funny look at the complexities of being a teen, Jenkins tells the story of an unforgettable--and irresistibly endearing--demon's sojourn on earth, where he learns more than he ever expected about humans and himself. "

And Jennifer Hubert of Reading Rants says, "A.M. Jenkins' inspired portrayal of a sympathetic demon and his longing to stay human, so that he might actually be NOTICED by the all-powerful (an apparently, all-too-busy) Creator, is funny, thought provoking, and surprisingly deep."

I will add a hearty amen to both of those descriptions. This latest book is humorous, deep, surprising, and a testament to the many layers of Jenkins writing talents.

Join me in welcoming her as our guest this week at the Cafe.

Mary P: This story has so many layers, including a surprising romance. The love story that unfolds in this is amazingly tender. It started out as a Lust Quest, and ended up--well I don't want to give it away--but Kiriel's quest was transformed into something much richer. One thing that is endearing is that he is often so clueless. Did you know the direction Kiriel was going or did you bumble along with him as he pursued Lane?
A.M. Jenkins: When I write a book, I generally know what will happen in the end, and then my process always takes me down blind alleys while I'm getting there. I have to back up, reassess, delete, and rewrite. With Kiriel and Lane, same old same old; I knew where they were ultimately heading, and there were the usual dead ends. But most of the bumbling I did with Lane wasn't due to Kiriel--it was due to Lane herself. Girl characters are not my strong point and I kept going off course with her and that made Kiriel's reactions inaccurate. That last scene between Kiriel and Lane took several different rewrites after the rest of the book was done; I knew what happened in that scene, but I couldn't get the emotional arc of it right, and by that point I had looked at the ms so many times I couldn't really "see" it anymore. My editor would read it and say, "Nope, this doesn't ring emotionally true." So I'd tackle it again, trying to nail it without pushing the characters around. I don't remember how many times I rewrote that scene, but it was a bunch. I'm very glad my editor kept handing it back to me instead of saying, "Eh, I guess this'll do."

Mary P: This book, while dealing with many deeper issues, is also packed with humor. There were so many places that I was snorting out loud as I read. Did you have as much fun writing it as readers have reading it? Was there a particular scene that still makes you laugh?

A.M. Jenkins: There were a *ton* of scenes I enjoyed writing in this book, but the only one that ever made me laugh was the bit where Kiriel cries. No kidding.

Mary P: The story touches on several deep theological questions, such as separation from the Creator, which I think you explore particularly well, raising questions but leaving it to the reader to supply the answers. It makes us think which is what I think any good story should do. Were these questions difficult for you to explore?

A.M. Jenkins: Nope. It's hard for me to believe that everybody doesn't think about this stuff all the time. My feeling has always been that religion, the supernatural and the afterlife are *the* most important issues any human has to face. We're alive on this earth for less than 100 years (most of us, anyway), and then there's the question of what happens to us for the rest of eternity. I'd say the answer to that question is crucial. And the answer--or lack of an answer--that each of us comes up with is what provides us with a moral system to live by. Even if you feel that you have the one true and correct answer to the question of eternity, how can you blithely go about your business without weighing your daily choices, attitudes, and actions in terms of that answer?I was just talking about this with a couple of friends, and one presented the theory that most people don't think about the above, that most people don't like to think at all, and especially not when they read books. It made me wonder about YA in general: do people prefer books that present answers and solutions rather than asking questions? I guess this blog is my forum for a few days, but I'd like to know other people's opinions: Is a good book one that makes you think? One that gives you a model to emulate? One that confirms your feelings about something? One that entertains you for a few hours?

Mary P: Do you hoard ketchup packets?

A.M. Jenkins: No, just the little tubs from Whataburger.

Mary P: What are you working on now?
A.M. Jenkins: I just sent a ms off to copyediting. The book is currently titled NIGHT ROAD, and will be out in spring 2008. This completes what has turned out to be an unintentional trilogy of three weird little books about the supernatural: BEATING HEART (2006), which is about a ghost; REPOSSESSED (2007), about demonic possession; and then NIGHT ROAD, a book about hemovores--blood-drinking humans who are not your typical vampires. These three books are weird not because they're about the supernatural, but because they sound like horror books when they aren't, not exactly. I don't know what they are. I just know I've enjoyed writing them.

~~Cafe Note~~ As a regular part of our interviews, featured authors will pop back in for one week after their interview is posted to answer any other questions blog readers may leave for them. So if you have any questions or comments for Amanda Jenkins, send them now! She'd love to hear from you!